ECW fans unleashed on the Animal
Friday night on SmackDown, the Animal Batista will be unleashed at the friendly confines of the Continental Airlines Arena where he will try to harness his rage and overcome the crafty Mr. Kennedy. Tuesday night, however, was a different story when Batista went into the Hell's Kitchen environment of New York City at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Normally an overwhelming fan favorite, Batista was nearly booed out of the building by the boisterous and passionate ECW faithful before, during and after his ECW World Title match against Big Show.
New York crowds have always been renowned for having unique opinions and a strong knowledge of the sports-entertainment landscape. But the New York ECW fans are an entirely different animal…no pun intended. Never afraid to express their freedom of speech, their undying love for all that is extreme makes them stand out as one of a kind.
But not only was Batista, who was entering enemy territory, booed, but the ECW faithful also decided to relentlessly boo their own World Champion Big Show. The avid ECW fans in New York at the Hammerstein Ballroom refused to accept Big Show as one of their own. Big Show has achieved success on both RAW and SmackDown, and the ECW fans seemed to have their minds made up to reject anyone that did not represent the old ECW that they were brought up with.
Just one day before his big match with Mr. Kennedy on SmackDown, WWE.com caught up with SmackDown's Animal to get his thoughts on Tuesday's near-mutiny at Hammerstein.
"I love that the ECW fans are so enthusiastic, but at the same time I think there are always a few morons that hate everything and crap all over everything," said Batista. "I think some of them just go to chant and boo and make fools of themselves and don't even appreciate what the guys in the ring are doing."
Batista was also quick to note that ECW used to always be known for extreme matches. Since his match against Big Show was contested under traditional rules, the Animal said he wasn't surprised at the reaction he got.
"I knew I wouldn't be welcomed with open arms, and I was cool with that," said Batista. "A lot of times the ECW crowd thinks they're going to intimidate people. Honestly, I've seen and done it all. There's not a whole lot that intimidates me. So, I wasn't about to take any crap."
Batista is no stranger to getting booed. In fact, until the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 21 two years ago, the Animal was a member of Evolution and drew the ire of WWE fans everywhere he went.
"A boo is a boo. It's all the same to me," said the Animal. "The only difference is that a boo in ECW might come with something flying at you, which is cool with me."
While the ECW fans proved that they still have an "against the establishment" mentality, Batista and Big Show also went against the grain of what is often seen inside the squared circle once the cameras stopped rolling. Just moments after being knocked outside the ring with the ECW Title, Batista got back in the ring and shook his opponent's hand. On a normal night, the Animal would be unleashed and there would be hell to pay.
"The bottom line is that Big Show is a guy I respect very much. I respect what he's done and what he's doing for ECW. He's stepping up," said Batista. "He's proven he's one of the top guys in sports-entertainment. I just respect him for that. We had our differences in the ring, but I think Big Show has become one of the best in the world. For a man his size to do the things he does -- he deserves nothing but respect, and that's what the handshake was all about."
Following the incident, many speculated that Batista and Big Show's friendly gesture was done to just further instigate the raucous crowd. But Batista said that wasn't the case at all.
"It was just about mutual respect. If you go back and watch the match, and look at us, the crowd didn't really affect either one of us. We gave it everything we had. We had a good, competitive match. It didn't have anything to do with forming an allegiance because the crowd was against us."
It's pretty clear that Batista happily accepted the fans' strong opinions of himself, but that wouldn't stop him from getting another dose of extreme.
"I'd go back to [ECW] in a heartbeat," he said. "I'd go back next week."