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Dave Bautista Reveals How He Battled Anxiety Early in His WWE Career

Like other WWE Superstars, Dave Bautista used professional wrestling to ease his mental health struggles. 

By Chris Phelan
Dave Bautista during WWE Smackdown at Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia

Before he became a household name in Hollywood, Dave Bautista was one of the most iconic WWE Superstars of all time, winning World Championships and feuding with legendary athletes like The Undertaker, who he memorably took to the limit at WrestleMania in 2007:

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The more stories we hear about Big Dave, the more he climbs up the list of our favorite athletes – and people – ever.

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It's been a while since the WWE Universe has seen Bautista compete in the ring – he's been retired from in-ring competition since WrestleMania 35 in favor of taking Hollywood by storm thanks to a variety of impressive performances spanning multiple movie genres such as the 2023 movie Knock at the Cabin. Thankfully, on occasion, he still takes time to reflect fondly on his career in WWE. During a recent interview with Arizona's Family, in between discussing his upcoming films, Bautista revealed that he suffered from mental health issues when he first started competing in sports entertainment.

Dave Bautista Reveals Dealing With Anxiety in His Early WWE Days

Dave Bautista attends the "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" European Premiere Closing Night Gala during the 66th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall

For many fans, the thought of larger-than-life Superstars struggling with mental health can be surprising. In 2023, The Rock famously admitted he suffered from depression early in his career. Bautista's openness on many of the same issues reiterates to the WWE Universe that greatness isn't about powerbombing people through the mat at WrestleMania – it's about honesty. 

Bautista revealed he suffered from bouts of crippling anxiety early in his WWE days.

"When I started wrestling, I was literally physically sick before I walked out from the curtain," he confessed. "I used to walk out and [screams]. And all my anxiety was gone. And that's what it is. I get nervous, and I get self-conscious, and then I get anxious, but as soon as I go [screams] it goes away. It's easy for me to do that – I can relax from there. As soon as I get that out, I can relax from there."

It's telling what a good scream can do for someone's mental health, isn't it?

As Dave Bautista becomes more and more respected in Hollywood circles, he's moving toward more nuanced, understated roles that reflect his high regard for acting. Of course, earlier in his career, he was somewhat typecast as an angry brute, which shadowed The Animal persona he had during much of his time in WWE.

How WWE Helped Dave Bautista's Acting

Dave Baustista throwing up a peace sign and smiling

In many of his early movie roles, Bautista played characters with a sense of anger. The interviewer asked him how he prepares for such roles, and Bautista credited his WWE career for putting him in the right mindset!

"It's funny, because [being angry] came so naturally to me," he revealed. "If there's anything that I took away from professional wrestling, it's being angry. I'm really good at being angry."

Bautista's candidness toward his anxiety and mental health is refreshing, it's always nice to get reminders that WWE Superstars – although they look superhuman on television – are just like us

Will Dave Bautista Return to WWE?

Dave Bautista looking suave on a red carpet

Although the most likely place for a Superstar of his status to return would be the greatest night of entertainment the WWE has to offer, and although the current WrestleMania 40 lineup is far from finalized, we have bad news for fans of Dave Bautista: he's currently not slated to appear at the year's biggest WWE Premium Live Event in Philadelphia. 

While we truly believe there's always room for the future WWE Hall of Famer at WrestleMania, the truth is that there simply isn't a spot for Bautista this year. Thankfully, between The Rock, Cody Rhodes, Rhea Ripley, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Bayley, Drew McIntyre, Becky Lynch, and countless other top-tier WWE Superstars already scheduled for WrestleMania, we somehow doubt the WWE Universe will mind that Big Dave can take in the event as a fan instead of a performer. 

Speaking of the WWE Hall of Fame, it wouldn't surprise us if Bautista is part of the Class of 2024 – it would be one of the most deserved inductions in history. 

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Elimination Chamber on February 24 and WrestleMania on April 6 and 7. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.