This episode counts down the top ten debuts. “We list them, you rank them”. Aye, there’s the rub. You know you want to click where it says READ MORE.
We start with the talking heads speaking about how a good vignette can generate some buzz before a superstar debuts.
10. The Outsiders, May/June 1996. The appearance of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash was a huge salvo in the Monday Night War. Of course, Hall shows up with the toothpick and the accent of Razor Ramon, although no one dares utter that name. WCW seemingly made it look like it was Razor Ramon and Diesel invading. Road Dogg calls it the most memorable debut in history, but it’s only #10 on this list.
9. Mankind – April 1, 1996. There was no character in WWF at the time as strange and different as Mankind. The mandible claw was a bizarre finishing hold at the time. Daniel Bryan says that the last thing anyone wants is Mankind’s fingers in their mouth. Of course, Mankind attacks The Undertaker on his very first RAW and sets off one of the more memorable feuds of the 90’s.
8. Rey Mysterio – July 25, 2002. The Rey Mysterio vignettes really built up his debut with the various masks, and clips of his flippin’ and flyin’. Mysterio’s debut was against Chavo Guerrero, and they talk up their matches in WCW prior. On his Smackdown debut, he defeated Chavo, then later in the show, he jumped off the top of a steel cage onto Lance Storm and Christian to make a save.
7. Santino Marella – April 16, 2007. RAW came from Italy on this night. Santino kayfabe’s that his cousin had two tickets to RAW that night, front row and everything. Umaga was monster heel at this time, and Vince challenged anyone to face Umaga, putting up the Intercontinental title. Of course, Vince pulls Santino from the crowd, and makes fun of Santino’s red shoes. Of course, Lashley runs in, beats Umaga, and puts Santino on top for the win and the IC title.
6. Brock Lesnar – March 18, 2002. In Montreal, of all places. It was a Hardcore title match between Al Snow, Spike Dudley and Maven. Brock comes out of nowhere and kills all three guys. The beatdown of Spike Dudley is still brutal to this day. Mark Henry was taking a beating by Brock even in 2002. Of course, Brock goes on to win the title within five months of his debut.
5. Kane – October 5, 1997 (Badd Blood). Paul Bearer was teasing Kane for MONTHS before Badd Blood. The Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels is STILL the greatest HIAC of all time, as Undertaker just put the shitkicking on HBK. The lights go out, the pyro hits and Kane saunters down to the cage and RIPS THE DOOR OFF THE HINGES! “That’s gotta be Kane!” screams Vince. Adding to the moment is the look on Undertaker’s face, in a great bit of acting. Dolph Ziggler, of all people, says “That’s how you build someone up.”
4. The Rock – Survivor Series ’96 – They bring up Rocky’s wrestling lineage, and that his name was a pairing of his father’s and grandfather’s names. Madison Square Garden was the venue for his debut. Rocky teamed with Marc Mero, Jake Roberts and Barry Windham. Now come the jokes about Rocky’s hair. Rocky is the sole survivor for his team that night….and you know the rest of the story.
3. Chris Jericho – August 9, 1999. The Countdown to the Millenium clock hit 000:00:00. The rumors swirled. The Rock paced. The lights go out. The pyro goes off. The music starts. JERICHO splashes across the TitanTron, and PEOPLE LOST THEIR SHIT! Then The Rock goes on to ask “What is your name?’. Of course, you know where that goes. Seth Rollins says that Rocky helped make Jericho a star that night, but that pop Jericho received was pretty huge BEFORE he even said anything.
2. The Undertaker – Survivor Series ’90. The Undertaker was the mystery partner for Ted DiBiase’s Survivor Series team. DiBiase comes on and says that he wants the credit for bringing him in. He was managed by Brother Love in the beginning, which was a mismatch in my opinion, so thank goodness they brought in Paul Bearer later on. Koko B. Ware took that Tombstone like a champ that night.
1. John Cena – June 27, 2002. Vince McMahon called out the superstars to show “ruthless aggression”. Kurt Angle laid out a challenge to some up-and-comers to step in the ring and Cena answers the challenge. Inspired by Vince’s ruthless agression speech, Cena hangs with Angle in the ring and makes a pretty good first impression. Cena doesn’t win the match, but he does get the respect handshake from The Undertaker. I don’t think I need to go any further with this story.
Well, the list was pretty good, but the order was a little out of whack. Jericho’s debut, by far, should have been #1. I’m not sure I would have included Santino’s debut here, but WWE creates the list and has the voters rank them, as it states in the intro to the show. Fire away!