Batista made his WWE return tonight alongside old Evolution stablemates Triple H, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. The four reunited as part of SmackDown 1000, making their historic first appearance on the blue brand.
However, speaking in front of his hometown crowd in Washington, D.C., the former world champion-turned-movie star made a surprising move.
While hyping up the achievements of his stablemates, The Animal saved the heaviest praise for group leader Triple H, claiming that he’s done everything there is to do in the wrestling business. ‘Except beat me.’
The pair shared a tense staredown, which was diffused by the end of the segment as the group all hugged it out – but this has understandably sparked speculation that Batista intends to return and take on Triple H at next year’s WrestleMania.
WWE.com’s official recap of the segment also hints at lingering discontent between the two, reading:
‘The Cerebral Assassin did not take kindly to Batista’s words, but the tension seemed to diffuse when the two hugged it out … only for both to still give each other a little side-eye as the hugs began to flow throughout the group.’
Randy Orton also threw shade at his stablemates earlier in the segment, although this could simply be due to his current run as a particularly callous heel, and seeing him selflessly praise his old friends may looked a little out of character at the moment.
Batista last wrestled a WWE match at Payback 2014, teaming with Triple H and Orton to take on The Shield in no DQ six-man action. The Shield won, but Seth Rollins turned on his teammates and joined forces with Triple H shortly after.
The Animal has faced The Game at WrestleMania before, defeating him for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles, California. He successfully defended the title twice against Triple H at subsequent pay per views, defeating him at both Backlash and Vengeance 2005.