Have you ever felt bound to something? No matter where you go or what you do there is one thing that always follows you. You didn’t choose it. It didn’t choose you. It’s not fate. Not destiny. Still you are tied to it. For a very long time there have been two men in professional wrestling that have been bound to one another. They are always either running alongside one another or on a collision course. This happens with many feuds in wrestling, but one that has risen above all others in recent memory is John Cena vs. Batista. More than Bret Hart-Shawn Michaels, more than Steve Austin-Rock, even more so than Rock-Triple H, Batista and Cena have become the two most paralleled careers in WWE in the last fifteen years. Both men first appeared in WWE in 2002 after spending time in OVW. Upon first glance at a bland Cena and a deacon-dressed Batista, nobody would have guessed how close the careers of both would mirror each other over the next several years.
The Batista character is unlike any big man or muscle head to come around. For years wrestling fans have been conditioned that big men generally use their size and strength to get ahead, not their brains. This generalization happens everywhere, be it real life or fiction. Batista took that stereotype and power bombed it through the mat. He is not a Hercules or Achilles type hero with superior fighting skills and bravery as his greatest strengths. He has those wrapped inside a devious mind that knows how to use them. Look back at his breakup form Evolution back in early 2005. He was built up as this monster that had been reigned in and tutored by the great minds of Ric Flair and Triple H. The mind games he played with the Cerebral Assassin were brilliant. When it came time for him to set off on his own he was ready. It was the kind of story mythology is made of with him going under tutelage of legends and eventually passing all these tests, then finally bringing down his own teacher and realizing his own potential.
John Cena had found his niche as a heel Vanilla Ice after his WWE debut. While cheesy in some aspects, Cena was able to legitimize himself as a credible heel through ever-improving in-ring ability and an attitude that tossed respect out the window. As the character began to hit its stride Cena found himself receiving cheers from the crowd. It was around this time that Batista also began to hit his stride as the enforcer of Evolution. While Batista was developing under Triple H, Cena went it alone. His greatest conflict seemed understanding that respect is earned. As a young and cocky heel he wanted what he wanted, when he wanted it. As he went up against veterans and owned in his skills, he grew to respect others and commanded some of that respect himself. Part of the character’s cheesiness comes from the concept of respect and showing it when it’s deserved. Look at the night after Wrestlemania 22 when the audience booed him mercilessly. He had just proven himself by defeating Triple H yet the fans booed him. He couldn’t understand it. He felt he had earned their respect and out of respect for them, he has yet to turn on them. The respect factor that drives the character may very well turn it to the other side some day.
By the time Royal Rumble 2005 rolled around both were on the cusp of the main event. The Rumble came down between the two with Batista gaining the victory, the first foreshadow of their inevitable feud. Wrestlemania 21 was the night WWE crowned two new champions in John and Dave and officially made them the future of wrestling. For a while they went their separate ways. John Cena became the bigger star of the two. They swapped brands for a while and even though they were kept far apart, there was always inkling that one day these two would have a major showdown. There first came about in a fairly uneventful manor in a grudge match at Summerslam 2008. Many were disappointed that they did not have a bigger stage for these two. But that was only the beginning. When Batista go the win that night he put John Cena on the shelf and proved to the world that it was him that should have been chosen by WWE as the big star, not Cena.
For the past several years the spring and early summer pay per views have been headlined by Wrestlemania rematches. 2008 was painfully repetitive for some. Having to watch the same match for anywhere between two and four pay per views can be boring. When it comes to repetitive main events, this year looks to be following a similar pattern. The difference this year is how well WWE is pulling off their biggest feud in John Cena vs. Batista.
When rumored matches of Wrestlemania 26 started to hit the fan Batista-Cena was thrown out as possible match only because they didn’t have an opponent for either one. They carefully intersected the feud with Bret Hart-Vince McMahon before exploding into a war that took center stage leading into Mania. The build up to Mania was brilliant as Batista called Cena out on all his antics. How he was always had something to say, but the fact was Cena had never beaten Batista. Despite WWE crowning Cena as the golden child, Batista was just better. Cena even doubted himself that he could defeat his Goliath. After beating nearly everyone else ever put in front of him, here Cena was facing the truth that maybe he just couldn’t beat the Animal. When Cena made Batista tap out that night in Arizona, he thought he had finally proven to himself, and the entire world that he could beat Batista. Instead, he awoke an even greater giant in the Animal. It was as if beating Batista ha only made things worse. And that is another part of why this feud is so good. It is supposed to be hard to become champion. You have to dig, scratch, and claw your way to the top and when you finally get there, it is even harder. We saw this when even putting Batista through a table couldn’t keep him down at Extreme Rules in their Last Man Standing match. Cena had to resort to tying Batista down to win the match.
Yes Cena has beaten Batista twice now, but he has yet to gain a decisive pinfall victory over him. Batista is now coming back for more. He won the number on contender match on Monday night to get another crack at Cena. The stage is now set. Batista looks to be on his way out of WWE. After two losses to Cena but one more match coming up, the character will grow more desperate. It would make perfect sense for the Animal to put his career on the line. If he can’t beat Cena, then why should he stick around? Looking at it from Cena’s perspective, he has to realize that WWE isn’t big enough for the two of them. He may just throw out a challenge to Batista in a “looser leaves town” match. When Cena does gain the win, whether convincingly or not, there will be a secretive relief that Batista is gone.
It is a shame that Batista is on his way out of the company. He has done some of his best work the last few months. Perhaps it is best to go out on top. Very few can say they have done just that. After his inevitable departure the parallel will end. Both men will move on. It’s the perfect ending to legend.