New Talent in WWE (2001-2012)

I took a stab at looking at how much New Talent was brought up to major TV each year using a database of results from RAW, Smackdown, PPV and ECW. (If someone is on house shows, that doesn't really count as being introduced to the audience at large.) This doesn't include NXT, Main Event, Sunday Night Heat, or other B-shows.

First year that people had 5+ matches
(Sometimes, people debuted in the prior year, or even years earlier - but didn't have many matches that year.)

New Talent: 18 people
WCW: Billy Kidman, Booker T, Chris Kanyon, Chuck Palumbo, Diamond Dallas Page, Hurricane Helms, Lance Storm, Mike Awesome, Sean O'Haire, Shawn Stasiak, Stacy Keibler, Torrie Wilson
ECW: Rhyno, Rob Van Dam, Spike Dudley, Tajiri
Returning to WWE: Haku (WCW), Justin Credible (ECW)

(Others who came aboard but aren't counted because they had less than 5 RAW/Smackdown/PPV matches: Tommy Dreamer, Maven, Jazz, Mark Jindrak, Bill DeMott, Teddy Long, Jerry Lynn, Nick Patrick, Sara Undertaker, Kronik, Buff Bagwell)

New Talent: 18 people
Developmental: Batista, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Nidia, Randy Orton, Jamal & Rosey, Victoria, Rico
Tough Enough: Chris Nowinski, Maven
ECW: Dawn Marie, Jazz, Tommy Dreamer
WCW: Chavo Guerrero Jr, Jamie Noble, Rey Mysterio Jr, Shannon Moore

Others Returning to WWE: Goldust (WCW), Hulk Hogan (WCW), Kevin Nash (WCW), Mr Perfect (WCW), Ric Flair (WCW), Scott Hall (WCW)
Returns from inactivity: Big Bossman, D-Lo Brown, Mark Henry

(Others that came abroad with less than 5 matches and werne't counted above: Nunzio, Johnny Stamboli, Jackie Gayda, Jim Ross as a wrestler, Paul Heyman, Shaniqua, Lillian Garcia in a wrestling match, Howard Finkel in a wrestling match, David Flair)

New Talent: 22 people
New: Brian Kendrick, Charlie Haas, Danny Basham, Doug Basham, Gail Kim, Garrison Cade, Matt Morgan, Nathan Jones, Zach Gowen, Orlando Jordan, Rene Dupree, Rob Conway, Rodney Mack, Shelton Benjamin, Sylvian Grenier
WCW: Bill DeMott, Bill Goldberg, Eric Bischoff, Johnny Stamboli, Mark Jindrak, Ultimo Dragon
ECW: Nunzio

Others Returing to WWE: Sable, Scott Steiner, Shawn Michaels
Returns from less activity: Sho Funaki, Jerry Lawler, Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon, Steph McMachon

(Others that came aboard with less than 5 matches and weren't counted above: The Miz, Big Daddy V's return, Grandmaster Sexay's return, Matt Striker, Mordecai, Simon Dean, Christy Hemme, Caylen Croft & Brent Alrbright as jobbers, Gangrel's return, Jesus as a new wrestler, the lovely Hiroku, Daniel Puder, Josh matthews, Ernest Miller, playmate Carmella, Matt Cappotelli)

New Talent: 11 people
Returning to WWE: Chavo Guerrero Sr.
WCW: Akio
New: Carlito, Eugene, Gene Snitsky, Jackie Gayda, Kenzo Suzuki, Luther Reigns, Paul London, Sakoda, Tyson Tomko

Returning from injury: Hardcore Holly, Scotty 2 Hotty
Announcer: Jonathan Coachman

Others with less than 5 matches: DEAN VISK

New Talent: 21 people
New: Heartthrobs (Antonio & Romeo), Ashley, Bobby Lashley, Candice Michelle, Chris Masters, Christy Hemme, Daivari, John Heidenreich, John Morrison, Ken Kennedy, Melina, Mickie James, Muhammad Hassan, Paul Burchill, Trevor Murdoch
ECW: Super Crazy, Joey Mercury, Simon Dean
WCW: Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis

Had less than 5 matches: Chad & James Dick (Tolands), Sharmell started "wrestling"
Return to WWE: Bob Orton Jr, Road Warrior Animal, Big Daddy V, Hulk Hogan, Matt Morgan, Blue Meanie returned
One Off's: Kamala, Akebono, Masato Tanaka

New Talent: 34 people
WCW/ECW: Balls Mahoney, Kid Kash, Finlay, Dave Taylor, Sandman, Tony Mamaluke, Sabu, Big Vito
New: Great Khali, Boogeyman, Brent Albright, CM Punk, Aaron Stephens (Damien Sandow), Elijah Burke, James Curtis, Jillian Hall, Spirit Squad (Kenny, Nicky, Johnny, Mikey, Mitch), Kevin Fertig, Kristal, Maria, Matt Striker, Michelle McCool, Mike Knox, Mike Mizanin, Gymini (Mike Shane & Todd Shane), MVP, Rory & Robbie McAllister, Sylvester Terkay

Return to WWE: Tatanka, Jim Duggan
Others: Jeff Hardy, Test, Umaga, Tommy Dreamer, Brian Kendrick, Shannon Moore, Jerry Lawler, Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon, Justin Credible (last seen 2001), Mick Foley, Dusty Rhodes
Joined with less than 5 matches: Ariel, former ECW wrestler Danny Doring, former ECW wrestler ROADKILL
One Off: ECW's Francine

New Talent: 15 people
TNA: Marcus Cor Von
New: Beth Phoenix, Cody Rhodes, Curt Hawkins, Domino, Hornswoggle, JTG, Kelly Kelly, Layla, Luke Gallows, Ray Gordy, Santino Marella, Shad Gaspard, Sim Snuka, Zack Ryder

Returning: Chuck Palumbo, Stevie Richards (last seen on major TV in 2003), Jonathan Coachman
Others with less than 5 matches: Little Boogeyman, Runjin Singh "wrestled" instead of wrote, Wes Adams (became ref, screwed up, got fired), 
One Offs: Kevin Federline, John Cena's Dad, Christian York, IRS

New Talent: 18 people
Armando Estrada, Bam Neely, Bella Twins, Cherry, Colin Delaney, Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger, Katie Lea, Kofi Kingston, Manu, Maryse, Natalya Neidhart, Primo Colon, Ricky Ortiz, Ryan Braddock, Ted Dibiase Jr, Vladimir Kozlov

New People with less than 5 matches: DJ Gabriel, Scotty Goldman (Colt Cabana), Braden Walker (Chris Harris), Lena, Tony DeVito (as Macho Libre)

Returning: Chris Jericho, Ron Killings (last seen 2001), D-Lo Brown (last seen 2003), Tony Atlas (laughing madman), 
One offs: Honky Tonk Man, NIKOLAI VOLKOFF, Jimmy Kimmell's Cousin Sal, Barry Windham

New Talent: 11 people
New Talent: Alicia Fox, David Hart Smith, Drew McIntyre, Eric Escobar, Eve, Ezekiel Jackson, Rosa Mendes, Sheamus, Tyson Kidd, Vance Archer, Yoshi Tatsu

Returning: Christian, Dolph Ziggler (no more Nicky!), Hurricane Helms, Chris Masters, Goldust, Gail Kim, Shane McMahon, The Boogeyman, Ricky Steamboat was back in action
Others with less than 5 matches: , KIZARNY
One Offs: Maria Menounos

New Talent: 19 people
New Talent: Alberto Del Rio, Alex Riley, Caylen Croft, Daniel Bryan, Darren Young, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso, Justin Gabriel, Kaval, Michael McGillicutty, Michael Tarver, Ryback, Tamina, Tiffany, Trent Barreta, Tyler Reks, Wade Barrett

Returning to WWE: Bret Hart, Curt Hawkins
New People with less than 5 matches: Husky Harris

Became Active Wrestler: Vickie Guerrero
Others with less than 5 matches: Serena, Lucky Cannon 


New Talent: 8 people
New: AJ, Brodus Clay, Epico, Hunico, Jinder Mahal, Kaitlyn, Mason Ryan, Sin Cara
Became Active Wrestler: Michael Cole

Returning: Jerry Lawler

New Talent: 4 people
New: Aksana, Antonio Cesaro, Ricardo Rodriguez, Titus O'Neil

Returning: Chris Jericho, Tensai, Primo, Damien Sandow, The Ryback, Hornswoggle, Darren Young, Curt Hawkins, Yoshi Tatsu, Tyler Reks
Others that joined with less than 5 matches: Camacho, Brad Maddox, Derrick Bateman, Maxine
Became Active: John Laurinatis

One Off's: Pyscho Sid, Vader

New People: 8ish
New: The Shield, Fandango

Other new people that will likely have 5+ matches this year: Naomi, Cameron, Big E Langston, Zeb Coulter, maybe Bo Dallas.

Also Returning to WWE TV: Billy Gunn & Road Dogg

What drove some of this?

• March 2001: WCW closes down and quickly WWF purchases the company for around $7 million
• April 2001: Extreme Championship Wrestling collapses under financial burdens; WWF eventually purchases the assets in 2003
• June 2001: WWF ends relationship with MCW (Memphis Championship Wrestling) and reassigns the developmental wrestlers to Ohio’s HWA

• March 2002: WWF embarks on “brand extension” separating the roster into RAW and Smackdown! wrestlers for their two flagship television programs
• July 2002: WWF ceases relationship with Cincinnati’s HWA (Heartland Wrestling Association) and moves remaining developmental talent to OVW

• June 2004: John Laurinaitis assumes mantel of WWE's Vice President, Talent Relations (taking over for Jim Ross)

• Sept 2005: New WWE Developmental Territory Deep South Wrestling is established in GA

• June 2006: WWE revives the ECW brand as a new weekly show on Sci Fi
• August 2006: Kurt Angle is granted a release from WWE; debuts with TNA in October ‘06

• April 2007: WWE ends the two-year relationship with developmental territory DSW in McDonough, GA
• May 2007: WWE promotes Stephanie McMahon Levesque to Executive Vice President, Talent and Creative Writing (overseeing creative writing process for all TV and PPVs while and managing the talent relations department.)
• June 2007: WWE establishes Florida Championship Wrestling (later NXT Wrestling) in Tampa as a developmental territory

• Feb 2008: WWE ends the eight-year relationship with developmental territory OVW in Louisville, KY and moves the remaining developmental talent to FCW in Tampa

• Feb 2010: “Series Finale” ECW television show ends signaling the eclipse of the ECW brand; the TV show on Sci Fi is replaced with NXT which the network broadcasts until Sept
So, you have ECW/WCW folding sending a flood of younger, experienced talent into WWE's hands. Then you have some development territories shifts which results in some interruptions. When there is brand extensions (splitting Smackdown/RAW, adding ECW), there's room for more wrestlers. Also, you have change from Jim Ross to Laurinatis which drastically changed the sort of people that were brought into WWE.