He began his WWE career on the May 9, 2002 episode of SmackDown! as Deacon Batista, a villainous enforcer for Reverend D-Von.He made his WWE in-ring debut in a tag team match teaming with D-Von against Faarooq and Randy Orton, pinning Orton. Over several weeks, Orton tried to beat D-Von and Batista with different partners, but ultimately lost each time. Batista suffered his first loss in a match against Rikishi after D-Von accidentally punched him, allowing Rikishi to take advantage and pin Batista. Batista and D-Von argued over the forthcoming weeks, with Batista eventually turning on D-Von. After splitting with D-Von, he signed with Raw and was renamed to Dave Batista (or simply Batista). He aligned himself with Ric Flair and feuded with Kane, whom he defeated at Armageddon.
Main article: Evolution
In January 2003, Batista joined Triple H, Ric Flair and Randy Orton to form the villainous stable Evolution. Batista, however, was sidelined for much of 2003 after he tore his right triceps muscle at a Raw live event in a tag team match against the Dudley Boyz. While training after the injury, Batista re-tore his triceps, extending his stay on the sidelines.Batista made his return on the October 20 episode of Raw, interfering in a match between Bill Goldberg and Shawn Michaels and "shattering" Goldberg's ankle with a chair. After the interference, Evolution came out, and Triple H rewarded Batista with $100,000.On the November 10 edition of Raw, Goldberg defeated Batista by disqualification when Triple H interfered.
At Armageddon, Batista took part in two matches; losing to Shawn Michaels in a singles match, and winning a tag team turmoil match along with Ric Flair to become one-half of the World Tag Team Champions.By the end of the event, all four members of Evolution held every male championship on Raw, with Triple H winning the World Heavyweight Championship and Randy Orton winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship. They held the title until the February 16, 2004 episode of Raw, when they were defeated by Booker T and Rob Van Dam. They later regained the title for a short period.
At Survivor Series, Triple H, Batista, Gene Snitsky, and Edge were defeated by Maven, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, and Randy Orton in an eight-man elimination tag team match for control of Raw over the following month; the members of the winning team would each be the Raw general manager for a week. Throughout the next two months, the relationship between Batista and Triple H began to deteriorate. After a loss to Chris Jericho, Triple H verbally insulted Batista. Batista teased leaving Evolution that night, but declared that he was still part of Evolution and that they tricked everyone.Despite this ploy, Batista began behaving more like a fan favorite over the next few weeks in comparison to Evolution's villainous tactics. One particular moment saw Batista express disgust as Triple H and Ric Flair boasted about how they had intimidated and/or beat up Jim Ross, Danny Hodge, and Stacy Keibler. Regardless, he continued to show his loyalty to Triple H and Evolution by running down to the ring and assisting them in matches.
As 2005 began, Triple H realized the possibility of Batista becoming a threat to his World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H suggested that he not enter the Royal Rumble, claiming that it would be selfish of him to do so, and to simply focus on Triple H retaining the title. Batista entered anyway and went on to win the Rumble earning the right to participate in the main event of WrestleMania 21 against the World Champion of his choice. In an attempt to persuade Batista to challenge WWE Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield rather than him, Triple H concocted a scheme to have Batista run over in a limousine resembling the one used by Layfield. Initially, Dave did not want help from Evolution and wanted to confront JBL by himself. Triple H insisted that Evolution stick together and accompanied Dave anyway, saving him from the oncoming vehicle. Batista became aware of the plot while sneakily eavesdropping on fellow Evolution members and signed a contract guaranteeing him a match with the World Heavyweight Champion Triple H at WrestleMania 21, thus leaving Evolution and officially turning into a fan favorite. Batista initially pretended that he would sign with SmackDown!, giving Triple H and Flair the "thumbs up", but turned it into a "thumbs down" before attacking the pair. He emphasized his departure by powerbombing Triple H through the table used for the contract signing.