6 superstars who made their WWE debut more than two decades ago
A few current WWE Superstars debuted on the main roster in 2022. Dakota Kai, for example, re-signed with the company before joining Bayley's Damage CTRL stable on Monday Night RAW. Her tag team partner, IYO SKY, also got promoted to the main roster earlier this year after spending several years in NXT.
Meanwhile, several other current superstars wrestled on WWE television for the first time more than two decades ago. Some of these wrestlers recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of their main roster debut.
Here are six superstars who made their WWE debut more than two decades ago.
#6. Randy Orton
After he spent nearly a year in OVW, WWE promoted Randy Orton to the main roster in March 2002. The Viper then competed at a few live events. He also wrestled in dark matches on Jakked and Sunday Night Heat before making his televised debut in April of that same year.
The 42-year-old's first televised match came on the April 25, 2002 episode of SmackDown. In his debut bout, Orton defeated Hardcore Holly. The Viper has since become one of the greatest superstars in the company's history. He is currently a Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion.
The 14-time World Champion is now on the Monday Night RAW roster. However, he is currently out of action due to a back injury.
After competing on the independent circuit for a few years, R-Truth (fka K-Kwik) signed a developmental contract with WWE in 1999. Truth wrestled in a few dark matches on Jakked and Sunday Night Heat before making his televised debut in November 2000.
After making his debut on Monday Night RAW on November 13, 2000, attacking William Regal during a match against Road Dogg, R-Truth teamed up with Road Dogg to defeat Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn in his debut match on SmackDown.
Although the former United States Champion was released in 2002, he returned to the Stamford-based company in 2008. He has since been an active competitor in WWE.
R-Truth is currently on the Monday Night RAW roster. However, he last competed on Main Event a few days ago when he defeated Akira Tozawa in a one-on-one match.
#4. AJ Styles
Before becoming a household name in professional wrestling, AJ Styles had a WWE tryout in 2001. Although the company did not sign The Phenomenal One, he received the opportunity to perform in a few matches, including two dark ones.
The 45-year-old made his televised WWE debut in January 2002 in a match against The Hurricane on an episode of Jakked. The Phenomenal One lost the bout.
Over the next 14 years, Styles competed in other promotions, including IMPACT Wrestling, ROH, and NJPW. In 2016, however, he officially signed a contract with the Stamford-based company. The two-time world champion is currently active on Monday Night RAW.
#3. WWE Hall of Famer Edge
After competing in a few other promotions, including WCW, Edge started working in WWE in 1996. The Rated R Superstar's first appearance came at a live event in May 1996, during which he lost to Bob Holly.
Nearly a year later, Edge officially signed a contract with the Stamford-based company. He continued competing in dark matches and at live events until June 1998, when he finally made his televised debut on Monday Night RAW. The Rated R Superstar defeated Jose Estrada Jr. by count-out in his debut match.
Over the next few years, Edge became one of the company's top superstars. However, he retired in 2011 due to an injury. After nine years of absence, he returned to the squared circle two years ago.
The 11-time World Champion is now active on Monday Night RAW. He is currently feuding with The Judgment Day.
#2. Brock Lesnar
In 2000, Brock Lesnar signed a developmental contract with WWE. He spent nearly two years in OVW, the company's developmental brand at the time.
Between April 2001 and January 2002, The Beast Incarnate competed in several dark matches on Jakked, Sunday Night Heat, and Monday Night RAW. He also made several appearances at live events.
The 10-time World Champion made his televised debut on the March 18, 2002 episode of Monday Night RAW, attacking Al Snow, Maven, and Spike Dudley during their Hardcore Championship match. In his first televised bout, Lesnar defeated Jeff Hardy at Backlash in April 2002.
Over the next few months, Lesnar became one of the company's biggest stars, capturing the WWE Championship three times before leaving in 2004. The Beast Incarnate then pursued other opportunities for nearly eight years before returning to the Stamford-based company in 2012.
The 45-year-old is currently a part-time superstar. He last competed against Roman Reigns in a Last Man Standing match at SummerSlam. Nevertheless, he lost the bout.
#1. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio wrestled in a few promotions, including WCW, before signing a contract with WWE in June 2002. The 47-year-old competed in several dark matches and at a few live events before making his televised debut about a month later.
Mysterio's televised debut came on the July 25, 2002 episode of SmackDown. The Master of the 619 defeated Chavo Guerrero in his first match on the Blue Brand.
Over the next 13 years, Mysterio captured several titles, including three world championships. Although he left the company in 2015 after his contract expired, The Master of the 619 returned in 2018.
Mysterio recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his debut. The three-time World Champion is now active on Monday Night RAW, where he is currently feuding with his son, Dominik, and the rest of The Judgment Day.