Some professional wrestling debuts are downright epic. They live on in the memories of fans long after they occur. The Undertaker wowed fans in attendance on his first night in the WWE. Heel faction The Shield made a splash when they debuted at a World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-view. The initial debut of Bill Goldberg in World Championship Wrestling was not much of a spectacle until he won his first match out of nowhere, a victory that kicked off the greatest streak that ever occurred in WCW. That WCW managed to not mess up the Goldberg run until he was booked to drop the belt to Kevin Nash is incredible, considering all of the mistakes that the company made before it went under.
Not every great pro wrestling debut in history was followed up by that wrestler having a good run in that particular company. Mike Awesome was the ECW World Heavyweight Champion when he debuted in WCW. Awesome was never given an opportunity to reach such heights in either WCW or the WWE. Taz, or Tazz based on how you remember the wrestler, made an epic debut when he completed the jump from ECW to WWE. Things did not stay epic for Tazz long after that debut, though, and he is now best known among casual WWE fans for being an announcer.
15. Mike Awesome
The debut of Mike Awesome on WCW television was presented as if it was a big deal and as if Awesome was going to be featured in main events. That night may have been his best while working for that company. Awesome was soon treated more so like a joke than a championship contender and he was eventually booked to be “The Fat Chick Thriller.” Awesome deserved better from those running WCW at the time and fans deserved better storylines. None of it mattered by March 2001, though, as WCW closed its doors after the company was consumed by Vince McMahon and the WWE.
14. Lord Tensai
The debut of the Lord Tensai character was supposed to be epic; at least it was in the eyes of the WWE. Tensai, who had been hyped in promos that aired across WWE television, was made out to be a monster heel and he destroyed Alex Riley in his first match. The problem was that the fans were not buying it. Those in attendance at the Raw show almost immediately recognized the artist who was formerly known as Albert/A-Train and they somewhat spoiled his debut with chants. Tensai would ultimately become a guy who jobbed out to John Cena among other acts before he was relegated to an announcer.
13. Scott Steiner
The WWE has taken steps and gone out of the way to remove free videos of Scott Steiner making his debut in the company from the Internet. That could have something to do with the fact that Steiner dropped an obscenity during his promo at Survivor Series 2002. Steiner’s debut was well received by those in the audience and it teased that the man known as “Big Poppa Pump” during his singles career in WCW was going to be given a chance to carry the ball in the WWE. That never happened, though, as Steiner was made to be a victim of Triple H before he was dropped down to midcard status.
12. Fake Razor Ramon & Fake Diesel
Remember that “epic” is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps this was an epic wrestling debut because it was such an awful idea that was horribly executed. The storyline here was that commentator Jim Ross was mad about being mistreated by Vince McMahon and the WWE, so much so that he was bringing Razor Ramon and Diesel back from WCW as some sort of revenge. It all turned out to be a swerve, though, as it was not Scott Hall and Kevin Nash who portrayed those two characters. The gimmick did not have a long life on WWE television, but it at least gave us a pretty epic promo from Ross.
11. Desmond Wolfe
TNA Wrestling has made a lot of mistakes throughout its existence. The debut of Desmond Wolfe was something that was brilliantly executed by the company. Wolfe attacked Kurt Angle during a backstage segment in his first ever TNA appearance. Angle called him out later on in the show and Wolfe once again took Angle out, this time even threatening that he could break Angle’s neck if he wanted. Wolfe would never be made to look like a true superstar by the company again and he was eventually just another wrestler on the roster. The debut of Wolfe was the best that the character received from TNA.
10. The Big Show
It was, pardon the pun, big news when it was learned by wrestling journalists that Paul Wight was making the switch from WCW to the WWE. Wight had quite the debut, one that included the giant of a wrestler tossing “Stone Cold” Steve Austin through a cage. It was, thus, downright baffling that Wight was almost immediately turned into just another member of the stable known as The Corporation. Wight was even sent down to Ohio Valley Wrestling early on in his WWE career because the company was less than pleased with his physical fitness. Big Show and the WWE would get things right over time, but it would have nothing to do with his debut.
9. Muhammad Hassan
The actual debut of Muhammad Hassan came in the form of promos. They were epic and the character made for great television. Muhammad Hassan was a wrestler who felt that people were holding prejudices against him and other Arab-Americans following the terrorist attacks of September 11, and he was out for revenge. The WWE unfortunately went way too far with the gimmick and a real-life terrorist event that followed a SmackDown segment in which Hassan launched his own version of an attack on The Undertaker brought upon the doom of the character. It is too bad, because the Hassan gimmick could have had a great run in the WWE.
8. Diamond Dallas Page
Who was stalking the wife of The Undertaker? Was it an old nemesis who had returned from his past? Was it an unfamiliar face who would eventually reveal himself? It turned out to be none other than Diamond Dallas Page, the former WCW World Heavyweight Champion who made his debut during a WWE Raw segment. Page drew a massive reaction from those in the crowd who immediately recognized the WCW version of “The People’s Champion.” That night would, however, be the only time that Page was treated like one of the top babyface acts in all of pro wrestling.
It sure seemed like the WWE had a big plan for the Fandango character. The wrestler teased debuting on multiple occasions, but Fandango was repeatedly displeased with the way that potential opponents pronounced his name. Fandango made his official debut at WrestleMania 29, where he defeated Chris Jericho. That’s right. Fandango has a WrestleMania victory over Chris Jericho. You wouldn’t know that based upon what the WWE has recently done with the character, which is not much of anything at all. You may have even forgotten that Fandango is still employed by the company.
Tazz had been treated like royalty and like the baddest wrestler on the planet during his run in ECW. Fans who had followed that character hoped that he would receive similar treatment upon joining up with the WWE. Things started out well enough, as Tazz choked the then-undefeated Kurt Angle out in his debut match at the 2000 Royal Rumble. Tazz would go on to have one championship match versus Triple H, but he would be turned into an announcer by the time that the “Invasion” angle began. The WWE simply did not see Tazz as a superstar worthy of being a champion.
5. New World Order in WWE
Anybody who watched WCW during the second half of the 1990s could not be blamed for marking out upon seeing Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan in New World Order black-and-white at No Way Out 2002. Their WWE debut was truly epic for diehard wrestling fans, but it was also the high mark of the storyline. The original trio was broken up after WrestleMania, Nash suffered a serious injury during a match, and Hall and the company parted ways. A lot had changed in the wrestling world between 1996 and 2002, and fans learned that you sometimes can’t go back.
The Undertaker entered the WWE at the right time and when the company had more of a cartoon nature than what it currently presents to viewers and fans. Things had changed in 2004 by the time that somebody came up with the idea for the Mordecai character. Mordecai’s debut and squash of Scotty 2 Hotty was impressive, and there were plenty of possibilities for how the character could have been treated in storylines. None of those possibilities ever saw the light of day, however, as the WWE instead elected to scrub the idea entirely and remove Mordecai from the roster.
3. Chris Jericho
Those who would criticize the debut of Chris Jericho making the list at all, let alone being so high, may forget exactly what happened on his first night in the WWE. Jericho had maybe the greatest debut in the history of the WWE and he was made to look like a gigantic star who was on the same level as The Rock. Fans would soon learn that the company saw Jericho in a different light, and Y2J was brought down to a midcard status and to feuding over the Intercontinental Championship. It would be years after his debut before Jericho got the respect that he deserved from the WWE.
2. Sean O’Haire
The debut promos of the “Devil’s Advocate” character that was played by Sean O’Haire are still revered among pockets of wrestling fans who wonder what could have been for the wrestler and the gimmick. The WWE had no good ideas for how to treat O’Haire once he became more than just a talker. He was linked up with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper without any good reason and O’Haire was never much of anything as a singles act in the WWE. The story of O’Haire is one that ended in heartbreak, as it was learned that he took his own life in September of 2014.
It looked as if the WWE had produced its own version of the New World Order when the Nexus invaded Raw. They destroyed John Cena and WWE property in what was one of the more memorable television segments produced by the WWE. That group was then booked to lose a tag team match at SummerSlam roughly two months after that epic debut. Nexus was basically dead and buried from there. Other than Daniel Bryan, nobody from the original Nexus invasion has become a real superstar of the WWE. Everything that was good about the memorable debut of the Nexus was squandered.
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