The Most Shocking WWE Debuts Of All Time

2 weeks ago By Jhon Woug

Professional wrestling is founded upon a hardcore system of spectacle, drama, and larger-than-life characters. Few moments have consumed WWE fans’ minds like a shocking debut. Not only are these moments set careers in stone, but they are the kind of moments that change storylines, forever leaving a mark on this sports entertainment world. From surprise returns to unexpected arrivals, WWE has come up with a good number of debuts that have left the audience in shock. This next article examines some of the most jaw-dropping and stunning WWE debuts, their consequences on the wrestling business, and connected long-lasting memories.

  1. Chris Jericho, ’99
    Chris Jericho’s WWE debut is the definition of how to make an entrance. After years of significant success in WCW, as well as other promotions, when his eventual WWE debut finally happened, anticipation was high. More shocking than anything in Chris Jericho’s WWE debut, though, were the weeks of hype leading up to it. Cryptic countdowns and “Y2J” teases had engaged the fans with their speculation for quite some time.

That finally came on August 9, 1999, in Chicago, in a live episode of Monday Night Raw. It was when The Rock was standing in the ring, pontificating to the audience, that suddenly the countdown clock struck zero and “Break the Walls Down” burst from the speakers. The crowd erupted as Jericho strode towards the ring, crashing The Rock’s promo and simply stare-downing WWE’s top star of the day. In an instant, Jericho became a major player in WWE and set the stage for what would turn into a hall-of-fame-type career filled with championship reigns, memorable rivalries, and unforgettable moments.
Jericho’s debut was nothing more than a big ignition of charisma and in-ring ability, but it did give the feeling that WWE knew what buttons to press to get attention toward their new talent. Many have hailed it as one of the most memorable debuts in WWE history, laying down a defined level for future entrances.

  1. Nexus, 2010
    It was in June that a world was given The Nexus—a swath of young, hungry talents trying to leave their mark right from the WWE’s developmental territory, NXT. Led by Wade Barrett, The Nexus burst onto the scene mid-Main Event of Raw, mutilating John Cena, CM Punk, and other WWE superstars. The jarring thing about the debut of Nexus wasn’t merely the viciousness of the attack; instead, it was how they deconstructed the ring and left a trail afterward.
    The debut of Nexus marked a momentous moment in changing the storytelling of WWE and firmed NXT stars as mainstays against the regime of WWE. It blurred the thin line between fiction and reality, for, out of these members, most of The Nexus were unknown to the mainstream audience of WWE. Suddenly, the scene, rushed by young talented wrestlers tearing it limb from limb, sent shockwaves through the WWE Universe, attendant a different level of rivalry. While The Nexus would have its ups and downs—a faction unto itself—its very debut remained one of the big WWE moments in history, which did prove that, indeed, officials were quite serious about working with new blood inside the wrestling ring.
  2. Kane, 1997
    It wasn’t until the Hell in a Cell stipulation was constructed on October 5, 1997 – featuring Shawn Michaels versus Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House. Enter, in breathtaking fashion, Kane. With evil music and an arena bathed in an eerie red light, Kane ripped the door offHell in a Cell, making his way toward the ring with many fans holding their collective breath.
    The impact of Kane’s debut wasn’t homecoming-like, not only because of his appearance but also due to the storyline implications behind it.

It was Kane, the long-lost brother of The Undertaker, who worked his way into WWE to raise hell on his sibling and cost him a match against Shawn Michaels. That picture of Kane standing face-to-face with The Undertaker, draped in dark clothing and masks, was a bone-chilling sight that set up the pathway for one of the most memorable rivalries in WWE history.

Kane’s arrival didn’t only invest WWE with a forceful new character; it wrought further dimensions into The Undertaker. It was a story of brothers ripped apart by treachery and buried secrets that provided a resonance beyond the evident Good vs. Evil to help rocket Kane to stardom and cement his position as one of the linchpins of the Attitude Era in WWE history.

  1. Sting (2014)
    For many, many years, one would be compelled to discuss whether Sting—WCW’s legendary star with his mystique and facial paint—would come into a WWE ring. It was at Survivor Series 2014 when those questions were all put to rest, as Sting made his long-awaited WWE debut during the main event between Team Cena and Team Authority. Right when Team Authority was going to win, the arena went black; suddenly, Sting’s crow caw could be heard. Vigilante came out in shape and ready with a baseball bat, looking for nobody but Team Authority’s captain, Triple H. The Stinger himself, face-painted with his signature black and white paint, stood eye-to-eye against WWE’s Chief Operation Officer. Shockwaves hit the WWE Universe. He was ensued by gasps from the crowd.

If there is anything to say about the debut of Sting in WWE, it’s a shock, but equally a feel-good moment treading between WWE and its legendary competitor, WCW. He symbolized an eagerness to finally be a part of WWE after years of rumors and negotiations, and paved the way for many dream matches and showdowns with WWE’s hottest stars.

  1. Brock Lesnar (2002)
    Brock Lesnar’s arrival in WWE in 2002 was nothing short of seismic. Following an extremely high level of dominance during his run in the then-WWE developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), Lesnar made his main-roster debut on March 18, 2002, the night after WrestleMania X8. Doing this while disrupting a about between Al Snow and Maven, Lesnar made a statement by hitting an F-5 on Al Snow, firmly putting himself on the radar in WWE.

What made Lesnar’s debut so jarring for most of the folks out there was not solely his size and athletic potential but also the aura of intensity and aggression he brought into the ring.
Standing at 6’3″ and tipping the scales at over 280 pounds, Lesnar was not exactly a typical combination of that level of raw power with speed and technical skill for his colleagues. The timing of his coming marked the very first time the WWE had a severe push initiated for new talents and forging new stars; it laid the bedrock for propelling Lesnar to the top of WWE’s heavyweight division.

Within months of his debut, Lesnar had captured the WWE Championship and would be well on his way to a dominant reign that would cement his reputation as “The Next Big Thing” in WWE. Fueled by this rivalry against The Rock, Triple H, and other top stars, Lesnar would help raise WWE’s product to an even higher level and see if he could stand at the forefront of mainstream attention and crossover appeal.

  1. The Shield (2012)
    In November 2012, WWE finally pushed out what had been building for months: a faction that would call itself The Shield—Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns. The most jarring thing about the first appearance of The Shield was not the idea of their maximal understanding attack but how it shook the existing ranks in WWE. The Shield charged into the main event of Survivor Series, ripping Ryback apart and depriving him of a WWE Championship match against CM Punk.
    Seeing three young, talented wrestlers in this tactical gear execute precise, calculated maneuvers sent a distinct message to the WWE roster and management. The Shield marked a new kind of talent from the WWE development system in NXT, and their debut would only further cement the run of multi-time championship reigns and main events of high-profile pay-per-views.

What made The Shield was the variance each member furnished the group within skills and personality traits that, matched together, created a rather dynamic and cohesive unit that could connect to people worldwide. With Dean Ambrose bringing his unpredictability, Seth Rollins his high-flying athleticism, and Roman Reigns a powerhouse presence, this trio became one of the most compelling factions to grace WWE in recent memory.

  1. AJ Styles (2016)
    At the 2016 Royal Rumble, arguably the most anticipated WWE debut came in AJ Styles, who is very experienced. Getting an entry in the competition at number three, he got a thunderous ovation from Orlando, Florida-based fans through his high-flying athleticism and technical display against some of the finest stars WWE had to offer.
    His debut was jarring in its impact and reception, driving home that Styles is one of WWE’s top talent cohorts and a fan favorite. He would move on to amass a number of championships and go on to main event some very important pay-per-views to prove his coming to WWE was game-changing for the company.
  2. Finn Bálor (2016)
    At the 2016 WWE Draft, Finn Bálor was drafted to Raw as a much-anticipated main roster debut. Charismatic with the presencing ability and an innovative wrestling style, Balor made his way into a fatal four-way before going on to win in his very first outing to become the number one contender for the newly established WWE Universal Championship.

The most fantastic part about Bálor’s debut was, if anything, how it happened, defeating Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins on his way to becoming the first-ever WWE Universal Champion at SummerSlam 2016. So, in a huge way, that cemented his career and proved his standing within WWE as a top star.

  1. The Wyatt Family (2013)
    In July 2013, the WWE unleashed a dominating element: the trifecta of terror known as The Wyatt Family—Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan. With Bray Wyatt’s notably creepy entrance music and transcendent, cryptic promos, The Wyatt Family broke ground immediately by targeting WWE mainstays, including Kane and John Cena. Knowing the stakes in such a landscape, when the Wyatt Family made its first appearance, combining elements of shock with darkness and mystery, it instantly stamped out its differentiating factors from every other faction that existed at the time in the WWE. Ring domination and psychological warfare tactics made them one of the most potent forces within WWE; Bray Wyatt’s enigmatic leadership, modified with some out-of-the-box storytelling, rapidly got them a following worldwide.
  2. Ronda Rousey (2018)
    Ronda Rousey, a former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and women’s mixed martial arts revolutionary, made her WWE debut at the 2018 Royal Rumble. There, flanked by WWE legends and current superstars, the surprise entrance of Rousey was met with beaucoup fans and expertly fostered excitement and anticipation for where this unexpected career turn shall lead her. The jaw-dropping moment about Rousey’s debut was that it managed to bring, in one fell swoop, so much crossover appeal and mainstream interest towards the women’s division. This perception Rosie reaffirmed with follow-up bouts, including one at WrestleMania 35 with Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, which genuinely made her perception beyond an exceptionally dominant WWE performer—a trailblazer for women’s wrestling.

Shocking debuts make WWE excellent at storytelling, athleticism, and charisma, with elements of surprise that glue fans to their screens from every part of the world. Moments such as Chris Jericho’s unforgettable interruption of The Rock or Ronda Rousey’s breakthrough set WWE apart with an ability to forge memorable and impactful debuts that would retain an image in the minds of fans for quite a while. As WWE moves into the future and brings in some new blood, it is the legacy of those jaw-dropping debuts—remembering the reason they’re exciting and unpredictable that truly defines professional wrestling. Whether it be a returning legend, ready-to-fight newcomer, or faction set to wreak havoc, each debut marks a new chapter for WWE’s continuous story, one that will shape the future of sports entertainment by ramping up its everlasting moments bigger than life itself.

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