Pro Wrestling

15 Greatest Debuts in WWE History

There is no second chance at making a first impression, right? These 15 superstars kicked off their WWE careers in impressive fashion and made a memorable mark in wrestling history. Let’s take a look at the 15 greatest debuts in the history of WWE.

#15. Eric Bischoff

Did anyone predict that we would see Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon embracing each other on Monday night television? Probably not, but that’s exactly what happened on July 15, 2002 when McMahon introduced Bischoff as the new General Manager of RAW. It was a shocking debut that had the wrestling world buzzing for weeks and led to a fairly successful run for Bischoff as the on-air authority on Monday nights.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#14. The Big Show

Paul Wight, who would be later given the nickname “The Big Show”, made the jump from WCW in 1999 and made an impactful debut during the famous cage match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Wight had a number of bumps in the road during his first few years in WWE, but his first appearance was certainly an impactful one that fans still remember today.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#13. Santino Marella

Very few performers win major championships in their debut match, but that’s exactly what happened when the “Milan Miracle” made his debut on Monday Night RAW in his hometown of Milan, Italy. Vince McMahon would challenge anyone in the crowd to take on Umaga in an impromptu Intercontinental championship match, which would be answered successfully by Marella in a memorable moment in RAW history.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#12. Booker T

During the early stages of the 2001 WCW invasion angle there were a lot of concerns about the level of main event talent who were able to make the immediate jump over to WWE. Thankfully, Booker T would eventually arrive on the scene. Booker made an impactful debut at the 2001 King Of The Ring by running in from the crowd and suplexing then champion Stone Cold Steve Austin through the announce table. Unfortunately, the table bump caused a serious neck injury that sidelined Austin for several months.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#11. The Undertaker

Survivor Series multi-man tag matches. Mystery tag team partners. Ah, the good ol’ days! The 1990 Survivor Series team captained by “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase would reveal their mystery partner as the 6′ 10″ future Hall of Famer formerly known as “Mean” Mark Callous in WCW. The Undertaker captured his first WWF World Championship exactly one year after his debut by defeating Hulk Hogan, capping off an incredible first year in for the Deadman.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#10. Goldberg

Goldberg was one of the key players that never made the move from WCW after the organization was purchased in 2001. However, when his guaranteed contract with Time Warner ran out he would finally make the jump following WrestleMania 19. During the broadcast of WrestleMania, a promo aired announcing the fact that Goldberg “Has Finally Arrived”, leading to a Monday Night RAW confrontation that saw Goldberg and The Rock face off to setup a debut match on pay-per-view.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#9. The Shield

The trio of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns made their surprising debut at Survivor Series 2012, interfering on behalf of CM Punk during his threat main event with John Cena and Ryback. Within the first few months of their arrival, the former NXT trio was prominently featured in both TV and PPV main events.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#8. Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar made an impactful debut on the RAW after WrestleMania 18, interrupting a Hardcore title battle royal and utterly destroying the likes of Al Snow and Spike Dudley. With manager Paul Heyman by his side, Lesnar would go on to main event SummerSlam later that summer and would defeat The Rock to become WWE Champion.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#7. Tazz

Tazz came straight from ECW to the WWE main roster by making a surprise debut against Kurt Angle in the opening match of the 2000 Royal Rumble. The fans at Madison Square Garden had a hunch that Angle’s mystery opponent would be the Human Suplex Machine and came unglued when an orange and black “13” appeared on the arena video screens. Tazz went over Angle with a clean submission, which was a strong way to kick off his short (no pun intended!) WWE run.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#6. Paige

Few superstars win Championship titles on their debut match, but that’s exactly what happened to former NXT standout Paige. On the RAW after WrestleMania XXX, Paige would debut during a promo with then-Divas Champion AJ Lee. She would then answer an impromptu challenge by Lee. Seconds later, the pale skinned Diva from England would emerge victorious and would be off to a very successful first year in the organization.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#5. Kane

In 1997, a storyline involving Paul Bearer telling the Undertaker that his brother Kane, who had supposedly died in a fire when the two were children, was still alive and would soon appear. During his infamous first Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker would be confronted by the debuting Kane, kicking off a long program between the two that would be a main attraction at WrestleMania 14.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#4. John Cena

When Kurt Angle issued an open challenge on a 2002 episode of SmackDown, little did he know that the rookie who would answer the challenge would go on to be one of the biggest draws in WWE history and the leader of the coming generation. Cena held his own both physically and verbally with Angle and the successful debut would lead in to him facing and defeating Chris Jericho at his pay-per-view debut a month later.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#3. The Nexus

The infamous Nexus invasion of Monday Night RAW is considered one of the highlights of the last few years. The rookie faction led by Wade Barrett interrupted the main event between CM Punk and John Cena and went on to destroy Cena, Punk, the referees and even the ring and ringside set itself. The incident was also infamous for the fact that Daniel Bryan was immediately fired for choking ring announcer Justin Roberts, which was considered an policy infraction in WWE’s PG environment.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#2. Chris Jericho

The Millennium Countdown clock that ran on RAW for weeks before the debut of Chris Jericho had everyone talking about what could happen when the clock struck zero. When it did, one of the best in-ring segments in RAW history took place between the former WCW standout Jericho and The Rock. Jericho would win his first singles title in WWE when he became Intercontinental Champion at Armageddon later that year.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

#1. Kevin Owens

The debut of Kevin Owens is historically significant in WWE. After making an impactful debut on RAW during a promo segment with John Cena, Owens would go on to beat Cena clean in his in-ring debut at Elimination Chamber in a match that may be considered a match of the year candidate. The vocal internet fans who worried that Vince McMahon wouldn’t do much with Owens due to his body type were silenced in an instant. Since the debut, Owens has been featured prominently on WWE television and went on to have another incredible match with Cena at Money in the Bank. Time will tell what the upper limits for Kevin Owens are but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the former Kevin Steen as the future top heel for the organization.

Credit: WWE

Credit: WWE

X