49-year-old Hollywood superstar Dave Bautista returned to WWE for the first time in four years on SmackDown 1000 on Tuesday night, and the legendary Evolution faction meeting may have paved the way for a possible WrestleMania main event.
Batista made an entrance in his hometown of Washington DC along with Randy Orton, Triple H and Ric Flair, and gave an unusually long speech that led the segment. Batista thanked the fans and each of his teammates, but took a surprising blow at Triple H after honoring his dedication to professional wrestling.
"This man has changed this business without help, he runs this business, this man * is * this business.
World champion 14 times. There's nothing, nothing this man has not done in this business … Except defeat me. "
Batista and Triple H had an intense look down, but Ric Flair intervened to prevent a fight from breaking out and the couple embraced reluctantly.
It's clear that WWE is sowing the seed for an eventual match between the two, and Batista told Jim Ross last November that he wants to fight The Game.
"The short answer to that is, yes, I'd love to go back." But the reason I have not returned is because I do not want to do it once, I want to go and I want to fight, man. at home and I want to be part of the program.
… I keep in touch, and I've talked to Vince recently, and he knows what I want. I made it very clear that I wanted to go back and run a program with Hunter (Triple H). I have been very public about it. That's what would make me come back. "
It seems unlikely that a Triple H-Batista program will begin in the near future, since Triple H is currently involved in a separate dispute with The Undertaker and Kane, which will culminate in a team match with Shawn Michaels in WWE Crown Jewel.
WWE will change the focus to Survivor Series later in November, but there will be enough brand versus brand stories to drive the event without Batista. The most likely scenario could be that Batista returns at the Royal Rumble 2019, rekindling the spark with Triple H in the run-up to WrestleMania 35 at MetLife Stadium.