COMMENTARY | Last week, I wrote a piece on why the WWE needed to bring in free agent AJ Styles as a way to shake up the roster and give the fans something to look forward to for the upcoming Royal Rumble. On the Dec. 23 edition of Monday Night Raw, the WWE announced they were bringing in a top talent for the start of the "Road to WrestleMania."
However, Styles was not the talent in question.
At the Jan. 20, 2014 episode of Raw the WWE announced that former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion Batista will be returning after a four-year absence. And while it may not be the name I called for last week, in truth, Batista's return is a much better business move for the WWE.
Batista left in 2010 after failing to beat John Cena in a series of matches which culminated in an I Quit Match in May 2010. Since that time he has gone on to star in a couple movies and even tried his hand at mixed martial arts, but he always maintained he wasn't retired from pro wrestling, just taking a break.
That break is officially over.
Batista has done almost everything there is to do in the WWE, he's done it well and drew a lot of people to arenas in doing it. While Styles is a fantastic wrestler and has a respected name in pro wrestling, Batista is on another level in terms of earning money and getting people to tune in.
Having been in the main event of a handful of WrestleManias and squaring off with some of the greatest wrestlers of all time in doing so, Batista has instant name recognition with the WWE audience. The WWE didn't immediately say Batista would be in the Royal Rumble match itself, but one has to assume he will be one of the 30 participants.
His involvement alone will be reason for many wrestling fans to pay for the event and tune in to regular TV broadcasts in the weeks before and after the pay-per-view. Having been away for four years, Batista's return should be of great interest to most fans and you can guarantee most of them will be happy to see him back.
Critics will point out that he is another muscled-up wrestler who happens to be good friends with HHH. They'll also point out that he will be 45 years old when he returns to the WWE, not exactly in the prime of life. Those are fair criticisms as Batista was never the greatest in-ring technician during his run a few years ago and it can also be assumed that at 45, Batista won't be working 250 days a year. He'll likely be on a limited deal - much like Brock Lesnar and Rob Van Dam - during his return.
Unlike Bill Goldberg - who I was opposed to having at Mania - Batista put in his time with the WWE and if a short-term contract is what it takes to bring him in, then so be it. If he chooses to be part of the roster for a longer period of time, that's even better for the fans and the product.
Batista is a man that one way or another entertains fans with his work. His power and strength is undeniable and fans loved the brutal nature of the Batista Bomb. From 2005-07 it can be argued that he was the most popular wrestler in the WWE and fans haven't forgotten about him.
It's also been four years since he was last with the company and while he has been to the top of the WWE mountain before, watching him attempt to retake his spot would make for compelling TV to most fans.
The WWE needs to pull out all the stops to get fans excited for not only the Royal Rumble, but also WrestleMania. There are still more than three months until WrestleMania 30 and lot can happen between now and then, but bringing back "The Animal" Batista is a great first step.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has watched professional wrestling since he was 3 years old. Not just a WWE fan, Matt enjoys Ring of Honor and Japanese wrestling. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdurr84.
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