The debut of an NXT superstar is always a special thing. Apart from the obvious, it means that the WWE sees potential in that particular Superstar to move up the ladder. And most of the talent pool that fills the current main roster has invariably been an alumni of the NXT.
NXT is the training ground for WWE. So, when a superstar makes a debut to the main roster it means that the superstar has invariably been graduated to the next level. This makes it a special occurrence as WWE doesn’t hand out its graduation that easily as some might believe.
For a NXT superstar to make a debut in WWE, he needs certain qualities.He must be over with the NXT crowd. He must have the natural charisma to influence audience and most of all he must be atleast a decent in-ring worker. Only a handful of superstars come out of NXT into the main roster and very few make an impact on their debut to the main roster.
Here are the 5 NXT debuts that rocked the WWE universe to its core.
Two years ago, a debut of an NXT superstar rocked the WWE universe like never before. “The Anti-Diva” Paige made her debut on the next night of WrestleMania 30. And forever, her debut will be remembered as one of the best WWE debuts
AJ Lee was fresh off her victory at WrestleMania 30 against an entire crop of diivas. As AJ Lee sauntered her way to the ring with her crazy skipping, WWE universe was wondering when her reign would come to an end. AJ Lee picks up the microphone and starts gloating about her victory.
Out comes Paige, to a tremendous ovation, with a nervous smile and determined expression. She walks up to the champion and congratulates her on the win. AJ Lee mocks her in her trademark patronizing manner, slaps her and insults her as only she could do it. At this point the crowd is angry with AJ for being a jerk.
AJ Lee tauntingly offers a Divas Championship match to Paige who was not sure she could do it justice. AJ Lee then starts the match with some insulting charades. Soon Paige is locked in the Black Widow. Paige somehow fights out of it and delivers a Paige Turner out of nowhere to pickup the upset victory to a tremendous ovation.
Who could possibly hope for a better debut for Paige?
4. Kevin Owens
May 18, 2015 was huge landmark in the career of Kevin Owens. Owens, then the NXT Champion, debuted on Monday night Raw and established himself as the top heel of company in a tremendous fashion. How does one do it? Why, by taking out the top guy, of course.
John Cena, then the united States Champion, was cutting a promo as only he could. He had the crowd enthralled and revved up for a huge match in matter of minutes. As John Cena waits for his opponent, out comes Owens with his NXT championship belt across his shoulders with a relaxed stride.
He then proceeds on to have a war of words with Cena, an accomplished mic worker, all the while maintaining his arrogant ease posture. The war of words ends when Owens cheap-shots Cena and powerbombs him to the shock of the entire arena.
Kevin Owens looked at ease all the way with a superstar as big as Cena on his debut. He was stupendously arrogant and came off as a jerk with ease. These endearing(!) qualities made the crowd acknowledge him as a top heel in a matter of minutes. That was one powerful debut which still lingers in the memory of WWE fans.
3. Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch & Charlotte
On July 13, 2015, the three divas sauntered their way into the WWE universe bringing the much needed revolution for the divas division. With NXT women’s division making headlines, it was only a matter of months before the awesomeness caught hold of the WWE too.
In a very energetic segment of Raw, Stephanie McMahon informed Team Bella, then the dominant trio of poorly featured WWE divas, that a revolution is coming and their bid for dominance has run out. She then proceeded to introduce the trio to kick start the Divas Revolution.
Once the three joined their respective factions, an all ensuing brawl broke out. The brawl ended with the three NXT divas applying their finishers to the dominant trio of WWE at that time. The crowd was nuts the entire segment. It was just a peep into what the future was bringing.
Though it took a few more months for the revolution to actually kick start. the seeds were spread that night these three made their debuts. And after eight months, the trio stole the biggest PPV WWE had to offer with their tremendous skill and showmanship.
2. The Shield
November 19, 2012, was a landmark in the history of WWE. It saw the debut of a trio from NXT that dominated the WWE for over two years. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose made their presence felt as they destroyed their way into WWE.
CM Punk was in the midst of his year long WWE Championship reign. As the segment unfolded, CM Punk stood in Centre of the ring with his advocate Paul Heyman, gloating over his accomplishments. Out comes Ryback, the challenger to the title, in a mood to destroy CM Punk. Only, he never makes it to the ring.
The trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns cut him off. They attack him out of nowhere as CM Punk looks on from the ring. Initially, Ryback looks like he would fight the trio off. But soon the numbers game turns in favor of the trio and they ground the powerhouse.
The trio then goes on to put Ryback through the announcers table, which would become their signature later, and poses in the ring non-chalantly as CM Punk gloats over a fallen Ryback. The trio dominated the WWE for a period of almost two years before Seth Rollins did his infamous betrayal of the shield.
1. The Nexus
Before all these debuts, there was one debut that rocked the WWE universe like nothing else had. On June 7, 2010, WWE decided to graduate an entire crop of superstars from NXT. This infamous group of superstars called them as The Nexus, meaning Next Us.
During main event of the night, John Cena and CM Punk squared off against each other. Almost near to the end, The Nexus made their appearance. Wade Barrett, who was revealed to be the leader later, walked down the ramp distracting John Cena from his match. The other members of the group came in through the crowd and jumped barricades(Shield Style) and proceeded to attack the wrestlers, commentators and all WWE personals present in the ringside.
The group then proceeded to dismantle the entire ring area as Wade Barrett and Michael Tarver unscrewed the turnbuckles, while others ripped the safety mats, flipped announce tables and wrecked the barricades. This was never seen before in WWE and naturally it caused a huge tumult.
The group then proceeded to dominate WWE for a long time by attacking WWE superstars in and out of the ring without any remorse. After some time, the group changed leaders with CM Punk replacing Wade Barrett after he was exiled from the group. The group was famous for its villainy and was reckoned as a powerful force until the group was finally disbanded August 22, 2011.
Note: Daniel Bryan also debuted with The Nexus, but he was exiled from it.