Circle of Champions: Batista grants Aurora Valdez's Wish
HOUSTON — On his last night on SmackDown before reporting to Raw, Batista met with Wish teen Aurora Valdez from the Make-A-Wish Foundation in a luxury suite at Houston's Toyota Center.
"It's not fair that he's leaving SmackDown to go to Raw. I'm going to miss him, but now it gives me more of a reason to watch Raw Monday nights," Valdez said.
For Valdez, 18, her passion for sports-entertainment came indirectly. Her brother would tell her that as soon as Friday Night SmackDown went off the air, her favorite boy band, Backstreet Boys, were coming on. That convinced her to watch, and she hasn't stopped since. It was in 2002, when Batista first debuted in WWE, that Valdez realized who her favorite wrestler was.
"I knew he was going to be big when I first saw him. I fell for him right away," the Phoenix resident said with an ear-to-ear grin on her face. "I like Batista's style of wrestling … his Batista Bomb, spinebuster and his spear is cool, too."
Valdez also was surprised by a visit from SmackDown's newest draftee, Mr. Kennedy. And in light of the 2008 WWE Draft, Valdez, an aspiring WWE commentator, was excited that WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross took over the announcer duties.
"Even though SmackDown lost Batista, having J.R. on the show is good for Friday nights. I like him a lot, because he's so funny," Valdez explained.
Aurora found it difficult to contain her excitement when the three-time World Champion, towering at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, entered the luxury suite and sat next to her.
"Oh my, can I give you a hug?" an enthusiastic Valdez asked her favorite Superstar, who gladly agreed.
The Animal came in bearing gifts for his fan. He gave her his signature T-shirt and elbow pads, plus autographed her Batista memorabilia, including his best-selling autobiography, Batista Unleashed. Batista answered Valdez's numerous questions about his favorite colors (black and white), his dream match (main event against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) and his favorite moments in the ring (winning his first World Heavyweight Championship and World Tag Team Title with Ric Flair).
Valdez was thrilled with her time spent with The Animal and all the items he brought her, but admitted there's something else that stands out about Batista that she'll always remember.
"He has the most beautiful eyes. When I was interviewing him I couldn't help but notice them. I knew I should say something, because if I didn't, I would cry and I didn't want to do that," Valdez recalled. "I'm still kind of nervous after meeting him. It was very cool meeting Batista. I still can't believe it. He was very nice."
The Animal, a huge Make-A-Wish Foundation fan, reflected on his encounter with the "True Champ."
"It's one of those things that makes me feel really good inside. It's definitely one of the biggest perks that comes with this job. It's a feeling that's hard to describe. I feel grateful. I don't think most people in their lifetime will have an experience like this," Batista expressed.
"I don't know if they get more out of it than I do. Their wish is to meet me and I put a smile on their face and make them feel better about themselves. In turn, they make me feel good about myself, too."
And what does Batista think of Valdez's compliment on his "beautiful eyes"?
"That's very flattering, but when I look in the mirror, I see a big, ugly gym rat," Batista said with his trademark grin.