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Dave Bautista Returns to WWE Raw, Ruins Ric Flair's Birthday

Multi-time WWE champion and MCU actor Dave Bautista surprisingly returns to WWE Raw, and proceeds to beat down Ric Flair on his 70th birthday. Bautista - who wrestles in WWE simply as Batista - first rose to fame as part of the Evolution faction in the early-2000s, alongside Triple H, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. By 2005, Bautista had turned on the group, and went on to defeat HHH for the world heavyweight championship at WrestleMania XXI. Bautista remained a main event player until leaving WWE in 2010 after losing a feud with John Cena.

Bautista unexpectedly returned to WWE shortly before the Royal Rumble in 2014, and went on to win the 30-man titular match, earning a WWE title shot at WrestleMania XXX against champion Orton. Bautista initially returned as a good guy, but the crowd wasn't playing along, as they were firmly behind Daniel Bryan, who ended up being inserted into the WrestleMania title match. Seeing the writing on the wall, Bautista turned heel, and would later briefly reform Evolution to battle The Shield in the spring and summer of 2014.

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After the Evolution vs. Shield wars, Baustista again departed WWE, due to creative differences. Not long afterward, Guardians of the Galaxy was released, almost instantly turning Bautista into a household name, and kicking his fledgling movie career into high gear. Bautista's profile has only grown since, returning for Guardians Vol. 2, and appearing in Spectre, Blade Runner 2049, and of course Avengers: Infinity War. Needless to say, nobody really expected him to appear on WWE Raw tonight, but appear he did, destroying his old mentor Flair in the process.

Bautista hasn't wrestled a match or taken part in a WWE storyline since his 2014 exit, and his most recent return came during a brief Evolution reunion that was held during SmackDown's 1000th episode back in October. While Bautista playfully hinted at another match with Triple H at the time, Triple H was severely injured at Crown Jewel in November, leading fans to assume the match was likely off. Now, it looks like Bautista will fight HHH at WrestleMania after all, as following his assault of the "Nature Boy," Bautista yelled to his former running buddy, "Hunter, do I have your attention now?!"

WWE had been heavily promoting a segment celebrating Flair's 70th birthday tonight, which makes sense, as he's one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and a two-time WWE hall of famer. Most fans assumed the segment would serve to play into the ongoing story involving Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey, and Flair's daughter Charlotte, but WWE really threw out a curveball tonight by bringing "The Animal" back into the WrestleMania picture. Triple H might just have a Batista Bomb in his near future.

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