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Animal roars toward "Hell"
WICHITA, Kan. -- On SmackDown Friday night, with only hours to go before meeting Batista at Survivor Series, Undertaker imparted a message for the World Heavyweight Champion: "You will not survive Hell in a Cell…but you will rest…in…peace." The Animal, in turn, countered with a more volatile declaration, by physically dissecting Mark Henry in their No Disqualification Match -- in less than five minutes.
Batista's message certainly couldn't have been stated any clearer for Undertaker -- or more painful for Henry. From the wild look in his eyes throughout Friday's battle, it's evident that stepping into "The Deadman's playground" is playing mind games with The Animal. Though judging by his domination of the World's Strongest Man, it's also apparent that he's extremely focused on doing whatever it takes to survive the hellish steel structure Sunday night, and remain World Heavyweight Champion.
Of course, our fans might have been a lot more doubtful of the champion's mindset earlier in the week. Those in attendance at the Kansas Coliseum certainly must have wondered what had possessed Batista to challenge Henry to a No Disqualification Match, especially with The Deadman and "Hell" awaiting him less than 48 hours away. The reality is that when it comes to Mark Henry, one can practically guarantee that Batista will make time for him.
As The Animal had mentioned in a WWE.com exclusive one week prior (WATCH), he hadn't forgotten Henry's recent beatdown, or that he had caused a triceps injury which forced Batista to relinquish his first World Heavyweight Title back in January 2006. In his own right, the self-proclaimed Silverback was determined to raise Hell a few days early for the champion. His already mean streak had been exceptionally great of late, especially after establishing himself as a "king of the monsters" during a recent SmackDown-ECW Monster Mash.
Once the bell rang and the match started, however, the outcome was never in doubt. When was the last time anyone remembers seeing Mark Henry so brutally tossed around? The answer to that question is never -- until this past Friday.
Batista was absolutely relentless in making an example of the behemoth, and he made damn sure to take full advantage of the No Disqualification stipulation that he had requested days earlier. After delivering a canvas-rattling spinebuster to the 400-pound Superstar, The Animal gave Henry a close look at his coveted World Heavyweight Title -- by smashing it, full-force, into his face. It's a miracle that the title's markings, or its "Batista" nameplate, aren't imprinted onto Henry's forehead.
After such a blow to the skull, it's not surprising that Henry wouldn't kick out of a three-count. What was surprising, however, was that the victorious champion was far from finished. On the outside floor, The Animal vented his full rage as he launched Henry into the steel ring steps, wrapped a camera cable around his windpipe, nearly speared right through him, and unloaded seemingly-countless chair blasts across his enemy's massive back. And our fans' cheers of approval were fully behind him every step of the way.
Leaving Mark Henry a crumpled heap on the outside, Batista returned to the ring, looking like a man possessed by -- and actually embracing -- his hellish challenge at Survivor Series. He screamed Undertaker's name aloud, as if in sheer defiance to The Phenom's comments that evening. But even The Animal's fury -- and the entire crowd's cheers -- was suddenly silenced by The Deadman's knell. Outraged, as if anticipating an attack from his Survivor Series foe, Batista turned his attention toward the ramp…
…And saw Undertaker's lifeless, eye-rolling gaze staring right back at him through the TitanTron.
Batista will never admit it, but it's quite possible that he may have witnessed something other than The Deadman Friday night. Perhaps he also saw a glimpse of this Sunday's confrontation inside Hell in a Cell -- and the demise of his World Heavyweight Title reign.