This year, at WrestleMania XXIX, WWE is doing something they've never done before, debuting two new wrestlers in the ring on the grandest stage of them all. Yes, I know that both Fandango and Big E Langston have been with the WWE for quite a while, but neither of them have actually wrestled a televised match on any of the regularly aired shows (RAW, Smackdown, Main Event, Slam!), as the character they are right now. Also, neither are announcers, or stars from another genre of media – Snooki, Mayweather, etc.
I think it's huge that the WWE isn't just debuting one wrestler on the grandest stage of them all, but two. As far as I've been able to tell there's only been two other wrestlers who have had their debut match at WrestleMania, and neither of them have been stellar performances. Further, neither of them amounted to much in the WWE.
Going on the criteria I listed above, Santina falls into this category. April 5, 2009 Santina debuted in a 25 Diva Battle Royal and won the match to earn the Title of Miss WrestleMania. Sadly she stuck around for a while to defend, lose and win back the Miss WrestleMania Title, but on the June 22 RAW, Trump fired her. That was the end of the Miss WrestleMania Title, and Santina – I hope!
On April 4, 1993 Giant Gonzalez debuted at WrestleMania against Taker. Taker won the match via DQ when GG chloroformed him. While it is true that GG appeared the Royal Rumble previously and cost Taker the match, GG wasn't officially in the Royal Rumble Match. He spent some time in WCW before making the jump to the WWF in 1993 and started as a heel being managed by Harvey Wippleman. Taker was Wippleman's great foe, so it made sense for GG to feud with him, but after his loss at WrestleMania, and then his big loss at SummerSlam, things looked bleak and GG turned on Wippleman. GG lasted all of nine months in the WWF before he was released from his contract. For more informative reading on Giant Gonzales, check out Jesse's article on his short WWF career.
Those are the two characters that I could find that debuted at WrestleMania who fit into the criteria above, and I'm sure both Big E and Fandango hope that their careers don't follow the path of Santina and GG. If both Fandango and Big E are huge successes at and after WrestleMania, they will only be giving future wrestlers a 50/50 chance of not failing miserably when they, whoever the mysterious 'they' might be, debut at WrestleMania.
From everything I've seen and heard, both Fandango and Big E are really strong in the ring, and as characters, so I'm expecting a lot from them. The problem is that so is everyone else. Throwing them into the deep end on their first match makes it sink or swim for both of them. Hopefully their nerves won't get to them, but considering who they're in the ring with, I don't think they could be in better hands.
Fandango knows how to work the ring, and he has his character down pat. He needs to remember to breathe, relax and go with it. Being in the ring with Jericho could easily make his career in one night, the biggest match of his life on the grandest stage of them all. Jericho is a pro day in and day out, but when it comes to the big PPV matches, especially at WrestleMania, Jericho is spectacular. That could be big for Fandango because Jericho can help Fandango pick up any pieces of his nerves and make the match fantastic.
Big E Langston has even more of a chance to come out looking strong in his debut because there's less of an opportunity for him to fall on his face. Being in a tag match there's three others who are there to pick up the slack. While it's true that one botch would be glaringly obvious, there will be many other things going on in this match to mask any minor issues. Honestly, I don't expect to see Big E in the match much other than the end, but hopefully he'll be in the ring enough to really prove himself.
Debuting at WrestleMania has to be one of the most terrifying things for a wrestler to face. It's the biggest night of the year in the wrestling world, and every little move will be scrutinized that much more closely. I know that both Big E and Fandango have what it takes to make it in the WWE, if they didn't they wouldn't be debuting in the ring at WrestleMania, but we all know that the WWE 'Universe' is a fickle bunch, and the littlest thing can set us off. Further, everyone watching at home will take their cues from those who are live at the event, and how they react to each of these men in the ring. Their entire careers are resting on one match, but unlike Santina and Giant Gonzales, they have a solid base to work from. Who knows, WrestleMania could be the start of a new streak for one of them! No, I don't see that happening.
Queen of WNW