Last week I got to attend my first ever live WWE NXT shows as part of the brands first ever UK tour. I was able to attend shows in both Sheffield and Nottingham and wanted to quickly talk about my experience of the whole event. I’ve attended many WWE live events in the past, so when the news was announced that NXT would be coming to the UK I simply had to be there. I already planned on attending the Sheffield show and was then given the opportunity to go to Nottingham two nights later.
I went into the event not quite sure what to initially expect, with me half expecting it to be like a typical branded WWE event but with a different audience. To my surprise the atmosphere was entirely different. The show almost had one of those independent vibes about it with the crowd being made up mostly of male wrestling fans. There were a few children dotted about, as you would expect with any kind of WWE show but it was noticeable how few there were. That kind of added to the show for me because I knew I was around like-minded people. Don’t get me wrong people still chanted “Let’s go Cena, Cena sucks” for some weird reason, but more fans were bothered about cheering for their favourite NXT stars.
During the show I felt the crowd was more interactive with the show as a result of this, bringing a much fresher feel and vibe to the show. You had various different chants going off, some spontaneously reacting to the guys in the ring or what was happening in the match. Normally in WWE shows the crowd tends to go with what’s happening in the match or just does the usual generic chants you would expect. But the fans at NXT felt more alive and more passionate about what was going on and wanting to be a part of the show. They helped make the experience even better than I imagined.
Then there were the matches and talent on offer. There wasn’t one person who didn’t deserve to be there, and wasn’t one match that was bad. Each and every match was given time to go one as long as it needed to, hence why there were only around seven or eight matches per night. But they were all given enough time to tell a story that was engaging enough, which comes back to getting the fans to interact and make the whole experience enjoyable. At WWE shows it feels like matches can be rushed to give the main event longer but there was none of that here, with everyone being allowed to go for a good 15 minutes minimum to get the experience they need of working in front of a large crowd.
Finally what made this experience great for me was there was the right blend of the sports entertainment aspect and wrestling in the product to make it a fun experience. The product doesn’t have to be serious all the time, hence why it’s called sports entertainment. But unlike WWE, I feel NXT are more focused on the wrestling product than they are that side of things which I feel is what helps make the product so appealing o fans looking for that alternative to what they are getting on a weekly basis from the WWE. I like seeing the like of Gable and Jordan having a pure wrestling match one minute and then doing something out of character the next to draw interaction from the crowd. They weren’t the only ones as Balor and Zayn also got in on the act. To be fair almost everyone did which made for a great blend of action and entertainment.
Overall the experience of attending NXT shows was a positive and helped me remember one of the reasons I fell in love with pro wrestling. There was the right mix of wrestling in the show and a good mix of entertainment. The fans helped make this experience a great one and I would recommend you check out NXT when it comes to your town.
I also want to take this moment to thank the wonderful Jessica at Shine Communications for sorting me out with tickets to the Nottingham show. She also recently sorted me out with tickets to the WWE tour of the UK in November and has been amazing in helping me attend other events too which I never dreamt I would get to experience. So a huge thank you to Jessica, and I hope we can get more opportunities organised in the very near future.