Batista is set to be the headline act in the 2023 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, honouring his career from his first match in 2002 to his final bout against Triple H at WrestleMania.
Now a big star in Hollywood, his wrestling days are far behind him. However, fans still reminisce about the fantastic career The Animal had, and think back to his incredible matches against The Undertaker, Triple H and Edge.
However, in this article we’re looking back to the first WWE match for Batista and how the Animal made his debut in the company against a more-than-familiar foe.
Batista WWE Debut
Batista made his WWE debut on the May 9, 2002 episode of Friday Night Smackdown, alongside D-Von Dudley. D-Von had recently split with his brother Bubba Ray Dudley after the brand split and was trying out a singles run for the first time.
D-Von changed his gimmick to reflect his real-life religion. While he had shown glimpses of this while he as part of the Dudley Boys (by yelling out testify during promos), he went full-blown Vicar as he began his new life as Reverend D-Von.
Reverend D-Von was originally brought in as the “spiritual advisor” to Mr McMahon, but soon found a lackey of his own. He brought in Deacon Batista to carry the collection box and stand at ringside as his bodyguard, helping him win matches through various nefarious means.
Batista’s first match in the WWE was on the May 9th, 2002 episode of Smackdown when he teamed with D-Von to take on the duo of Randy Orton and Farooq. Deacon Batista pinned Orton in his debut and went on to beat him the following weeks too, with Orton picking a variety of different partners for the match.
Batista would later turn on Reverend D-Von, defeating him a singles match on the November 14 episode of SmackDown. Batista was then drafted to SmackDown where he would join a now-legendary faction.
Batista Joined Evolution
After splitting with D-Von, Batista was drafted the Monday Night Raw. WWE were clearly high on him and were hoping for him to be main event star in the future for them, so teamed him up with some other wrestlers who could help bring him to that level.
In January 2003, he was paired with Randy Orton, Triple H and Ric Flair as he joined the newly formed Evolution stable. Originally, Mark Jindrak was chosen in his place, but Triple H soon realised it wasn’t working and swapped Batista into the stable instead.
The group showed promise but Batista didn’t last long before he was injured. He tore his right triceps in a match with Orton, teaming up to take on the Dudley Boys at a House Show. The Dudleys were said to have gone too hard on the duo on purpose and caused the injury. However, these claims have been denied by everyone in the match,
Batista returned from injury later that year in October and began to team with Ric Flair. The pair won the World Tag Team Championships at Armageddon 2003, meaning that Evolution now held every title on Raw (Triple H and Randy Orton held the World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships respectively).
He later turned on and feuded with Triple H. Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble and challenged Triple H at WrestleMania 22, defeating the game in his first WrestleMania main event to win his first world title in the WWE.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.