In the WWE, the first impression always has to leave a mark on the audience if one wants to succeed in the company, as the debut of a WWE wrestler has to be something which the fans can remember for a long, long time if the superstar is to become something big in the company after debuting. Even though some debuts happened out of nowhere back during the Monday Night Wars, the WWE plans how its debuting superstars will make their first mark on the crowd as they go through some rigorous planning weeks or even months ahead of their actual debuts.
WWE does a lot of work before actually having the superstars debut on their TV shows, as they have to train to perfectly become their characters and also be ready to put on matches in the ring. The debuts of some superstars are always advertized and hyped by the WWE a lot of the times, which means that some pay off but some just don't. While the past 5 years have seen a lot of amazing debuts in the WWE, there have been some very awful ones as well.
Let's have a look at the 10 best and 10 worst debuts in the WWE of the past 5 years which have changed the outlook of the company in a major way.
20 BEST: Paige
Paige was quite the impressive talent during her NXT days where she was also the first ever NXT Women's champion, but she caught everyone's attention after making a surprise debut the night after WrestleMania XXX where she tried to congratulate AJ Lee but got slapped and challenged to a match instead. She actually surprised everyone by winning the match, as the whole arena erupted and were delighted at getting their youngest Divas Champion which immediately asserted Paige as one of the top Divas on the main roster, despite only wrestling one match. She rode on that success to become even bigger as the years passed by, and even though she's in a bit of a pickle right now, her awesome WWE debut will be remembered for a long time.
19 WORST: Eva Marie
Eva Marie has been a case of all looks and no talent in the WWE, and that is something the fans really don't like as the Women's Division is reaching a peak. She initially debuted in the company way back in 2013, where her incredible botches during the matches infuriated many as her initial debut match was quite the horrible one and had fans wanting her out of the scene. When she made her NXT debut, she faced the wrath of the NXT crowd as she was heavily booed by the audience, who really didn't want her ruining their amazing women's division's reputation. After being drafted to Smackdown in the WWE draft, she debuted her new gimmick where she would come out to quite the introduction but would fail to wrestle because of some problem. Eva has had a rough in-ring career in WWE so far, as the fans absolutely hate her for her lack of talent in the ring and she'll have to work hard in order to win them over and gain a place in the hotly contested Women's Division right now.
18 BEST: Samoa Joe
When Samoa Joe had initially left TNA in 2015, many people were speculative about whether the Samoan Submission Machine would make it in the WWE after all these years and rumors about him joining were spreading like wildfire. So when he debuted at the NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable event when he came down to save Sami Zayn from getting beaten up by Kevin Owens, the whole arena exploded when they saw him as everyone was stunned at him actually coming out to confront the NXT Champion. Although his entrance theme wasn't that good, that didn't deter the crowd from marking out as the very real prospect of Joe at NXT thrilled many as this turned out to be quite the memorable debut for him and the massive reaction helped him ensure his place as one of the top dogs in NXT.
17 WORST: The Vaudevillains
Aiden English and Simon Gotch were quite the promising tag team in their NXT days, as the two "Gentlemen" were slow to start off their NXT journey but did have their rise eventually when they won the NXT Tag Team Championship from Blake and Murphy. After they had literally done everything on NXT, they were promoted to the main roster after WrestleMania 32 and debuted with their NXT gimmicks and got no reaction at all. They didn't look to be that convincing in the ring either, failing to win over the fans and had a short run as heels before they were downgraded to becoming jobbers soon enough. Their boring "gentlemen" gimmick and lack of real personalities made their debuts a real bust and stopped any form of rise on the main roster for the former NXT Tag Team Champions.
16 BEST: Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman was actually used as a "Rosebud" who escorted Adam Rose to the ring before he could make it on his own in the WWE, as the mountain of a man had quite the memorable debut to enforce his authority in the WWE. Strowman debuted as the newest member of the Wyatt Family when they were feuding against Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, as he appeared on an episode of Raw wearing a black sheep mask and absolutely destroyed them both to leave the crowd stunned and impressed at the same time. He established his dominance from day 1 and hasn't been toppled yet, as Strowman's amazing debut was one of things which led to his monster push as he's reaping the rewards of impressing in his early days.
15 WORST: Brodus Clay
Brodus Clay had the figure and intimidating looks of a monster heel, but a horrible gimmick completely ruined his WWE career when he debuted as the "Funkasauras" with his "Funkadactyls" in Naomi and Cameron. He debuted in a rather entertaining manner but watching an intimidating man like him horribly dancing around the ring like that with his co-dancers was something terrible to the eyes. His awful debut totally ruined any chances of him being relevant to the eyes of the audience, as he was used as an entertaining element for a couple of years before being released by the WWE. Clay had the looks of a legitimate strong heel, but this awful gimmick didn't help his cause as his hilarious debut made him look like a joker and ruined his chances of getting to the top.
14 BEST: Finn Balor
Finn Balor has quickly become one of the most unique superstars in the WWE right now, as the Irishman ruled over NXT after debuting in 2014 where he brought out his "Demon" form which saw him paint his body which changed his persona as well. After ruling NXT for over a year, Balor was brought to the main roster when he was picked by Raw during the WWE Draft this year and debuted the next week, when he was one of the contenders to face Seth Rollins for the brand new WWE Universal Title at SummerSlam. He had quite the amazing main roster debut, as he defeated Rusev, Cesaro and Kevin Owens in a fatal four-way match and then went on to defeat Roman Reigns clean in the main event. His dream debut lead to him winning the Universal Title at SummerSlam, but he was sidelined later due to an injury. His amazing debut where he notched up two humongous wins will be one of the highlights of 2016 and is among the most memorable debuts in the past few years.
13 WORST: Sin Cara
Mistico was the original Sin Cara to have debuted in the WWE, as the Mexican sensation was highly advertized before he debuted in the company, as they filled our anticipation with vignettes of his debut. So when he did debut, saving Daniel Bryan from getting beaten up by Sheamus, it was something which didn't seem that "big" as barely anyone in the audience recognized him or even cheered for him. Cara was given quite a unique status afterwards in the WWE but his failure to go over and constantly getting into trouble backstage made for the end of his WWE days, as his failed debut which hardly garnered a good reaction was one of the reasons why he couldn't become anything big in the WWE.
12 BEST: Bobby Roode
Bobby Roode was another wrestler who abandoned the sinking ship of TNA last year, as the veteran was another hot free agent and Triple H made sure that he got his target from TNA. Roode appeared at the NXT Takeover: Dallas sitting in the crowd which ignited speculation of whether he was joining WWE or not as he soon made his debut for NXT, coming out to tell the crowd about how he's going to take it to another level. But his in-ring debut at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II was something GLORIOUS as Roode came out to his amazing theme being sung by almost the entire crowd and gave an impressive performance, winning over the crowd with his personality and wrestling skills. Roode looks to be the future of NXT right now, as his amazing debut has helped to shape him as a top guy in NXT as he can be the guy who can take the brand to another level with his Glorious Domination.
11 WORST: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke was another Diva who was hyped a lot by the WWE but turned out to be very unconvincing after making her debut, which was horrible. Brooke would debut after weeks of vignettes showing this monster heel type of a woman, but Brooke just came out as this arrogant heel who had some strong moves in her arsenal. She didn't really captivate the audience in her debut, barely getting any reaction and annoying everyone after taking out the fan-favorite Blue Pants, and she's been criticized for being pushed despite not having what it takes to shine on the main roster. Brooke's horrible debut definitely didn't help her image, as she is disliked (for all the wrong reasons) by the WWE fans and isn't seemingly going anywhere at the moment.
10 BEST: The Wyatt Family
The Wyatt Family might be one of the more destructive forces in the WWE right now, but their debut back in 2013 was something very special and long anticipated. The Wyatt Family had originally been created in NXT, as they ruled the brand for a while before vignettes of their debut were aired on the main roster shows. During one such show, Bray Wyatt came out and told the crowd "we're here" to which the Family came out with Wyatt having a torch in his hand and going down to sit on the rocking chair outside the ring. He then turned his "sons" to destroy Kane, as they absolutely clobbered onto him with Bray hitting Kane with a Sister Abigail in the end as this won over a lot of fans who were doubting their mystical approach before the debut. This amazing debut would go onto form many "buzzards" among the WWE fans, as Bray and his family would go onto terrorize many and remain as a terrifying force in the WWE.
9 WORST: Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley is considered by many to be the most annoying wrestler in the WWE right now, as the energetic part of "The Hype Bro's" has somehow impressed management with his enthusiasm and dedication towards his character. Rawley rose to prominence in NXT, as his impressive display got him a main roster call-up when he was drafted to Smackdown Live! during the Brand Extension and soon made his main roster debut when he save Zack Ryder from a beat-up from Rusev. This was absolutely horrible, as the crowd really got turned off by it and gave no reaction whatsoever, and even Rusev's reaction was like "Who's this guy?" as he backed off. Rawley's energy might be an impressive thing for management, but he's going nowhere at the moment as his horrible main-roster debut really didn't help his cause either.
8 BEST: Sting
Sting was a WCW wrestler who just didn't want to join the WWE because of how they treated WCW alumni, as he evaded WWE's grasp by settling down in TNA but had to leave in 2014 because of the direction in which the company was headed at. This made for Sting finally giving in to the WWE's demands, as he signed with the company and debuted in the most stunning fashion at Survivor Series 2014. The villainous Authority's team was about to face Team John Cena as the Authority would be out of WWE if they lost, as Dolph Ziggler's heroics almost won the match when Triple H decided to interfere and turn the tides for his team. Just when his team was about to win, the lights went out and Sting's music hit, as the Icon made his way into the ring much to shock of Triple H and the delight of the crowd. Sting went onto hit Triple H with the Scorpion Death Drop and won the match for Team Cena, as this made for the end of Authority(for the time being) and a debut which will be remembered for decades because of how shocking and amazing it was.
7 WORST: Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze's career at NXT might not have been one heralded with gold or anything, but he developed a solid following amongst the NXT Universe towards the end of his NXT career as a main roster call came looming. Breeze would debut for the main roster after spending almost 3 years in NXT, as he debuted on an episode of Smackdown as the new guy for Summer Rae and put down Dolph Ziggler. It's only that his debut wasn't that well received, as barely anyone in the arena knew him or even made noise for him and the debut was really bland and awful in the end. His lack of being over with the crowd really hurt him, as he was soon turned into a jobber and is now having to job to the stars as Breeze's main roster debut was quite the forgettable one and should've been more well structured to help him gain relevance.
6 BEST: The Shield
If one is to mention one of the most talked about debuts in the past decade in the WWE, the Shield's debut will definitely be up there at the very top as these 3 young Hounds of Justice really put their mark on the WWE fans when they debuted at Survivor Series 2012 and took out Ryback, helping CM Punk retain his WWE Championship. They would come out from the crowd and take out Ryback, triple powerbombing him onto the announcers' table and leaving everyone stunned with what had just happened. This debut really left its mark on the WWE, as they'd then go onto become one of the best stables of all time by taking out many prominent superstars and gaining popular with every passing week, as their amazing debut will be remembered for a long, long time because of how big and unexpected it was and how superbly they managed to get everyone's attention and stamp their authority in the WWE.
5 WORST: Andrade "Cien" Almas
The debuts in NXT are normally something really special, especially when it's for the world renown stars, but the same cannot be said for Andrade "Cien" Almas. He was another superstar who was quite well promoted by NXT before making his debut, as vignettes showing this international sensation was aired before he made his debut at NXT Takeover: The End defeating Tye Dillinger. Although Cien is very impressive in the ring, his debut wasn't perceived that well by the normally warm NXT crowd and the fact that he beat a red-hot Tye Dillinger didn't go that well with them, as they showed their dismay quite a bit. It turned out to be a bad debut for Cien, who got nothing despite being heavily promoted and needed to go back in order to develop himself to get over with the NXT crowd.
4 BEST: Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura's signing by the WWE was a highly advertized one, as the WWE revealed their signing before he was even announced on WWE TV as his debut match was set to be at NXT Takeover: Dallas against Sami Zayn. Though many were cautious about his form in WWE, the NXT crowd were delighted at watching the charisma of the Japanese Sensation when he debuted as his amazing style and skill won over just about everyone in the arena. He also provided for one of the best debut matches by a wrestler in the WWE, as he defeated Zayn in a match of the year candidate where his "Strong Style" shone out in the end. Nakamura is now ruling over NXT as its NXT Champion, as his popular soared after that incredible debut which had everyone dancing to his tunes.
3 WORST: Lord Tensai
Now this wasn't exactly an initial debut in the company for a superstar, as Albert or A-Train had competed in the WWE before during the early 2000s and was a known figure amongst the WWE fans when he debuted as "Lord Tensai". This gimmick of a Japanese conqueror was promoted heavily before he debuted in a match against Alex Riley, as everyone knew that it was A-Train from back in the days and even a hard-hitting wrestling style couldn't really help his cause. He was recognized by some in the Arena who chanted his earlier names, as it turned out to be a quite the bust and hampered his chances of becoming the prime monster heel in the WWE later on, as this horrible gimmick of a Japanese Warrior being portrayed an American didn't suit him well at all and an awful debut almost ended any chances of a push there itself.
2 BEST: AJ Styles
AJ Styles has probably been the most accomplished, decorated wrestler outside the WWE in the past decade or so, as Styles won everything there is to win in TNA and then ruled over New Japan Pro Wrestling as well. So when it was reported that Styles could be going to WWE, many were speculating at whether this could actually happen or not. But to everyone's delight, Styles went onto debut for the WWE in the Royal Rumble earlier this year, coming out at #3 to an absolute eruption of joy from the crowd who couldn't believe that the Phenomenal One was in WWE. Styles gave an impressive performance in the Rumble, having the crowd behind him during the whole time and that was the beginning of an incredible 2016 for him, which he ends as WWE Champion as his debut at the Royal Rumble is one of the best WWE superstar debuts of all time and will be remembered and cherished for a long, long time as Styles looks to dominate over WWE now that he is finally here.
1 WORST: The Shining Stars
Primo and Epico have had a couple of real rough years in the WWE, as they failed to do anything as "Los Matadores" and needed a real change in gimmick and personality to revamp their WWE careers. So they were given the gimmick of "The Shining Stars", two arrogant Puerto Ricans who encouraged people to visit Puerto Rico. The team was advertized and promoted a lot by the WWE as vignettes of their arrival was shown for months, but their debut was anything but memorable. They came down to absolutely no reaction at all from the fans, squashed two local talents and got absolutely nothing in return from the crowd who couldn't care less about them. This underwhelming reaction led them to go out of WWE TV for months, as they are now jobbing to the stars and look to be back to the undercard as the absolutely wreck of a debut didn't help their chances at al
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