There have been a number of great debuts throughout WWE’s history such as Chris Jericho being revealed as the man behind the countdown clock to the new millennium. In recent memory, fans were treated to quite the delight when Sting’s music hit and he appeared at Survivor Series 2014. While it was clearly at a time when the Stinger was way over the hill, it was long-overdue and an enjoyable moment for WWE’s fans.
Great debuts are not just for singles competitors; on the contrary, fans have seen great debuts from factions as well. The Nexus took the wrestling world by storm when they debuted on June 7th, 2010 as they laid waste to any and every thing around them during a match between John Cena and CM Punk. The Shield followed suit two years down the road in 2012 at Survivor Series when they interfered in a WWE Championship match between John Cena, CM Punk and Ryback. Today, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins serve as three of WWE’s biggest stars. The point is a memorable debut is crucial to how a character is perceived from that point forward. Unfortunately, not everyone’s debut is as good as the forenamed individuals. Here, we take a look at the fifteen worst WWE debuts of all time.
15. Diamond Dallas Page
WCW’s resident “People’s Champ,” Diamond Dallas Page, enjoyed monumental success with WCW, which is impressive considering he began his wrestling career at the age of thirty-five! Page was a three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, two-time WCW United States Champion, a four-time WCW Tag Team Champion and a one-time WCW Television Champion. In a creepy and eerie angle, a masked man had been stalking the then wife of The Undertaker, Sara. After weeks of stalking, the stalker had ripped off his mask during a segment in the middle of the ring. Fans were shocked to see that the man behind the mask was none other than, “it’s me, it’s me, it’s DDP”! To be placed in a feud with The Undertaker upon debuting is a testament to WWE having faith in Page; however, giving him a gimmick that seemed more Al Snow-esque was disappointing.
14. Dolph Ziggler
Before fans knew Dolph Ziggler as “The Show-Off” or as “Perfection”, they knew him as the bleached-blonde, tan superstar that would awkwardly introduce himself to WWE superstars and personnel backstage by simply saying, “hi, I’m Dolph Ziggler” and then shaking hands (sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully). Prior to Ziggler being the hand shaking honcho that he was, he was Nicky of The Spirit Squad, so this may have been a step up, depending on how you looked at it. Clearly, things have worked out much better for Ziggler since his unremarkable debuts, as he is a two-time World Heavyweight Champion along with holding Intercontinental and United States gold with the company. But when he first debuted, not many would’ve predicted this amount of success for Ziggler, especially those that realized he was Nicky of The Spirit Squad.
The former second husband of “The Kat” (with the first being Jerry “The King” Lawler), Kizarny debuted in WWE on January 2nd, 2009. Prior to his debut, WWE had aired a number of promos for Kizarny which did little, if anything to excite viewers. In the promos, it was clear that Kizarny’s gimmick was that of a carny and that he spoke gibberish (or some secret carny dialect that the everyday viewer is unable to dissect). But, it wasn’t clear as to why WWE ever thought this gimmick had a chance of succeeding in the big leagues. Kizarny debuted with a W over MVP who was involved in a puzzling storyline himself which involved racking up loss after loss, but fans “were not impressed” (Lana voice) by Kizarny. Less than three months later, Kizarny was future endeavored.
12. Brodus Clay
When WWE started airing vignettes for Brodus Clay in late-2011, he was built up as an unstoppable monster heel. The build was fitting as Clay was a larger individual standing 6’7” and billed as weighing 375 pounds. In January of 2012, a familiar tune went through the speakers at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas; it was the theme of former WCW superstar, Ernest “The Cat” Miller. However, it wasn’t Miller who walked out to the theme; instead, it was the supposed monster heel, Clay. Clay had adopted a gimmick of a fun loving, dancing dinosaur known as “The Funkasaurus.” Clay immediately went from having a gimmick that would position him as a threat in the midcard to one used for comedic relief from the minute he debuted.
11. Elias Samson
One week after WrestleMania, Elias Samson made his debut on the main roster as part of the “flagship show” on Monday Night Raw. Unlike the majority of NXT call-ups who begin their career with a bang (i.e. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn both answering John Cena’s United States Championship open challenge on separate occasions), Samson debuted as, well, a drifter. In fairness, Samson’s nickname is “The Drifter”, and you could say that he stayed in character throughout his debut. But Samson wasn’t involved in any action in the ring throughout the night. Instead, Samson drifted during a eight-man tag match highlighted by the Hardys and made another appearance later on the evening as he drifted through the crowd during a matchup between Charlotte Flair and Nia Jax. Fortunately for Samson, it hopefully can’t get much worse than this.
10. Eva Marie
When WWE announced the cast for season one of Total Divas, it had five names that were familiar to its viewers – Brie and Nikki Bella, Natalya, Naomi and Cameron. The other two names were Eva Marie and JoJo who hadn’t yet appeared on WWE programming. JoJo has transitioned into a ring announcer role and serves as Raw‘s lead ring announcer today. Eva Marie hasn’t appeared on WWE programming in close to a year. Eva Marie’s debut was as underwhelming as the rest of her career has been. The fiery redhead debuted on July 1st, 2013 in a backstage segment that was used as promotion for the Total Divas series that was to air on the E! network. Since then, Eva Marie has done nothing of significance and has been sparingly used as, well, “she can’t wrestle.”
Played by Mike Halac, Mantaur had the gimmick of a combination of a minotaur and a man; hence, the name “Mantaur”. The character was practically dead on arrival as he flustered fans with mooing noises. In addition, he would charge at his opponents like an actual bull (kudos to Halac for the dedication to the gimmick). Unsurprisingly, the character wasn’t well-received. Seeing that Mantaur was struggling to gain traction with its fans, the WWE thought the insertion of Jim Cornette as Mantaur’s manager may help the character get over. Just like they were wrong when they thought up the idea of the Mantaur character, they were wrong again as the gimmick was simply damaged (from the minute he debuted) beyond repair. Mantaur was gone in six months and it’s actually surprising that he even lasted that long.
8. Fake Diesel and Fake Razor Ramon
Once WWE fans had become aware of the news that Diesel (Kevin Nash) and Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) would be departing the WWE for greener pastures in WCW they were visibly upset as it would leave a large hole to fill in both the midcard and top of the card. However, fans were elated once WWE announced that the two would actually be returning to the WWE. Diesel and Razor were indeed back with the WWE shortly after it was announced they were leaving for WCW; except, it wasn’t actually Diesel and Razor. Instead, it was an impostor version of both with Diesel being played by Glenn Jacobs (better known to the masses as Kane) and Razor being played by Rick Bognar. The duo fell flat on their faces the minute fans realized they were impostors and it did nothing to ease the pain of the real Diesel and Razor departing.
Better known as actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr. (and best known as Deebo from Friday), Zeus debuted in the WWE in 1989 after having worked on set with Hulk Hogan in the WWE-funded film No Holds Barred. Zeus was supposed to feud with Hogan as he was angered over the fact that Hogan had came out on top in the No Holds Barred film. Essentially, WWE had now given us two characters that no-sold moves. On one side, there was Hogan who had long established himself as the king of not selling for opponents. On the other side there was Zeus who wasn’t a trained wrestler (and was much worse than Hogan in the ring), who would also be no-selling moves. Zeus was done with the company in less than a year and it isn’t hard to fathom why.
6. Mike Adamle
From 1971-1976, Mike Adamle was a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets and Chicago Bears. Upon stepping away from the gridiron, Adamle shifted his attention to broadcasting, primarily for the NFL, as well as for NBC’s American Gladiators. In 2008, Adamle gave it a shot in WWE’s ranks, and his debut was a memorable one for all the wrong reasons. Adamle was frequently panned for the mistakes he’d make as an interviewer and color commentator throughout his less than one year with the company. Debuting at the 2008 Royal Rumble in the role of backstage interviewer, Adamle infamously referred to Jeff Hardy as “Jeff Harvey” in a slip-up that still haunts him while providing fans of WWE with quite the laugh.
5. The Shining Stars
The tag duo of Primo and Epico are a talented pair, and have even reached the pinnacle of tag team success, as they are former WWE Tag Team Champions. However, they somehow, some way manage to one-up themselves in worsening their gimmick each and every time they switch to another one. Primo and Epico were talented, but their gimmick had no pizazz. The Los Matadores gimmick never gained traction. Next, the Shining Stars gimmick was dead not just on arrival, but dead upon airing of vignettes. After a tad short of two months of vignettes, the two debuted to a lukewarm reaction (at best) from the WWE Universe. To make matters worse, the two didn’t appear on WWE programming again for another two months. Then again, it’s important to be empathetic; who am I to say they weren’t busy with their budding time share business?
4. Kerwin White
Chavo Guerrero may have held the legendary Guerrero surname, but it was clear as day that he wasn’t anywhere near possessing the wrestling ability or the charisma of his uncle Eddie. In June 2005, Chavo Guerrero decided to adopt a new gimmick where he abolished his old name and took on the name of Kerwin White. White came fully equipped with the controversial slogan, “if it ain’t white it ain’t right.” In addition, the character sported a sweater with a polo shirt, and Guerrero had dyed his hair blonde. Fans weren’t amused and let White know it upon his debut as they showered White with chants of “Chavo!” The gimmick was never over and its unsurprising that it wasn’t. After six months, White reverted back to the Chavo Guerrero persona after the unfortunate passing of his uncle, “Latino Heat” Eddie Guerrero.
3. Lord Tensai
Today, Matt Bloom calls sunny Orlando, Florida his home base as he serves as the Head Trainer of NXT. In 2012, the former Albert returned to the WWE for the first time in eight years after honing his craft overseas in Japan. The WWE had high hopes for Lord Tensai as he wasn’t going to be pushed as Albert was (no better then a midcard heel), but instead, to be pushed as a monster heel, and likely the monster heel of the company at the time. The name change to Lord Tensai may have provided for a character change for the big man, but the hostile Raw crowd upon his debut let him know they hadn’t forgotten who he was. Lord Tensai was bombarded with “Albert” and “shave your back” chants upon debuting, and plans for him being a monster heel were quickly abandoned as he then aligned with Brodus Clay in the “Tons of Funk” tag duo.
Ladies and gentlemen, this gorgeous woman over here looks awfully similar to the significant other of Zack Ryder, and could easily pass as her twin, but this is not Emma; this is Emmalina. In October of 2016, vignettes began to air for the former Emma transforming into Emmalina. The premise behind the Emmalina character was that Emma was undergoing a makeover that would ditch the Emma character in favor of her new persona. The vignettes continued for over four months before Emmalina finally debuted on a February 2017 episode of Monday Night Raw. She came out and was short, sweet and straight to the point, when she announced “the makeover from Emmalina to Emma”. Basically, the Emmalina character’s vignettes lasted longer then the actual character! Then again, who in their right mind thought this character would work, let alone that she needed a makeover? Just a big waste of time…
1. The Gobbledygooker
In hindsight, it’s difficult to imagine that their was a great deal of hype around the egg that contained The Gobbledygooker. But, you have to go back to prior to the reveal to truly appreciate the significance of the egg. The egg was displayed at a number of events prior to Survivor Series 1990 and fans were anticipating a big reveal. Not only did they not receive a big reveal, but they received a reveal that probably surpassed their wildest dreams in the disappointment department. The Gooker was instantaneously met with boos upon the hatching of the egg. For those who’ve never heard the commentary of Gorilla Monsoon and the late great Roddy Piper trying to sell the audience on Gooker, do yourself a favor and check it out for a quick laugh! Unsurprisingly, the Gooker character was removed from television shortly after debuting.
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