Triple H has paid tribute to his former Evolution stable-mate Batista on the 20th anniversary of his WWE debut.
On May 9th 2002, Batista walked down the ramp on WWE television for the first time. Dave Bautista had originally signed with the company in 2000, having previously been turned down by WCW.
The star arrived on the main roster under the name Deacon Batista, and served as the enforcer for Reverend D-Von. However, the union wasn’t built to last and the new arrival moved to Raw before the end of the year, with his name being shortened to Batista.
After debuting on the red brand, the powerhouse joined forces with Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton as Evolution. The group reigned supreme over WWE until fracturing in the summer of 2004, with Orton winning the World Championship. In early 2005, Batista won the Royal Rumble and despite Triple H attempting to get him to face John Bradshaw Layfield at WrestleMania, Batista chose to face The Game.
This led to The Animal winning the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21.
Looking back on their time working together, Triple H paid tribute to the Hollywood star who has never stopped chasing his dreams.
In the 20 years since @DaveBautista was first introduced to the @WWE Universe, he has never stopped growing and evolving. A main event player, multi-time champion and Hollywood star, one thing has stayed the same: he never stopped chasing his dreams. Congratulations Dave! #Proud
— Triple H (@TripleH) May 9, 2022
After retaining his championship against Triple H, Batista was drafted to SmackDown where he went on to enjoy memorable feuds with the likes of The Undertaker and Edge.
The star left WWE in 2010, beginning his acting career before briefly returning in 2014. The former World Champion made one more comeback in 2019 to face old rival Triple H at WrestleMania 35 in what was his farewell match.
After retiring from in-ring competition, Batista had been due to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. He later pulled out of the delayed ceremony which was held in 2021.