Top 5 Survivor Series Debuts

Survivor Series has always been one of the bigger pay-per-views in the wrestling calendar, whether it’s setting up the bigger angles for WrestleMania or just putting together teams you’d never […]

Survivor Series has always been one of the bigger pay-per-views in the wrestling calendar, whether it’s setting up the bigger angles for WrestleMania or just putting together teams you’d never think would team up. It also gave you moments you’d never think you’d ever see. Never in a million years would one think Goldberg was going to go into a match with Brock Lesnar, after 12 years of inactivity, and completely destroy him in 80 seconds. The likelihood of The Rock and John Cena ever teaming up together was so low that it was even billed as “never before, never again.” Who would have possibly believed that the WWF and WCW would square off in a five-on-five elimination match to determine the future of WWF?

But it’s the moments that don’t initially standout at first that really stood out the most in hindsight. Survivor Series ended up becoming a major spot for wrestlers to break out in the WWF, making their debuts in the November pay-per-view. In this post, I’m going to break down the top five debuts in my personal opinion and throw in some honourable mentions for good measure.

1. The Undertaker (1990)

“Look at the size of that ham hock!” were the first words used to describe the Undertaker in the beginning of a 25+ year career in the WWF at Survivor Series 1990. The Million Dollar Team needed a sizeable advantage going into their Survivor Series match in 1990. After all, the likes of Bret Hart and Dusty Rhodes were up against them. In comes Brother Love, who provided a dark horse from the dark side as the Dead Man made his WWF debut as their fourth member. Taker eliminated Koko B Ware and Dusty Rhodes before getting counted out, taking out half of the field to assist in the victory for the Million Dollar Team.  Suffice to say that Undertaker made quite an impact in his debut and to tell you just how big a star he’d become, he defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Championship at the next year’s Survivor Series event!

2. Rocky Maivia (1996)

Fast forward to 1996 and the WWF were no longer in the “golden age” of their existence. The stars that had brought the WWF into mainstream media were now elevating WCW to new heights, leaving the WWF with hardly any stars to spare. Stone Cold Steve Austin was being pushed in a main-event program with Bret Hart but it wasn’t enough. They needed a fresh new face that was unlike the stars of yesterday. The WWF’s response was Rocky Maivia, a third generation superstar that had the ability and the excitement that could really take them places. They saw a lot in Rocky, as Rocky scored two eliminations on Crush and Goldust to become the sole survivor for his team that also included the likes of Jake Roberts, Marc Mero and… The Stalker – 1990s wrestling everyone. This debut propelled him to shortly win the Intercontinental Championship although Rocky was soon rejected by fans, who even chanted “Die, Rocky, Die” during his matches. Following a change of attitude, I think it’s safe to say that Rocky’s fortunes turned around as The Rock.

3. The Shield (2012)

So far, these future stars I’ve mentioned burst onto the scene as singles stars in random Survivor Series matches. This was the case where the debutantes were literally main-event material as soon as they came in. They were the talk of the town when the WWE Championship match between CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback was set and done. Ryback was closing in on victory after man-handling Cena and Punk throughout the entire match when three guys in protective vests jumped Ryback. They took apart the announce table as Michael Cole quickly identified them as Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns from NXT. They hoisted up Ryback and delivered a triple power-bomb to take Ryback out of the equation as CM Punk crawled on top of Cena to retain the WWE Championship. These unknown NXT call-ups eventually tore through just about anyone that stepped in their way as the “Hounds of Justice” dominated the WWE for years and the three of them all had reigns as WWE Champion as well.

 

4. Kurt Angle (1999)

Kurt Angle has been a major talking point in the WWE during 2017, especially recently with his in-ring return. Therefore its only fitting that the Olympic Hero be a part of this list. Following winning an Olympic Gold medal in the 1996 Olympics, Kurt looked to pursue a career in professional wrestling. After initially being disgusted when in attendance for a hardcore ECW show, Kurt was looking towards WWF or WCW. Following the advice of Ric Flair, Kurt signed an eight-year deal with the WWF in 1998. He debuted on the main roster at Survivor Series 1999, defeating Shawn Stasiak and displaying an amateur wrestling display that was HUGELY different to the WWF’s now more hardcore style of wrestling. It stood out and he stood out to the powers that be, quickly winning the European and Intercontinental Championship, the King of the Ring tournament and the WWF Championship. He ended up defending that WWF title against Undertaker at Survivor Series 2000, one year after debuting against Shawn Stasiak.

In typical WatchMojo style, I’m gonna break down some Honourable Mentions before revealing my 5th and final top Survivor Series debut…

  • Scott Steiner (2002) – Steiner debuted in Madison Square Garden in the 2002 Survivor Series pay-per-view, coming out to a huge pop and massacring Matt Hardy and Christopher Nowinski.
  • The Elimination Chamber (2002) – Technically not a debut of a wrestler but more of a concept that is still continued to be used as an annual WWE pay-per-view. In the same Survivor Series 2002 PPV, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kane, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and Chris Jericho all battled for the World Heavyweight title in an elimination chamber match invented by then-RAW general manager Eric Bischoff.
  • Rikishi (1999) – While he technically debuted the night before on an episode of WWF Metal, his storyline debut came at Survivor Series 1999 as the soon-to-be-announced culprit that ran down Stone Cold Steve Austin right before Austin’s title match with Triple H and The Rock that same night.
  • The Gobbledy Gooker (1990) – Less said about this, the better. After a number of on-screen vignettes showing an egg on WWF television, the egg hatched at Survivor Series 1990 to reveal the Gobbledy Gooker. The Gooker was soon dropped from television and never mentioned again. Apologises to Hector Guerrero….
  • Kane (1997) – His legendary first appearance did come in the first-ever Hell in a Cell match between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels but his first in-ring match came at Survivor Series 1997 when he soundly defeated Mankind.
  • Steve Blackman (1997) – Survivor Series 1997 proved to be quite the eventful show but this also ended up being the in-ring debut for the “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman, being a part of Team USA in a Survivor Series Elimination match.
  • Jazz (2001) – Former ECW women’s wrestler Jazz debuted in the Women’s Championship match at Survivor Series 2001. Jazz was ultimately unsuccessful that night but did soon win the title a few months later and even walked into WrestleMania X8 as champion.

5. Sting

I mentioned events that you’d never think would take place in a WWE ring. Sting appearing in a WWE ring definitely enters that discussion as following the purchase of WCW, Sting was one of the select few that initially never signed up with WWE. More than a decade after the final WCW Nitro which he main-evented. Sting eventually started a working relationship with WWE as part of the WWE 2K15 video game. After rumours about a potential debut down the road, nothing happened. In the finale of the Team Cena vs Authority Survivor Series match, the man called Sting made his first appearance in a WWE ring. He was the difference-maker in the match itself, laying out COO Triple H and putting Dolph Ziggler on top of Seth Rollins in order to secure the victory for Team Cena and sending the Authority packing… for one month. With a match against Rollins seeing Sting suffer a severe neck injury, Sting eventually was forced to retire from in-ring competition. At least before he called it a day, the Stinger got a chance to appear in a WWE arena and even compete at WrestleMania itself.

Do you think any more debuts are in store for Survivor Series 2017? Are there any debuts out of there I missed? And did anyone think that the Gobbledy Gooker had a better debut than the Undertaker in 1990? Leave your comments below and tweet to @SLTDWrestling to join the Survivor Series conversation using the hashtag #SLTDSurvivorWeek.