Dave Bautista — whose in the ring name was Batista — is a six-time WWE World Champion

By Rachel DeSantis and Lindsay Kimble
December 09, 2019 09:00 AM
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Bautista has officially cemented his place in WWE history.

The former WWE Superstar — who competed in the ring as Batista — will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in April, PEOPLE can exclusively reveal.

Bautista, a six-time WWE World Champion, was a founding member of the faction Evolution, alongside storied performers Ric Flair, Triple H, and Randy Orton. He took the ring for the last time at April’s WrestleMania, competing against Triple H.

The ceremony for Bautista, 50, will be held at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida, as part of WrestleMania week.

Opening up to PEOPLE about the honor, Bautista — who has transitioned to Hollywood and appeared in films like Stuber — says, “Vince [McMahon] called me personally to ask me, I was just … I wasn’t surprised, but I was pretty happy. It’s a good feeling, it’s a really great feeling.”

Bautista says he told the Chairman and CEO of WWE he would “be honored,” but admits, “As soon as I hung up the phone, I was … and excuse my language, I was like, ‘S–t, I gotta give a speech.’ ”

“And that is what I’ve been stressing about since,” he laughs.

What he’ll say remains to be determined, with Bautista admitting to PEOPLE he isn’t sure how to put the honor “into words right now.”

“I don’t think it’s sunk in,” he says. “And I was thinking about it because I mean, it seems like a long journey, but it also feels like yesterday when I started my career. And it also feels … because I’m still working so much, it doesn’t feel like an end of a journey.”

He continues, “And I said that at WrestleMania last year: It’s the end of my in-ring journey, but it’s not the end of my journey with the WWE. I will always be connected with them, I’ll always be affiliated with them, I hope that I will always have a good relationship with them. So it doesn’t really feel like an ending for me, it feels like, kind of, I’m right in the mix. … All I can say is it feels good, it’s just satisfying. I feel like I accomplished something. I feel like it was all worth it.”

Bautista tells PEOPLE his WWE career highlight was “definitely” his last match, dubbing it, “the icing on the cake.”

“For me, it was a storybook ending,” he explains. “It was as good as it gets. I got to close out my career the way I wanted to.”

Courtesy WWE

The future WWE Hall of Famer says that he hopes his speech will express his gratitude for the organization and his fans.

“I don’t think that they’ll really appreciate how grateful I am,” he says.

The 2020 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 2. Tickets for the 2020 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are available this Friday, December 13 at 12 p.m. EST through all Ticketmaster outlets, http://www.ticketmaster.com or at ReliaQuest Ticket Office at Amalie Arena.