A boisterous crowd of all ages packed into the Manchester Arena last night for the WWE’s latest Smackdown show.
Avid followers of the world’s biggest pro-wrestling brand will tell you that the company has an embarrassment of talent on its books right now, and this was reflected in the buzz around the arena even hours before the show got underway.
Advertised for the event were up-and-coming stars Roman Reigns and the captivating Bray Wyatt, while rumour of an appearance from the legendary Undertaker had the not-quite-as-young fans in attendance giddy with an infectious mix of nostalgia and excitement.
Being the WWE’s ‘second’ show after RAW, which was filmed the night before, the show was missing some notable names.
The many in attendance sporting Kevin Owens merchandise missed out on seeing the freakishly-talented brawler in the flesh, while The New Day, a three-man-strong stable loved for their sense of humour, sadly didn’t feature in the three-hour event.
However, the hugely excitable crowd was treated to a handful of entertaining matches and major developments in the company’s biggest storylines.
The show opened with an appearance from The Wyatt Family – a creepy backwoods cult lead by the charismatic Bray Wyatt.
The Wyatts are a compelling group and boast, among other things, one of the most memorable entrances in WWE history.
Before arriving in the UK this week, the WWE had been rocked by news of World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins suffering a severe knee ligament injury that will keep him out of the ring for at least six months.
Rollins, a young star who is being rightly dubbed as a future legend, will surrender the belt to the winner of a tournament that got underway in Manchester on Monday and continued last night.
In the tournament, Newcastle-born Neville took on Preston’s own Wade Barrett in a highly entertaining back-and-forth match that celebrated the wealth of talent coming out of the UK today.
Elsewhere, US champion Alberto Del Rio took on Stardust, heavyweight Ryback took on athletic cruiserweight Kalisto in an intriguing clash of styles, and Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch faced off in an impressive womens’ match-up.
Undoubtedly the moment of the night however came in the appearance of WWE icon The Undertaker.
— AmeriCamp (@AmeriCamp) November 10, 2015
With retirement said to be looming, the legendary veteran is celebrating 25 years of an illustrious career, and last night made what could well be his final ever in-ring appearance in the UK.
The ‘Dead Man’ delivered his signature Tomb Stone to local boy Wade Barrett to the delight of a deafening crowd.
The show closed with a frantic tag-team match between Luke Harper and Eric Rowan of The Wyatt Family and younger-fan favourites The Usos.
The WWE has always enjoyed a large and loyal UK fan base, and based on the reception its latest crop of stars received last night, that isn’t going to change any time soon.