Here’s a look at a WWE Top 10 video counting down the ten best WWE debuts of the decade. The video did not list when the debuts took place as far as the date, but I have included that in my writeups and also relevant links to where I (or Kurt in one instance) have written about these moments. You can find the video on WWE’s Youtube channel and social media outlets. I have posted it below.
10. Shinsuke Nakamura
This was at the NXT Takeover Dallas event during WrestleMania weekend in April 2016. Nakamura got a huge ovation from the crowd. He went on to have an amazing match with Sami Zayn that I thought was the WWE Match of the Year in 2014. I don’t think he’s had a better match in his WWE career.
9. The Nexus
This was on Raw on June 7, 2010 when the eight men that were on the NXT show at the time went into the ring and destroyed John Cena. They wrecked the ring, people around the ring and created a scene that we’ll never forget. One of the most memorable moments was when Daniel Bryan choked Justin Roberts with his tie, which led to Bryan being fired. The firing only lasted two months because WWE brought back Bryan for SummerSlam 2010 and he’s been there ever since.
8. Kevin Owens
This was on the December 2014 NXT Takeover R Evolution event with KO facing off against CJ Parker. It was an easy win for Owens, who got huge reactions from the fans for everything he did, including a somersault dive over the top to the floor. Owens also suffered a cut on his nose after a strike to the face by Parker.
7. Braun Strowman
I had to look this one up to check what the date was because I didn’t remember it by memory. It was Raw on August 24, 2015 when Roman Reigns was in a tag team match with Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman showed up on the ring apron with a mask on his face. It was Strowman’s debut as a member of the Wyatt Family. Four years later, Strowman is one of the biggest names in WWE although he has yet to win a singles title in his career.
6. Adam Cole
The current NXT Champion was just one of the many top indy wrestling names that WWE signed this decade. Cole’s debut took place at the NXT Takeover event in Brooklyn in August 2017 with NXT Champion Drew McIntyre in the ring holding his title. The duo of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish were on the apron for the distraction, which led to Cole’s debut and the Undisputed Era faction was born.
5. Samoa Joe
I remember this one very well. It was at the NXT Unstoppable Takeover show on May 20, 2015 with NXT Champion Kevin Owens in the ring when suddenly, Samoa Joe showed up. The pop from the crowd at Full Sail University was massive. Joe was well known from his run in TNA/Impact over the previous decade and earlier that year, it was known that he was a free agent. We wanted him in a WWE ring, but we didn’t know if it would happen. There wasn’t a major feud between Joe and Owens, but this was a cool moment.
4. The Shield
This is one of the most famous ones for sure. I think it’s fair to say that The Shield trio of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are three of the biggest stars in WWE this decade. It was Survivor Series 2012 with CM Punk defending the WWE Title against Ryback and John Cena. After Ryback hit Cena with his Shellshock finisher, The Shield showed up, attacked Ryback and gave him a triple Powerbomb through the announce table. That allowed Punk to cover Cena (who sold that Shellshock for like three minutes) to retain the WWE Title. The group was originally going to be aligned with Punk, but then they did their own thing. Punk wanted Kassius Ohno (his good friend Chris Hero) with Rollins and Ambrose, but WWE wanted Reigns with them. At the time, most of us knew about Rollins and Ambrose as top prospects in NXT while Reigns was more of an unknown. Obviously, it turned out well for all of them. Also, it’s worth noting that when the video aired on this countdown, they edited out Ambrose’s name while we could hear Rollins and Reigns. I guess WWE isn’t thrilled about Dean leaving the company.
3. Ronda Rousey
It was Royal Rumble 2018 at the end of the show when Asuka won the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. Asuka was joined in the ring by Women’s Champions Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss. That’s when the music of Ronda Rousey hit. By this point, there were a lot of rumors of Rousey showing up, but Ronda went so far as to do an interview with TMZ the day before the show to say she was filming some movie in another country. It was all bullshit and that’s okay. Anyway, Rousey got a big pop from the crowd, pointed at the WrestleMania sign (even though she ended up facing none of the three women in the ring at WrestleMania) and after the show, it was announced that she signed a deal with WWE.
By the way, the staring and pointing at the WrestleMania sign thing is so f’n lame. Please stop doing that, but we know once January gets here, it’s going to happen over and over again. I hate it.
Survivor Series 2014 was the night of Sting’s WWE debut. This was actually leaked online the night before or the morning of the show. I believe it was PWInsider that reported it. This is one of those leaks where I think WWE sent the word out themselves because there just wasn’t that much interest in this show and with Sting showing up in WWE after all these years, that’s something would make people care. Anyway, Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler were the last two guys in the elimination match, Triple H got involved to help Rollins, then Rollins covered and as referee Scott Armstrong counted the pin, Sting’s music began. Sting attacked Triple H and Rollins, put Ziggler on top and that meant that Ziggler’s team (with John Cena as the captain) won the match. That set up Sting vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 31.
1. AJ Styles
This was at Royal Rumble 2016. Earlier in the month, it was reported everywhere that Styles had left New Japan and signed with WWE, so most of us figured Royal Rumble would be the right time for his debut. We could all think it was going to happen, but nobody really knew until it actually happened. I remember it so well with the unfamiliar music playing (great song, by the way), then the shot of Roman Reigns almost squinting towards the entrance because he was surprised by what he saw and that’s when AJ Styles showed up. What a massive ovation for Styles that night. Just like Samoa Joe, who I mentioned earlier, Styles was most known for his run in Impact Wrestling and also New Japan. These were guys that we hoped would be in WWE one day, but just never knew if it was going to happen. I think AJ Styles in 2016 had one of the best years in WWE history in terms of match quality and overall performance. He fit in perfectly.
I thought they did a great job with this list. I don’t think I would change much about it. It’s pretty crazy to think about how many big names made WWE debut this decade. Part of the reason for that is because when Triple H took over as EVP of Talent Relations earlier in the decade, the company was willing to sign more of the ex TNA/Impact, New Japan and Ring of Honor guys. That’s what led to the likes of Styles, Owens, Nakamura, Cole, Joe ending up in WWE this decade. Putting Sting at #2 is fine with me because he spent nearly 30 years in the business before stepping foot in a WWE ring. I think Styles is the right choiec for the #1 spot considering how great he has been over his first four years in WWE.
This was a great WWE Top 10 list. Great job by the crew that put it together. You can check it out below.