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vol 7 - issue 06 (feb 2005) :: interviews
DAVE BATISTA
Interview by Wayne Chinsang
Illustration by Erik Rose

THERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, DAVE BATISTA CAN BEAT YOUR ASS. I MEAN, LOOK AT HIM. CLOCKING IN AT 6'5" TALL AND 300 POUNDS, HE IS A MAN YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO MESS WITH. BUT THERE IS MORE TO THIS WRESTLEMANIA-BOUND BEHEMOTH THAN YOU'D THINK. IN FACT, THE TERM "GENTLE GIANT" MAY NEVER HAVE BEEN MORE APPROPRIATE THAN IT IS IN THE CASE OF BATISTA. NEED PROOF? JUST READ BELOW FOR A LITTLE ONE-ON-ONE OUR VERY OWN WAYNE CHINSANG HAD WITH DAVE. AND IF YOU'RE STILL NOT SOLD ON IT, NO WORRIES. WE'LL JUST SEND HIM TO YOUR HOUSE TO PROVE IT TO YOU.

Dave Batista: Hey, Wayne. Howís it going?

Wayne Chinsang: Great. How was Japan?

DB: It was great. Iím still a little bit jet-lagged, but....

WC: When did you get in?

DB: Yesterday. We actually did Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and Anchorage, Alaska.

WC: Wow.

DB: Yeah.

WC: How much of that time is spent on a plane? (laughs)

DB: This week, a lot of time. We flew out of California into Hawaii, and then to Tokyo. The next day, we flew to Korea, and then back to Tokyo, where we picked up everyone else from the SmackDown! crew. And then we flew to Anchorage. (laughs)

WC: Wow.

DB: Yeah. We did a show there that night, and then we flew out to New York. And then I finally flew home from there.

WC: So you wanna get this over with and get some rest, I imagine.

DB: (laughs) Iím just running around doing errands now, so bear with me.

WC: So, Iíve got some general questions first, and then I want to talk a little bit about WrestleMania 21.

DB: Okay.

WC: So, youíve been wrestling for awhile now, and Iím curious what you think makes a good wrestler.

DB: A good wrestler, or a good entertainer?

WC: Both, I guess. Because what you do is a marriage of both.

DB: Yeah.

Both: (laugh)

DB: Well, for one, to be a good wrestler, I think you should look like an athlete. You should be agile, have good endurance, and you should be... oh, what do I want to say? Not smart, but.... (laughs) No, you should be smart.

Both: (laugh)

DB: I wouldnít call everybody on the roster smart, but some guys get it better than other guys do. For the most part, wrestling is entertainment, but there is a lot more that goes with it than that. If you want to be the total package-- a good wrestler and a good entertainer-- then you should have all those attributes. Plus, a lot of charisma, personality, and a real good look. Be witty, intense, aggressive, and intimidating. (laughs) All these factors in one package. And there are very few people in the world who have that total package, you know?

WC: Yeah. And that actually brings me to my next question. I know that when you first got introduced into the WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment], and even up until just recently, there was a vibe with your character that you were just the muscle behind Evolution. But now youíre portraying this character that can still kick ass, but now the fans are able to attach themselves to you, and they really like what they see. Was it hard when you first came into the WWE to just sit back and be the muscle guy?

DB: Yeah, it was hard because it just wasnít who I am. If nothing else, Iím probably just a big goofball. (laughs)

WC: Right.

DB: Iím soft-spoken. I have a bit of a temper, but it takes a lot to get me going. But, for the most part, Iím a passive guy. And they wanted me to play this serious guy who was either silent or in a fit of rage. (laughs) It just wasnít me. It felt unnatural, and it probably came across unnatural. And thatís probably why our audience couldnít really relate to my character.

WC: Is it weird now to have people relating to your character, because youíve gone for so long without that?

DB: Itís really weird having people cheer for me, because my whole career Iíve been a heel. I was a heel when I was in our training camp, OVW [Ohio Valley Wrestling], but people still cheered for me somewhat. But not like now. This is a whole new experience for me.

WC: I think whatís weird is that your character hasnít really been doing anything differently other than going against the character of Triple H--

DB: Yeah, I was gonna point that out. I donít think Iíve done a whole lot differently. I may speak a little more, I smile a little more, be myself a little more, but Iím still the same Batista. The thing is, now that I present that rivalry with Triple H, and that heís so hated--

Both: (laugh)

DB: --thatís where the crowdís interest comes in. They pretty much just want to see me kill Triple H.

Both: (laugh)

WC: Like you said, youíre not really doing anything differently. And when I would watch wrestling when I was younger, there were definite good and bad guys. But now that line has kind of been blurred.

DB: Itís more of a gray area.

WC: Yeah. And I know that youíre still technically "with" the bad guys, but does it feel good to be considered a good/bad guy, as opposed to just a bad guy?

DB: I didnít mind being a bad guy. I donít mind being booed. I always felt like when I was being booed, or if the crowd was really cheering for the guy that I was kicking the crap out of, I always felt that I was doing my job, and I took pride in that. The thing that I like that comes along with being a good guy, so to speak, is that I get to go out and do charity stuff. I get to go out and sign autographs, and I get to stop with fans and talk and smile. You know, stuff that I didnít really get to do before. And that was one of the biggest reasons why I got in this business, because I wanted to do things like that. I wanted to do charity work and work with kids. It might sound a little mushy, but--

WC: No, no.

DB: --those are just a few of the things that come along with being a good guy character. But, like I said, I donít see myself doing anything different. Iím still gonna be an ass-kicking machine.

Both: (laugh)

DB: Iíll just be whooping ass on the bad guys, so to speak.

WC: Right.

DB: And nobody really likes a Mr. Goody Two-Shoes Boy Scout, you know? (laughs)

WC: Yeah.

DB: So Iím pretty much the same character. It just all depends on who Iím beating up on.

Both: (laugh)

WC: So when you came to the WWE from the OVW, did you feel like you were starting out on the bottom rung of the ladder?

DB: I definitely started off at the bottom. I donít think I was prepared for WWE at all. I think that they wanted me to be prepared, and they forced me to be prepared. But one of the first things they did was-- because I always relied on my look and my body, because itís my strongest attribute-- but I think they kind of took that away from me when I came to the WWE, because they stuck me in a goofy suit. It taught me that I had to learn to be a little more charismatic and learn how to work it. They took my body away from me, so I couldnít just rely on that. I wasnít at all prepared for that, and I definitely had to start over. I started from scratch when I got to the WWE.

WC: When you get handed a character, how much say do you have in those characters that you portray?

DB: I had absolutely no say at all.

Both: (laugh)

DB: They pretty much called me up and said, "This is when youíre starting. Go out and buy yourself a suit, and show up on this date. And hereís what you're gonna be doing: you're gonna be carrying this big goofy box, wear this goofy suit, and youíre gonna be called The Deacon." And I wasnít too happy about it, but I did it; it was my job. And I hate to be reminded of it. Thank you very much.

Both: (laugh)

WC: Iím sorry!

Both: (laugh)

WC: Out of all of the characters youíve played in the past, and theyíre obviously all characters, do you feel the character you play now-- which is actually your real name-- do you feel heís the closest to who you really are as a person?

DB: Yeah. And I think thatís why the people are connecting with it, because Iím pretty much just being myself. Iím pretty soft-spoken, a pretty passive guy, and really, really easy going. When my temper does pop, it pops big time--

Both: (laugh)

DB: --but it takes a lot to get me there. But they pretty much just let me be myself. A little goofy, a little easy going, and I think people are connecting to it because they feel comfortable with it. Itís natural. Itís me. With the way my character was before, I was either dead silent, or I was in a fit of rage. And that just wasnít me, and I think the people felt that, and thatís why they couldnít connect with the character. Besides, I never spoke. They never heard me say a word.

WC: Yeah, itís kind of weird. Iíve only been watching it for a little over a year now, but it has been weird to see a character that nobody could stand--

DB: (laughs)

WC: --turn into someone that people are rooting for all of a sudden. We watched RAW last night, and it was really weird to see people in Japan holding up signs that read "Batista".

DB: Yeah, that was really weird. You know what was even more strange? Korea, because their TV programming is, like, seven weeks behind. So they hadnít seen a lot of the stuff that Iíve done recently, especially the thing with the flagpole. [Batista recently shoved a flagpole up La Rťsistance tag-team partner Rob Conwayís ass on a recent episode of RAW.]

Both: (laugh)

DB: That won me a lot of fans. But they hadnít seen that yet, and they were still getting behind me, so that was pretty cool.

WC: I know youíve been wrestling for awhile now, but does the sport continue to achieve things that keep it fresh for you?

DB: Yeah. God, man, I learn stuff every week. And even guys like Triple H have told me that he never stops learning things. Vince [McMahon] has never stopped learning things. You can never get it all. There is always something to learn in this business.

WC: If you hadnít started wrestling, what do you think youíd be doing?

DB: Ah... I really donít know. Probably working as a personal trainer somewhere, probably still bouncing a little bit here and there. But I definitely would have given up on the bodybuilding thing.

WC: Really? Why?

DB: Yeah. I just never really had that big of a passion for it. I loved being in the gym and working out, but I never liked the competitive aspect of it. And everything that went along with it was a bunch of B.S. But thatís probably what Iíd be doing. You know, Iíd like to say, "I would have gone back to school and continued an education," but I probably wouldnít have.

Both: (laugh)

WC: When you were involved in bodybuilding, was there a general vibe of what they thought about wrestling?

DB: I wouldnít have known about it then, but now it seems like every bodybuilder I talk to plans on going into wrestling at some point. (laughs) Bodybuilders are just overly-muscled prima donnas, I think. Theyíre just on this regiment... I donít want to put them down, but.... (laughs) Theyíre just on this damn regiment where they have to eat every hour, and... theyíre just not the best athletes in the world. Every bodybuilder that I know that has tried to crossover into wrestling has not even come close to it. There is definitely a connection there, because of the physical attributes of bodybuilders and wrestlers. Although, a lot of people think Iím huge, but not by bodybuilding standards, because Iíve met a few bodybuilders that I donít feel very huge standing next to.

WC: Right. So, WrestleMania 21 is coming up soon. But once that comes and goes, are you at all worried about reaching a plateau with the sport?

DB: No. Iíve been working out all these years for this, and this is just the beginning for me. It hasnít even entered my mind. I hope Iíll have many WrestleMania main events. I wonít get my hopes up for that, but I hope there will be more to come around after this one. But Iíll be around. I recently signed another five year contract with WWE.

WC: Congrats. Thatís great.

DB: Thanks.

WC: So when did it start to become clear to you that the storyline and the path of your character was leading you to a main event at WrestleMania?

DB: Well, I never thought about it. We did a show where we teased about me possibly splitting off from Evolution when I had a conflict with Triple H, and it just got such a crowd reaction that the writers said, "Hey, weíve got something here." (laughs) And they just went with it. I donít think that they really planned it. I was just lucky enough that the crowd responded the way they did; they seemed to be very much into it.

WC: As the build-up to WrestleMania continues, are you getting nervous at all, or are you totally ready?

DB: Right now, Iím way too busy to be nervous. Iím sure the week of it I will feel anxiety and nervousness that I didnít know was even possible to have. But as of right now, Iím just too excited. Right now, the biggest concern on my mind is what show Iím gonna be on. (laughs) I really donít know. I know I will be in WrestleMania. Which roster Iíll be on, I donít know. Iíd like to have an answer, too.

WC: Obviously, the fans are kept in the dark until the event gets closer, but is it weird for you that youíre kept in the dark?

DB: Itís a little strange, but itís something I really donít mind, you know? I pretty much just show up to work, and, day by day, I just love it. Iím not the type to complain. Wherever they want to go with the show, Iíll go in that direction. Iím pretty flexible. And itís kind of cool being surprised. It adds excitement to it. If you know whatís going to happen, you donít get as excited about it.

WC: I read an interview with you where you talked about SmackDown! and their talent, and you said something about how it didnít seem like they were serious, and that they were just there to showboat--

DB: You know, I had attended a taping, and I did make some statements. Iím very familiar with which interview youíre talking about, because I got a lot of grief over it.

WC: Oh, did you?

DB: Well, I made some statements that were real general, and I did that because I didnít want to name names. But what I did was leave it open for anyone on the roster to think, "Well, is he talking about me?" And I insulted a lot of people; a lot of good friends and a lot of very talented wrestlers who are very passionate about this business. And I apologized for it. But there are that small group of guys who just donít really give a damn. They just want to be on TV and go party afterwards, and there are guys like that on RAW, as well. But itís not a SmackDown!/RAW thing.

WC: Would it save you a bunch of drama if I struck all this stuff from the interview?

DB: No. I mean, everyone knows what I said, and Iíve talked about it with, you know... well, Undertaker, for one, and he pointed out some things that I said, and why they were wrong. He made very valid points, and it was kind of a lesson learned kind of thing. Also, a lot of things in that interview were taken out of context. They werenít put into the context of the conversation. There was a conversation we had about a rivalry between SmackDown! and RAW, but a lot of that was left out. Only the general quotes that I said were put in, and it just made me seem like I was burying the whole show.

WC: Well, we transcribe our stuff exactly as it occurred, so hopefully you can clear your name. (laughs)

DB: Yeah, I mean, Iím very proud of our show, and of course Iím gonna say itís a better show.

WC: Well, of course, because youíve helped build it.

DB: And I donít think SmackDown! is a bad show; I think there is some awesome talent over there. But I take very much pride in RAW, so I have to believe that weíre the best.

WC: Right. So, this is kind of an odd question, but in the promo for SummerSlam you did some break dancing.

DB: (laughs) I did.

WC: Was that really you?

DB: (laughs) That was really me. And the way that came about was that my mother had actually mentioned in passing to Vince that I used to break dance when I was a kid, and for some reason (laughs) he automatically assumed that I could still do it.

Both: (laugh)

DB: But I put on a couple hundred pounds since then. (laughs) So, yes, that was me flopping around on the floor.

WC: Wow. Thatís hilarious. I was talking to another guy here, and he made some reference that during an interview you talked about someoneís old school shell-toed pair of Adidas, and he thinks you might have been an old school b-boy back in the day.

DB: Sure, yeah.

Both: (laugh)

DB: Iíll never live that down.

Both: (laugh)

DB: But yeah, itís actually kind of come back in style. I still have shell-toes in my closet.

WC: Do you?

DB: Yeah. I was definitely a b-boy breaker.

WC: Were you really? Aw, man, thatís awesome. What stuff were you listening to back then?

DB: Iíve always been open-minded about music. Itís just the way I was brought up. I listen to everything, from metal to rap to opera. The only thing I wasnít really brought up on was country. But I listened to a lot of old school Motown. I have very well-rounded musical tastes. At any given time in my CD player Iíll have Ludacris, Metallica, and Rage [Against The Machine], with a little bit of Lauryn Hill thrown in, too.

WC: Thatís awesome. So, just a few last things. I grew up watching wrestling during the Eighties, and it seems as if now a lot of those people that were wrestling during that time went on to have somewhat tragic post-wrestling lives. Not all of them, obviously, but there were a lot of hardships for certain people. Is that something that people in the industry are now more conscious of?

DB: Yeah, I think it is that way now. Our locker room has completely changed. We even have a dress code now. Our company is corporate, and we try to keep a very respectable public image. Drugs are obviously frowned upon. There are a lot of guys that are very educated, and I donít want to say that weíre necessarily a clean-cut group of guys; weíre a bunch of roughnecks. But weíre not getting thrown in jail every week, weíre not getting high and passing out in the streets, and weíre not out taking advantage of girls who donít want to be taken advantage of.

Both: (laugh)

DB: Weíre pretty much all respectable guys; a lot of family guys on our rosters. In our locker rooms, we got rid of the assholes and the troublemakers. We just all want to make a living, we want to be proud of our company, and we wouldnít do anything to disgrace the image of our company.

WC: Thatís pretty cool, that it seems like such a family.

DB: Absolutely.

WC: So, when everything is said and done as far as your wrestling career goes, how do you want your fans to remember you?

DB: Um... you know.... (laughs)

WC: Maybe itís too early in your career to be asking you that.

DB: You know, I remember a handful of wrestlers from when I was a kid. Iíll hear a name or see a face, and think, "Yeah, I remember that guy." But there were only a few guys that stick out in my head that I actually remember. And Iíd like to be one of the guys that people remember in 20 years, but Iíd have to be really bold to say that. Right now, I just want to be the best all-around package that I can be; like Triple H, I think heís a total package. Guys like Ric Flair, Stone Cold [Steve Austin]... those guys are total packages. And thatís what I aspire to be, and hopefully people will remember me by that. But weíll see. Iím a day-by-day guy, so itís very new to me. Iím just striving every day to be a better performer.

WC: Well, the last question I have for you is one that has nothing to do with wrestling, and itís one we ask everybody we interview.

DB: Okay.

WC: The question is, do dogs have lips?

DB: Do dogs have lips? (laughs)

WC: Yeah.

DB: You know, I donít know scientifically if they have lips, but I would have to say yes, I guess. I have three dogs, and it looks like they have lips to me. I donít know... now Iím gonna go home and inspect their mouths.

Both: (laugh)

DB: It looks like they have black lips to me.

WC: Yeah.

DB: Thatís an odd question.

WC: Yeah, it started back in 1999, and weíve asked almost 200 different people that question since then.

DB: Thatís cool. Iíll ask my dogs when I get home whether they have lips or not.

WC: (laughs) Alright.

DB: Whatís the general response you get from people?

WC: Well, itís really weird. Sometimes weíll just get one-word answers from people, and other times people will be familiar with the question and know itís coming, so theyíll come to the interview prepared for it.

DB: (laughs) Theyíll have scientific explanations as to why dogs do or do not have lips.

WC: (laughs) Exactly.

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