There are few things more exciting in the world of wrestling than the debut. It's a new face, meaning new match possibilities, new stories, new moves maybe, new everything. It's like getting a toy on Christmas and breaking the seal for the first time. You know what I'm talking about, right?
And make no mistake, those first few minutes of a wrestler's run in a company mean a lot. If they make a good impression, they can be on the road to legendary status. If they don't make a good impression, then they're probably not long for this world.
But what's the greatest wrestling debut of all time?
Earlier this week, we asked you, the Cagesiders that very question. And in the spirit of the recent College Football Playoff Top 25 being released, here are...
the top 25 debuts in wrestling history.
(as voted by you, so don't blame me if this list doesn't meet your expectations)
25. Cactus Jack's WWF debut.
On the same RAW is WAR where Vince McMahon took his very first Stone Cold Stunner, Dude Love was set to face Triple H in a street fight. But Dude Love was like... nah. Not my cup of tea, daddio. Enter Mankind, who is pretty much equipped for the job because he's crazy as all hell. Except Mankind's like... nah. I know someone crazier. Enter Mick Foley's most vicious persona, the king of the deathmatch, Cactus Jack. And the Madison Square Garden crowd knew. It's going down for real. Dude Love might have been the dream, and Mankind may have made the money, but it was Cactus Jack that got the notoriety.
Yes, it was the same guy, but Triple H's reaction was priceless. He heard the stories. He wanted none of "the most dangerous man in wrestling". The man would as much as play with your life as risk his own. Would he even fit for a WWF audience? How about you ask that crowd that night in the Garden?
And when Cactus returned two years later, Triple H still wanted none of "the most dangerous man in wrestling". It's like the nightmare that won't go away.
24. The Wyatt Family.
The spring and early summer episodes of RAW in 2013 featured vignettes with a backwoods cult with a charismatic leader. The leader certainly had a way with words about how the world is a lie and we must open our eyes to the real truth. With his followers Erick Rowan (complete with sheep mask) and Luke "Dirty Shirt" Harper, Bray Wyatt and his "family" debuted in July 2013 by assaulting Kane and putting him on the shelf. Afterwards, he screamed to no one in particular to "follow the buzzards". Then a flash shot of sheep-masked Rowan. Then commercial. And we were left to process what the hell just happened.
Ok, I've purposefully blocked out some of the fans calling Bray Wyatt Husky Harris. Seriously, if you were one of those people, shame on you.
23. Hideo Itami.
The first big signing of the WWE Network era was one of the most successful puro combatants in the world. A Grand Slam champion and winner of multiple tournaments and awards in Pro Wrestling Noah, Kenta Kobayashi debuted at NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way as Hideo Itami. While some groaned at the name, when the Ascension interrupted the proceedings, people came around real quick. After all, when your style is "kick", people come around pretty quickly. Oh, and he all this with his Sunday best on. Certainly a "come to Jesus" moment for your favorite Egyptian space pirates. It sucks he's on the sidelines, because I think we all need him to get back and kick some more heads.
WWE Raw - Eric Bischoff debut new general... by AaruBui
22. Eric Bischoff's WWE debut.
The WWE was, to say the least, in a state of flux in the summer of 2002. Stone Cold Steve Austin walked out (and was subsequently fired), the nWo rebooted (and subsequently died), and the company's roster had been split in half. With Vince McMahon having recently won back full control of the WWE, he couldn't possibly oversee it all, even though it was kind of his job. So he hired two people to do it for him, one for RAW and one for Smackdown. The choice for RAW was a curious one to say the least.
It was a man that had driven WWF to the brink of extinction in the late-1990s. But his overreliance on his veterans and lack of new stars contributed to his own—and his company's as a whole—demise. Vince McMahon's choice to run RAW: former WCW executive vice-president Eric Bischoff. Booker T's reaction right before his formal introduction spoke for pretty much all of us. Not even the locker room knew until right before it happened. Even more curious, in Bischoff's first act, he shook hands with his new boss. Despite having a gift-wrapped storyline right in front of them, WWE did what seemingly was their motus operandi since they bought their competition: light money on fire.
21. Brock Lesnar.
The RAW after Wrestlemania has in recent years become one of the biggest days on the WWE calendar. It's like the opening week of the NFL season or baseball's opening day. And occasionally, you get a new face. Like the RAW after Wrestlemania in 2002 when during a hardcore match between Maven and Al Snow, Spike Dudley interferes. And this really big guy interferes.
That really big guy is Brock Lesnar. And you find out very quickly that Brock Lesnar is a grown assed-man. Spinebuster to Al Snow on a trash can. A picture-perfect F5 to Maven. Then Spike Dudley comes off the top rope and breaks a stick over Brock's head. To absolutely no effect whatsoever. Spike gets clotheslined; how his head stayed on I'll never know. Then, powerbomb to Spike Dudley. Powerbomb to Spike Dudley. Powerbomb to Spike Dudley, only stopping when Paul Heyman—you remember Paul? He was fired following Survivor Series—commands him to.
The next big thing had arrived. And he's a bad, bad man.
Bill Goldberg in WCW was a supernova. At the height of his popularity, his bouts were must-watch TV on Monday nights. He quickly ascended to championship status, almost just as quickly became a background player. And then... he vanished. And by vanished, he went to All Japan for a little bit.
Dateline: Seattle, Washington. March 30, 2003. On the same night Steve Austin was fired "on medical grounds", The Rock bragged about now that he had beaten Steve Austin at Wrestlemania, he was done. At age 30. In truth, he'd done pretty much everything he could possibly do: he had won more world championships than anyone in company history. He'd beaten every major name that's come through the company. He'd become a bigger crossover star than his rival Austin; hell, the biggest one since Hulk Hogan. Maybe ever. He was in high demand in Hollywood (a demand that would only grow).
Then the drums. The marching beat. The trumpets and horns. The walk from the locker room. The pyro. Holy shit, it's former WCW champion Bill Goldberg. Then Goldberg made his intentions very clear: he was next. Then one of the most vicious spears in the history of ever. How The Rock's torso didn't split I will never know. It was the beginning of an eventful, yet ultimately disappointing run in WWE for the man once regarded in WCW as "The Man".
19. The Shockmaster.
It was August in WCW, and you know what means. September's coming, and that meant Fall Brawl and its annual War Games match was around the corner. Sting and the British Bulldog were set to team with the Road Warriors to take on the Masters of the Powerbomb and Harlem Heat. But an injury to Hawk knocked him out of the match. And by proxy Animal (don't ask, WCW logic).
But don't worry kids, it's 1993, and Sting's got a Plan B. And their replacement guy was gonna shake the foundation of WCW to its core. A man so devastating, a man so powerful, he could be classified as a weapon of mass destruction. He was gonna shock the world, you see. That man...
...was this guy. The Shockmaster. Who makes his debut by crashing through a wall, tripping, and falling on his fucking arse. Ok, he didn't fall on his fucking arse, but the rest is true. He also lost his helmet, so that's a 15-yard penalty there. And everyone corpses at once while WCW management can only facepalm. Their big moment foiled by a small board and a sheet wall. Shockmaster did go on to win one of the shorter War Games matches ever for his team (just 16 and a half minutes), but Fred Ottman couldn't undo the damage done to the night he went through a wall for WCW, and the wall won.
18. Diamond Dallas Page's WWF debut.
With WCW done and dusted in 2001, fans salivated at the possibility of the best from the "league down south" coming to the WWF and testing their wares against their talent. A few weeks after the sale, WWF programming would be interrupted by shots of the Undertaker's then-wife Sara at home. Why we're watching someone doing their most private and intimate things, we don't know. But apparently, someone was videotaping it and stalking her. Already, we're well into the "why don't you have a seat right over here" phase. In due time, the stalker would be revealed.
That time came on June 18, 2001 on RAW is WAR. A man coming out to the Undertaker's music with the Undertaker's motorcycle and the Undertaker's clothes. And a mask concealing his face. Until he pulled it off. Sara's stalker was finally revealed.
Diamond Dallas Page.
DDP's excuse: he wanted to make an immediate impact by taking on the biggest dog in the yard. Unfortunately, that proved hazardous to his health as Page was beaten left, right, and center by Undertaker over the next two months before he found new life as a motivational speaker. And yoga and saving lives and such. Yeah, so it kinda worked out.
Unfortunately, that's not how he wanted to debut. Page in a 2012 interview:
"I figured out how I'm gunna go show up in the WWF when I finally go there," Page told me. "He (Big Show) goes what? I figured out how I'm gunna show up in the WWF when I finally go there. He (Big Show) goes, what are you talking about? You just a new contract (with WCW). I go, I know but I'm gunna end up in the WWF. That's my destiny. There (the WWF) gunna turn off all the lights and everybodies gunna think its gunna be Jericho. But its gunna go 10 seconds, 20 seconds, still no lights. JR goes, "hold on we got a problem here, just hang with us."
"Then you hear my voice for the first time in a WWF arena, "whose the real people's champion?
"The spotlight hits me and I go, "Your lookin at him."
"The place pops, yells, boos, cheers, whatever. I do the diamond cutter sign, boom, big explosion. I go to the ring and I start busting The Rock's chops. He can be hurt, maybe he's doing a movie or something. The Rock wasn't in a movie spot at that point, but that's where my head was going. I was literally seeing my destiny. If I would have stayed the course. When I got there to do the stalker thing, Vince and Shane really wanted me to do that. I didn't want to do that, but I agreed to that. But, I gave them this idea that I just gave you, not as this is what I want to do because this is why I can deliver the goods. Because its gunna be awesome. If you don't want to do this, fine I'm outta here. But I didn't do that. And that was my first goal that I ever really, totally had the whole manifestation. The whole thing right there and I dropped the ball."
Yeah... that idea was better.
17. Braun Strowman.
Because everything that is done must be done again, 2/3 of the Shield took on 2/3 of the Wyatt Family the night after Summerslam on RAW. While Summerslam ended with the Shield leftovers standing tall, the night after ended very differently.
Cue flashing images, then DEA-
It's a big bearded dude in a black sheep mask. Roman Reigns goes for the Superman Punch, and Vince McMahon big guy #7133 just shoved him away like he was nothing. Dean Ambrose tries and he gets nothing. They both try together and... nada. Eventually, Roman would be choked out by the big dude. So would Dean. Vince McMahon big guy #7133 is a grown ass man. Former strongman Adam Scherr, known now as the black sheep of the Wyatt Family, BigAss McStrongman, or Rave Wyatt, or BigDude McHuggersteen...
Wait, what? Braun Strowman? Well, that name's no fun.
16. Scott Hall's WCW debut.
To say that the spring of 1996 was a tough one for the WWF would be an understatement. After Wrestlemania XII, Bret Hart went on a sabbatical. A month later, two central figures in WWF's "New Generation" packed their bags too, heading south to WCW.
One of the two would turn up on Nitro just ten days after the "Curtain Call". During a nothing match between The Mauler and Steve Doll, said ex-WWF employee turned up, walked through the crowd, and demanded a microphone because he had something to say.
It was Scott Hall, last seen in WCW as the Diamond Studd, debuting as... himself, ex-WWF employee.
Or, as far as the crowd at Nitro was concerned, Razor Ramon, still WWF employee. See, it was 1996, and dirtsheets and dirtscreens weren't nearly as prevalent then as they are now. And Razor Ramon, WWF employee, was declaring war on WCW. Millions of minds just blew at once. Because seriously, Razor Ramon on Nitro, you guys. That would be the spark that lit the flame for WCW, and the wrestling business as a whole, the New World Order.
15. Rey Mysterio's WWE debut.
Rey Mysterio was one of WCW's biggest little players, winning the Cruiserweight title five times from 1996 to 1999. He was also a part of one of just two Cruiserweight tag team championship teams there in the dying days of the company. But Rey, like so many other of WCW's top stars, sat out the Invasion and waited out their contracts before joining WWE.
But all that changed on July 25, 2002 when one of the most celebrated junior heavyweights in the world made the jump to WWE. And good news for Mysterio fans of old: he was just as good as you remembered him. Sure he was not as fast and he was a little bulkier. But Mysterio in his WWE prime was pretty awesome. He'd be the longest-tenured ex-WCWer on the roster, hanging around for more than a decade before a series of injuries derailed him for good earlier this year.
14. The Undertaker.
The second bout of the 1990 Survivor Series featured The Dream Team of Dusty Rhodes, Koko B. Ware, and the WWF tag team champions The Hart Foundation taking on The Million Dollar Team of Ted DiBiase, Rhythm and Blues, and a player to be determined. We waited, and waited, and waited to find out who that player TBD was. Ted DiBiase introduces the man to be accompanied by a very red-faced Brother Love. The man from Death Valley simply known as The Undertaker.
And he was a big dude. Really big. Like nearly seven feet tall and over three hundred pounds, bigger than anyone the Dream Team fielded by a considerable margin. And scary as all hell. And forget trying to hurt him, you weren't gonna do that. He felt no pain and feared no man. Pretty hard to when you're supposedly dead. Koko B. Ware found this out the hard way, as just 90 seconds into the match, he would be turned upside down and dropped on his head by The Undertaker.
It took a countout to eliminate the pale mortician, but it would serve as the first chapter of what would become perhaps the most enduring character in WWE history, one that's still around today a quarter century later. IThere are generations of wrestling fans that do not know of a WWE without the Undertaker. When he finally hangs them up his long black trench coat and cowboy hat, and he will eventually, the wrestling world will be a weird, weird place, like that first time you saw The Price is Right hosted by anyone other than Bob Barker.
13. Samoa Joe.
For years, Samoa Joe was regarded--when he was on--as one of the best wrestlers in the world. He is the longest reigning ROH world champion in company history. He went the first eighteen months of his TNA run without being defeated. He was a five-time X Division Champion, and would win TNA's top prize once (something that was criminal in my view). But it became clear to most anyone watching that the Samoan Submission Machine was wasting away his prime on the Panda Energy payroll, but most also knew it would take a miracle for him to land in a WWE ring in any capacity. He doesn't have the "WWE look", as they say.
So imagine to the surprise that in February 2015, Joe left TNA after a decade with the company, and after a brief stopover in his old stomping grounds of Ring of Honor, on May 20, Samoa Joe stalked to the ring saving Sami Zayn from a further beating at the hands of Kevin Owens. Immediately, fans salivated at the thought of the two former indy standouts staring down one another (and salivated even more that, holy shit you guys, these two are in a WWE ring sort of).
The two would meet a month later, going to a no contest. Surely a feud between the two was lined up, but Owens was main-roster bound even before the staredown. But I have a gut feeling they will see each other again.
12. Sami Zayn's RAW debut.
Sure, Sami's been on Main Event and wrestled the occasional dark match, but many people are calling this his proper introduction to the main roster.
It was May 4, and RAW was in Montreal (screwjob imminent, amirite). Bret Hart, who had a bad day in Montreal once, made a cameo appearance to introduce another Quebecois as the next challenger in the
John Cena Memorial Graveyard John Cena United States Championship Open Challenge. That challenger: former NXT champion Sami Zayn.
Ok, forget for a moment that Sami was so excited for this moment he blew his shoulder out (thereby breaking Booker T's record for quickest time from debut to fuckup). The crowd ate it up. Home audiences ate it up. He would take the US Champion to the limit in a thriller with one good shoulder. Despite the shoulder injury, he would go through with his NXT Championship rematch with Kevin Owens two weeks later, which went to a no contest. Some argue that Kevin Owens' spot on the main roster was actually meant for Sami Zayn. Of course, we'll never know, but we will see Sami on Monday nights soon enough, I believe.
Kanako Urai is multi-talented. In addition to wrestling, she did graphic design, model, and review video games. Pretty awesome person, yeah? I mean, you have to be if you have a small wrestling company named after you.
Well, unless you cross her. See, as it turns out, Kanako Urai, or Kana, while being quite the eye candy, can hurt you in about seven hundred ways. Thankfully for all, she did not demonstrate any of those seven hundred or so ways at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn when she was taking in the show in the front row. Fans of course got crazy thoughts in her head, like what could she do if she ever ended up with NXT.
On September 23, we found out, because Kanako Urai, known now as Asuka (named after famed joshi Lioness Asuka), signed a deal with NXT. Dana Brooke and Emma for some reason did not take kindly to this pink-haired joshi trespassing on their lawn and such and basically bulled her out of the ring. Asuka did the slow, lonely walk to the back.
But right before she got to the back, she turned around and gave that "ten minutes into Netflix and chill" look. You know the one I'm talking about.
Except this look is not "ten minutes into Netflix and chill". It's the "next time I see you, I'm gonna murder you, eat your soul, and leave you in a pile of blood, urine, and vomit" look. A look that, thankfully, the home audience picked up on quickly.
But don't worry, everyone. By the time her in-ring debut at Takeover: Respect ended, everyone knew what that look meant. Isn't that right, Emma?
EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMA EMMMMM... chuckle chuckle #nxt #wwe #asukacity— ASUKA / 明日華 (@WWEAsuka) November 8, 2015
10. John Cena.
The summer of 2002 wasn't kind to WWE. Stone Cold Steve Austin left the company in controversy, the New World Order experiment was a bust, and The Rock was on his way out to make movies. Again. Thankfully, they did have Brock Lesnar being built as an unstoppable monster. But despite what you may have been told in recent years, you can't build a wrestling company on one guy.
On the June 27, 2002 Smackdown, Vince McMahon touted his "Ruthless Aggression" credo, just as he did a few nights earlier on RAW, with a toupee-turned-bald Kurt Angle as a prime example of said ruthless aggression. Angle then challenged anyone who has never faced him in a match. Needless to say, that narrowed the list quite a bit considering in his two and a half years with the WWF, Angle had faced just about everyone on the roster at one point or another.
Enter John Cena. Known in Ohio Valley Wrestling as "The Prototype", the one-time bodybuilder was asked by Angle what his qualifications were to go against Angle? Cena's answer: RUTHLESS. AGGRESSION. And a slap to the face. Cena would only last about five minutes with Angle, but it was a good five minutes, with Angle at least looking like he was on the verge of losing.
Post-match, Cena wanted to shake Angle's hand, but he didn't get it. But he did get to shake The Undertaker's hand. I mean, if the Undertaker shakes your hand, you've done something. It was quite the coming out party for the man that would eventually become the face of WWE.
9. The Nexus.
NXT debuted in 2010 as a way to introduce
a new set of faces to job to John Cena and Randy Orton a new set of faces to the roster. The four-month competition would be won by Briton Wade Barrett, besting Jennifer Hudson's husband David Otunga in the final.
The following Monday, Barrett debuted near the conclusion of a match on RAW between John Cena and CM Punk (before such a match was a really big deal). While Barrett, who had a WWE Championship match looming as a prize for his win, wanted to get up close and personal with his possible opponent (with an N armband for some reason), through the crowd emerged fellow contestant Michael Tarver in an N armband. Heath Slater comes in from another part of the crowd. With an N armband. Four others emerged, all with the same N armband. Quickly, they would swarm Luke Gallows and CM Punk. Then the group surrounded the ring. The referee had no chance, sent packing with a single punch from Otunga.
The group surrounded John Cena. The eight men from the just-concluded NXT were all in the ring. Something was indeed amiss. Cena went after Barrett, but he had no chance. The eight men punched, kicked, stomped away at him, and within a minute, he was defenseless. Anyone at ringside... or anything for that matter, was next. Announcers, timekeepers, producers, cameramen. Even the ring itself suffered damage. It was as if a tornado went through the area, leaving nothing but carnage in its wake. Not even a last gasp from CM Punk and Luke Gallows could stop what was happening. But the focus of their rage would be, unsurprisingly, John Cena. Eight rookies left RAW for dead.
The group, which would include future world champion Daniel Bryan and future Intercontinental Champion Skip Sheffield, would be known as Nexus. And those that weren't with them were against them. And if you were against them, you were marked for death in their eyes.
From Payback in AJ Lee's current hometown of Chicago in June 2014 to Wrestlemania XXX in New Orleans, the "crazy chick" and "geek goddess" ruled over the WWE divas division, holding the championship for nearly ten straight months. A spectacularly long run, yet mostly forgettable. During that time, some longtime fans clamored for change. A new challenge. Anybody other the Funkadactyls or the Bellas, or any of the other Total Divas or "true divas". The division needed a new body, and it needed it FAST.
On the night after Wrestlemania XXX, the savior the divas division needed would come. From a little television show called NXT. It was their women's champion Paige, who had won her championship just four days after AJ won hers. Paige wanted to congratulate AJ for being the longest reigning champion of a belt that was only six years old. But then AJ laid the gauntlet down for an impromptu WWE Divas Championship match, one Paige certainly wasn't asking for. Or ready for.
AJ laid a quick beatdown on Paige and locked in her Black Widow spider stretch...one that got reversed....awkwardly...into the Paige Turner. Three seconds later, and holy shit, Paige ended the active longest championship run in WWE at the time. There's the change you wanted. Right? Right? Right?
7. Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks.
Ok, admittedly, it was not, but it was... a start. Many worried what would become of NXT's women's division with Paige fully entrenched in the main roster. Well, it took a while, but it got better. Way better. Like remember when the TNA Knockouts division was better than the WWE Divas division?
Better than that.
The women's matches, though not often the main event, would often be the most talked about portions of NXT shows, events, and specials. And leading the way were Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley, three of whom would turn up on RAW in July 2015.
I'm gonna go ahead and ignore how they were introduced and just cut right to the chase. It goes into straight anarchy before Naomi, Tamina, and Paige eventually end up on the outside. And all things considered, they got honorable mention. What would become Team Bella, Las Bellas and Alicia Fox, would draw the short straws. Charlotte locks Alicia in the figure-fourOMGITZTHEFIGUREEIGHTMAGGLE! Brie Bella? Well, she was of no useOMGBECKYLYNCHWHATAREYOUDOINGTOHERARMTHEARMISNOTSUPPOSEDTOBENDTHATWAY! So it's Nikki to the rescue--nope. Sasha with a strait-jacket backstabber and OMGISNTTHATTHECRIPPLERCROSSFACEMAGGLE? Actually it is not, it's Sasha's Bank StatementJESUSCHRISTBECKYSGONNABREAKBRIESARMFORGODSSAKE! Where is Nikki Bella's face? WHERE IS NIKKI BELLA'S FACE? I CAN'T SEE HER FACE! AND ALICIA'S LEGS AND ANKLES HAVE GOTTA BE BROKEN! SOMEONE STOP THE CARNAGE!
The battle lines were drawn while mama Stephanie watched from above. It was a new day for the Divas Division. Nikki Bella finally had some competition--
Nikki still went to break the record for longest reigning Divas Champion ever (301 days before finally losing it a little over a month ago), and while by most accounts she's improved, the booking for said division has not. Using a few corporate buzzwords to trot your "new hot thing" doesn't make it so. Sure improvement doesn't come overnight, but two things wrestling fans do not have are time and patience, and many of those fans are calling the so-called "Divas Revolution" a failure.
6. Sting's WWE debut.
Sting was WCW through and through. Well, not always through and through, but pretty much through and through from when he debuted for Jim Crockett Promotions in 1987. Even in the face of turmoil, Sting stuck with Atlanta-based organization (and why wouldn't he? He was getting PAID) right up until its demise. Many assumed that eventually the "Franchise of WCW" would make his way to WWE.
Except, that's not what happened. Sting eventually landed in WCW's spiritual successor, TNA. And he would hang around there too for nearly a decade. But the unthinkable happened. Sting split with the Florida-based company in late 2013. Almost a year later, during the main event of Survivor Series, the most significant moment of the latter quarter of the year had happened.
Sting entered a WWE ring, in a role he had played often during his WCW and TNA runs: vigilante and savior.
After a brief staredown, he dropped Scott Armstrong, Deathdropped Triple H, and put Dolph Ziggler on top of Seth Rollins. Ziggler's job (along with four others) was saved. Good had triumphed over evil.
5. The Radicalz.
Though Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn all had pretty successful careers in WCW, winning over a dozen championships together, there was always a stigma they had to carry. Because they were quite talent, but didn't have the traditional look of what made a successful pro wrestler, they were going to hit a certain plateau and never crack the glass ceiling.
This line of thinking was only confirmed when a booking committee led by Kevin Sullivan replaced a booking committee led by Vince Russo in early 2000. Not even a sudden Chris Benoit world title Hail Mary could stop him, Guerrero, Saturn, or Malenko from leaving. Their minds were made up. They were going to try their luck elsewhere.
On January 31, 2000, just over a week after Benoit won the WCW world title--and left as their champion--the foursome sat in the front row taking in a tag team bout between The New Age Outlaws and Head Cheese. Road Dogg Jesse James got a little two close to the quartet, and they would jump the rail and put a beating on him and Billy Gunn. Though Guerrero would injure his arm in the beatdown performing his first frog splash in the WWF, the quartet known as The Radicalz had arrived. And they would be seen as the men that perhaps could take down the McMahon-Helmsley Regime. Except that didn't happen. But that's another story for another day.
4. The Shield.
One of the more common complaints of the post-Ruthless Aggression era is the lack of stars WWE has created. In fact, you can arguably the number is safely in the single digits. Maybe you can count the list on one hand. WWE looked to rectify that by completely rebuilding its development system in 2012. It didn't take long for the new developmental system to bear fruit.
Near the end of the 2013 Survivor Series triple threat main event for the WWE Championship, three men built in that system, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and at-the-time NXT Champion Seth Rollins, initiated a Nexus-style attack on Ryback, ending with a three-man powerbomb through the announce table. As the bout was no disqualification, no one could be reprimanded for the act. John Cena, still down from the Shellshock from Ryback, would be pinned by an exhausted CM Punk, and his one year as WWE Champion was complete.
The three men responsible would be formally introduced a little over a week later as The Shield, the men that were gonna kick injustice in the ass.. Over the next year and a half, they would carve a path of destruction rarely seen in WWE. Most everyone who was in the company would be victims of the Hounds of Justice, until their very shocking breakup in June 2014.
3. Kevin Owens.
One of the few highlights of 2015 has been the John Cena United States Championship Open Challenge. Every week, John would face an opponent that he would have no idea would come through that curtain until the time of the match. For about two months, it went off without a hitch. Then on May 17, 2015, the Open Challenge opponent of the week was a face very familiar to NXT audiences.
And a champion himself.
It was NXT Champion Kevin Owens, who was set to defend the title two nights later against his one-time BFF turned rival Sami Zayn. Cena didn't look the least bit impressed with what Kevin was selling, and to be fair, the same was true the other way around. Around the same time Cena was at or near the top of the wrestling world, Kevin was toiling away on the independent circuit. Kevin was not gonna stand for John giving him advice on the wrestling business.
So with the open challenge still open, Kevin turned down a shot at the United States title, saying they'll battle soon enough. But soon enough was a few seconds later, and John Cena becomes the first main roster victim of the pop-up powerbomb. Then, in the ultimate "kick the door in" moment, Owens hold his championship belt high... while stepping on John's US title belt. The lesson, kids? Don't ever give Kevin Owens advice.
2. Chris Jericho's WWF debut.
The early summer of 1999 was a hot time for the WWF. Though their storylines made little sense and the roster was paper thin beyond the top, and the matches were mostly awful, viewers watched in record numbers. Their shows had an energy to them that has not been replicated since. Well, at least two of their problems were about to be solved. The Millennium Man was coming to save us all.
The countdown ticked on WWF programming. Weeks became days. Days became hours. Hours became minutes. Minutes became seconds. The clock hit zero shortly after the top of the second hour on the August 9, 1999 RAW is WAR. The Millennium had come. It was former WCW cruiserweight and television champion Chris Jericho.
Jericho, just another in a long list of people who fell through the cracks in WCW, had made his way to the biggest of all stages. And he went in on the WWF and The Rock (Actually, he in a roundabout way went in on WCW). Right away, fans realized what WCW gave up. They not only gave up a gem, they gave up what would turn out to be one of the greatest performers in wrestling history, one that's still performing to this day.
But still, Chris. You must know your role and shut your mouth.
The Undertaker and Paul Bearer once upon a time had a partnership. A pretty successful one. Five years. Ok, granted, championship-wise, the partnership garnered minimal success, but the Undertaker won a lot. A LOT. But the two split in the summer of 1996, and many wondered how would the Deadman do without his confidant. Just fine, as it turned out, as he won his second WWF Championship seven months after the split.
That was a problem for Paul. Even though he initiated the breakup, he was still bitter about the Undertaker doing well without him, so he wanted to get him back under the fold, and he knew just the way: he held a dark secret over his head. A very dark one. That secret: Undertaker was responsible for the funeral home fire that killed his family. But wait, there's more! As it turned out, there was a survivor in the fire: the Undertaker's younger brother Kane. Kane was alive, and Paul Bearer had the proof.
But for more than two months, proof is all he had. It meant nothing without a body. Maybe Paul was waiting for the right moment to unleash him--unless Undertaker returned to his side. When the Undertaker refused, Paul forced the issue at a most inopportune time.
Bad Blood: In Your House, October 1997. The Undertaker, moments away from defeating Shawn Michaels in the WWF's first ever Hell in a Cell match, would be interrupted by darkness. Then red light, and...
THAT'S GOTTA BE... THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE! THAT'S GOTTA BE KANE!
A very angry Kane. In his first act, he ripped the Hell in a Cell door from its hinges, then proceeded to drop him with the Tombstone Piledriver, the very maneuver that his brother had delivered hundreds of times. Kane was a monster with two decades of anger on the brain, and it was all about to come out in the wash. It would be the beginning of the on-again, off-again feud between what would become known as the Brothers of Destruction. It's your choice for the best debut in wrestling history.
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