Every In-Ring WrestleMania Debut | Ranked From Worst to Best...
Raw after 'Mania is truly something special! As Michael Cole likes to say, or rather shove down our throats, it's a night where fans boo the superstars they normally cheer for and vice versa. It's also the perfect opportunity to start a Mexican wave, throw around some beach balls, providing Cesaro isn't nearby, of course, and cheering on the latest NXT call-ups. Because debuting the night before at WrestleMania would be totally absurd, right? Well, not really. Rarely, the WWE pushes a superstar right out of the gate, choosing to showcase their abilities at the Grandest Stage of them All. Most of the time it is simply an in-ring debut, but nonetheless, we here at Inside Wrestling have decided to rank each occasion from worst to best. Beginning with...
Number 12. Tori
We're kicking off today's list with a match that barely even lasted five minutes. Yup, welcome to the deep end! 16 years or so removed from the Diva's revolution, the bout Tori and Sable had for the WWF Woman's Championship at WrestleMania XV, to put it kindly, was far from great. When not taunting one another or completely wasting time on the outside of the ring, either competitor found it difficult to not only botch, but actually string more than three moves together. I may be sounding harsh here, especially when you consider the time period, but it's not exactly the greatest advertisement for the WWE Network, nor Woman's wrestling.
Number 11. Sunny
It's difficult to believe that the same company responsible for ushering in the Women's Revolution also came up with the complete shambles that was the Diva's Battle Royale... You know, the match at WrestleMania 25 which was won by a man. As if coming out to Kid Rock and “So Hott” wasn't bad enough! It's also to difficult to believe that this was the one and only time Sunny, who is widely recognised as the “First Ever” WWE Diva, wrestled with the company. Somewhere in the background, if you do indeed look close enough, you will find Tammy Stych strutting her stuff. Too bad the match was overshadowed by Santina Marella...
Number 10. Sting
For years and years... And years... And then some more years, the WWE Universe campaigned for a WrestleMania match between Sting and The Undertaker. So when the Icon finally decided enough was enough, showing up at 2014's Survivor Series to help Dolph Ziggler and Team Cena defeat Seth Rollins and The Authority, fans lost their minds. A few more months down the line, however, and it quickly became apparent Sting was not going to face 'Taker. Instead, he was fed to Triple H in what was one of the most disappointing debut matches of all time. Nothing about this contest made any sense. Failing to win, of course, had to be the worst part. But let's not forget Sting made his grand entrance in broad daylight, teamed up with the NWO, a faction he vowed to destroy back in WCW, lost to a single sledgehammer blow, all before shaking the hand of Triple H who he absolutely hated by that point. If you can't see me right now, I am in fact scratching my head!
Number 09. Lana
Ever-present by the side of the Bulgarian Brute, Lana finally made her in-ring debut at WrestleMania 32, or rather the kick-off show. Like Sting before her, the Ravishing Russian found herself on the losing side in a multi-women tag team match. However, she didn't really put a foot wrong here, probably because she didn't have the chance to. I might be in the minority, but I actually think Lana is a decent enough wrestler. Sure, she's no Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch, but she's definitely not as bad as some people make her out to be. Keep doing you, Lana!
Number 08. Hideo Itami
At WrestleMania 31 – on the kick-off show, to be precise – Hideo Itami became the first ever active member of the NXT roster to compete in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, thus paving the way for the likes of Baron Corbin, Tian Bing and Killian Dain. Winning a tournament at WrestleMania Axxess to land such a role, Itami was made to look rather strong here. When not dishing out slap after slap and kick after kick, for example, he was eliminating Bo Dallas in one of the match's spotlight moments. Unfortunately, he was later unceremoniously dumped from the ring by eventual winner Big Show, as was the case with fellow dark horse pick Damien Mizdow.
Number 07. Tian Bing
Sticking with the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, because that's the only way to debut NXT superstars apparently, Tian Bing made his main roster debut in fine fashion. It's always difficult to shine in a match where thirty or even forty men are crowding the ring, all vying for their very own WrestleMania moment. Yet Bing managed to hold his own, eliminating either member of Breezango one after the other, as a result. Not bad for the first ever WWE Chinese superstar!
Number 06. Big E
Before stuffing pancakes down his singlet and literally pouring cereal down children's throats, Big E Langston, as he was known back then, acted as Dolph Ziggler's enforcer. Such a role landed him a spot on the WrestleMania 29 card, where he and his blonde-haired buddy unsuccessfully challenged Team Hell No for the Tag Team Championships. As it was a Daniel Bryan Match predating 2014, it was lucky to run over five minutes in length. Yet in that time, Big E was able to showcase his incredible strength, hoisting Kane up in the air like he was a bag of cotton candy. The next night was even better for the future New Day star, of course, as he went on to wrestle his first singles match... Oh, and there was also the small matter of Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on a battered Alberto Del Rio! Almost forgot that...
Number 05. Killian Dain
Participating in the exact same Battle Royale as the aforementioned Tion Bing, Killian Dain ranks higher on today's list as he eliminated Sami Zayn to finish in third position. In an ideal world, Killian would have went all the way in his in-ring debut, but WWE had other ideas, mainly with Mojo Rawley and Rob Gronkowski. Ever since winning, Mojo has wen't on to accomplish... Erm, not a lot, to be fair. Maybe it was for the best, then, that Dain was dumped over the top rope when he was!
Number 04. Nicholas
Okay, so technically Nicholas isn't a WWE superstar. But how could I not include someone who won the RAW Tag Team Championships on their in-ring debut? I still can't quite believe this match and outcome actually happened. Sure, the literal kid failed to even touch neither Sheamus nor Cesaro, probably due to the product being PG, but thanks to Braun Strowman, he has since become the youngest WWE Champion ever! I'm not jealous, you are!
Number 03. Baron Corbin
Believe it or not, there once was a time where Baron Corbin actually garnered cheers. Whether it be his initial gimmick, the one where fans counted no more than twenty seconds as he decimated his opponents, or when he tagged alongside Rhyno in the Dusty Rhodes Classic, everything the Lone Wolf once touched more or less turned to gold. Hell, I even jumped from my chair during the 2017 Royal Rumble when he eliminated Braun Strowman. Nowadays – well, everyone hates him, don't they? Just look at the reaction the day Kurt Angle chose to wrestle your headteacher in his final match ever... Yeah, not great. I guess it's only appropriate then that exactly three years prior to WrestleMania 35, Balding Corbin made his main roster debut. Weighing in at 317 pounds, Vince McMahon must have been rock solid when he first laid eyes upon this six foot six giant... Which is probably why he was immediately thrust into the spotlight by winning the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royale.
Number 02. Fandango
How on Earth do you top winning the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royale on your main roster debut? By defeating bloody Chris Jericho, that's how! In 2013, the formerly known Johnny Curtis finally found a gimmick worth fighting for, or I guess dancing for. He came to the ring week after week not for fisticuffs, but to have the ring announcer mispronounce his name like they've never heard Bohemian Rhapsody. This eventually led to a programme with the Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla and then – yup, you guessed it – to a clean pin fall victory over Jericho at WrestleMania 29. The next night he was a made man with the crowd chanting along to his iconic theme music. It's just a pity what's happened to him ever since.
Number 01. Ronda Rousey
Wrestling is a sport many spend decades of their lives trying to master. Aside from Kurt Angle, it's difficult to name anyone else who jumped from the MMA world or otherwise and completely killed it! So when Ronda Rousey jumped ship from the UFC, I'm not sure many of the so-called WWE Universe could quite have predicted her meteoric success. Sure, world titles were an absolute given, but if you honestly thought she would become as great an in-ring performer as she is today, then you must be some kind of psychic. It's the only explanation. Her first match with the company famously arrived at WrestleMania 34, where she and the aforementioned Olympic Gold Medalist took on evil Triple H and his wife, Stephanie McMahon. As scripted and rehearsed as it may have been, this mixed tag match absolutely stole the show! Hell, it was one of my favourite matches in all 2018 – a feat even more astonishing when you consider some of the bouts overseas and in NXT that very same year. If “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey does indeed hang up her boots this upcoming 'Mania, I'm sure we can all agree it was one of the best debut years of all time!
And there we have it, every WrestleMania debut, ranked from worst to best! Do you agree, disagree? Let me know in the comments below! I've been Matt from Inside Wrestling, thanks for reading.