In one of his most revealing interviews since leaving WWE more than a year ago, Dave Bautista opened up about butting heads with WWE management, a “state of confusion” creatively, and WWE being “very controlling.”
Despite all that, Batista says he would still return to WWE in-between movie gigs. But, just to do house shows, like Chris Jericho, to avoid “skipping all of the red tape” and “bulls—.”
“At the end of the day I love WWE and I’ve proven that I wouldn’t wrestle anywhere else. I feel like wrestling anywhere else is a step down. I love the company and I will always be appreciative for what they’ve done for me. I would love to go back, it’s just they’re just really hard to deal with and right now my passion is acting – I love it – and I’m pursuing it,” Bautista told entertainment reporter Chris Van Vliet during an interview promoting his role in the new Bond movie “Spectre.”
“But if the opportunity comes up and they were a little more flexible with me as far as creative, I’d love to. But also, I would do it in a heartbeat – without big money, I don’t want a limited schedule. If they would allow me to go back and just do house shows I’d be all over it. Because then you just skip all of the red tape and you don’t have to deal with the writers and all that bulls—. Just go back and do your thing, and my thing is wrestling. Wrestlers. Audience. Ring. That’s all I want.”
When Bautista returned to WWE at the start of 2014, he says that he knew things were not going to work out because of broken promises and WWE force-feeding him as a babyface when he wanted to play heel. Bautista did not name names when it came to individuals who pushed for certain ideas, but he pointed the finger at the collective braintrust of WWE.
“I was just constantly butting heads with them creatively, which is something we talked about well beforehand and I was promised things that weren’t delivered to me. For one, I didn’t want to go back as a babyface. I said it’s not going to work, they don’t want to see me as a babyface. Nobody wants to see Batista as a babyface. I’m the worst babyface ever. But I’m a good heel, I know how to be a heel, I’m comfortable being a heel and the fans want me to be a heel. But they tried to shove me down everybody’s throats, and they rebelled,” Bautista said, stopping short of referencing the simultaneous rise of Daniel Bryan, the leader of a fan uprising.
“They (fans) are not idiots and they don’t like it and they don’t want it. So, it just makes them rebel more. Then it became a state of confusion where they didn’t know what they wanted to do with me so they’d just send me out every week regurgitating the same crap and it was just horrible. After I had finally been there for a few months where I found my niche, when people started reacting to me in a positive way, I had to go and fulfill my (movie) obligations with Marvel.”
Bautista said he learned a lesson about standing his ground, which is something “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson shared with him from balancing WWE and movies.
“I always found it amazing that he was actually able to go from film to wrestling and back to film to wrestling, and he described it as quicksand especially with the company, WWE because they are very controlling. They’re not the easiest company to deal with,” Bautista said.
“And he said don’t get caught in the quicksand, you’re not trapped here, you have to be strong and have to stand your ground. If this is what you want to do, you have to make it known and you’re not going to deviate from that plan. And that’s what I did when I went back for my short stint with WWE. He helped me make it work.”
Bautista also credited Jim Ross for helping him understand the importance of his facial reactions, which helped him get the role of “Mr. Hinx” in the new Bond movie.