Former WWE writer and Cagesider (yeah, we’re kind of a big deal) Alex Greenfield had Dave Bautista on his MLW podcast The Writer’s Room recently. Part one of their conversation is out now (listen on iTunes here), and you should definitely check it out - and not just because Greeny’s a friend of the site.
The former WWE champ and actor speaks candidly about his last run in sports entertainment. He says he wasn’t in good ring shape when he came back, and wishes he had done more to transition from his leaner Hollywood look to the muscled appearance for which wrestling fans knew him.
Many of the same stories he’s shared over the past couple of years are recounted, mostly centered on wanting to be a heel while Vince McMahon insisted he play a babyface and the effect that had on his performance and the fan’s response to him.
One new story that jumps out concerns pitching a comeback for the pay-per-view (PPV) after the movie which proved to be his breakout role, Guardians of the Galaxy, debuted.
In combination with his frustrations with Creative during his 2014 run and how outspoken he’s been concerning the company’s handling of his friend Titus O’Neil’s suspension earlier this year, this anecdote about how Triple H and Stephanie McMahon reacted to his proposal makes it seem like there’s some serious bridge mending that will need to be done before we see The Animal in WWE again:
I felt so unsatified with that return, it just broke my heart because I’d been thinking about it for years, going back. You know I missed it and I wanted to be there. So I was just starting to hit my stride and I literally had to leave because I had to go start promoting Guardians but when I left - and I haven’t talked to a lot of people about this, and I don’t care if they’re pissed for me saying something - but I wanted to come back and do SummerSlam because... I would have had the opportunity to go back and I talked to Steph and Hunter about it and I think that was... around August, I wanted to come back around the release of the film, around Guardians, and I said wouldn’t it be great if I was back, and I was also in the #1 movie in the world?
And they kind of had a snicker and it was, you know, “We don’t even know if the movie’s gonna be good.”
And it was one of those moments and I was like okay. And it was a very uncomfortable moment where they were just kind of doubting me and laughing in my face.
To be fair to Haitch and Steph, nobody expected Guardians to be the mega-hit it turned out to be. It was seen as a reach for Marvel, and for a guy with very little big screen experience at that point in Bautista.
But... it was a freaking Marvel movie. WWE has never shied away from mainstream exposure like a Disney connection, and they’ve rolled out the red carpet for a lot less (hello, Jeremy Piven and Larry the Cable Guy).
Plus, I suppose downplaying an employee’s options elsewhere could be seen as a negotiating tactic, but it’s kind of a jerk move to laugh in your friend’s face when he’s feeling good about his future.
You should definitely give the whole show a listen. There will probably be another post or two on it here at cSs (Big Dave has some interesting thoughts on how The Shield was booked that year, and modern wrestling audiences, that are worth discussing), but in the meantime, what do you think about this story?
Think Trips and Steph wish they’d maybe reacted differently to Bautista’s pitch?