Top 25 Worst Debuts in WWE History

Last month, everybody made a big honkin’ deal about AJ Styles’ much anticipated debut at the Royal Rumble. Truth be told, AJ got lucky. He got off light. It could’ve been an awful, degrading ordeal for AJ Styles.

These days when WWE wants to establish a fresh face as a regular cast member, that individual gets an at least modest but respectable push to start out. Remember when Adam Rose had an entourage, and won most of his matches? Or when announcers acted as though Brodus Clay was destined for anything other than the midcard? That’s because they were new and therefore kind of exciting! But back in the day, especially during its time as the “WWF,” the WWE liked to discourage that which was new and exciting by saddling it with intensely stupid gimmicks and/or embarrassing, painful beatings.

You’ll note that the majority of the names on this list went on to some degree of notoriety, which is why they’re famous enough for internet writers to know who they are and therefore include on their “top whatevers” lists. This state of affairs only further demonstrates the extent to which WWE used to go to hinder and punish their own future stars.

Herein lies the 25 worst debuts in WWE history. Though many would achieve riches and accolades in other lives, on these nights, we all wept for these warriors of the squared circle, for they were made to look foolish and/or weak.

24 Jeff Hardy 

23 Kofi Kingston 

22 Edge 

21 Umaga 

20 Damien Sandow 

19 Dean Ambrose 

18 Hulk Hogan  

17 Phantasio 

16 Becky Lynch 

15 Mick Foley 

14 Samoa Joe 

13 Brutus Beefcake 

12 Matt Hardy 

11 The Gobbledy Gooker 

10 R-Truth 

9 Sin Cara 

8 Diamond Dallas Page 

7 Glenn Jacobs 

6 Buff Bagwell 

5 Batista 

4 Battle Kat 

3 Bret Hart 

2 Sting 


1 “Stone Cold” Steve Austin 

Now that I think about it, I didn’t immediately understand the double entendre of “Ringmaster” when I first heard it. “Why doesn’t he have some some sort of circus motif? Where's his top hat and lion tamer's whip?” I thought. Then again, I was a baby at this point, and very easily confused. In hindsight, the only reason to call Steve Austin The Ringmaster, even in his pre-Stone Cold phase, was because Vince McMahon was trying to instill a false sense of confidence in WCW. That way, when he eventually squashed WCW out of existence, his victory would be all that much sweeter, and the pain would be all the more unbearable for World Championship Wrestling and everyone associated with it.

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Top 25 Worst Debuts in WWE History