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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Top Ten Rookie Years
August 12, 2004 by Dan Wilson


Nothing in the wrestling business can establish a fresh, young star better than an amazing rookie year. This rookie year could be the wrestlers first year in a company (as long as they aren't a superstar already) or it could mean it's their first year in the business, period. These are the Top Ten Rookie Years for wrestlers, in my impeccable opinion.

1. Brock Lesnar Brock Lesnar debuted in the WWF in May of 2002 and right from the get-go, Lesnar was proclaimed to be "The Next Best Thing". Lesnar defeated all opposition, which ranged from Jeff Hardy to Rob Van Dam and he didn't stop there. At Summerslam 2002, Lesnar defeated the Rock to become the WWF World Champion and he continued to win. Lesnar defeated the likes of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker, before finally suffering a loss to the Big Show at Survivor Series 2002.

2. Bill Goldberg Bill Goldberg debuted in September of 1997 by squashing Hugh Morrus on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Goldberg then tore through the same set of opponents for half a year without a loss. WCW then had Goldberg capture the U.S. Title from Raven and later the World Title from Hollywood Hogan, while still holding the U.S. Title. Goldberg would finish his rookie year with his winning streak still intact. In fact Goldberg wouldn't lose a match until WCW Starrcade 1998, 15 months after his debut.

3. Kurt Angle Kurt Angle debuted in the WWF at Survivor Series 1999, with a predictable defeat over Shawn Stasiak. Angle then went on a winning streak ended at Royal Rumble 2000 by the debuting Taz. Angle would continue to roll on and win the WWF European and Intercontinental Titles before his King of the Ring victory during the 2000 tournament. Angle would cap off his tremendous rookie year with a WWF World Title victory over the Rock just 11 months into his WWF career at No Mercy 2000.

4. Yokozuna Yokozuna debuted in the WWF in late 1992 and quickly racked up a series of wins and a winning streak (you see a common thread beginning to form here"). At the 1993 Royal Rumble, Yokozuna was dominant in the Royal Rumble match and emerged victorious, last eliminating Randy Savage. Yokozuna would then go on to Wrestle Mania 9 where he would defeat Bret Hart for the World Title. Although he would lose that title minutes later to Hulk Hogan, he'd regain it at King of the Ring 1993 and would hold on to it until Wrestle Mania 10, where Bret Hart would defeat him.

5. Kane The "Big Red Machine" debuted at WWF Badd Blood 97' (the original Badd Blood pay per view), by interjecting himself into the Shawn Michaels-Undertaker match. After destroying his older brother, the Undertaker, Kane went on to destroy much of the WWF roster in random attacks. At King of the Ring 1998, Kane defeated Steve Austin in a First Blood Match for the WWF World Title, only to lose it back to Austin the next night. Kane however, continued to destroy his opposition relentlessly and still does to a degree.

6. Raven Quite possibly, the greatest character to ever be created in the wrestling biz (with Steve Austin fighting for the lead), Raven, debuted in ECW in 1995. A demented and tortured character, Raven was in ECW to make his childhood friend, Tommy Dreamer's life, a living hell. While tormenting Dreamer, Raven also ruined the life of the Sandman and also captured his ECW World Title. Raven and Dreamer's feud would last throughout Raven's stint in ECW and would only end in the spring of 1997 when Raven would leave ECW for WCW.

7. Diesel Diesel debuted in the WWF in late 1993 as Shawn Michaels bodyguard. Together with Michaels, he feuded with Razor Ramon over the Intercontinental Title. All three men held the gold during this feud. Diesel and Michaels would then win the Tag Team Titles before splitting up and relinquishing the championships. Just days after his split from Michaels and subsequent heel turn, Diesel defeated then World Champion Bob Backlund in just 8 seconds to win the title, capping off a very successful rookie year.

8. Rhino The "Rookie Monster" Rhino debuted in ECW in 1999 along side Steve Corino and the rest of his alliance, dubbed the "Network". Rhino defeated many opponents and gored his way to many victories. Rhino would later become the ECW Television Champion and would continue his roll of victories. Casualties to the man-beast included, Tajiri, Super Crazy and the Sandman. Soon after his rookie year ended, Rhino would win the ECW World Title from the Sandman at Massacre on 34th St. in December of 2000.

9. Rocky Maivia Rocky Maivia debuted at the 1996 Survivor Series (including an appearance on a Raw before the annual spectacular), where he won his match at 4-1 odds. Although pushed as a face but hated by the fans for most of his rookie year, Maivia was still successful. He won the WWF Intercontinental Title just 3 months into his WWF career. After returning from an injury in the summer of 1997, the Rock turned heel to join the Nation of Domination and gave wrestling fans everywhere a taste of what was to come from the superstar in the future.

10. The Giant The Giant debuted in WCW in the summer of 1995. He began to haunt then WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan (as he was said to be the son of Andre the Giant, out for revenge for his fallen father). With the help of Hogan's manager Jimmy Hart and a band of other ghouls, the Giant defeated Hogan at Hallowe'en Havoc 95' to win the World Title. The title would be taken away from the Giant because of how he won it, although the Giant would later win the title anyway and would hold onto it until Hollywood Hogan and the NWO came knockin' and took the title back.

Well, that's the list. Many other wrestlers had outstanding rookie years but I can only fit the top ten, in my mind, into every list. A lot of big name wrestlers made this list and you have to wonder who will be the next wrestler to enter on a huge winning streak. Feedback is always welcomed and is greatly appreciated. Until next time...

by Dan Wilson..


Eric Jenkins wrote:
Just to Clarify your data - seven or your top ten rookie years are factually incorrect. Yokozuna debuted in 1984 in the AWA as Kokina Maximus. Glen Jacobs (Kane) debuted in 1993 as Unibomb in Smoky Mountain Wrestling and was a tag team championship partner of Al Snow. Then he posed as Isaac Yankum, DDS and the fake Diesel in the WWF before donning the red & black of Kane. Raven was Scott Anthony, the Palm Beach Heartthrob in Global Wrestling in 1988. Kevin Nash first showed up in 1990 in WCW as OZ, dressed in green with a turban & green smoke. Rhino, formerly Rhino Richards, started in Canada in 1994 before going to ECW. The Rock wrestled as Flex Kavana, working for Jerry Lawler in Tennessee in the USWA in 1995 before becoming Rocky Maivia in the WWF, and finally Brock Lesnar spent two years in OVW with Shelton Benjamin, Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena before becoming the Next Big Thing. I am not trying to embarrass you, just pres enting the facts.
XtremeFalls wrote:
Lenser Rookie year wasn't that great, becasue he lost the title in 4 months, and so was Goldberg both of them were so much EGO pushed but i did like Yokozuna up there that was a great prick so was kane, everyone but ROck i agree with after Lesnar and Goldberg
Joe Joe wrote:
No love for AJ Styles" Wassup wit dat"!" The man carried the X division and NWA TNA. He won the X title twice, tag titles, and the NWA World title.
wrote:

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