WWE Monday Night Raw: Top 10 Debuts in the Show's History
For 19 years, WWE Raw has had so many different wrestlers appear on their flagship show.
Some of the most memorable moments have occurred when a wrestler makes their TV debut. Some of these wrestlers are already known throughout the business, while others are appearing for the first time to a national audience. More times than not, a debut is considered a flop, but there are those select few that work for one reason or another.
This is a list of WCW, ECW and independent wrestlers whose first appearance for the WWE took place on a televised edition of Raw. If a wrestler appeared on WWE’s version of ECW, NXT or SmackDown first, they are not eligible for this list.
Here is a list of the top 10 debuts in the history of WWE Monday Night Raw.
Beth Phoenix’s WWE debut is never mentioned on TV, likely because only a few weeks after debuting as a face, she fractured her jaw and was repackaged as a heel a year later. While she may not be recognized by the WWE for her original debut on Raw, it still happened.
Phoenix has solidified herself as the top diva in the company since Trish Stratus and Lita retired. The women’s division has seemed lately to be more about looks than ability.
Phoenix has the complete package of skill and beauty, making her a possible permanent fixture in the WWE until she calls it quits.
Edge played the gimmick of a loaner when he debuted for the WWE in 1998.
His entrance was actually longer than his first match. After coming through the crowd, Edge attacked his opponent and sent him to the outside. A senton over the top rope later, Edge legitimately injured his opponent, ending the match early. To injure an opponent that quickly cannot look good in the eyes of the WWE.
It was a rough debut, but Edge would later reign supreme in the company before forced into retirement due to a bad neck.
After WCW was purchased by the WWE, Lance Storm was the first wrestler to “invade.”
The WWE’s invasion storyline had officially kicked off when Storm came in and nailed Perry Saturn before exiting through the crowd to the back, where he had a limousine ready to drive away. The angle had begun, and it was Storm who was the first wrestler on The Alliance to strike.
The debut may not have helped propel Storm’s career, but he will go down, in a sense, as firing the first shot.
In 1995, Triple H would make his debut on Raw. Nobody realized, now closing in on 20 years, he would become one of the most influential wrestlers of his generation.
The match lasted two minutes with little crowd reaction to the newcomer. Fast-forward all these years later, he is a now a 13-time world champion and married to the boss’s daughter. He is being groomed to take over the WWE in the future.
And to think, he was once just a low-card wrestler.
Bill Goldberg was known as the only star WCW created and for his impressive winning streak.
The night after WrestleMania 19, The Rock was announcing that he was retiring as he had accomplished everything there was to do in professional wrestling. Out came Goldberg, who hit The Rock with his signature spear and walked to the back. It was simple and worked well.
Goldberg’s debut might be the best moment during his run in the WWE. A year later, he was gone, and the fans didn’t seem to mind.
Original ECW Invasion
In 1997, few people had ever heard of ECW. They were the third-tier wrestling company in the United States, not even close to where the WWE or WCW were.
ECW had, in a sense, invaded Raw with owner Paul Heyman, along with wrestlers such as Rob Van Dam, Sabu and Tazz. The short-lived feud would help give ECW more fans and, at the same time, introduce the WWE audience to future stars.
It was a rare moment in professional wrestling that worked for both parties involved.
The Radicalz consisted of four former WCW stars who were never given the chance they deserved because of backstage politics.
Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko were considered the backbone of WCW, which made their departure more monumental. It should be noted that the night before their debut, Benoit had won the WCW World Title. The group sat in the front row of Raw before attacking the Road Dogg, making it clear they had jumped ship.
Before their deaths, Benoit and Guererro would capture the top WWE championship, Malenko would become a WWE road agent, and Saturn would slowly disappear from wrestling.
In the middle of a match, Brock Lesnar would hop the barrier and destroy several superstars as Paul Heyman looked on with approval.
Lesnar would handle these three men in the match with ease. His muscular size and powerful offensive style made him look indestructible. There are plenty of wrestlers the WWE have crush those around them to help build the superstar when they first appear, but often the wrestler is too green.
Lesnar had the look down and was a natural performer already.
To guess Eric Bischoff would one day work for Vince McMahon sounded crazy in 2002. Then he was introduced as the new general manager of Raw.
The crowd and locker room was shocked as Bischoff walked by Booker T during a backstage promo. After the commercial break, McMahon and Bischoff hugged as he was named the new general manager.
Hell had frozen over, as the two men who tried to put the other out of business now looked like friends.
For months, there had been a mysterious clock appearing on the WWE screen that was labeled the “Countdown to the New Millennium.” As the clock wound down to zero, Chris Jericho would appear on the stage.
For Jericho’s debut, he interrupted The Rock, who was cutting a promo at the time. The Rock began to berate Jericho, mocking who he even was.
Although The Rock usually outdid his opponent on the mic, Jericho’s arrival worked as the fans accepted him. The debut is still one of the most popular in Raw’s history.