Every WWE superstar has got to start somewhere, however that big step to the top is actually being signed by one of the major sports entertainment companies, and it does not get bigger than the WWE.
Each and every time a WWE superstar debuts there is no guarantee that the individual will succeed; at first we may dislike the superstar, laugh at them because we don’t like them but down the line they have gone on to become some of the biggest names in the industry, and in some cases they still are.
The WWE has provided us with countless talents who have debuted in front of us, past and present and we are fortunate enough to have witnessed some epic debuts which sit firmly in the back of our minds, and from the ten debuts I am including in the countdown, it will take something extra special from now on in the WWE to overtake these debuts, let’s take a look at the ten best WWE debuts.
10. John Cena
John Cena was practically a nobody unless you were a big follower of the WWE’s developmental territory, he was nothing special at the time; he had completely different music, practically no gimmick but he was quite simply a rookie looking to leave his mark in the WWE, and he certainly managed to do that.
In 2002, Kurt Angle was welcomed by Vince McMahon as he was pleased that Kurt Angle managed to make Hulk Hogan tap out via the Ankle Lock, prior to that, Kurt Angle defeated The Undertaker and was confident, challenging any youngster to a match; in stepped John Cena. He told Angle he had ruthless aggression and certainly showed it as the match itself was fantastic.
Although Cena lost and only came up short, it was basically a learning curve, hate him or love him John Cena used his debut against such a great wrestler to his advantage and has gone on to become the face of the WWE; watching in 2002 you would not have even thought John Cena would reach the levels he has managed to do so.
The Human Suplex Machine; Tazz already had a big following and made a name for himself as he was this dominant 5’8” monster who competed for ECW and remained a dedicated superstar throughout his active career as a wrestler. His physical and intense style of wrestling was shown in ECW many times and he managed to bring the same style over to the WWE.
For a number of weeks on Raw, we could see orange video packages being played on the titan-tron, to some fans it was clear who this video was about, but the majority of fans had no idea that Tazz had signed with the WWE; his promo continued to play for a number of weeks, until the Royal Rumble. He first walked out during the event and fans could not believe it, this monster who ruled ECW is now in the WWE; and everyone was glad that he finally joined the company.
His debut was impressive, the darker-tone, his video packages which signalled that the mood was about to change, and his dominance on the fact that he defeated the previously undefeated Kurt Angle on his first night, a fantastic debut and it is a shame his wrestling career did not last longer.
8. The Big Show/Paul Wight
The Big Show used to compete under his real name, Paul Wight when he used to compete for WCW; nicknamed ‘The Giant’ because a man of his size was not seen since the days of Giant Gonzalez and Andre The Giant, and at WCW he saw good levels of success, and then he caught the eye of Vince McMahon; as he signed him to a mammoth ten-year deal and he still remains with the company today.
Every fan remembers the infamous rivalry between Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin; it changed history and it was during this match that the WWE fans were introduced and finally treated to Paul Wight. At St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House, Paul Wight shocked fans as he tore through the canvas from underneath the ring and attacked Austin; although he cost Mr. McMahon the match by throwing Austin against the cage which then broke leaving Austin with the victory, it was revealed that Paul Wight was the newest member of The Corporation, and Mr. McMahon’s enforcer.
He competed as Paul Wight for a short while before finally making the switch to The Big Show; and his debut was extraordinary and surprised fans all over the world.
7. The SHIELD
The most recent debut in this list enters at number seven with Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns who competed on NXT; made their presence felt as they introduced themselves to the world at the annual Survivor Series pay-per-view.
Survivor Series is a pay-per-view which has a solid history behind it; it is where The Rock made his debut and The Undertaker made his on-screen debut also; and now The SHIELD have the honour of saying they also made their debut at the pay-per-view; and what a shocking debut it was too.
It was November 18th 2012 when CM Punk was defending his WWE Championship in a triple threat match against Ryback and John Cena; and as expected Ryback was dominating the match and hit a Shell Shock on John Cena which signalled that the end was near, suddenly we saw on the camera that three men dressed in black stormed past the barricades and into the ring, taking out Ryback before smashing him through the announcer’s desk, helping CM Punk retain his title.
From then on they have only gone stronger and within six months they have captured the United States and Tag Team Championships and the debut itself was a great introduction of the three men.
One of the most dominant and favourable superstars in wrestling history, from my experience as well there has never really been anyone quite like Goldberg who dominated at both WCW and the short time he spent with the WWE. Heading into his WWE debut, Goldberg was already a massive name as he had his undefeated streak to fall back on, starting on September 22nd 1997 against Hugh Morris and it ended against Kevin Nash on December 17th 1998; going a whole 173 consecutive matches without losing.
In the WWE, rumours were floating that Goldberg had signed a one-year deal with the company, something many thought would never happen due to his loyalty to WCW, but the night after WrestleMania XIX; his iconic music interrupted The Rock. Cameras followed Goldberg backstage as he made his way towards the stage and even The Rock couldn’t believe that he was actually here. We heard his infamous “You’re Next!” catchphrase before he speared The Rock and once again went on to go undefeated; a great wrestler topped with an equally impressive debut.
5. The Undertaker
Competing for WCW as Mean Mark Calaway the man we know as The Undertaker did not have much success there; and was subsequently signed by the WWE in 1990 as Kane The Under; but it was his debut at Survivor Series which started the years of supremacy by The Undertaker but that was down to Hulk Hogan, who offered to bring The Undertaker to the WWE, as well as Ted DiBiase.
He made his official on camera debut when Ted DiBiase introduced him to the world as his mystery partner, and fans were definitely shocked when they saw a man of his stature, wearing a trench coat, grey-striped tie, grey-ringed hat with gloves and boot spats, and genuinely a scary looking guy. He dominated in the Survivor Series match and eventually dropped the Kane from his name and switched managers from Brother Love to Paul Bearer, and the rest is history, one scary debut resulting in years of dominance, a true legend.
4. Brock Lesnar
With a great amateur wrestling background; Brock Lesnar used his skills to make a name for himself as this powerhouse we know today; another one of the infamous Paul Heyman guys Brock Lesnar failed to disappoint fans with his brute strength and his dominating yet intimidating presence and that force was felt on his debut.
Taking place the night after WrestleMania 8, Brock Lesnar stormed through the crowd and was not easily spotted, as he waited outside the ring for a second as the fans closer to him managed to get a good luck of what Paul Heyman has brought with him.
Lesnar got into the ring where he hit a devastating Spine buster on Al Snow, hitting his signature finishing move, the F5 on Maven before dominating Spike Dudley and then showing off inside the ring, a massive smirk on his face as he definitely impressed many fans and was seen as ‘The Next Big Thing’, and that he was as his popularity continue to grow as he became the youngest WWE Champion ever at the age of 25; followed by more dominance and a stint in the UFC; and he is now in his second tenure as a WWE Superstar.
If The Undertaker was a scary-looking superstar on his debut, then Kane was just on a whole new level. Paul Bearer and The Undertaker had their own back-and-forth rivalry going on where The Undertaker launched a fireball to his face, resulting in Paul Bearer threatening The Undertaker with his biggest secret during a cryptic interview; likening the fire that burnt his face to his childhood; the secret was known as Kane.
After weeks of tormenting The Undertaker, talking about his long-lost half brother Kane, we finally saw him at the Bad Blood: In Your House pay-per-view in 1997, where The Undertaker was competing against Shawn Michaels inside a Hell in a Cell match. Paul Bearer and Kane appeared after a massive explosion on stage which we have grown accustomed to, donning an intimidating red and black mask, long hair along with red and black attire which covered his body; he cost The Undertaker that match and till this day it remains one of the greatest debuts in WWE history.
The second-most recent debut to have taken place, against comes from the developmental territory we know as NXT, where the season one competitors consisting of Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, Michael Tarver, David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater and led by Wade Barrett; made a name for themselves in this shocking debut which occurred in June 2010.
Wade Barrett and his group emerged and led an attack on John Cena, CM Punk, Luke Gallows, Jerry Lawler, Matt Striker and Justin Roberts amongst other WWE personnel around the ring. They went on to destroy everything at ringside, from the mats, to the aprons, the barricades, the announcers table and the ring itself; showing that they meant business.
Never before had we seen a group of youngsters make such an impact on their debut, and it remains difficult for anyone else to top that debut which introduced us to some of the most talented wrestlers today.
1. Chris Jericho
The master of returns, Chris Jericho was another loyal WCW Superstar and it would never have been thought that Chris Jericho would ever jump ship from WCW to their biggest rivals, the WWE. But he did just that towards the millennium
The millennium played a big part in his debut, as weeks before his debut we witnessed countless promos with the countdown to the millennium clock on the programmes; and in August 1999 when The Rock was in the ring, we were finally ready to see what it had in store for us, the clock hit zero and the lights turned off; and Chris Jericho made his surprising debut in the WWE, interrupting The Rock as he came to save the WWE; and that same night we heard the infamous ‘Raw is Jericho’ catchphrase. Since then he became the first ever Undisputed Champion in WWE history, he has won countless championships and every single time he returns, there is no doubting that goosebumps are always there. It was a fantastic debut with so much hype surrounding it; it could not have gone any better and proved to be effective.
Can you think of any other memorable WWE debuts?
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