The Animal waits for the World to change
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- With the hustle and bustle of preparations for Mr. McMahon's Raw memorial service going on at the American Bank Center, one large figure sits alone in a darkened section above the fray.
In the shadows, Batista watches quietly as the WWE technicians assemble the ring for tonight's Raw special, knowing that it was in that very ring at Vengeance: Night of Champions that he let his World Heavyweight Championship hopes slip away -- perhaps for good.
He's thought about it over and over again, replaying his Last Chance Match against Edge on a never-ending loop in his mind. SmackDown GM Theodore Long had already thwarted Edge's plans to lose by disqualification, ordering him to return to the ring.
Batista took the champion outside the ring and crushed his body to the arena floor with a Batista Bomb. In the euphoria of knowing he was so close to regaining the World Heavyweight Championship, he rolled the Rated-R Superstar back into the ring to score the pinfall.
But as the crowd roared, sensing the title was about to change hands, Batista was unable to hear referee Jim Korderas counting out the combatants. As Batista climbed up on the ring apron, Korderas called for the bell.
A 10-count had been reached. The Animal was counted out. Edge was declared the winner. And in a fit of rage, Batista powerbombed the champion again for good measure, leaving Edge unconscious in the ring next to his championship title.
Batista told WWE.com that he can still hear that bell vividly in his ears -- a bell that signaled the death of his World Heavyweight Championship hopes for as long as Edge holds the title. Sources say he was cursing himself in the locker room for making such a tactical error and not keeping aware of the referee's count.
But, after a night of rest and the chance to clear his mind, he knows he needs to move on. "What's next for me is to take it day by day … week by week," Batista said. "I'm still one of those guys who'll take any opponent [GM Theodore Long] sets in front of me."
Overnight, Batista made the decision to honor his Last Chance Match stipulation -- one of Mr. McMahon's last actions before his demise June 11.
"I don't really respect Edge as a person, but I do respect the title that he holds," Batista said. "And I'll respect the rules that have been set down. I won't interfere or have anything to do with Edge."
By this statement, Batista seems content to bide his time and wait for another SmackDown Superstar to beat the Rated-R Superstar for his World Heavyweight Title. But our fans have to wonder, how long The Animal will remain caged by this stipulation?
Will it take some conversations with his friend and mentor, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, to see Batista become more proactive in helping the gold move from Edge's waist? Could Batista seek out a partnership with other SmackDown Superstars in a quid pro quo situation -- offering ringside "assistance" against Edge in exchange for a title opportunity?
The Animal won't discuss such a plan. He intends to be a man of his word. He knows once the World Heavyweight Championship leaves the Ultimate Opportunist's hands, he'll be the one to see his opportunities widen.
"I'll keep my options open," Batista said. "I'll wait for Edge to get his a** whooped by someone else, and that title will become available."
Of course, he'd be happy to get his hands on Edge in any way possible.
"If I get a non-title chance [against Edge], of course, I'll beat the hell out of him," Batista said with a grin.