Growing up in the crooked pit of dangered desolation and cocaine-laden Washington, D.C during the ever-polarizing Reganomics era of the 1980s was an overwhelmingly humbling experience for “Spectre” Hollywood superstar and 6-time WWE Champion Dave Bautista; the “Guardians of the Galaxy” Hollywood movie star is of Filipino-Greek extraction.
Bautista grew up longing to become a break dancer, after exhibiting profound adeptness in street dancing during his formative years. After an unceremonious tough-love relationship with his parents, Bautista decidedly left home at the age of 17. This was after willingly deviating from high school prior to finals examination tests, thus subsequently leading a daily livelihood in bouncing outside hard-nosed bars and committing theft auto, which he began when he was 13. In Washington D.C. as a youngster, Bautista did this to ultimately survive and thrive, after attaining zero formal qualifications in high school and experiencing hardship in life.
However, the savior in the form of sports-entertainment flirted – and mutually agreed – with the curious notion of Bautista; he would cite The Warlord as his favorite WWE superstar growing up with the late-great WWE Hall of Famer ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig as the WWE superstar whom he detested most due to the Minnesota-born superstars ever-smug, condescending jock uber-arrogance.
Bautista unashamedly grew up in poverty in Washington, D.C and also worked as a lifeguard and also a bodybuilder prior to sports-entertainment; he Bautista claims that bodybuilding saved his life.
Before claiming a deserved and custom niche in the smash-mouth world of sports-entertainment, Bautista initially scored, at the age of 27, a grappling developmental tryout at the now defunct WCW (World Championship Wrestling) Power Plant in Atlanta, GA; the Power Plant was a boot camp where successful budding sports-entertainment students succeeded into super stardom.
Bautista often felt nauseous and restless under the watchful eye of merciless Power Plant trainer Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, whose rigorous training methods highly irked the Washington native; Bautista considers Parker to be quote “a piece of sh*t” in his best-selling autobiography “Batista: Unleashed”.
After experiencing failure at the Power Plant, Bautista wasn’t offered a permanent contract to compete for the billion dollar, Ted Turner-owned WCW entity – who defeated WWE in the legendary Monday night wars for 84 consecutive weeks in the mid-90s – due to being green, yet possessed a mesamorphic physique and consuming Hollywood-esque marketability that would become Bautista’s meal ticket in securing WWE WrestleMania main event status and Hollywood megastardom years thereafter.
Bautista marked his WWE debut in 2002 as Devon’s heinous henchman after plying his then unpolished, heavy-handedly clumsy ring craft under the demonic alias of Leviathan in WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling with Jim Cornette monitoring the progress of the brute big man; Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Randy Orton all graduated from OVW to advance to the main stage of WWE in the same year as Bautista.
Bautista’s initial 8-year successful run culminated in an untimely departure from WWE in 2010 after behind-the-scenes discontent pertaining to the family oriented PG-rated nature of the WWE direction; Bautista – similar to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – has also attained a major box office career in Hollywood, whilst having additionally pursued the world of Mixed Martial Arts.
Life after WWE, Bautista (1-0) later attained a purple belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu training under Cesar Gracie and defeated Vince Luero via TKO in Round 1 at CES MMA in Providence, Rhode Island in October 2012; Bautista represented The Philippines in his MMA bout against Vince Luero.
The powers that be within WWE have ultimately forged an impression that given the overwhelming Hollywood box office success of Marvel superhero movie “Guardians of The Galaxy” and Sam Mendes-directed 24th Bond movie global smash “Spectre”, the greater likelihood of Dave Bautista returning as a full-time WWE Superstar remains extremely improbable; “Guardians of The Galaxy” grossed $773.3 million worldwide, whilst debuting at number one on the Hollywood box office.
“Spectre” also debuted at number one on the Hollywood box office and grossed $880.7 million worldwide; “Spectre” topped the Hollywood box office for three consecutive weeks in a row. Bautista has starred in “The Man with the Iron Fists”, “Riddick”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Spectre”, Heist”, “L.A. Slasher” and “Kickboxer” as well as “Marauders” co-starring Christopher Meloni and Bruce Willis, “Bushwick” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”.
Dave Bautista last appeared on WWE programming on a WWE RAW episode on June 2 ,2014 – after returning to the company in January 2014 for a second tenure – where the superstar kayfabe quit (kayfabe in sports-entertainment means not within the realm of actuality); WWE wrote Dave Bautista out of the script in order for the Hollywood superstar to promote “Guardians of The Galaxy” internationally in the summer of 2014 and has since parted ways with WWE since his ever-increasing A-list status in Hollywood.
Like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson before him, a part-time return to the sports-entertainment titan affectionately known as WWE is both unrealistic and unfathomable given how WWE head creative writers and executives handled Bautista’s lukewarm second run with the company in 2014; Bautista has spoken of interest at performing at WWE house shows (untelevised events).
From head locks to Hollywood, Bautista continues to prove that redefining a path for a greater purpose exists irrespective of where one came from. Bautista was a relative late bloomer in sports-entertainment in hindsight and experienced his true Hollywood breakthrough in 2014. Like history repeating itself for Bautista, It’s better late than never.
Unmistakably, Bautista paid his dues in Hollywood starring in straight-to-DVD movies, B-movies, supporting roles and cameo roles prior to finding his true niche and breakthrough in Hollywood’s big money league. Sacrifice, patience, the learning curve and the uncertainty of not knowing if that defining watermark moment would arrive plagued Bautista throughout sleepless nights for a number of years.
The Washington, D.C born superstar worked hard on his acting craft, absorbed industry knowledge from richly experienced Hollywood film co-stars and shown great dedication and passion for the film industry to not just become entitled to Hollywood success based on prior endeavors and reputation elsewhere; Dave Bautista even lost weight to be taken seriously as an actor in Hollywood.
Bautista’s humble beginnings from the hardened streets of Washington, D.C to the Academy Awards red carpet lifestyle is a story which will continue to inspire others who question and doubt if that moment of truth will ever arrive in their life and career. The Hollywood superstar has unquestionably talked the talk and is now walking the walk in style.
They know his glory, but Dave Bautista’s story is not one of being handed anything on a silver platter along the way. It is better late than never and failure is defined by when you do not try at all.
With Dave Bautista’s well-documented A-list Hollywood success and endless accolades in the squared circle during two tenures with WWE, the questions remains – Should Dave Bautista headline WWE’s Hall of Fame Class of 2019?