Batista: The Animal Unleashed DVD Review
By Ben Spindler
Posted On 12-07-2014 11:18 GMT
Tags: WWE, Batista, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio

Given the high level of attention that Batista’s return to WWE garnered, it is hardly surprising that the company thought to bring out a new Batista compilation from their extensive tape library. In fact, an in-depth documentary with a little creativity that focussed on Batista’s comeback from Royal Rumble right through to his hiatus after Payback to promote ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and dealing with the crowd reaction that he got, might have made for a fascinating watch. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do this and what we get instead in ‘Batista: The Animal Unleashed’ is a 3 disc, 9 hour set comprising a 40 minute documentary and a selection of over 20 matches from Batista’s career in WWE.

First let’s deal with the documentary. The 40 minutes tells only the story of the week between Batista appearing on Raw for his return to the company and his victory at this year’s Royal Rumble. What is here is actually not bad, Batista comes across as likeable enough chap and doesn’t hold back- his disillusion with WWE’s move to PG is covered, as is his opinion on the crowd reaction at Royal Rumble (albeit briefly). There are also some nice insights and touches like Batista practicing his pyro entrance prior to the show and his admission that he was insecure about his old style ring tights which is why he moved to the longer tights for this stint.

If this had gone on for double the time, and continued the story right through to the aftermath of Wrestlemania 30, then this would have been a very decent documentary piece, unfortunately, the story ends with Batista looking forward to headlining the big show, immediately after the Rumble. As things changed pretty dramatically following January’s pay-per-view, the narrative would have been outdated just weeks after all this took place, as it’s been released in the last few weeks, it’s completely obsolete. As such, what good there is here, is cancelled out by the insignificance of the story it is telling.

The rest of the set simply brings you match upon match involving Batista, and as there is about 8 hours of the stuff, it is a fatigue inducing journey that only the most ardent of ‘The Animal’s fans will be able to sit through. Having said that, similar could be said for practically all of these ‘profile’ style box sets, given the length of them and repetitiveness of  seeing the same person again and again (and having to hear their entrance music about 50 times- once for their entrance and once for their inevitable victory).

Where this set misses the mark in particular is the lack of anything to link the matches, unlike many of the past compilation pieces there isn’t even a kayfabe sit-down interview with ‘The Animal’ to carry us from match to match. This has the consequence of these matches seeming arbitrarily selected for inclusion and leaves the viewer with no sense that much care has been taken in putting it all together. What’s more is that, as a number of Batista’s most famous and best matches have been used in compilations gone by, this features an inordinate amount of long-forgotten Smackdown main events.

On the first disc there is interest to be had in Batista’s (or Leviathan, as he was at the time) match with Brock Lesnar whilst both were learning their trade in OVW, and a rollicking 6-man tag match which sees ‘The Animal’ team up with Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio against King Booker, Finlay and Mark Henry on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. It’s also fun seeing Batista teaming with D-Von Dudley in his main roster, in-ring debut against Randy Orton and Faarooq.

In the documentary, Batista complains that WWE fans seem to have forgotten the work he put in during his first run with the company after receiving the boos he did as a face at the Rumble this year. The truth is that Batista seems to have forgotten his and Ric Flair’s popular victory as heels for the Tag Team titles when they beat Rob Van Dam and Booker T in another decent contest which is included here- the moral being that some fans have always gone against the grain in cheering for certain individuals- nobody would suggest that fans had forgotten RVD and Booker T’s past work.

On disc 2, there is more quality action as Batista takes on CM Punk, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho whilst his series with Rey Mysterio is included on disc 3. Admittedly, having good matches with the above named wrestlers is hardly a big accomplishment given what those men have accomplished but still they are all here and well worth a look.

Some of the contests that see Batista against the likes of Kane, JBL and Mark Henry are sluggish as you would expect and the rest are perfectly adequate, just not particularly interesting or significant to ‘The Animal’s career.

Ultimately, ‘Batista: The Animal Unleashed’ is another one of WWE’s box set releases that has its moments but that would benefit from some choice pruning and an extension of the insightful stuff that happens in the way-too-short documentary film at the beginning. Batista fans will enjoy I am sure, for the rest of you, this is not essential viewing.

Tags: WWE, Batista, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio

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