Depending on the individual, the hype surrounding the person, and how well it's been execute...a wrestlers debut can make a huge statement which in many ways has the power to intrigue the fans into seeing what's going to happen next.
Throughout it's near 20-year existence there have been countless wrestlers who've debuted in TNA Wrestling (from 2002 until the brand "deceased" in 2016) but which ones were the absolute best of the best? Which debuts are seen as the most effective and iconic in company history...well today I'm going to counting down the top 10 debuts in TNA Wrestling history
Also, I'm excluding any debuts from the GFW/Impact Era (2017-present) as that's a list for another day.
10. My Name Is Wolfe...Desmond Wolfe!
On the October 22nd 2009 episode of Impact, Kurt Angle would give a speech in which saw him turn babyface by praising the young wrestlers in the company and announcing the end of the Main Event Mafia.
Later on that same episode, Kurt would get interviewed in the locker room when he was interrupted by unknown person who would reveal himself as Desmond Wolfe aka Nigel McGuiness; Following a few nice words and a hand shake, Wolfe would walk off until he removed his sunglasses and proceeded to beat the ever-loving hell out of Angle.
In the final moments of the show, a battered Kurt Angle would call out Desmond to a fight but when Wolfe no showed Angle decided to look for him only to discover far too late that it was all a set up by Wolfe himself. TNA's newest acquisition would go on to attack Angle inside the ring and hit a maneuver that looked to mess up the Olympic Gold Medalist's neck (for which his had a history of) before reintroducing himself to Kurt and the fans inside the Impact Zone.
This led to a two month feud between Angle and Wolfe which saw a series of mind games and two high profiled matches happening at Turning Point and Final Resolution 2009, that many fans and critics would call some the best matches of the entire year.
9. One Hell Of An Ending
After making the jump to Spike TV in 2005, TNA put on quite a show for the very first episode, but when it came time to end the show they ended it in a headline grabbing fashion.
In the final segment of the show, NWA World Champion, Jeff Jarrett along with James Storm and Chris Harris of America's Most Wanted went to the ring where Jarrett boosted about his accomplishments with getting TNA Wrestling on Spike to the power he now possesses as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
Tried of Double J's bragging, Three Live Kru (Konnan, BG James/Road Dogg and Ron Killings) went down to the ring and began brawling with the opposition; Right away, the nefarious Team Canada (who had formed alliance with Jarrett to help him get the belt back) provided support for the champion and proceed to beat down Three Live Kru until some unknown music began to play in the Impact Zone...the music heralded the arrival of Brother Ray and Brother Devon aka Team 3D.
The crowd, already energetic throughout the entire show erupted into cheers as Team 3D took care of Storm and Harris while Jarrett attempted to leave the arena until he was stopped by a returning "Big Sexy" Kevin Nash who joined Team 3D in the beat down, punctuated with a crowd pleasing Jackknife Powerbomb.
Nash would grab a microphone and tell the fans that at Bound For Glory, he and Jarrett would fight for the NWA World Championship, however not to be outshine by the former WCW Champion, Brother Devon would take the mic and suggested that next week on Spike TV it will be America's Most Wanted against Team 3D.
Say what you will about the company but this is arguably one of the best conclusions to an episode of in the company's history.
8. Here Comes The Monster!
Although he first appeared in the company as a unknown wrestler by the name of 'Prince Justice' in the gauntlet for the gold title match at the very first TNA event, many fans may not even know when "The Monster" Abyss even made his introduction in TNA...well the story behind all of that it interesting to say the least.
In 2004, then X Division Champion, Kid Kash was embroiled in a feud with follow X Division pioneer Amazing Red which would eventually led to Kash's valet, Stephanie Trinity getting more involved following a backstage interview where Kash took offence to Red challenging her to a match because in Kash's own words "She's A Girl" and those words visibly got under Trinity's skin.
Following events like Kid Kash losing the X Division title to Red thanks to the interference of a mystery masked luchadore (who would later be revealed to be Trinity), an on-air segment where Kid Kash assaults both Trinity and Goldy Locks right after making some misogynistic comments and the involvement/rescue of second generation wrestler Erik Watts, a match was set on the June 11th 2004 edition of NWA TNA where Kid Kash was set to face Erik Watts, Goldy and Trinity in 3-on-1 intergender handicap match.
Before the match, backstage interviewer Scott Hudson asked the trio or Goldy, Trinity and Watts about their game plan going into this match when suddenly a large man wear a black mask, a large blue shirt and uncombed hair assaults Watts and takes him out of action, making it impossible for him to compete.
Regardless, the match went on but with Trinity and Goldy Locks (Most Trinity) taking on the arrogant former X Division Champion.
In the final moments of this match the same large man would come out and attack both ladies with Trinity getting a blackhole slam (even though the move wasn't called that yet) which allowed Kash to win.
It was later revealed that this big man's name was 'Abyss' and he was Kid Kash's new enforcer...what followed was one of the most decorated and blood soaked careers in the history of TNA Wrestling.
7. Making A Good First Impression
Samoa Joe's career is legendary to say the least as his wrestled some the best to ever step foot inside a wrestling ring between his time in WWE, Ring Of Honor and TNA/Impact but it's his debut in TNA that is particularly special.
Samoa Joe made his debut at the inaugural Slammiversary event in 2005, just five days after signing his contract with TNA; Joe was pitted against "The Guru" Sonjay Dutt in his very first match and while Samoa Joe had the size and strength advantage over Sonjay, it wasn't going to be an easy task for the Samoan Submission Machine.
Both Dutt and Joe would put on an impressive performance in this match but unsurprisingly it was Samoa who came out with the victory after hitting the 'Muscle Buster' before immediately turning to his Coquina Clutch submission hold to finish the job.
Joe's time in TNA/Impact would have it's ups and down over the years but his work in the mid to late 2000's were his best from five star match with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels to his impressive 18 month unbeaten streak to his feud with the Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle.
6. The Birth Of The Charismatic Enigma
After being released from the WWE and wrestling in the indies and Ring Of Honor for a brief period, many wondered what would be next for Jeff Hardy and sure enough the wrestling world would get their answer.
On Episode 100 of the NWA TNA, AJ Styles was slated to defend his X Division Championship against his rival at the time Kid Kash, However due to an injury that Kash had suffered, the match was changed to Styles defending his belt against a mystery opponent which added a lot more intrigue to the match.
When the time came for the mystery opponent to be revealed, most of the lights went dark as the sound of drumbeats and a heavy rock song began to play in the arena; Suddenly the words " See U In The Future" were shown on the screen before Jeff Hardy's name appeared on the same screen immediately afterwards.
As the lights began to come back on you can see Hardy waiting on the entrance ramp for the lyrics to his song "Modest" to play before he walked down to the ring and embraced the applauses from the crowd who were cheering like crazy for the appearance of the newly nicknamed "Charismatic Enigma" all while the commentary team called Hardy 'One of the Biggest Free Agents' and 'One of the Hottest Commodities in Pro Wrestling' at the time.
The match itself lasted roughly 6 minutes until it was ruled a no contest but in terms of crowd reaction the fans were more invested in seeing Jeff Hardy inside a TNA ring staring face-to-face with the phenomenal one.
Much like his time in the WWE, Hardy would go on to experience some highs and lows during his two runs in TNA but he would also wrestled some incredible matches with names like Austin Aries, Abyss, Bobby Roode and even his brother Matt while also winning the tag team titles and world heavyweight championship from 2011-16.
5. Cheers To The Mafia!
One of most recognizable factions in company history, The Main Event Mafia is still seen as one of the greatest stables in modern wrestling history and the formation of this group can be traced down to one thing: Respect.
It all began at Turning Point 2007, when a six person tag team match between Kurt Angle, Tomko and AJ Styles vs. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Samoa Joe was set to take place, however Scott Hall no showed the event which led to Samoa Joe cutting an absolutely savage shoot promo of "The Bad Guy" whilst taking aim at other former WWE superstars like Kurt Angle and even his own partner Nash.
At Victory Road 2008, Booker T (who had turned heel a month earlier) wasn't so successful his main event world title match with Samoa Joe as the Samoan Submission Machine was ruthless in his assault on the five time WCW champion as Booker could be seen bleeding while his wife Sharmell is begging Joe to stop the onslaught.
This would led to the return of "The Icon" Sting who came out to confront Joe for his actions until Joe defiantly gave Sting the middle finger which led to Sting assaulting Joe with a baseball bat.
In the months to follow, Sting would reveal that his reasons for his sudden change in attitude is simply due to the fact that the young wrestlers like AJ Styles and Samoa Joe weren't showing respect to legends like himself. This paved the way for that year's Bound For Glory main event where Sting would defeat Samoa Joe to become the TNA World Champion after a baseball bat shot to the back at the hands of Kevin Nash, who did it because of the comments made by Joe at the previously mentioned Turning Point PPV.
On the October 23rd 2008 edition of Impact backstage interviewer, Jeremy Borash went into the locker room to find Kurt, Booker, Sharmell and Nash decked out in fancy clothes as Sting emerged to explain his reasoning for this association before the group proposed a toast to newly formed 'Main Event Mafia'.
The group would be completed later that same year when a returning Scott Steiner entered the ring and attacked a number of TNA Originals with a lead pipe.
4. A Show Of Dominance
The seeds for a women's division in TNA was always there but in 2007 the company decided to make it happen by creating the Knockout Division and at Bound For Glory a match would be made to determine the first ever TNA Knockouts Champion with five established wrestlers and five new comers taking part in the match.
One of these newcomers was a six foot one 200 plus pounds monster from Japan known today as Awesome Kong and on October 11th 2007, she took on Gail Kim in a match surrounded by the ladies who would also take part in the up-and-coming pay per view.
Despite her efforts to fight back against this dread locked colossus from Japan, Gail Kim was no match for Awesome Kong (then known as Amazing Kong) and the super heavyweight would destroy her opponent with a ring rattling powerbomb which left the fans, the commentators and the ladies at ringside in shock.
Kong's debut match plus Gail Kim's victory at BFG to become the first ever Knockouts Champion would mark the begins of a rivalry that would go on to revolutionize not just a division but an industry.
3. The Instant Classic Is In The Impact Zone
The mid 2000's was a golden age for TNA Wrestling as the company was producing great matches and doing great business in general with many wrestlers taking notice including Christian Cage.
While today names like EC3 and Jon Moxley are the best examples of underutilized stars becoming majorly successful after leaving the WWE, in 2005 Christian Cage was the postal children of the very same trope.
Realizing that the WWE would never let him reach his full potential as a main event star or a world champion, Christian left the WWE and soon rumors began to spread that he would joining TNA in the foreseeable future. At the Genesis 2005 pay per view the rumors were confirmed as Christian would make his debut and do what a lot of ex WWE stars do and that's cutting a promo on Vinnie Mac's company.
Throughout the promo Christian mentions that it's his destiny to become the NWA World Champion as numerous wrestlers in the back can be seen talking and contemplating on what Cage's arrival in TNA may mean in the grand scheme of things.
During his debut, Coach Scott D'Amore of Team Canada tried to convince Christian to be a part of his group of Canadian wrestlers to which Cage actually considered but it didn't take long for him to decide because later on in the night following the main event of AMW and Double J vs. Rhino and Team 3D, Christian came out with a steel chair and confronted both Coach D'Amore and Jarrett only to reveal that underneath Cage's jacket was the Team Canada shirt that D'Amore gave him early.
But just when it looked like things were going good for the heels 'The Instant Classic' surprised them with Christian hitting the Killswitch on Coach D'Amore and helping Team 3D put Jeff Jarrett through a table.
This would ultimately led to a three year run within the company with Christian being one of the leading faces during the company's boom period.
2. The Arrival Of The Demon Assassin
Whether you know her as the Queen of the Hive or the Demon Assassin, Rosemary has become one of the most terrifying but at the same time most intriguing characters in Impact wrestling so it's only natural that her debut to the company would be just the same.
On the January 18th 2016 episode of Impact, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards were attacked by the unusual duo of "The Monster" Abyss and Crazzy Steve during a backstage promo; The next week both members of The Wolves (Eddie and Davey) decided to call out their attackers in hope of settling their issues inside the ring.
Suddenly, the lights went out but when they started to come back on an unknown face painted woman coming out to Marilyn Manson's song "The Nobodies" began talking in riddles which befuddled the fans, Eddie and Davey and even commentator Josh Matthews.
After she had finished, Crazzy Steve and Abyss would make their way to the entrance ramp to accompany this unknown lady and soon a match between The Wolves and Abyss and Steve was underway however it ended in a DQ finish after Crazzy Steve and Rosemary spit red and green mist into the eye of Davey Richards and assaulted him outside of the ring.
The trio would then steal The Wolves tag team titles and weeks later the name of the mysterious woman would be revealed to be 'Rosemary' while the trio would be known as 'Decay'.
The group went on to become one of the best factions in recent company history while Rosemary would create a career for herself in Impact winning by the Knockouts championship, forming a friendship with Allie and Taya Valkyrie and having a number of great matches.
1. The Headbutt Heard Around The World
After leaving the WWE over his issues with his health and addiction, Angle signed with TNA and in the final moments of TNA's No Surrender pay per view in 2006, a quick video package is aired with narrator Barry Scott calling a shadowy figure training in the middle of the six sided ring as 'Arguably One of the Greatest Wrestlers in the Industry Today' before it's revealed that this figure was none other than Kurt Angle who concludes the video by saying "It's Real...It's Damn Real!!!".
The crowd erupts with cheers and applause over the announcement with many seeing this as the best free agent signing in company history.
On the October 12th 2006 episode of Impact, Samoa Joe (who was in possession of Jeff Jarrett's NWA World Championship) was asked to return the belt but he refused as his demands of getting a title shot against the winner of that year's Bound For Glory main event were denied.
Soon afterwards, the lights went out in the building when suddenly Kurt's theme music began to play as he emerges from the floor with pyro shooting in the background.
Kurt then stands toe-to-toe with Samoa Joe before hit an earth shattering headbutt onto the Samoan Submission Machine before hitting him the Angle slam to the excitement of the fans in attendance. The two men would brawl throughout much of the arena before security tries to breaks them up with both looking intensely at each other.
The result of all of this: a ten year run within the promotion complete with more than a dozen championship wins, a hall of fame induction, the formation of the Main Event Mafia, legendary feuds and tremendous matches that have stood the test of time...So it's not an understatement to say that Kurt Angle's debut is easily one of the best in TNA Wrestling History.
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