This winter, in the words of a well-known wrestling commentator, is going to be a 'slobberknocker' for WWE fans.
As regular readers will know, WWE is coming to the UK not once but twice in as many months with shows across the UK for the full roster including the return of the Undertaker to a recording of the Smackdown show in Manchester then in December, the first overseas venture for new and hugely popular brand NXT (details here).
This time (and certainly not for the first time) WWE is seeking to innovate around their visits. It was announced only recently that fans and fitness enthusiasts alike will have the opportunity to join a unique training experience alongside top-flight WWE Superstars. Be it the UK's own King Barrett (Thursday 5 November in Glasgow), World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins in London, Leeds or Birmingham (6th, 7th and 8th respectively) or Ryback (in Brighton on 11 November) fans will be able to experience at first-hand what these Superstars endure as part of their training regime. There are gift bags and a meet and greet with the stars to boot.
This is part of the exciting innovative streak WWE has been pursuing in recent years. The company was one of the first to make full use of social media platforms and it is now commonplace for WWE events to set global Twitter trends in minutes. Fans in the UK have for some time now been able to access the WWE Network and all the original content on it including the brilliant 'swerved' - WWE's answer to You've Been Framed. Through both the aforementioned training experiences and through the network itself, WWE is not only innovating but seeking to inspire its next generation of potential Superstars.
The recent premiere of WWE network show 'Breaking Ground' is a good example of these various strands combined. The show premiered on Youtube and Facebook and is still online. Fans were afforded free access to the first of this original ten-part series, narrated by the legendary William Shatner in which they are taken behind the scenes of WWE's performance centre. In an industry traditionally built upon in-character storytelling (or 'Kayfabe' as it is known in the business) this is a somewhat brave leap but one that appears to have paid off, with fans being inspired in huge numbers. Over the last year, WWE has achieved a massive seven billion video views of its content and over the summer WWE's YouTube channel became number one worldwide.
Continuing in this vein, WWE has saught to simplify the entry process for fans to the world of a Superstar. For the aspiring athletes there is some basic training and for those of us that feel we do not pass the age or fitness threshold, there is still hope by way of WWE's latest Video game. Coinciding with the onset of the tour is the release of WWE2K16 for the Playstation and Xbox. http://wwe.2k.com . Again, WWE is innovating in this area. Be it through the largest ever roster (120 characters from 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin to Finn Balor), the WWE career option allowing one to embark upon their own NXT to Hall of Fame adventure, a creation suite to design characters and more or a new online experience - WWE is certainly 'breaking ground'.
At the heart of this innovation is something rather exciting. Be it at a training event, through watching Breaking Ground, Total Divas, Tough Enough and its other shows, WWE is exposing fans to the impressive lengths these athletes must go, to become a top rated Superstar but also showcasing what is possible with hard work. They are making their processes and talents more accessible and in doing so, inspiring a whole new generation to train, to commit and to work towards their goals. As the NXT motto rightly has it, "The Future Is Now".