After spending four years away pursuing outside interests, Batista returned to WWE back on Jan. 20, 2014. He came back as a babyface, a hero come home to conquer the heel champion at the time, Randy Orton. He was cheered at first, too, though the enthusiasm was tempered.
Then the Royal Rumble came and went and the crowd in Pittsburgh decided they absolutely hated "The Animal". The hate has continued since then, forcing WWE to abandon its original plans for him -- win the WWE world heavyweight title at WrestleMania 30 as the aforementioned conquering hero.
Now, Batista is claiming he knew he would get that reaction and told WWE his returning as a babyface wouldn't work (from his interview with the Washington Post):
"They told me that I was going to come back and be this huge babyface. I said, no, it's not going to work. They said, no way, they're dying for you to come back. I said, that's going to last two minutes, just watch. And sure enough it did."
Interesting timing, if nothing else, but also not really indicative of the environment he came back to. He wasn't booed because people don't like him, he was booed because the first major crowd he worked a match in front of was only going to accept Daniel Bryan winning the Royal Rumble and no one else.
Granted, Batista is a far more interesting character as a heel, but who honestly believed he would come back and get the reaction he did?