There is nothing more important than a first impression in the work field, in dating, and mostly anything in life. The same can be said in the world of wrestling, as debuts are everything. A good debut can bring you far in wrestling and with it comes success and fame, which most superstars dream of when they first lace up their boots.
This list looks at the top 15 wrestling debuts of all time. The entries on this list consist of successful and memorable debuts and the impact they had on the company, the wrestler’s career, and the legacy it left on the wrestling world. Many of these debuts came during the “Monday Night Wars” where WWE and WCW were out battling it out each week for ratings. There are also debuts that consist of first appearances and one can see how significant the debut was on the wrestler’s career.
16 ** This post was updated after Kevin Owens debut.
15 Goldberg - Raw, March 31, 2003
14 The Radicalz – Raw, January 31, 2000
13 John Cena - SmackDown, June 27, 2002
12 Brock Lesnar - Raw, March 18, 2002
11 The Shield - Survivor Series, November 18, 2012
10 Kevin Owens - Elimination Chamber, May 31, 2015
If Michael Cole is to be believed, this would be number one on our list, but that might be stretching it a little bit. While this might be a slightly controversial entry to some of you, since Owens' had already fought in NXT, we still believe it belongs when looking at a Superstar's WWE main roster debut and we're going to look at this one from two angles. Firstly, his debut on Raw, where he interrupted John Cena's open U.S. Challenge and cut an incredible promo before attacking Cena was an amazing TV Debut for Owens.
Then, in Owens' official wrestling debut for WWE, he beat the unbeatable John Cena at a PPV. Rusev, who had been built for a long while, could only score one win over Cena at a PPV in four attempts, and it wasn't even a clean finish. On both debut fronts, Owens was exceptional and earned a spot on the list for the best Wrestling debuts.
9 Booker T - King of the Ring, June 24, 2001
8 The Big Show - St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, February 9, 1999
7 Tazz - Royal Rumble, January 23, 2000
6 The Undertaker - Survivor Series, November 22, 1990
5 The Outsiders - Nitro, June 10, 1996
4 Ric Flair - Prime Time Wrestling, September 9, 1991
3 Chris Jericho - Raw, August 9, 1999
2 Kane - Badd Blood, October 5, 1997
1 nWo - Bash at the Beach, July 7, 1996
This debut couldn’t have been set up any better, as with the mystery partner for Hall and Nash still not revealed, fans were on the edge of their seats for the entire match. When Hulk Hogan walked down, no one thought The Great American Hero, the guy who inspired children everywhere to say their prayers and eat their vitamins, would turn on WCW. When Hogan hit the leg drop on Macho Man, the crowd was in utter shock and felt betrayed. Hogan cut a promo introducing the New World Order of wrestling and fans threw garbage in the ring. It was truly a scene for the ages. The nWo was a huge part of the success enjoyed by WCW and the reason it beat out WWE in the “Monday Night Wars” for 84 consecutive weeks. However, it was also the downfall of WCW, as horrible character direction and an overuse of the faction eventually led to its demise. Though, the nWo is still considered the greatest faction of all time and its legacy is still shown on signs and shirts worn by wrestling fans across the world.
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