THIS week marks 18 years since Chris Jericho made his surprise WWE debut – one of the all- time great WWE moments.
To celebrate, Sun Sports counts down the 12 greatest ever superstar debuts.
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Raw – March 18, 2002
The future ‘Beast’ made his debut the night after WrestleMania X-8 – jumping the barricade and annihilating Al Snow, Maven and Spike Dudley.
With Paul Heyman at his side, the 24-year- old ‘next big thing’ looked like an absolute monster – an aura he’s maintained to this day.
Raw – April 7, 2014
Though her relationship with WWE is uncertain at the moment, the company had high hopes for the British superstar in 2014.
It’s little wonder – Paige had already revolutionised women’s wrestling over on NXT and was about to lay the groundwork for the “women’s evolution” on the main roster.
She debuted on the “Raw after ‘Mania” – famous for its big surprises and debuts – and defeated AJ Lee to become dual NXT and Divas Champion.
SmackDown – June 27, 2002
A landmark moment in WWE’s “Ruthless Aggression Era”, Cena answered an open challenge from Kurt Angle and hit the Olympic champ with a thunderous slap.
Though Angle got the victory, it was a star-making moment for Cena – putting him on track to becoming the biggest name of his generation.
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Raw – June 7, 2010
Back when NXT was a reality TV-style contest, the entire class of new recruits – led by Wade Barrett – invaded Raw to destroy the set (and to the delight of fans, John Cena).
Considering most ended up on jobber duty, it doesn’t seem that significant now – but it was the freshest thing to happen on Raw in years at the time.
Notable for Nexus member Daniel Bryan getting fired for going un-PG when he choked the ring announcer with his tie.
Superstars – October 2, 1989
Jimmy Hart claims to pick a random fan from the crowd to sit on Dino Bravo’s back as he does push-up to prove how strong he is.
After picking out a smiling 400 pounder dubbed “Big John”, Bravo manages five push-ups – but when Ultimate Warrior attempts it, John crushes him Earthquake-style. A swerve turn before swerve turns were even a thing.
Raw – March 31, 2003
After the weak Invasion story – filled mostly with nobody mid-carders from WCW – there was only one man from the rival promotion wanted to see in WWE.
Goldberg arrived the night after WrestleMania XIX, making a huge statement by spearing The Rock.
Unfortunately, in took another 13 years for Goldberg to have a decent run in WWE.
Royal Rumble – January 23, 2000
Another one involving Kurt Angle – but this time when Angle was in his rookie year and still undefeated.
Former ECW Champion Tazz was Angle’s mystery opponents – and stormed to the ring to a huge pop from the Madison Square Garden crowd
He choked out Angle in just three minutes, which would prove to be the highlight of his in- ring career with WWE.
The surprise mystery partner of Ted DiBiase’s ‘million Dollar Team’, Undertaker strode out with then-manager Brother Love.
In his all-black garb and deathly appearance, he was unlike any monster heel WWE fans had seen before – and hit Koko B. Ware with a Tombstone almost immediately.
Though not necessarily an earth-shattering performance – Taker was counted out after nine minutes – it’s an important moment in WWE’s most legendary career.
Raw – 31, January 2000
This has been largely cast aside due to the events of the Benoit tragedy, but at the time was a huge event in the WWE v WCW ratings war.
After walking out of the declining WCW, the Radicalz – Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn – wasted no time in joining WWE.
Appearing at ringside, they leapt over the barricade to beat down the New Age Outlaws and prove themselves the hottest free agents in wrestling.
Raw – May 18, 2015
There was a time when Kevin Owens making it to WWE seemed unlikely – and the idea of him laying out the near-invincible John Cena in his debut was simply unthinkable.
But that’s exactly what happened when KO – then NXT champ – gatecrashed Cena’s US title mopen challenge, mirroring Cena’s debut 12 years earlier.
Best of all was KO’s refusal to accept Cena’s “veteran’s advice” (Owens has actually been wrestling for longer) then stamping on Cena’s US Championship.
Raw – August 9, 1999
Jericho had got over huge in WCW with his hilarious promos and heel work. Who can forget his “Man of 1,004 holds” routine?
So having WCW’s top talker debut by interrupt WWE’s own microphone master The Rock – following weeks of the “Y2J Millennium Countdown – was a stroke of genius.
Jericho’s name flashing on the Titantron is still one of WWE’s all-time ever pops – and the moment that all debuts and returns since have tried to replicate.
Badd Blood – October 5, 1997
After months of speculation, Taker’s not-so- little bro arrived in the closing seconds of the first Hell in a Cell – one of the greatest matches in WWE history.
Kane tore the door off the cell and Tombstoned the Deadman – revenge from Taker burning him as a child and leaving him (supposedly) hideously scarred.
It was an epic moment that developed the stories of each man in the ring – Taker, Kane, and Shawn Michaels – and started an incredible monster push for the ‘Big Red Machine’.
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