Raw General Manager Mick Foley identifies the top Raw Superstars to look out for at the 2017 Royal Rumble, live this Sunday at 7 ET/4 PT on the award-winning WWE Network.01/24/2017 - 11:30
Batista's SummerSlam homecoming
This story was updated the morning of Aug. 17 with new comments from Batista after he called WWE.com to talk further about his SummerSlam homecoming.
In 2000, which now must seem like a lifetime ago, Dave Batista was an imposing bouncer in Washington, D.C., the site of this year's SummerSlam.
Five long-and-improbable years later, Batista is just as imposing at his current job as the World Heavyweight Champion.
SummerSlam will certainly be an emotional night for Batista, who grew up in the D.C. area. At the age of 17, Batista was basically estranged from both his parents and living on his own, often getting in and out of trouble.
"I still live 30 minutes outside of D.C., in Virginia," Batista told WWE.com Wednesday morning. "It's really incredible. I mean I was a bouncer at a club literally just two blocks away from the MCI Center."
Batista eventually found steady work as a bouncer at local clubs, only to be arrested one night after his short temper and heavy fists left two rowdy patrons badly hurt, with one lying in the street.
A trial for assault and battery landed Batista one year's probation. But it also motivated him to find a new way in life. A few months later he was enrolled in Wild Samoan Afa's wrestling school in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
"I had a dream of being a body builder, but that hit a dead end," Batista said. "After so many years, I just pursued wrestling with everything I had. My wife and I gave up everything. We borrowed money so I could train, it was do or die. I had tunnel vision, I didn't see anything else."
In fact, when Batista first got the itch to try his hand at wrestling, he visited a WWE show in the D.C. area looking for advice. It didn't go so well.
"I was just trying to find out how to pursue it," Batista said. "I just wanted to talk to someone and they kicked me out of the building. It's kind of funny looking back now."
Still, the training finally gave Batista a purpose, and he made his WWE debut in 2002. Three years later, at WrestleMania 21 of all places, the former bouncer defeated Triple H to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Batista will defend the World Heavyweight Championship for a second time against JBL at SummerSlam. This encounter will be a No Holds Barred Match. And the former bouncer expects to be the fan favorite in his hometown.
"Every 10 seconds I get a call about tickets," Batista said. "I have to tell them I ran out and the place is sold out. But half the crowd will be my friends and family. I always get a good response in D.C., but to be there as champion will be incredible."