First Impressions; Rankings (That Don’t Really Matter)

First impressions…

          There are many reason to love the pomp and circumstance world of professional wrestling, but perhaps none more simply fun as The Debut; that moment when a performer shows up, makes their mark, and leaves the fans talking. There have been several great debuts in WWE history and thanks to the power of the Internet you can view all of them. (Though why do none of the “Best of…” You Tube clips include Nailz’ debut?!?!) A debut can come out of nowhere or it can be something that fans are waiting for with baited breath, but the bottom line is that that a great debut brings with it a fresh energy and taps into our basic human desire to be noticed, feared, and acknowledged upon entering a room. (OK, I think that is just a trait exhibited by wrestling fans.) At Extreme Rules, on May 1st, 2011, we had one of the more anticipated and well-executed debut’s in a long time when Kharma (formerly Awesome Kong) finally cackled and glared her way through her WWE debut.

And it was a home run.  

When the news broke that the former TNA star had signed a deal with the WWE the general thought was that everything that was Kong, everything that had made her an interesting and believable monster champion among the barbie dolls, would be summarily erased and repackaged by the WWE machine. The territories are dead after all, so the age of wrestlers showing up in Stamford, Connecticut as is and ready to go are over. Kevin Kelly recently mused here on WrestleZone that CM Punk is the last of this kind. The last to make a name for himself outside the walls of the WWE compound and keep his essence upon entering. Kelly is absolutely right and since Awesome Kong is no longer called Awesome(or Amazing) Kong you can’t escape the truth that we are forever in the new age of creating Superstars and Divas. However, something more than a little surprising has happened. Kharma is Kong. Kong is Kharma.

Oh, sure they cleaned her up a bit. (Do Monster Heels need lipstick?) They added a jacket with some Hitman-like epaulettes. They’ve told her to cackle, stop suddenly, and glare. Then repeat. But the person that started ripping heads off dolls in teaser videos and then showed up to send Michelle McCool back into The Undertaker’s kitchen was the very person the wrestling world wanted to see. She didn’t come out as Bertha Faye the Second. She didn’t come out in a tiara and call herself the Princess of Pain. She came out as a finely tuned, focused version of the talented worker that developed a following in TNA. And that has to be a testament to the woman herself. If you show up on Team Vince’s doorstep and all they say is, “We’re given you some music and what kind of eye shadow do you like?” then you have done something right.

The debut itself was well-timed and nothing short of gripping. A lot of kudos has to go to Michelle McCool for helping the impact (no TNA pun intended) really be felt. When that music hit and that cackle rang out through the arena, McCool sold it so well– with those tears and begging pleas of “please, no, don’t”– that the segment seemed less like a pro wrestler’s debut and more like a scene from an epic science fiction movie. The fear seemed palpable and transcended the TV screen. The slower pacing actually helped take the moment to the next level as the anticipation of a forthcoming destruction is often worse than the destruction itself. And with each slow stomp of walk the anticipation built and built until you just couldn’t wait for the moment. You can without question put this debut right up there with some of the great ones of the past. She didn’t come up through the bottom of the ring during a cage match. There wasn’t a countdown clock and a ten-minute promo. And she didn’t crack herself out of an over-sized egg and taunt Mean Gene Okerlund. She just came out and gave you exactly what you wanted.

Welcome to the big stage, Kharma.