The Wrestler of the Week award is designed to highlight a wrestler who made the most of his or her opportunities in a given week. While great matches or memorable promos certainly help a wrestler win Wrestler of the Week, the ultimate decision will also include consistency through the week and bonus points for pulling off a task with a higher degree of difficulty.
5/14/14 Wrestler of the Week – Batista
We have entered the third act of Batista’s return to WWE and it seems to have emerged very quietly. Of course, the speed with which he transitioned from act one to act two was completely unpredictable, so it is no surprise that he has mapped his own trajectory. Due to some combination of botched booking (an ice cold emergence and a poorly-timed Royal Rumble win), misevaluation of fan desires, and Batista’s ring rust, fans turned him heel almost instantly after his return. Slowly but surely, he has worked himself back into wrestling shape and rediscovered the nuance in his character. For those not paying close attention, Boo-tista is probably at the top of the word association list, but Batista has actually helped make Evolution 2.0 compelling and has done more than anyone to elevate The Shield.
Batista’s powerhouse style served as a counterpoint to Seth Rollins in their match on Smackdown. While I think Rollins is such a complete wrestler that presenting him as an aerial specialist sells him short, Batista has enough of a size advantage that it made sense to play up his speed. Throughout the match, Rollins had to find ways to hurt Batista that would not get him caught for a big power move. Eventually, he flew too close to the sun with a leap from the turnbuckle to the outside that Batista avoided and turned into a slam into the announce table. Rollins got counted out and Batista gave him a Batista Bomb after the bell. It was an expertly booked match- the fan favorite took a big risk to overcome steep odds and only lost because the villain took the easy way out, plus Batista got extra heat for the post-match attack on an already injured and sympathetic opponent. They both looked good, came out of the match stronger than they went into it, and they advanced the Shield-Evolution storyline.
Monday was a similar situation for Batista even though he did not get as much time in the spotlight. The Shield jumped Evolution twice and Batista got so angry that he challenged Roman Reigns to a match. They hit each other very hard with clotheslines and assorted strikes for a couple of minutes before the match broke down into a pier six brawl. The Shield fought through interference by a gaggle of other heels and chased Evolution away. Once again, Batista had to swallow his pride as he walked away in defeat.
The finish was the latest in a line of losses that have to be hard for Batista to accept even though they have made sense for the matches. He tapped out to Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania, which not the ending he likely envisioned when he returned to WWE, but it created a fantastic moment. He ended Extreme Rules on his back after a spear from Reigns which was a huge moment for The Shield to conclude one of the better matches of the year. He has looked like his old self in the ring and his cocky, dismissive goliath persona has drawn legitimate heat for himself and Evolution. If WWE has to crown another champion while Bryan recovers from his neck injury, Batista would be an excellent choice.