It's do or die again for The Animal

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June 08, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It came from the Chairman's lips during The Cutting Edge on SmackDown Friday night.

"Do or die!"

Edge was taken aback by Mr. McMahon's rambling commentary, as most WWE employees have been this week while watching the boss' peculiar behavior.

But the comment wasn't directed so much at the Rated-R Superstar. It was meant for The Animal, Batista. 

The world learned Friday night that Mr. McMahon has scheduled the rematch between Edge and The Animal for Vengeance: Night of Champions, with a "Last Chance" stipulation that could bring this heated rivalry to an end.

If Batista cannot beat Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship June 24, he will never be granted another title opportunity for as long as Edge remains champion. It's a role The Animal has been in before. The two-time World Heavyweight Champion won both his titles under similar circumstances. 

In 2005, The Animal fought through 30 men in the Royal Rumble to earn a title opportunity at WrestleMania 21.Then, Batista unraveled a distraction scheme by his friend and Evolution teammate Triple H to make him challenge then-WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield instead of HHH for the World Title.

In the end, Batista decided on The Game's World Title, to be competed for at the biggest sports-entertainment event of the year. With the whole world watching, it was do or die in front of millions of viewers at the annual spectacle of spectacles. The Animal defeated his former friend and mentor to begin his first World Championship reign, which lasted 282 days, ending only when Batista had to relinquish the title due to injury.

At Survivor Series 2006 in Philadelphia, Batista faced World Heavyweight Champion King Booker, who beat Batista at SummerSlam months earlier. The opportunity was seen by many as the final chance Batista had to beat the royal champion, or be moved down the ranks as other SmackDown Superstars were on the rise.

In a match that also had a similar "Last Chance" stipulation, Batista risked disqualification, and used World Championship gold to crown the King in the head out of the sight of distracted referee Nick Patrick, and earned the pinfall. With everything on the line, he rose to the challenge and beat Booker for his second World Championship in the same arena that he had relinquished the title in earlier that year. 

Batista has been so close to regaining the World Heavyweight Championship for months. After being beaten by Undertaker at WrestleMania 23, he overcame injury and adversity to fight The Deadman to two draws. After Edge swooped in and used the Money in the Bank briefcase to take The Phenom's title, The Animal has been on the hunt for Edge's gold. 

It has been maddening for Batista to be so close, yet see the gold walk out with his opponent. After Edge exploited Batista's leg injury at Judgment Day and narrowly escaped the steel cage before him at One Night Stand, what can The Animal do to ensure his final opportunity at the title won't escape through his fingers? 

With only one final do or die chance left at the World Heavyweight Championship, can Batista power through the Ultimate Opportunist in his final title opportunity? We'll find out at Vengeance: Night of Champions June 24.

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