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Which debut intrigued or underwhelmed you the most?


Liam O'Rourke

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So, for this week's podcast, we're looking to talk about the debuts in wrestling that personally intrigued you the most or left you underwhelmed. Rather than asking what you think were the best and worst (which would likely bring back a horde of Jericho/Kane/Shockmaster responses), we'd like to know which character introduction, from any company at any time, personally resonated with you the most as a fan, on either end of the scale, and most importantly - why.

 

As always, the best responses will be read on the show and you'll be credited accordingly. So which one stands out for you as blowing you away or deflating your expectations?

 

EDIT - Our show debating the Best and Worst Debuts Ever, featuring many of your contributions, is now online and available to listen to at the following link: http://squaredcirclegazette.podbean.com/mf/web/8yx695/SCG_Radio_94_-_Best_And_Worst_Debuts_Ever.mp3

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2002 - 2004 were the years for most of the intros that resonated with me - and it wasn't really seeing the wrestlers for the first time, but rather their vignettes. Loads of people got vignettes around that time, and for me, they worked so well because I was hyped to see each and every one of the guys they were for… even when they turned out to be a bit shit.

 

I never watched WCW, but I knew of their bigger names, so the vignettes playing to introduce Rey Mysterio and Scott Steiner before their debuts had me totally hooked. I couldn't wait to see this incredible high-flyer and the Big Bad Booty Daddy actually turn up - and in both cases their debut lived up to the hype, Rey on SmackDown, Steiner on Survivor Series. I came at these guys from a different angle to a lot of people, where these videos were my introduction (didn't remember Steiner from '93) and they sold the guys to me perfectly.

 

There was a similar effect for people like Carlito Caribbean Cool, Nathan Jones and La Resistance. No idea who they were, but their vignettes introduced me, and made me interested to see what they'd actually do. He spits in people's faces! He's a maniac prisoner! They… read the news in French, I think? Okay, some more effective than others, but you see my point.

 

I rarely watch WWE live because I need to sleep, so it's vignettes that have resonated most with me as intros rather than shock appearances or guys just turning up on the show. I'm really pleased NXT has started using them more frequently. They got me interested in The Drifter - the technique works!

 

 

Hey Liam - did you ever get Against The Grain Part 2 fixed?

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Mordecai. Months of cracking vignettes, building this spooky Undertaker-esque character all dressed in white. making some fairly ambiguous references which seemed to point towards him being a big deal and a new nemesis for Taker. I remember being really excited to see what they had in mind for this guy, and you could tell from the promos he was a big lad.  Even his actual debut match against Scotty Too Hotty was an impressive squash, but it fizzled out massively after that, and were eventually left with Kevin Shitting Thorne, a vampire with no bite. A massive missed opportunity.

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Most underwhelming? Mine is simple and all encompassing. Any hyped up one in TNA. 2002 - present. Nothing like the times they say "A FORMER WORLD CHAMPION IS COMING HERE, TO TNA!!!!" and you get Al Snow (see, they counted tag team), Raven or Shane Douglas. The latter two being seemingly over and over again.

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Tazz had his wwe career high in the first minute of his tv time. Crowd went crazy do him. Wasn't to last though

 

 

Aftree years of hopes up/ let down debuts, Nxt is doing them superbly. Remember ready gnthe hype for nakamura, but from minute his music hit, he screamed star. Now back watching Nxt regular to see him and his actions

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Shinsuke Nakamura's debut at Takeover: Dallas five months ago. Despite never watching any Japanese wrestling apart from a few Pegasus Kid matches, I'd heard loads about Naka via the UKFF and other forums - and when the news broke that WWE signed him I couldn't wait to see what all the fuss was about. I remember hearing excitement and praise when Hun-tour had got KENTA/Hideo Itami tied down to a contract, and then he turned up on NXT and I was dreadfully disappointed. 

 

Back to Naka, and at that Dallas show I think I 'got him' from the moment his music hit, coming out in his military jacket doing the spazzy hand movements and Bells Palsy face I was mesmerised, this wasn't your auntie's Japanese superstar. Then the match started, and he was everything Hideo Itami wasn't... high impact strikes, seamless swanning around and off the charts timing and crows interaction (remember that wink he did?), the match was amazing and it was the best Sami had looked since he won the NXT title against Neville in 2014.

 

So yeah, that entrance and the match cemented the fact that the boy is world class, easily my favorite wrestler right now and someone who needs to be seen every week on TV . The only thing about his debut I didn't like was the fact that he was introduced as an NXT superstar. He's way too experienced and way too good for 'developmental'. 

 

AJ Styles at the Rumble was decent too.

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Bret Hart's WCW debut has to go down as particularly disappointing. After Montreal, I could easily have been wooed by WCW after my hero jumped ship but his introduction foreshadowed his entire run. He was the most talked about person in the business. And that's what they chose to do with him on the biggest show of the year? They then followed that up with the Flair match and build that was better than they counted on and their response was to pretty much sideline both guys right away. Useless.

 

I was never a fan of John Cena's either. I'd go on to be a huge mark for the guy but when he came out of nowhere with that hideous haircut to challenge Kurt Angle and gurned his way through that terrible "Ruthless aggression" catchphrase they tried to make catch-on - I thought "Who the fuck is this guy?" The match was quite good but it was still a pretty inauspicious start for the greatest of our time.

 

Last debut to really stun me was probably Goldberg's in WWE. I remember watching Raw on the Friday night after WM with my brother. I'd dozed through half the show because I was knackered and it wasn't thrilling. I was half asleep listening to The Rock doing his usual promo when that fucking music hit and I went from comotosed to absolutley wired in about 0.03 seconds. Just stunning.

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Great call, Otto, Nakamura's debut was stunning. I'd never seen anything of him but I was utterly captivated from the moment that guitar hit - and when he actually appeared it took about a nanosecond to know the guy was a megastar. Then he followed it up with my favourite match in ages and I had a new favourite.

 

Styles' intro, however, lost something in the fact that they decided to put the camera on Roman instead of him. Still cool, but the alternate video they put on the website later in the week was the one they should've had on the night.

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Edit, I mentioned Kane, so I've deleted and will add something shortly.

 

 

OK, so this one is on somewhat of a personal level, but none the less, the excitement was there.

 

Neville

 

Now I'm not going to claim to be best pals with him or anything daft like that, but I've met him a few times outside of wrestling through fringe friends, acquaintances and music nights and the like in Newcastle. He seemed like a sound lad so his development has always been of interest to me.

I first met him back when he was applying his trade in the north east, and at the time it was easy to see he had the potential to be great. Fast forward a number of years later and he had become a bit of a UK darling, especially due to his work with the touring Dragon Gate.

Word got around shortly after that he was headed to the WWE training facility, and he would begin to dazzle the fans of NXT before pretty much reaching the top of the ladder. It was inevitable that he was going to get the call up to the main show, however, this was filled with intrigue and a worry about an insane rumour that Vince was going to put a mighty mouse mask on him to hide his ears, and silence him so that his Geordie twang wouldn't cause children to cry out of sheer confusion.

 

... The time came, the title tron depicted a meteor smashing in to earth with a verbal count and high octane electronica music pumping through the PA... the moment had come to find out if Vince had in fact turned one of the world's most exciting prospects in to a giant cartoon mouse.

"...Any second now...... is he??.......

No... thank god, we can see his giant ears, all is fine with the world".

 

I feel he deserves a repackage of sorts, his 'gimmick' isn't really getting the following I'd have hoped for. Hopefully something will come for him in the near future, especially following his absence.

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Rockabilly - nuff said

 

Ha, good shout. Wouldn't say I was intrigued by it but mildly interested in who Honky would choose. Seemed to go on forever. And it would skip weeks so you thought they'd dropped it and then they'd pick it up again. What a reveal. Up there with the Gobbeldy Gooker.

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Intrigued- Tazz.

 

I got back into wrestling in mid/late 1999, after knocking it on the head for a few years (after Survivor Series 96, yeah great timing I know) and didn’t have the internet at home at this point, so I didn’t really know what ECW was. As far as I was concerned, there was WWF, WCW and the bare bones of NWA in some manner. The first time I heard of ECW was after the Dudleyz debuted not long after I got back into it. I can’t even remember how I came to learn they came were from ECW- did WWF reference this on TV? I think they probably did. If not, then it may have been in WWF/Raw magazine, PWI or even one of the Apter mags.

 

Anywho, I started hearing a bit more about this promotion and around November 1999, I started seeing rumours on TELETEXT (you kids don’t know you were fucking born) that some chap called Taz from ECW was set to debut at Armegeddon. It was being treated like a big deal, a bit like when Jericho made the jump so I was naturally intrigued. He didn't debut at Armageddon after all, but his first appearance wasn't too far away.

 

At the time I didn’t put 2 and 2 together with the orange ‘mood is about to change’ vignettes that interrupted a lot of matches on TV. Then at the Royal Rumble, Kurt Angle opened the PPV with an open challenge. I think by this time I’d forgot about some guy called Taz rumoured to be joining, until almost every single fan in Madison Square Garden that night were chanting ‘TAZ, TAZ, TAZ’ during Angle’s promo. The crowd were rabid, super hot. The music hit and the crowd erupted- to this day I’ve never seen a wrestler that I’d never heard of debut with such a massive pop- it really made him out to be a massive deal. Then this hulking, small tank strolled to the ring as though he was carrying carpets under his arms with a towel on his head and I liked him straight away. He looked the business. The Fink fucked up the announcing, but it didn’t matter, because when he made his way out there the entire crowd seemingly knew who he was.

 

He got in the ring, clobbered Angle and they had a decent little quick match.  His suplexes were something I wasn’t used to seeing at the time and I was into him straight away. What a debut, and since then I’ve always had a soft spot for Tazz. I went back and watched his old ECW stuff after and he was always one of my favourites until he became a fat obnoxious commentator, and not even a good one (credit: Paul Heyman).

 

But yeah- completely blew me away in that debut match like nobody had before, and nobody that isn’t called Brock Lesnar has done so since. Nakamura doesn't count as I watched some of his stuff when the rumours of him signing started to surface.

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