Global entertainment superstar Dave Bautista has long said he would return to WWE for a match against former mentor Triple H, so when Bautista appeared on Smackdown Live’s 1000th episode in October for an Evolution reunion, it seemed like his interactions with Haitch could set things in motion for a possible match. After praising fellow Evolution members Ric Flair and Randy Orton, Bautista turned to Triple H, reminding him of the one thing Haitch was unable to achieve in his storied career: defeating Bautista.
After that, a Bautista vs. Triple H program was rumored for WrestleMania, but at Crown Jewel last week, Triple H tore his pectoral muscle during a match with Shawn Michaels against The Undertaker and Kane. If Triple H needs to get surgery for the injury, he’ll be unable to compete by WrestleMania time, according to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Cageside Seats). Which means, in addition to all the other reasons to hate WWE Crown Jewel, we can now add that it may have cost us a Bautista return.
Bautista last returned to WWE in 2014, right before Guardians of the Galaxy would turn him into a major Hollywood star. It should have been a fan-favorite return, but WWE made the mistake of booking Bautista to win the Royal Rumble right in the midst of Daniel Bryan’s peak popularity. Bryan, long held back by WWE in favor of their more musclebound stars, equalled instant heel status for any babyface wrestler put against him. Bryan’s popularity helped usher in an era of boos for WWE golden child Roman Reigns, and WWE’s push of Bautista instead of Bryan meant the same thing for Bautista, earning him the nickname Boo-tista during that 2014 run.
WWE might have had a chance to make things right by bringing back Bautista, now a major Hollywood star, in a less volatile environment, but thanks to Triple H’s injury at Crown Jewel, that may not happen, at least not this year. Perhaps Bautista can be convinced to get on board with a Randy Orton feud instead?