WWE – Batista: The Animal Unleashed Blu-ray Review

Capture1You almost have to feel sorry for Dave Batista. Here’s a guy that made his way up through the company, from working with Reverend D-Von to getting his big break in Evolution alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. From there, Batista became a bona fide main eventer, headlining PPVs and holding both the World Heavyweight and WWE championships numerous times. Yet somewhere along the way, fans fell out of love with ‘The Animal’ and turned on him. Towards the end of his 2009-2010 run, after turning heel on Rey Mysterio, Batista was the focus of a lot of heat, with both the character and the man behind the personality getting a lot of backlash online. A combination of his working style and outspoken nature led Batista to split the WWE Universe down the middle, and his own opinions on the company direction led him to depart the industry he loved dearly.

From watching this new release – The Animal Unleashed – it’s even clearer that Batista has a love and respect for wrestling that you cannot deny. It’s easy for fans to turn on a guy who walked away to pursue other opportunities, but for a now 45-year-old man, those chances are something that need to be jumped on when they arise. Whether it was the dream of MMA fighting, or taking a huge role in Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy this summer, Batista puts his all into everything he does, and that’s something truly admirable. He’s a guy who knows who he is, sticks to his guns, and is always honest with people whether they agree with him or not. Like he’s been saying recently, you really have no choice but to ‘deal with it!’

If you’ve already seen the previous release I Walk Alone, you’ll have seen a great documentary portion on Batista’s life and rise to the top. He’s a fascinating character, almost more humble than you could ever imagine, and he’s one of the better people to watch in these behind the scenes documentaries because of the character differences. Unfortunately, because so much was covered previously, WWE have opted to skip over most of his earlier run and chosen to focus on a few weeks surrounding his return. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a very interesting period in Batista’s career, with the trepidation of returning after so long, seeing old and new faces, and wondering how the crowds would react. However, with a run time of only 39 minutes, the documentary portion falls far short of expectations. It’s a credit to WWE and Batista himself that you do genuinely want more from it, as what is shown is very interesting to any wrestling fan, but there’s simply not enough of it. Seeing the action behind the scenes at a WWE Raw event and the Royal Rumble offers great insight into the preparation of a WWE superstar, and it certainly gives Batista a more human element, as does his progress through MMA training. In the end, there are only a couple of events covered, and only really Batista giving any input. There are many stories and other angles that could have been played out.Capture

In terms of the matches provided on the set, they span enough of Batista’s career to offer a good idea of where he came from and how he developed into the man he is today. Newer fans may never have seen him as D-Von’s enforcer, so the debut match against Farooq and Randy Orton is definitely an intriguing one – not only for Batista but Orton also. The same goes for the OVW match versus a very early Brock Lesnar, who shows glimpses of the dangerous man we all now know, but also a scary amount of athleticism far removed from the ground and pound MMA star of today. There are a lot of Smackdown matches which are nice to have on the set, offering something slightly different from Batista’s previous set. You can always rely on guys like Edge, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho to put on great performances, and that’s no different here.

The last few matches serve as a reminder of how enjoyable the heel character of Batista was towards the end of his original run, especially against Rey Mysterio. These are two genuine friends who have great chemistry together, and hopefully they’ll get a chance to work together again one day. It’s nice to see them catch up in the documentary portion, and also see Batista and his tribute to Eddie Guerrero on his low rider. It’s a touching moment that reminds you of just how emotional and real the business can be, and Eddie’s name will never be forgotten.

In all honesty, this wasn’t a set that I was highly anticipating, but it serves as a great reminder of how good Batista can be at the top of his game. I have a lot more respect for the man, I like his honesty and I hope he gets a good run again after his Guardians promotion. He may not be the best “wrestler” in the world, but anyone with the passion to come back and give it his all has to be worth supporting. I never expected to want more from a Batista DVD/Blu-ray but here WWE certainly leave you with that feeling. It’s just a shame that more couldn’t have been put into the documentary portion, and this makes it hard to recommend as an essential purchase.

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Batista: The Animal Unleashed is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. Full match listings and Blu-ray exclusives can be found HERE.

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