WWE Countdown – Top Ten Memorable Debuts

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!

ECW Memorable Moments Plug

Hey Scott,
Even though you're not too fond of ECW nor the 'Philly mutants' (of which I am one…well, a South Jersey mutant), thought you'd enjoy this look back at ECW's most memorable moments. I figured I'd better strike while there's hype over Heyman being around, as well as the new ECW DVD.

I was actually supposed to be getting that ECW DVD to review, and it never ended up getting here.  I was actually kind of curious about it, too.  Oh well, there's always Best of Falls Count Anywhere Matches at the end of the month.  No really, that's a real thing.  

Memorable Cena feuds

Long time listener, first time caller.  
Right now the raging debate on message boards (at least the debates NOT centered on Daniel Bryan or Brock Lesnar) seems to focus on just how super or un-super Cena was during his run as the man.  Most of the defense of Cena seems to center around his position being similar/identical to that of Rock's or Stone Cold's.  The Pro-Cena people argue that while they were top faces, both Rock and Stone Cold did not have to job (cleanly) and that Cena is just fulfilling the character arc set down by Hogan or Rock.  Also they argue that Anti-Cena people are butt hurt.  That salient point comes up a lot.  
I know you have said that Stone Cold Jobbed plenty, but putting wins and losses aside, I would argue that the reason most people got so very sick of John Cena has more to do with a lack of good feuds.  A good feud does not just show up in the win column, it also reveals a new side of the players involved.  HHH vs Rock showed that HHH was a politicking bastard, above nothing in his pursuit of the title, and it showed that Rock was willing to take obscene punishment and humiliation to achieve his goal.  Corporate Rock vs Mick Foley provided sympathy for the stubborn Foley  and showed that the Rock's God Given magnetism could be used for evil as well as good.  It also allowed the Rock to reveal that he was still nursing his ego from "Die Rocky, Die."  If you look at the Austin from Austin v McMahon and compare it to the Austin from the two man power trip, it's two different people.  One is a red neck SOB who's proud of his shit kicking life, and the other is a paranoid coward who's only sense of worth comes from the titles he carries to the ring (Austin's acting during two man power trip was Method Acting on par with some of the greats).
So that long winded intro brings me to my question:  In the time I stopped watching WWE (2005-2011) did John Cena have any memorable feuds that revealed new facets to his character?  And by new facets I don't mean his ability to rise above the hate, or his ability to become less visible.  This is not to start a war, I'm genuinely curious as I see nothing interesting about Cena, and would really like to know if I'm missing something.
Other than that…uh…Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Purple Monkey Dishwasher. 

You're definitely not missing much with Cena's run in terms of memorable feuds.  The Orton stuff was good and suitably epic for a while, but got run into the ground, and then dug up and run into the ground all over again until you just never wanted to see them even touch each other again.  They had mad chemistry in 08/09, though, and probably could have done well as a Megapowers type tag team if it was 1986.  The initial Edge feud was pretty great, too, especially when he got sucker-punched after winning the Elimination Chamber and actually looked vulnerable for 5 seconds.  Then he won the belt back right away.  However, Lita was SMOKING HOT during that period, so there's that.  
Aside from that, most of Cena's big stuff isn't really "feuds" per se, but "Cena is the champion and this guy is the challenger and Cena overcomes the odds to triumph" which is fine because it makes the champion seem like a big deal, but it's really boring from a storyline perspective.

Memorable Eras

Hey Scott. Your recent post regarding the "Best Final Matches" of certain wrestlers got me thinking about the various epochs of professional wrestling in North America. But a comment in said thread really got the creative juices going.

Every major period in pro wrestling seems to have a clear beginning, a decisive point where the beginning of the end is seen, and a symbolic ending to it. In the NWA (or WCW), for instance, Ric Flair’s run as the true face of the promotion began at Starrcade ’83 when he toppled Harley Race for his second world title, and ended with the unceremonious firing by Jim Herd in the summer of 1991. I looked a bit deeper, though, and would be so bold as to say that while Herd’s firing of Flair was the symbolic end to his reign as the top dog in WCW (since he was never the same force in the promotion again), you could see the beginning of the end as early as 1990, when the new generation (represented by Sting) finally overcame him in 1990. Sure, he would win the title back in 1991, but it was really the beginning of the end for Flair’s reign as the undisputed King of the NWA.
In the WWF, you can see something similar to Hulk Hogan, who actually had not one, but three "definitive" endings to his first WWF run. With a universally agreed-upon starting point set in 1984 with his title victory over the Iron Sheik, you could run it out to WrestleMania VI, where he lost the title to the Ultimate Warrior and "passed the torch" in much the same way Flair had to Sting (since both Warrior and Sting ended up as disappointing champions their first time out). You could make a case for WrestleMania VIII, which was really the culmination of nine years on the road with the WWF as its top attraction. And you can certainly look at 1993’s King of the Ring, where Yokozuna crushed him and led to his turfing from the promotion. But looking closer, you could almost see the beginning of the end at the Main Event in 1988, with his title loss to Andre. It was the first time Hogan had been beaten. The superhero had been felled, even if it came as treachery. After that, Hogan’s stature was lessened a bit, because you had the Macho Man operating at the same level in the fan’s eyes for a time, and then you had the Warrior rise up not long after. Like Flair, Hogan would have success after the beginning of the end. But it was really an iconic moment that really foreshadowed the changing times.
As I looked back, I could count a number of these areas where you had clear starting points and symbolic endings, like Steve Austin’s start at King of the Ring 1996, his symbolic end at WrestleMania XIX, and the beginning of the end with his awkward heel turn at WrestleMania X-Seven. Or you could even use Bret Hart, whose Intercontinental Championship victory at Summerslam 1991 launched his solo career for good, the WrestleMania 13 double-turn the beginning of his downfall, and Montreal representing the symbolic end. Who else has such identifiable periods in their career that you can recall?

Those would actually be the major ones I could think of as well.  I think it’s much more notable that someone like the Rock didn’t have a “beginning of the end” phase.  It was all rising action, and then one day he went to Hollywood and never looked back.  Ditto for someone like Brock Lesnar, who was on top of the business for his entire career.  You could probably make a case for Goldberg having an era, who debuted strong, and then saw the beginning of the end with the stupid car punching injury, and finally the heel turn that killed him off for good.