Dave "The Animal" Batista announced his retirement from sports entertainment after losing to Triple H in a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania 35. Up next, the WWE Hall of Fame. The two-time Royal Rumble winner is one of the most polarizing main event superstars to come around over the past 20 years. On one hand, he headlined many big pay-per-views - including WrestleMania 21. He defeated many great opponents and was instrumental in helping WWE transition towards the Ruthless Aggression Era, long after The Rock and 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin left at the end of the Attitude Era.
On the other hand, Batista was limited as an actual wrestler. He wasn't the type to put on consistent Grade-A matches, and it's hard to forget about his two bitter and frustrating departures from the WWE in 2010 and 2014. But when it comes to Batista's overall career in the ring, the good largely outweighs the bad. Here are 10 reasons why he belongs in the WWE Hall of Fame.
10 ENFORCER OF EVOLUTION
Yes, Triple H was the centerpiece and leader of the Evolution stable. And yes, Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair was the old guard assisting the new generation. Together, he and The Game helped push and mentor both Batista and Randy Orton as future main event stars.
But Evolution wouldn't have been the legendary stable without The Animal. This group needed its "enforcer," and Batista was the one that took out Triple H's biggest threats - including Goldberg, Edge and Chris Jericho, among others. Batista maintained order and ensured Evolution remained the ultra-dominant and heel stable of WWE during its height of power.
9 DESTROYER OF EVOLUTION
No matter how you feel about Batista, there's no taking away the fact that his babyface turn in 2005 was a turning point for WWE in the Ruthless Aggression Era. The Animal won the Royal Rumble and was begged by both Triple H and Flair to join SmackDown, where he could challenge JBL for the WWE Championship. The Game brought up the idea of the two men celebrating with their title belts after WrestleMania 21.
At his contract signing, Batista teased that he would sign the contract to join SmackDown. He quickly gave the "thumbs down," attacked his two Evolution mentors and Batista Bombed Triple H through the table. Batista then signed the contract to stay on Raw and challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship - which he would win at WrestleMania. Evolution was WWE's top stable for two years, but Batista changed the course of history with his babyface turn. For that, he's more than deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame.
8 HIS ROLE IN THE ATTITUDE ERA
With The Rock and Steve Austin out of wrestling, WWE needed some new superstars to build around. The Attitude Era was long done with, and it was time to find two guys who could take the company in a different direction.
John Cena wound up being the face that ran the place, but Batista was a close second right behind him. Even if the latter wasn't that skilled in the ring, the fans quickly got behind Batista - and he succeeded in becoming a major babyface and main eventer.
No, he wasn't on the same level as Austin or The Rock. Not even close. But with big shoes to fill, Batista succeeded in working with Cena to become the new faces of professional wrestling.
7 FACE OF SMACKDOWN
Monday Night Raw has always been the WWE's flagship show, but when Batista was the face of SmackDown, the blue brand enjoyed some of its greatest years and moments.
While guys like Cena, Triple H and Shawn Michaels were stealing the show in the Raw brand, Batista was the true face of SmackDown. He had some clinical feuds with the likes of Undertaker and Edge - all for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Raw was always the big show, but Batista gave everyone a good reason to turn on SmackDown as well. He was always cutting top-notch promos and brought fans to their feet whenever he went up against the big heels. His role in bringing more relevance to SmackDown is just another reason to put him in the Hall of Fame.
6 THE LEGENDS HE DEFEATED
Take a look at some of the greatest superstars he's defeated, and The Animal is clearly on par with some of the other wrestling legends of the 21st century. This is a man who defeated Triple H not once, but three times. He did so first at WrestleMania 21, then followed it up with victories at Backlash and Vengeance. The Animal also became the first person to pin Triple H inside a Hell in a Cell. That's quite the accomplishment.
Batista also defeated other legends like Booker T, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Undertaker, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio - many of these being premier pay-per-view championship matches. Hey, to be the man, you've got to beat the man. Batista defeated many legends in his career. That's why he belongs in the Hall.
5 TWO-TIME ROYAL RUMBLE WINNER
Only Steve Austin has won more Royal Rumbles than Batista - who is one of the only seven superstars to win it multiple times. Batista was victorious at the 2005 and 2014 Royal Rumble events, earning the chance to headline WrestleMania 21 and WrestleMania XXX.
Batista's Royal Rumble win in 2005 led to the dismantling of Evolution and his rise as a prominent star in the Attitude Era. His 2014 Royal Rumble victory obviously didn't sit well with fans and pundits, but at least it started up an incredible main event - where Daniel Bryan would become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
4 SUCCESS AS A HEEL
After he left Evolution, Batista spent most of the next few years as a babyface. But without a doubt, The Animal was at his very best whenever he played the heel character.
With his huge physique and angry, explosive personality, Batista played the heel role to near-perfection. And he was so savage and ruthless any time he portrayed the bad guy character.
He viciously attacked long-time friend Rey Mysterio for not letting him win a Fatal 4-way match for the World Heavyweight Championship at Bragging Rights 2009. He beat up Ric Flair during his 70th birthday celebration. In storyline, he "quit" WWE in 2014 for not being granted the championship opportunity he wanted. Batista brought everything you wanted in a heel: Anger, aggressiveness, arrogance, selfishness and no mercy. He's one of the most overlooked heels of all time, and his work as the bad guy makes him deserving of induction.
3 PUTTING OTHERS OVER
Many wrestling icons consistently refused to put over younger talents throughout their careers. They know who they are.
Even if you were never big on Batista, you can't deny how selfless he was when it came to putting younger talents over. He had no problem losing to Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania XXX - even though he was the Royal Rumble winner. On his way out of WWE, Batista had zero issues putting over The Shield - who would defeat Evolution in a pair of matches. That type of selflessness must be recognized by WWE. No better way to do it than to put him in the Hall.
2 THE SHOWS HE HEADLINED
You can't headline as many shows as Batista did without earning a Hall of Fame induction. This man was headlined WrestleMania 21 and co-headlined WrestleMania XXX with Orton and Bryan. Batista headlined a trio of pay-per-views against Triple H in 2005 - all of them being World Heavyweight Championship matches. Batista headlined Survivor Series 2006, where he defeated Booker T to regain the World title.
He headlined the 2007 Cyber Sunday and Survivor Series shows, too. Oh, and the 2010 Extreme Rules and Over the Limit pay-per-views - both matches against John Cena. Those were just some of the many big shows Batista would headline in WWE. WWE made him the main event draw for all those shows back in the day. So why wouldn't you thank him and give the guy an induction?
1 THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
At the end of the day, the championships speak for themselves. Batista won four World Heavyweight Championships throughout his illustrious career. Only Edge (seven) and Triple H (five) had more. The Animal also won the World Tag Team Championships three times, the WWE Tag Team titles once with Rey Mysterio and the WWE Championship twice. Did we mention those two Royal Rumbles?
The championships tell the story: Batista was a main eventer in WWE for a decade. He was a true money draw. The fans got behind him. He defeated many legends and put younger talents over. That's more than enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.