After a successful if somewhat controversial first night in Philadelphia, WWE NXT returned for more on Friday, May 16, 2015. It's worth asking if the should have quit while they were ahead.
While the crowd was said to be raucous and I'm sure it was a cool experience for everyone lucky enough to attend, multiple reports indicate that they did not sell out the approximately 3,000 seats Tower Theaters for a second-straight night. Attendees reported being upgraded to floor seats as officials roped off sections of the upper balcony.
One way to look at that is that they were unable to sell 6,000 in one of the hottest wrestling markets in the world. The other is that that is no indication on the strength of NXT as a touring brand, but that the decision to add that particular Friday night in Philly was an over-reach, as it was the fourth night in a row that the city had hosted a major "independent" event - and a night where indy fans had an alternative available on internet pay-per-view (iPPV) in Ring of Honor & New Japan Pro Wrestling's Global Wars from Toronto.
Either way, it's probably just a bit of a reality check for Triple H's expansion plans, rather than any kind of meaningful setback.
The action in the ring pleased the crowd but didn't generate the kind of social media buzz that night one did.
- A crowd-popping William Regal promo was followed by a heat-seeking Tyler Breeze one, which led to the show-opening tag match of Enzo & Cass eating cheesesteaks (Philly!) and beated the oddball team of Prince Pretty & Bull Dempsey.
- Tye Dillinger's new gimmick of rating matches (didn't Miz or someone do this on the main roster a couple of years back?) was a theme for the first half of the show. The opener got a '3'.
- Dana Brooke defeated Alexa Bliss. Dillinger rating '6' (which was, at first, a '9' until he realized he had the card upside down).
- Baron Corbin beat Tommy Dreamer with End of Days. Geno already shared a pic of this for you here. The Innovator of Violence got his moment in the sun after the match when he DDT'd Tye for giving him a '0'.
- Sasha Banks retained her Women's title in a Fatal 4Way against the other members of "the NXT Four" (Bayley, Becky Lynch & Charlotte).
- Another makeshift team, Solomon Crowe & Jason Jordan, challenged for the NXT Tag Titles, but were defeated by Blake & Murphy.
- Finn Bálor beat NXT champ Kevin Owens by disqualification because Owens hit him with a chairshot. That led to a locker-room clearing brawl, and the "send 'em home happy" spot of the Irishman hitting KO with a Coup de Grâce.
Live in #NXTPhilly, @JoeyStyles accompanies @TheTommyDreamer to the ring! What surprise will #NXTAlbany ha... https://t.co/TjTRxPtNpH— WWE (@WWE) May 16, 2015
Not Given. Taken! #Unstoppable @WWENXT NXT S.T.R.O.N.G #NXTPhilly pic.twitter.com/Q9PfjBPaw6— Charlotte (@MsCharlotteWWE) May 16, 2015
Despite teases, the Demon that Finn brought to the main event was not an all-new body paint that he and Triple H had seemingly been promising on social media. It's hard to tell from pictures and Vines, but it did seem to have some modifications, but was still the red & black Carnage/Predator look we've seen on television.
Anyone else intrigued by the WWE vs. Bullet Club conspiracy theories as I am, you can definitely see Bálor throwing up a "Too Sweet" as part of his entrance in the video below.
It's demon night here at #NXTPhilly @wwebalor pic.twitter.com/SFK2dj5fbE— Vaughn Johnson (@VaughnMJohnson) May 16, 2015
It's going DOWN!!! @wwebalor vs the CHAMP @FightOwensFight! LETS GO!!! #NXTPhilly pic.twitter.com/dF38kVva7O— Ellis Mbeh (@EllisMbeh) May 16, 2015
Thoughts, Cagesiders? As always, would especially love to hear from folks who were actually there in Upper Darby last night!