The Shield, the NWO: Best/Worst WWE Stable Debuts

Andy Soucek@Andy_SoucekFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

The Shield, the NWO: Best/Worst WWE Stable Debuts

0 of 13

    Some of the greatest moments in wrestling history have come from stables.

    There is just something about adding a third, fourth (or in the NWO's case, a 15th) member to the act that makes it much more entertaining.

    WWE has been home to some great stables over the years, but which ones have had the best debuts?

    Often, stables grow slowly by adding one wrestler after another. The Million Dollar Corporation, The Heenan Family and The Nation of Domination were all formed this way.

    But this list takes a look at the groups that tried to make their statement with one big bang. It did not always work out so well for them.

    Sometimes, even the best groups started out with a whimper, while others made a lasting impact their first night out.

    Here is a look at the best and worst WWE Stable Debuts.

13: WCW

1 of 13

    World Championship Wrestling, the second biggest wrestling company in North America for years, the only true competition Vince McMahon had ever had, was bought out by the WWF in 2001.

    It was huge.

    It should have been an incredibly successful acquisition that would change the face of wrestling forever.

    But the first time we saw WCW officially represented on WWF TV was when Lance Storm superkicked Perry Saturn in a tag match, and then ran off into the crowd.

    It could not have been much more uneventful if they tried.

    After all those years, all the trash talk, the talent raids and the millions made off the Monday Night War, it all came down to a mid-carder kicking another mid-carder.

    Basically, it set the tone for things to come. As most fans know, WCW was humiliated and dominated throughout the entire feud.

    Imagine what could have been if say Goldberg, Nash, Hogan, DDP and Steiner had destroyed the WWF’s Rock and Austin in the first meeting instead?

    At least Storm and Saturn turned out okay. Storm got to have a “boring” gimmick, and Saturn had a mop as a friend.

12: The NWO

2 of 13

    We're not here to kill the WWF, we're here to make it better.

    -Hulk Hogan, No Way Out 2002

    The New World Order completely revolutionized professional wrestling, and along with Steve Austin, brought the sport to new heights.

    However, their run in the WWE was pretty lousy.

    The initial announcement of the group was fantastic. It was Vince McMahon at his best.

    Ric Flair now owned 50 percent of the company, and understandably, McMahon was a little perturbed by this.

    In a video, he vowed to inject the company with a “lethal dose of poison.” At the end of the promo, he announced that the NWO was coming. He turned around to reveal the groups' trademark lettering on the back of his chair.

    Brilliantly done.

    However, the group's first night in the company was underwhelming.

    In a coincidence that could not have been planned better, the New World Order debuted at No Way Out. The two shared the NWO letters, making it seemed that fate had intervened.

    The trio of Hogan, Hall and Nash kicked off the pay-per-view, and fans could not wait to hear what they would say.

    Instead of making threats, they talked about how they wanted a fair chance.

    Where was the talk of a takeover? Or of killing the company?

    Sure, it was clear they were lying, but this was no Bash at the Beach '96.

    The NWO was all about shocking the fans, not thanking Vince McMahon for the chance to wrestle.

11: The Three Man Band

3 of 13

    WWE, you're looking at the greatest group in history.

    -Heath Slater, Smackdown October 19, 2012

    That is right, three mid-carders had a better debut in WWE than the NWO did. At least with Slater and his crew, it was not a massively hyped disappointment.

    At the time, Heath Slater, was causing a wave of destruction in the WWE with his One Man Band, but how much more dangerous would he be with a Three Man Band?

    The world was about to find out.

    On the Sept. 23 episode of Smackdown, Slater took on Brodus Clay. 

    Suddenly, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal made their way to the ring. The group then laid a funky beat down on the Funkasaurus.

    It was a moment etched into the minds of fans everywhere. It was truly unforgettable, until it was forgotten by the next segment.

10: La Familia

4 of 13

    Edge and Vickie Guerrero had been an item for some time, but it was not until Armageddon 2007 when they expanded into a stable.

    During the main event between Undertaker and Batista, two others guys who looked like Edge popped up at ringside.

    Those men were quickly disposed of, but provided enough of a distraction for Edge to take out Undertaker with a chair.

    On SmackDown that week, we found out who these men were: Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins. They became known as Edgeheads.

    It was kind of fun seeing the fake Edges, but having the new wrestlers beat down on their first night set the tone for things to come.

    Even with the later additions of Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Bam Neely, La Familia ended up being a largely forgettable, ineffective group.

    They most certainly were not the Four Horsemen of their time.

9: D-Generation X

5 of 13

    “Are you ready?”

    Or more fitting, “were you ready” on Aug. 11, 1997?

    That was the night that  D-Generation X was born.

    Before the main event, Shawn Michaels had been talking about an "insurance policy" he had, but who, or what was it?

    During Michaels match with Mankind, Rick Rude made his surprise return to the WWF. He then picked up a chair and laid out Mick Foley, allowing The Heartbreak Kid to pick up the win.

    Chyna and Triple H then joined Rude stood on the ring apron. It was clear that something was up.

    It was the beginning of the new controversial group, but the moment did not belong to them. It was Undertaker's time.

    The familiar gong sounded and The Dead Man started to approach the ring. He was stopped short, though, as Paul Bearer appeared on the Titantron and warned Undertaker about his brother Kane.

    Overall, it was cool to see Rude back, but the company was more focused on the upcoming Kane and Undertaker story than really trying put over Michaels' new group.

    The company probably had no idea how popular it would become.

8: The Corporate Ministry

6 of 13

    Are there any more volunteers? Anybody? Any takers?

    -Shane McMahon, SmackDown April 29, 1999

    Who could forget the Corporation?

    It was a group composed of the up-and-coming Triple H, his valet Chyna, "The World's Most Dangerous Man" Ken Shamrock, the ruthless Big Bossman, and the um.... the... well, The Mean Street Posse.

    The Undertaker also had his stable: The Ministry.

    They were a bunch of violent, sadistic freaks who were hell bent on destroying the WWF.

    What would happen if these two teamed up? Steve Austin and The Rock were about to find out.

    On the pilot episode of SmackDown, Shane McMahon booked a huge tag match between Austin and Rock. To face them, Triple H volunteered, but who would join him?

    Enter The Undertaker.

    It was a strange pairing as The Corporation and Ministry had been at war with each other. Shane then dropped the bombshell that he had masterminded the alliance of both groups to form The Corporate Ministry.

    As big as the announcement was, the group lost their first match together that night. That usually is not the best way to start things off.

7: The Union

7 of 13

    So what we've done, Test, Shamrock, The Big Show, and myself, is we've kind of banded together to form a Union.

    -Mankind, May 3, 1999 Raw

    Sure, The Union basically lasted a few weeks and only one pay-per-view, but it was a fun pairing while it lasted.

    With the newly formed Corporate Ministry running the show, Foley had to do something.

    Along with three other men who had been burned by The Corporation, he interrupted Shane McMahon and his team.

    He then announced the formation of The Union (which is an incredibly strange name since Vince McMahon is very anti-union, and employs wrestlers as "independent contractors" even though they are contractually forbidden for working for any other company...).

    While The Union did not have have the numbers, they did have 2x4s.

    After announcing their displeasure with Shane, they came into the ring and delivered a beatdown on the much larger group.

    It was pretty simple, but effective. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan must have been proud.

6: The Spirit Squad

8 of 13

    What the hell is that?

    -Joey Styles, January 23, 2006 Raw

    During a match between Jerry Lawler and The Coach, something very strange happened.

    As Lawler was getting ready to finish the match, five young men dressed as cheerleaders and brandishing pom poms jumped onto the stage.

    They made their way down to the ring, and were so obnoxious and loud that they distracted Lawler. In the ultimate humiliation, The King lost to The Coach.

    The group did not even fight anyone their first night out. They just annoyed people.

    The crowd did not seem to care much, as they were probably more confused than anything.

    Still, it was an incredibly surprising debut to say the least.

5: ECW

9 of 13

    ECW has had three different runs inside of WWE, but it was their debut during the Invasion angle that was the best.

    It was clear that WCW vs. WWF was not working.

    Without the top stars fans were expecting, we were left with 20 or so WCW mid-carders vs. WWF’s best.

    The WWF decided to do something about it, so they got extreme.

    On a July 9, 2001 episode of Raw, there was a tag match with Mike Awesome and Lance Storm against Kane and Chris Jericho.

    Then, two familiar names ran through the crowd: Rob Van Dam and Tommy Dreamer.

    A group of wrestlers (The Dudley Boyz, Rhyno and Raven) came to help out their WWF brothers, only to turn on them and join forces with the ECW crew.

    Later in the night, Vince McMahon and his son Shane put together a momentary truce to get rid of ECW. Vince fell for the trap and ECW and WCW aligned to create The Alliance.

    It was arguably the highlight of the entire Invasion, as it was all downhill from there.

    While it was great seeing RVD and Dreamer, adding in other acts like The Sandman and Sabu (who joined the company years later) all in one night, would have put it over the top.

    Still, it was an exciting time.

    Though it would have been even better had Stephanie McMahon not been named the owner of ECW at the end of the night.

4: The Shield

10 of 13

    Ryback had been screwed out of winning the WWE Title at Hell In A Cell.

    At Survivor Series, he was going to get even.

    Things were looking good, until three unknowns dressed all in black jumped the guardrail and laid out Ryback.

    It was an unexpected finish to the match, but you can imagine some customers were not too thrilled to see two pay-per-view main events in a row end without a clean finish.

    As cool as it was to finally see Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins on the air, it probably would have been better served to have saved their debut for a Raw main event, and not one that people paid money for.

    Still, it will be one of the most talked about, and best remembered moments from 2012.

3: Evolution

11 of 13

    What you see in this ring before you is the greatest example of Evolution you will ever see.

    -Triple H, January 20, 2003, Raw

    Tommy Dreamer was the first victim of Evolution, but he would not be the last.

    It had been weeks of build-up, but something was going on between HHH, Batista and Ric Flair.

    Flair was accompanying HHH and Batista to ringside, and it looked like a new alliance was being formed between the three.

    All they needed was a fourth man to complete their group.

    That man was the future Legend Killer: Randy Orton.

    On Jan. 20, 2003, Orton signed on and helped lay out Dreamer, and later Big Poppa Pump.

    Did Steiner deserve it? Well, if you saw his series of matches against HHH, you may say yes.

    Triple H did a great job of laying out what the group was all about in their first promo. They had the past, the present and the future all aligned to form their new stable.

    Due to the slow build of Evolution, they missed out on a big “shocking” moment, but they still looked absolutely dominant their first night out.

2: The Radicalz

12 of 13

    That was a pretty radical strategy on their part don't you think? It was radical enough that they walked out on their last employer because it was a lousy place to be in their opinion, and showing up here unannounced is nothing short of radical either.

    -Jim Ross, January 31, 2000 Raw

    WWE did not screw up every group that came from WCW.

    The Radicalz had a great first showing in the company.

    What was amazing, was just two weeks earlier, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero were all employed by WCW.

    At the time of his departure, Benoit was actually their World Heavyweight Champion. The group then signed on with the WWF, and WCW went on the fast track to going out of business.

    During the opening match of Raw, there was a tag title match between the New Age Outlaws and Head Cheese (before Steve Blackman and Al Snow were officially called that).

    A few minutes into the match, Road Dogg was dropkicked right into the laps of the four men who were seated in the front row.

    Unfortunately for him, those four men were among the best wrestlers in the world.

    Road Dogg took his anger out on Benoit, and took a swing at him. It was a mistake.

    The Radicalz then took turns hitting their signature moves on him.

    The crowd went nuts. This new group looked satisfied with what they had done, and confidently walked up the ramp to enter the backstage.

    If you ignore Jim Ross trying to shove the new "radical" name down our throats, and the fact that the Radicalz somehow had theme music, it was an awesome moment of the Monday Night War.

1: The Nexus

13 of 13

    They're all over the place!

    -Michael Cole, June 7, 2010 Raw

    Somehow, eight relatively unknown talents were able to make a bigger initial impact than any other stable in the company's history.

    WWE had just finished up the first season of NXT.

    Wade Barrett emerged as the winner, and besides Daniel Bryan, most fans probably thought the rest of the group was headed back to the minor leagues.

    Instead, they became the focal point of the show for months.

    During a Raw main event featuring CM Punk and John Cena, Barrett slowly sauntered down the entrance ramp. No one was quite sure why he was there, but no one would forget what came next.

    Suddenly, the seven other contestants on NXT emerged from the crowd. Wearing matching armbands, they surrounded the ring. The match came to a halt as Cena stared at them.

    They all emerged simultaneously and beat down the WWE’s top star. It was a dramatic statement.

    The group did not stop there as they laid waste to the ring, cameramen, and even the ring announcer. The entire segment had a sense of realism that is sorely lacking in wrestling.

    It was truly unforgettable, and arguably one of the all-time best Raw moments.


    What was your favorite stable debut? Sound off below!