TheSportster.com

Top 15 Debut Classes In WWE History

Professional wrestling doesn’t really have a rookie class like major sports do. By the time a new face pops up on your screen, they may have been toiling for a decade in the minor leagues—or even in the WWE itself, only with a different gimmick and outfit. Defining what does and does not count as a “rookie class,” then, is somewhat difficult.

Still, it’s clear that the WWE, like any major wrestling company, needs to regularly bring in fresh talent. Old stars become part-timers or just too beat up to continue; midcarders become stale, boring and replaceable as young talent flames out before they can get over. With no offseason and five hours of prime television to fill each and every week, the WWE is always looking for new talent.

Some years, they’ve been more successful than others. Sometimes, a crop of wrestlers comes in simultaneously and helps define wrestling for a generation, keeping fans entertained and crowds satisfied. Other times, you get Giant Gonzales or Ludvig Borga. The quality of the new talent coming in can have a long-term impact on the product as a whole.

With that in mind, it seemed like a good time to look at the best years the WWE has ever had drawing new talent in—the years in which they made Superstars, or at least convinced them to jump from other companies.

Some ground rules: a wrestler’s rookie WWE year is defined as the first year they held a televised match with the company under any gimmick. This often contradicts “official” WWE history—they claim, for example, Randy Orton debuted in 2002, Kane debuted in 1997 and Mankind in 1996. None of these are correct and the WWE is hoping earlier memories of them are wiped form our collective minds. No such luck here. An untelevised match doesn’t start the clock; it has to have been broadcast as a WWE show somewhere, somewhen.

It’s also an all-time list and, as such, heavily biased towards years gone by. The 2012 class, which includes two-thirds of The Shield, Cesaro, and Big E. might make it onto this list one day, as could last year’s crop of stellar international NXT talent, but they need to prove some staying power in the WWE before they get on this list.

With no further ado…

15 15. 1987

via wwe.com

14 14. 1980

via wwe.com

13 13. 1976

via wwe.com

12 12. 2000

via wwe.com

11 11. 1988

via scifighting.com

10 10. 1992

via wwe.com

9 9. 2001

via wwe.com

8 8. 1986

via wwe.com

7 7. 1998

via wwe.com

6 6. 1984

via wwe.com

5 5. 1996

via wwe.com

4 4. 1979

via wwe.com

3 3. 1999

via wwe.com

2 2. 1995

via wwe.com

1 1. 2002

via wwe.com

Even without Randy Orton—who debuted in 2001—there’s no getting around it—the ’02 rookie class is the greatest the WWE has ever seen. You start at the top with John Cena, coming out to coin the name for the Ruthless Aggression Era while fighting Kurt Angle. Add to him Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio, and Batista all at the top—three very different wrestlers, three World Champions, and three of the all-time greats. Sprinkle in a few undercard debuts in Shelton Benjamin and Umaga. What a class this is—it’s a class that’s defined the WWE for nearly 15 years at this point. We’ve never seen anything like this before, and we may never see anything like it again.

Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in Wrestling

Top 15 Debut Classes In WWE History