What a difference a year can make.
Twelve months ago I got my first taste of live WWE action at Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena and was left rather disappointed by the lack of TV quality matches and big name superstars.
To be honest it all had the feeling of a pre-season football friendly as second rate wrestlers like Zak Ryder and The Miz did their best to entertain the crowd during one dimensional matches with zero crowd interaction.
On Saturday I returned for my latest sampling from the world leaders of sports entertainment expecting a similar offering. How wrong could I have been?
The show, which was played out in front of a much more energized crowd, kicked off instyle with an opening fitting of the company’s flagship Monday Night Raw show.
Randy Orton gave an excellent ‘heel’ performance as he began by badmouthing fans’ favourite Daniel Bryan, before calling out rising star Roman Reigns, of The Shield.
The two WWE icons then sparred off against each other before Ryback and Curtis Axel came out to attack Reigns. That led to fellow Shield members Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose coming out to make the save.
The segment created a lasting tone for the following three hours and set up the main event of Randy Orton v Roman Reigns in a ‘Nottingham Street Fight.’
The ‘Ravishing Russian’ Lana also gave a memorable performance as she slagged off Nottingham’s ‘pathetic’ castle, called Nottingham’s women ugly and praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a classic throwback to 1980’s WWE, all of which drew plenty of boos from the crowd.
All in all the quality of matches has significantly improved over the last 12 momths with every match on the card capable of gracing Raw and Smackdown and every Wrestler on show being a genuine big name.
A steel cage match between The Big Show and Kane and a fatal four way match for the Intercontinental Title, which was succesfully defended by Preston’s very own Bad News Barrett, was a clear indication that the WWE were looking to step it up a level.
England’s wrestling tradition in the WWE also looks set for a bright future with Divas champion Paige and Nxt champion Adrian Neville getting rousing cheers after winning their matches.
The WWE returns to Nottingham on 9th November.
And I, for one, certainly hope the switch to higher quality, but fewer matches, more genuine Superstars and an improved crowd interaction stays high on the agenda.