SmackDown's Animal unleashed Friday night

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July 02, 2006

Almost six months ago, the SmackDown brand suffered a huge blow when World Champion Batista revealed that he suffered a serious triceps injury at the hands of Mark Henry and would be out of action for several months. The proud Champion was brought to tears when he had no choice but to relinquish his most prized possession – the World Championship – to General Manager Theodore Long. While Batista showed his raw emotion that night in Philadelphia, you can bet that he will be showing a totally different kind of emotion when the Animal will once again be unleashed and makes his long-awaited return to SmackDown this Friday.

When Batista relinquished his Championship, he said that whoever was the Champion when he made his return would just be holding the title for him. It’s doubtful that Batista, let alone anyone for that matter, thought it would be the ultimate underdog Rey Mysterio that would be holding the Championship upon his arrival. When Batista left SmackDown in January, Mysterio was arguably his best friend on the brand. The two were former WWE Tag Team Champions and shared a strong bond. But will all of that change now that Rey holds what Batista views as his World Championship?

“Batista left as one of my partners, we were Tag Team Champions. Now that he’s coming back – I know he’s been saying that he’s coming back for the gold –he wants his Championship back. If we’re going to have to battle it out then I’m all for it,” said Mysterio. “He was gone for a good period of time, and if that’s the case, then we’re just going to have to see. If he can talk the talk and walk the walk then I guess we’re going to have to face off and see who the best man is.”

General Manager Theodore Long, as well as SmackDown fans everywhere, is very interested to see how the situation between Mysterio and Batista plays out.

“What Batista and Rey Mysterio both understand is that the World Championship is about the dollar, dollar bill,” said Long. “I tell you, Rey Mysterio has certainly been holding on to that World Championship. He’s been a great competitor. I mean he’s really been dragged through the mud. To stand up to Mark Henry, The World’s Strongest Man, JBL and The Great Khali, guys that he’s been able to go through to retain the Championship, he’s certainly proved that he is Championship material, and he’s certainly proved that he is deserving of being World Champion. So Batista better think twice about Rey Mysterio. He’s been out of the ring for a while, been out of commission, so it’s going to take time to get adjusted, but I know this is one that the fans would certainly want to see.”

Ironically enough, Batista will be returning to SmackDown in the very same city that he left the brand back in January – Philadelphia. To General Manager Theodore Long, the location is irrelevant – he’s just glad to have one of his top Superstars back.

“Well Batista means a lot to SmackDown. Batista was a World Champion with us for quite some time,” said Long. “The fans loved him, he loved the fans, and not only that, he was a great leader in the locker room. He always had advice for the young talent that was coming up. He was great guy to be around and we all loved him. He meant a lot to SmackDown and when he comes back he’s going to mean even more.”

While reclaiming the World Championship will undoubtedly be a top priority for the Animal, he was also knocked out of commission by Mark Henry. The World’s Strongest Man prides himself on his Path of Destruction, which now includes the likes of Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Chavo Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. But his list of victims actually began with Batista. Will the Animal be out for revenge when he returns to SmackDown this Friday?

While no one knows for sure what Batista has in store for his return to SmackDown Friday night, you can bet it will be nothing short of explosive. Will Batista look to reclaim his World Championship? Will the Animal be on the hunt for revenge against Mark Henry? The only way to find out is to tune in to SmackDown Friday night at 8/7 CT on UPN.

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