Why Dave Bautista Actually Left The WWE

dave bautista wwe

For years, Dave Bautista was one of the WWE's most popular superstars, winning over millions of TV viewers, pay-per-view subscribers and arena spectators. But in 2010, he made the baffling move to legitimately exit the company, and has mostly kept quiet about that decision since, even through his temporary return. Now, however, he's shared the real reason why his run as Batista initially ended: he wanted to become a better actor. In explaining how he became bonafide Hollywood entity with the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Bautista claimed that new career path is what led to his WWE split.

It came about out of spite. First of all, it came from me discovering I was a horrible actor and I wanted to become a better actor. And I wanted to do it while I was still with WWE. They would not give me the opportunity to do it within the company. so I said, 'I should be given the opportunity to do it outside of the company.' They said, 'Absolutely not.' I said, 'Well, I'm going to let my contract run out, and I'm gonna leave.' So that's exactly what I did - I set out to be an actor.

The quality of his acting skills aside, Dave Bautista's conviction and self-confidence certainly can't be questioned, as it obviously took a monolithic backbone to turn away from one highly successful career to venture out into far more uncharted territory. Especially in Hollywood, where hitting it big is a statistical anomaly, even with the popularity of a WWE career in one's past. (For every successful transplant like Dwayne Johnson and John Cena, there are plenty of forgettable attempts from others.) But Bautista had it in his mind to work on his thespian abilities, and he wasn't going to let Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWE brass get in his way.

Though he'd had a couple of roles in projects such as Smallville and Wrong Side of Town (with fellow WWE vet Rob Van Dam) -- on top of appearances on unscripted shows like Family Feud and Iron Chef America -- Dave Bautista wanted to branch out with the kinds of roles he was getting. And during his interview with TalkSports' Hawksbee and Jacobs, he made it clear that walking away from the WWE did not result in a steady stream of acting options.

It was brave and maybe a little stupid. [laughs] It was three years of me barely working. You know, it was a nice thing with the WWE. I made a very good living there. I was very comfortable and I could have stuck with that, but I wanted to do something else.

Though it took a few years, Dave Bautista landed the role of a lifetime when he joined the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy as the literally minded alien Drax, though the success of that film was anything but guaranteed leading up to its release. Since then, he's landed roles in films such as Heist, Blade Runner 2049 and Avengers: Infinity War, among others. His future with Marvel is currently uncertain, though, considering his views on how Disney handled James Gunn's firing and the company's refusal to back-peddle on the issue.

In 2013 and 2014, Dave Bautista made a relatively short-lived return to the WWE with a Royal Rumble victory, though he disagreed with how the writers were using Batista, so he once again quit the company, citing creative differences as the reason this time around. He did recently speak positively about making a potential return to the WWE, but only if they figure out a good way to use the character. Otherwise, fans will probably need to wait to see the actor again on the big screen.

When he's not dropping Avengers 4 spoilers, Dave Bautista can be seen in the summer release Escape Plan 2: Hades and in the upcoming action flick Final Score. Meanwhile, Monday Night Raw airs on USA at 8:00 p.m. ET. To see what else is hitting the small screen soon, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.