Sixteen years ago today, Chris “Y2J” Jericho made his long-awaited debut on Monday Night Raw. The debuts of superstars on WWE television today are great, but seem to lack a certain something since the phrase “jumping ship” isn’t as big in professional wrestling as it used to be. With that, let’s take a look at the top 10 debuts in WWE history.
The next generation of superstars come from NXT and it’s no less than amazing when Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Charlotte and other divas, and countless others make it onto the main roster. Old school wrestling fans just miss a bit of the huge surprise and shock of seeing one promotion’s star show up on a WWE show.
Here are the top 10 WWE debuts, in no particular order.
1. Chris Jericho – Monday Night Raw – August 9, 1999
It is still seen as one of the greatest and most exciting debuts in WWE history. For weeks, the countdown clock to Y2J was ticking down on WWE television, and 16 years ago on August 9, the countdown ended and Chris Jericho began “Raw…Is…Jericho!”
Pitting him in a verbal battle with The Rock was also one of the smartest moves that WWE ever could have done.
2. Kane – Badd Blood – October 5, 1997
In the very first Hell in a Cell match, The Undertaker was battling it out big-time with Shawn Michaels. His brother Kane showed up, ripped the door off the cell, confronted The Undertaker, and then gave him a tombstone piledriver in the center of the ring.
3. Brock Lesnar – Monday Night Raw – March 18, 2002
Even though he’s a dominant force today and was away from WWE for eight years, Lesnar’s official debut was a big one. Lesnar came through the crowd at the instruction of Paul Heyman, entered the ring and decimated Maven, Al Snow, and Spike Dudley. Poor Spike got the worst of it.
4. Eric Bischoff – Monday Night Raw – July 15, 2002
Even though WCW had been purchased by WWE about a year prior, no-one expected the Monday Night Wars to have happen what actually happened when Eric Bischoff walked onto the Raw stage. Seeing Bischoff and McMahon hug after years of battling it out was just surreal.
5. Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dream – Monday Night Raw – July 9, 2001
The WCW/WWE invasion angle got taken to the “extreme” as Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer ran out of the crowd to attack Chris Jericho and Kane. That was when ECW officially joined the Invasion and things got taken to a completely level.
6. Sting – Survivor Series – November 23, 2014
Sting was the one of the only big-time wrestling stars to never step foot inside of a WWE ring. Last year at Survivor Series, a debut that was three decades in the making finally happened and it drove the wrestling world insane.
7. The Radicalz – Monday Night Raw – January 31, 2000
All four members (Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero) were sitting at ringside. A huge portion of WCW just watching the show as “fans.” That was when it happened. The Radicalz hopped the barricade and destroyed the New Age Outlaws, and 10 walked backstage.
8. Big Show – St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – 1999
As the feud between Vince McMahon and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was at its hottest, there needed to be one big thing added to it – Paul Wight. The cage match was a brutal one when Big Show came up through the ring and threw Austin into the cage which won the match for him, but started a whole lot of trouble.
9. Tazz – Royal Rumble – January 23, 2000
Kurt Angle was undefeated and looking for a new challenger in the cocky way that only he could deliver on the mic. Madison Square Garden lost their collective minds when the “heart beep” sounds of Tazz‘s music hit. He got into the ring, delivered a number of Tazz-plexes, and then ended Angle’s streak with the TazzMission.
10. The Undertaker – Survivor Series – November 22, 1990
The “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase could not have given a better introduction, and no-one in the arena knew what they were looking at. The rest…is history.
Many more debuts are to come in WWE, but it’s a little harder now without wrestlers having much ability to “jump ship” anymore. The future is NXT, and it’s only a matter of time until the next Chris Jericho or The Undertaker or Chris Benoit hits the main roster.
[Images via WWE]