With his WrestleMania 35 program with Triple H, Dave Bautista officially put pro wrestling in his rear view. But as part of the build to his big summer action comedy Stuber, the man WWE fans knew as Batista is still getting asked about his former career. And especially when he sat down with Chris Jericho, you knew it was gonna come up.
And as you can tell from these quotes from last week’s Talk Is Jericho, Dave still spent a lot of time butting heads with Vince McMahon and his creative teams:
“It was a nightmare. It wasn’t a nightmare like the last time, but it was difficult. Because for one, I thought I was going back way too soon [in late February]. And because I thought, ‘If I go back, we tease this now, what the hell are we doing for the next five weeks?’ You know, because the last run I went out [in 2014], I went back and they had no plan. And they didn’t know what to do with me, so every week they’re just sending me out there to cut these really horrible promos. They’re just awful, and I’m just regurgitating the same crap while people are going, you know, [chanting] ‘CM Punk!’ or ‘Daniel Bryan!’”
Issues started from the beginning, too, as Bautista fought WWE’s original plan for the Ric Flair birthday celebration which kicked off his program with Haitch:
“Then the night I was going back, they really wanted me back for the 70th birthday party for Ric, for Flair. And I said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of that! Because it just waters down our s**t! Don’t just stick me in there with like 20 other people who are coming back to say Happy Birthday Ric, then it’s me and Hunter, and we get in a little spat.’ I said, ‘It’s just watering down our program.’ So then they came up with the backstage segment where I drag Ric across the floor...”
He says he really had to fight to stick to the originally agreed upon plan, because just like they wanted him earlier, they wanted more of him:
“I signed up to do a few shows, because I was concerned that I would show up every week and they wouldn’t have anything for me to do. And once I’m there, you’re just there. So I said, ‘I’ll do this show, and this show, and this show.’ But then they started saying, ‘Would you come and do an interview,’ and I was like, ‘Nope!’ ‘Well, would you come and do a promo?’ ‘Nope!’ So I ended up, they said, ‘Well, would you do an Instagram post?’ I was like, ‘[sigh] Okay.’ And then they said, they wanted me to come and do an interview with Michael Cole. I said, ‘I won’t do it. Send Michael Cole here.’ And they ended up doing this ‘via satellite’ thing, which I didn’t think was great, but it got us to the next week. I just, I was hoping we — I would still have preferred to come back at a later date, a few weeks before [WrestleMania].”
It wasn’t all bad. Dave says Vince came up with the “Hunter, kiss my ass” promo on the go home show from D.C., which he loved. And after the match at MetLife Stadium, they shared a moment backstage:
“I did talk to Vince and it wasn’t anything overly emotional, but it was, he was really happy. All along, he was really happy that I was back and he was very gracious.”
Bautista and Jericho also bond over what they feel are their similar relationships with Vince - they butted heads a lot, but with mutual respect since everyone was interested in delivering the best possible story. They agreed that McMahon respected them for sticking up for themselves, and they respected that he got the last word, cause he’s the boss.