Then & Now: WWE Wrestler's First Appearances
The current superstars of the WWE Universe all had to come from somewhere. While many of them have their characters crafted and molded in the developmental system known as NXT, many of these wrestlers have appeared in WWE before as someone completely different. It could have been a trial match or creative trying something that didn't work. Here's some of WWE's current superstars during their first appearances in the company.
Then: Jon Moxley
Dean Ambrose made his debut as Jon Moxley on WWE Velocity back in 2006. It would be five years before he would return to the WWE.
Now: Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose, once a member of The Shield, is now a solo act with his own segment, "Ambrose Asylum." It features a potted plant, which was recently smashed.
Then: Husky Harris
Bray Wyatt, the third generation superstar, made his debut when NXT was a contest, teaming up rookies with well-established characters. Harris didn't make it to the finals, in 2010, but he did return in late 2010 to WWE television as a member of Nexus.
Now: Bray Wyatt
After being repackaged in NXT as Bray Wyatt, he and the Wyatt Family took the WWE by storm in July 2012. His backwoods, cultish gimmick has won over fans and creeped out children for four years.
Then: Mike Unabomb/Isaac Yankem, DDS/Fake Diesel
Kane started in 1995 as Mike Unabomb, who spent most of the time in dark matches for Raw. He was quickly repackaged as Jerry Lawler's dentist-turned-wrestler, Isaac Yankem. Afterwards, he was repackaged as "Diesel," after the real Diesel left for WCW.
Sometimes he's in a business suit, sans mask as "Corporate Kane," but currently, Kane still wanders around the WWE, chokeslamming anyone that gets in his way. He's still going after 20 active years in the WWE, which is pretty crazy when you consider the fact he's Undertaker's brother who supposedly died in a fire.
Back in 2000, K-Kwik made his debut, helping out Road Dogg, whom he later teamed with.
After a run at TNA, R-Truth came back to the WWE in 2008 and has become known for some of his more ridiculous, comedic antics. This includes entering the 2016 Royal Rumble by grabbing a ladder, setting it up in the ring, climbing it, and quickly realizing there's nothing hanging above the ring.
Then: Dustin Rhodes
Although Dustin Rhodes and his father, Dusty Rhodes, had a quick stint in WCW, under his birth name Dustin Runnels, Rhodes got his start in WWE back in 1990 as his father's tag partner. They had a notable match against the Million Dollar Man & Virgil at the Royal Rumble in 1991.
Always bizarre and always interesting, Goldust has been a staple at WWE since 1995. Although he's on-again, off-again with the company, Goldust's character has provided some incredibly entertaining and weird stories at the company.
Then: Kerwin White's Caddy/Nicky from Spirit Squad
Back in 2005, Chavo Guerrero Jr became middle-class golfer, Kerwin White. His caddy was involved in a couple of matches. However, the caddy was repackaged as Nicky in the Spirit Squad, an all-male cheerleader stable that ended up winning the tag team championship.
Now: Dolph Ziggler
In 2008, "Nicky" was repackaged as the show-off, Dolph Ziggler, which fans around the world consider to be one of the hardest working and most underutilized wrestlers on the roster.
Then: Xavier Woods
Xavier Woods made his debut in 2013 as R-Truth's tag partner. From there, he feuded with Brodus Clay after Woods used his entrance music and dancing valets.
Now: Xavier Woods
Although his name stayed the same, his character couldn't be any more different. Woods is now part of the stable "New Day," where Xavier spends most of the time trash talking opponents and playing his trombone, dubbed "Francesca II" (RIP Francesca). The group wore Dragonball-themed outfits for Wrestlemania and Woods once played the Final Fantasy victory music on trombone during a match.
Then: The Prototype
The Prototype made his debut in a Smackdown dark match back in 2000. He later became billed as "John Cena" in 2002, taking on Kurt Angle. Cena was known for his "Ruthless Aggression" in the ring, along with having Marilyn Manson as his entrance music.
Now: John Cena
Now, after a whole rapping gimmick, John Cena is a face known for the words "hustle, loyalty, and respect" as well as his contributions to numerous charities. Much like Xavier Woods, while his name remains the same, the character couldn't be any more different. He's one of the most polarizing characters in the company, which you can notice during his matches, when half the crowd chants "Let's go Cena" while the other half chants "Cena sucks."
Then: Impostor Kane
After the real Kane removed his mask, shaved his head, and slipped on some blue contact lenses, Impostor Kane showed up in the real Kane's old attire. Who was the real Kane? Spoiler: It was the guy with the shaved head, as the feud ended quickly, with Impostor Kane's mask getting ripped off by the real Kane.
Now: Luke Gallows
Luke Gallows is back, but he isn't stealing anyone else's gimmick. He's followed AJ Styles from Japan, with his tag partner Karl Anderson and the three of them are The
Then: Air Styles
Back in 2001, Air Styles was part of a high-risk tag team called "Air Raid." In 2002, he had a brief tenure at WWE before heading off to TNA and Japan.
Now: AJ Styles
In 2016's Royal Rumble, AJ Styles came out to a sea of ovation from fans, as Styles had become a worldwide icon while wrestling in Japan. Currently, Styles is teamed up with Bullet Club members Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, taking on Roman Reigns and his cousins, The Usos.
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