In Defense of Big Dave
April 10, 2007 by Will Byard

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Everyone can remember the first album they bought. Usually it's something pretty toe-curling, rarely (if at all) listened to these days, often relegated to the back of a cupboard. We might even try to erase it from our past, substituting that first LP with something more stylish, something that better reflects our current tastes. I'm as guilty of this as anyone - at various points in my life, I've claimed my first record as Guns N Roses' Appetite For Destruction, N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton and The Clash's London Calling. However, the truth of the matter is that my first album was Bad by Michael Jackson. Not a great LP, granted, but I could have done a lot worse (especially considering my second album was New Kids On The Block's magnum opus Hangin' Tough). I used to sit bored through car journeys, my parent's Rolling Stones tapes playing over the stereo, waiting for the side to end so I could have my turn, and crank up Man In The Mirror. Today, a glance at my iTunes reveals 9 Stones tracks in its Most Played list, and zero by Jacko. I've come full-circle; and in a weird way, I couldn't have got there without M.J.

Anyway, the point is that Bad served as a great starting point into the world of pop music and beyond, rather than as an end in itself. And I see a similar thing in Batista. Now, I've heard all the complaints about Big Dave - He's a shitty worker; his promos are at a Sean Mooney level; he's one big muscle tear waiting to happen. I agree with each sentiment wholeheartedly. But here's the twist - none of it matters.

Kids love Batista. This is a fact. Every Wednesday I tutor 8-year old triplets on the finer points of English Grammar and Punctuation. They will write about two things only; one is Gundam, the other is WWE. In an effort to prove myself still 'down with the kids', I mentioned to them that I also like wrestling. They looked impressed. My next three words would, however, expose me as the un-hip, broccoli-eating adult I truly was. 'I like Finlay' was met with howls of derision. I was informed in no uncertain terms that the Belfast Bruiser was 'an old man' - and more importantly, looked like one of their friend's dads, which seemed to close the matter entirely. You can probably guess who was their WWE Superstar-of-choice. From what I can ascertain, Big Dave made the top spot because:

- He's strong.
- He always wins.
- He has dagadagadaga machine-gun pyros.
- He 'sometimes goes mad'.

Oh, how I wanted to throw out the scheduled lesson on subordinate clauses, and instead smarten them up a little in the ways of pro-wrestling! There was so much to learn. I could start by giving them the scoop on the Animal's backstage shenanigans, then follow it up with The Ric Flair Collection. Maybe in a few weeks they'd be ready for a Volk Han compilation tape...

I didn't, of course. First and foremost, I'm not so cold-hearted as to go down a road that will inevitably lead kids to realizing wrestling is fake. Second of all, it made me realize the true importance of a guy like Dave Batista - he's big and strong and wins a lot. He looks like an action figure - definitely not like anyone's dad. The guy is everything an 8-year-old could want from a wrestler! As such, he's the perfect introduction to the wonderful world of wrestling.

As wrestling has its Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers in its Benoits and Finlays, so Batista is like that first album you bought all those years ago. And just as that first album led you to better things, so Big Dave serves as a gateway for young, impressionable wrestling fans. Take it from someone whose first hero was another rope-shaking musclehead - The Ultimate Warrior - with a little luck, more discerning taste will follow.

by Will Byard (View/Submit your feedback here)..

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