Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista found a great deal of success in WWE, but despite becoming one of the company's biggest stars, the time eventually came for him to leave. Why? Well, despite being one of the company's top Superstars, the man formerly known as "Batista" didn't believe he was being treated fairly.
"John Cena and I were both headlining shows," Bautista recalled in an interview with GQ (via TheRingReport.com). "I was [the face of] SmackDown. He was Raw. But he was being used in [WWE-produced] films and television commercials and magazines, and I was just headlining shows."
"In fact, there was one point where he was off making a film and I was headlining both sets of shows and the pay-per-views. It was just a feeling of, 'We’re not getting equal opportunities.'"
So, off to Hollywood he went after choosing to leave WWE in 2010 following a series of failed negotiations. Admitting that acting wasn't the plan early on in his career, breaking into the mainstream became his goal, but it didn't come easy. After Bautista burned through the money he'd made in WWE, his house was foreclosed on, he sold his cars and bikes, and "lost everything."
"I had to start all over," he says, realising that direct-to-DVD movies beckoned. At first, anyway. "Before I left WWE, Stone Cold Steve Austin pulled me aside and said, ‘You’re going to get offers for horrible scripts. The money will be tempting. Don’t get caught in that trap.'"
After starring in The Man with the Iron Fists and Riddick, Bautista's big break came when he was cast as Drax in Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy. "I had to pull over because I was crying so hard," he says of learning he'd landed the role after months of auditions and rumours bigger stars had beaten him to it. "I turned right back around and walked into my house shaking to tell my wife I had gotten the role, and we were both standing there freaking out."
While superstardom soon followed, Bautista is now looking to move on from playing the Marvel hero because he wants to be remembered as more than just a comic book character. With that in mind, don't expect the Army of the Dead and Knock at the Cabin star to embark on a career that will see him tackle the same string of action roles as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
"I never wanted to be the next Rock," he states. "I just want to be a good f***ing actor. A respected actor."
Clearly, Bautista doesn't believe Johnson is either of those things, though this isn't the first time he's taken some shots at his fellow former pro wrestler.