WWE history: When WWE hit the jackpot in the Spring of 2002
It was the Raw after WrestleMania 18. Hulk Hogan and The Rock had given us a 'Mania moment that would live forever in the annals of wrestling history. But now, it was time to start afresh and kick off a brand new season, with promises of exciting storylines and fresh faces.
Over the course of the next four months, several Superstars made their debut on the main roster on both brands, and it was truly a period that was going to lay the foundation for the next two decades in WWE.
In those days, WWE had a developmental system, just like they have NXT today. The system was dubbed as OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling) and newcomers were sent down there to hone their skills before being called up to the main roster. For 4 consecutive months after 'Mania, four future Hall of Famers made their debuts on the main roster, in what is widely regarded as being the greatest rookie class in the history of WWE.
On the Raw after WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar made his thunderous debut by interrupting a match and laying waste to the likes of Spike Dudley, Maven, and Al Snow. He was given the moniker of "The next big thing" and went on to defeat The Rock for his first WWE Title at Summerslam that same year.
In April, Randy Orton debuted on SmackDown, facing off against a man who was known for hating rookies, Hardcore Holly. Orton managed to pin Holly in a surprise debut win for the rookie.
In May, Batista debuted as a sidekick to D-Von Dudley, who had just gotten a fresh gimmick of a reverend. Batista went on to betray Dudley and soon became a part of the notorious faction Evolution, with Randy Orton being in the mix too.
The final piece of the puzzle came in the next month, as John Cena accepted Kurt Angle's open challenge and went on to have a great match with him. Cena soon got the incredibly popular gimmick of The Dr. of Thugonomics.
17 years later, these 4 Superstars have cemented their spots among the greatest legends in the history of this business. Brock Lesnar made waves in UFC and is one of the most dominant WWE Superstars of all time. Orton became a mainstay in WWE and went on to become multiple time champion. Batista didn't disappoint either and is now a successful movie star. Cena has carried the company for the last decade and a half.
A horde of Superstars debuted before these 4, and many came after them, but none can match the significance and the impact of these 4 debuts in the spring of 2002.