The WWE lays a summer smackdown on the Shanghai Expo

The WWE lays a summer smackdown on the Shanghai Expo

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) body slams Expo audiences -- figuratively of course -- at their first live sports entertainment event in China
WWE at the Shanghai Expo
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon (L) watches as wrestlers battle it out in the ring for the hearts of Chinese fans.

Shanghai 2010 Expo crowds swelled to event greater numbers than normal this weekend as World Wrestling Entertainment, better known as the WWE, presented its first live sports entertainment event in China on Sunday night at the Expo Cultural Center. The 90-minute event, called "WWE Raw Presents SummerSlam(R)" featured WWE Superstars John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho and other performers.

"WWE is honored that the Chinese government and Expo 2010 Shanghai have offered us this rare, historic opportunity to perform at the successful Shanghai World Expo," said WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon to reporters. "We are thankful to be allowed to entertain the attendees and our fans in the region at Expo 2010 Shanghai."

WWE opened an office in Shanghai in 2007 and has steadily grown the brand awareness and popularity. The WWE’s Shanghai 2010 Expo event was the first opportunity for Chinese fans to see the WWE experience live and is a part of the company’s plan to expand its presence in China.

Based on the turn out at the event, looks like WWE is well on its way to their goal. 

The ticket center inside the Expo park began giving out tickets at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. More than 4,000 tickets were distributed by 10 a.m., with total of 5,500 tickets given out for the 8,000-seat arena by the early afternoon.

The 59-year-old Li Jianfeng said to Shanghai Daily that he's a loyal fan of WWE wrestling, watching the monthly video clips online.

"I heard there was going to be a live performance in the Expo Park a week ago, and I'm so happy I could come and watch it," Li said.

WWE programming is currently available in approximately 88 million Chinese households -- up from 19 million when the company first established its Shanghai office four years ago.

Although the show was a success, Andrew Whitaker, executive vice president of WWE International, said that the company is waiting to see the overall response to the Expo event before deciding whether or not to hold more events in the city.

Even if there are no additional live events planned, WWE's global licensing partner, Mattel, will offer branded action figures in China next month -- beginning with stores in Shanghai, according to the NY Post.