5 WWE Superstars who won titles in their debut
While many WWE Superstars have arrived in shocking or dramatic fashion, it's very rare to see one win a title in their debut. However, it has happened more often than you might remember.
Whether a new talent is just arriving in the company or being promoted to the main roster from NXT, a sudden title change can instantly make a superstar in the eyes of the WWE Universe.
Today, we look at five WWE Superstars who have won a title in their debut.
#5 – Gail Kim (Women’s Championship)
Gail Kim became a legend for her tenure in TNA (IMPACT Wrestling) and was even inducted into the IMPACT Wrestling Hall of Fame, but it was in WWE where she received her first real shot at recognition on a global scale.
Gail Kim made her debut on a June 2003 episode of Monday Night Raw, where she competed in a seven-woman battle royal to be crowned the new Women’s Champion.
Kim had been promoted for weeks through vignettes, but no one knew exactly who she was or how big of an impact (no pun intended) she would make on this very night. She certainly made a statement as she emerged from the battle royal as the Women's Champion after eliminating Victoria.
Gail Kim is now a backstage producer for IMPACT Wrestling’s Knockouts Division.
#4 – Carlito (United States Championship)
The son of the great Carlos Colon, Carlito was already destined to be “Cool!”.
Carlito made his debut on October 7, 2004 to accept the challenge of John Cena for the United States Championship. Carlito shocked the WWE Universe that night by defeating Cena to win the championship.
Despite having a solid WWE career, he never got to realize his full potential and was eventually released from the organization in 2010. Carlito is currently wrestling on the independent circuit. He made a surprise return to the company to compete in the 2021 Royal Rumble match.
#3 – Mike Awesome (Hardcore Championship)
Mike Awesome is primarily known for his tenures with ECW and WCW. After WCW was bought out by Vince McMahon, we started to see several low-to-mid card WCW stars make their debuts for the company as part of the ill-fated “Invasion” storyline. One of those stars was Mike Awesome.
Awesome made his debut on June 25, 2001 on an episode of Monday Night Raw during a Hardcore Championship between Rhyno and Test. Awesome would attack Rhyno with a lead pipe, then powerbomb him through a table to pin him for the championship.
Mike Awesome unfortunately passed away in February 2007 after committing suicide.
#2 – Santino Marella (Intercontinental Championship)
Santino Marella may have been a comedic character (much like R-Truth) who was not taken very seriously, but in fact he was a heck of a talent inside the ring. Santino made his debut on the April 16, 2007 edition of Monday Night Raw in Milan, Italy.
Santino was in the crowd and was chosen by Umaga’s manager, Armando Alejandro Estrada, to challenge Umaga for the Intercontinental Championship. Santino would shockingly defeat Umaga and earn the nickname "The Milan Miracle”.
Santino is currently wrestling on the independent circuit, and recently made a guest commentator appearance for Impact Wrestling.
#1 – Paige (WWE Divas Championship)
Paige was the reigning NXT Women’s Champion for well over 300 days when she was promoted to the main roster the night after WrestleMania XXX on April 7, 2014. Paige accepted the challenge of AJ Lee, who at the time was the Divas Champion.
An emotional Paige quickly won the Divas Championship over AJ Lee on her first night on the main roster. In hindsight, this shocking upset can be considered an omen of things to come, as Paige would become a catalyst for the Divas Revolution.
Paige was forced to retire from the wrestling business after suffering a neck injury in April 2018. She would continue to be part of the promotion in a non-wrestling capacity up until July 7, 2022, where she and the company officially parted ways.
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