Bidyo’s Filipino American Hall of Fame: Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista is the sixth honoree in Bidyo’s new show, Filipino American Hall of Fame and the sixth episode airs this Friday, September 30th!  Bidyo is a new YouTube channel created by FilAm Creative and its mission is to produce and promote content from emerging Filipino American talent.  Subscribe to the Bidyo Channel here:    


Batista’s Professional Wrestling Career

Before his breakout role as Drax The Destroyer in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave Bautista was Leviathan, the Guardian of the Gates of Hell at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), a WWE developmental territory from 2000 to 2002.  There he wrestled against Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton and Shelton Benjamin, just to name a few.  Held an undefeated streak of wins until he lost a match to WWE’s Kane at Christmas Chaos.  And, he won his first professional wrestling championship, the OVW Heavyweight Championship title from Doug Basham in November, 2001.

Born and raised in Washington D.C to a Filipino father and a Greek mother, Bautista worked as a bouncer at many clubs and as a lifeguard before getting into bodybuilding.  He got into wrestling after meeting Road Warrior Animal & Curt Hennig at a bodybuilding show in Minneapolis and began training with legendary wrestler ‘Wild Samoan’ Afa.  He then went to the World Championship Wrestling’s (WCW) Power Plant for a tryout, where they told him he’d never make it in the wrestling business or sports entertainment.

After his time at OVW, he was called up to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and placed into the main roster of WWE Smackdown on May, 2002.  As Deacon Batista, a heel bodyguard for Mr. McMahon’s spiritual advisor, the heel Reverend D-Von (formerly D-Von Dudley after the Dudley Boyz separated), this began Batista’s televised career in the WWE.

Splitting with D’Von, he signed with WWE Raw and was renamed Dave Batista (or simply Batista). He aligned himself with the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair and later both men joined Monday Night Raw’s new and dominant heel stable, Evolution along with Randy Orton and Triple H in January, 2003.  In that year, Batista and Ric Flair won the WWE World Tag Team Championship titles, twice.

In 2005, Batista won the Royal Rumble which guaranteed him as the #1 Contender for a championship match of his choice.  And, he was slowly turning face.  On WWE Raw, Batista had two contracts in his hands … to sign General Manager Theodore Long’s contract and go to SmackDown where he will be placed in a Triple Threat Match against JBL and John Cena for the WWE Championship, or to sign General Manager Eric Bischoff’s contract and stay on Raw to battle his mentor Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles.

Batista won the World Heavyweight Championship title in the Main Event at WrestleMania 21 at Staples Center in Los Angeles on April 3, 2005.  WM21 received 1.09 million pay-per-view buys worldwide, the then-highest ever number of buys for any non-boxing pay-per-view.  He defended the title against Triple H two more times and retained.  He became the first wrestler to pin Triple H in their last match together at Hell in a Cell.  In January 2006, Batista suffered a serious tricep injury and was forced to surrender the title thus ending his 9 month reign as champion – two days after surpassing Triple H’s previous mark of 280 days for longest reigning champion.

A birthday gift from a friend in February, 2006

Batista was #1 on the PWI Top 500 Wrestlers List in 2005.  And the first Filipino American wrestler to hold championship gold (inspiring a new generation of FilAm wrestlers such as current WWE Cruiserweight Champion, TJ Perkins and current TNA X Division Champion DJZ Zema Ion).  He is the third pro wrestler to go by the nickname, “Animal”. The other two were George Steele and Joe Laurinaitis.

My first time at a live WWE Pay Per View event was at Taboo Tuesday at the iPayOne Center in San Diego on November 1, 2005 and it was my first time to see Batista in action defeating ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman (with Vader and Goldust) in a Street Fight.  He replaced Stone Cold Steve Austin.

My second time was my first time at a televised Monday Night Raw live taping on May 25, 2009, Memorial Day at Staples Center when Batista was in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with 4 other face wrestlers making up Team Lakers against 5 heel wrestlers as Team Nuggets. The faces won the main event…and my first time noticing a Filipino flag tattoo on his upper left arm.  Represent!

My first WWE Raw in 2009 seeing the main event of Batista and Team Lakers

Bautista’s Professional Acting Career

WWE gave him the opportunity to be himself and before 2005’s Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 21, he was already a fan favorite especially to Filipinos in the Philippines and around the world.  And, much like Hulk Hogan and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson before him, Dave Bautista is about to spear thru Hollywood at full force.

The sports entertainment company showcased his acting chops as well with Batista “auditioning” for the Robert DeNiro iconic role in Taxi Driver.

On March 7, 2008, the first ever Filipino American Visionary Awards took place in Hollywood.  This was an unprecedented gathering and a great achievement for Filipino/Filipino American artists as they were honored at the then Kodak Theater (now Dolby Theater) for their contribution in arts, sports and entertainment.  I was there at that historical event and it was so easy to spot him because he towered almost everyone!  He was there to present an award to Nia Peeples.  The following red carpet photos below are from Sthanlee B. Mirador.

Red carpet arrival photos by Sthanlee B. Mirador
Red carpet arrival photos by Sthanlee B. Mirador

Following his departure from WWE in 2010, Dave Bautista appeared opposite Vin Diesel in the 2013 Universal film, Riddick and RZA’s 2012 feature directorial debut, The Man with the Iron Fists starring alongside Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. His other film credits include 2012’s The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption with the late Kimbo Slice and 2010’s Wrong Side of Town opposite rapper Ja Rule.  On television, he made his guest starring appearance as Aldar in the 6th season of Smallville.

Dave Bautista won the Performer of the Year Award at the Action On Film International Film Festival, USA for his starring role in 2011’s House of the Rising Sun starring Amy Smart and Danny Trejo.

On October of 2012, Batista made his MMA debut at Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) against 40 year veteran Vince Lucero. Batista would go on to win the fight by TKO at 4:05 in the first round.

In January 2014, Batista made his long awaited return to the WWE, before quitting a second time in June of that same year — in sophisticated and hilarious fashion.

Bautista did this in order to promote 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and starred in the Marvel Entertainment film with Chris Pratt, Benicio Del Toro, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan and Djimon Hounsou.

After the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Bautista began landing more parts – in two films in 2015, the James Bond film, Spectre, and Heist with Robert DeNiro as well as two films in 2016, Marauders with Bruce Willis and Kickboxer: Vengeance with Jean-Claude van Damme.

Bautista has also entered the world of film producing — as executive producer for 2016’s Bushwick starring Brittany Snow (currently in post-production) and as producer for 2017’s Final Score starring Pierce Brosnan (currently filming) – both films he is also in.

And, he returns with three epic films in the next two years: reprising his breakout role as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 in 2016 (currently in post-production), the untitled Blade Runner sequel starring Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Robin Wright and Ryan Gosling (currently filming) and Avengers: Infinity War as Drax in 2018 (currently in pre-production).

Written by Edwin Santos (9/30/16)


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