WWE GREAT BALLS OF FIRE REVIEW 09/07/2017: WWE's repetitive march continues
The American Airlines Center in Dallas played host to the inaugural WWE pay-per-view crudely titled the Great Balls of Fire. For a company who prides itself on PG only content it was a bold move to entitle the show after Mr. McMahon’s fiery grapefruits. The card is stacked with exciting matches and in the new era of the WWE we explore if the venture into the cryptically obvious show title was a venture worth taken. All aboard.
WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017 Review: 09/072017
For weeks now the hype has been building around the ambulance match between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns, but more importantly the Universal Championship between two absolute savages in Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe. The red brand has been busy cultivating stories for this pay-per-view and without even watching the show we can already predict plenty of screwy finishes, unexpected turns, surprise wins, and Booker T making a big balls joke.
We get into the thick of it with a match that nobody really wanted on the card.
Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins
The Eater of Worlds Bray Wyatt is a foundation to RAW according to Michael Cole, apparently. WWE 2K18’s Seth Rollins being a fundamental piece of the programming we agree with, but Bray has been an expert in jobbing since his WWE career began. The opening match felt like they just wanted to get it done with quickly, and prior to the match we knew that the flagbearer for the new game would get an easy win to push him, and the upcoming game, into the next gear.
We were so, so wrong. Bray Wyatt ended up beating Seth Rollins in a rare PPV victory for the leader of the Wyatt Family, using a typical eye poke heel tactic it enabled Wyatt to confuse and kill the crowds cheer and momentum. Dallas was silent after Bray claimed the pin on Seth. The truth is that Wyatt needed the win more than Rollins, and the match didn’t hurt either two men because neither were really playing for anything of substantial value. An odd match to kick off the pay-per-view. Credit to Wyatt though…his selling of all of Rollins moves was the strongest part of the match, proving that Wyatt is a massively underrated talent. A shame the company has nothing for either of them.
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
An amazing promo to build up the match set the tone for an incredible rivalry brew between the two, the dramatic music further illustrated the personal nature of this feud between two former people who were as close as brothers. The crowd were really into Enzo, but they were also equally into berating ‘Casshole’, as Enzo dubbed him on the prior RAW. Most of the time was given to Enzo’s opening promo, it was clear that they didn’t want you to see much of Big Cass and instead relied on the best part of the feud which was undoubtedly Enzo building it up. Given how natural and real he feels on the microphone the WWE has a real asset on their hands in Enzo Amore and it would be a real waste to see him fade away after the result of this match.
That’s right, Enzo Amore had to pick himself up after Big Cass walked into the ring with new entrance music, and decimated his former tag team partner. The latest music didn’t suit Cass, it didn’t convey a sense of personality, and it had no rhythm, much like the actual Big Cass. All the new sound added to the feud was the overwhelming sense that they have no idea what they are doing with Cass, but Enzo who has carried the feud is mercilessly jobbed out. The match itself was short, unrelenting, and quite disappointing. You’d have thought they would have sold the angle that Enzo had more fight than Cass. The injustice here is that the wrong person lost, the better worker had his shoulders to the mat. The WWE is guilty of doing it all the time, it doesn’t sit right in the stomach.
Second match of the night, second deflating victory for the heel option. Dallas didn’t have much to cheer for so far.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (c)
RAW Tag Team Championships: 30 Minute Ironman Match
Opening the match with a quick pin on Matt Hardy after some well worked tag team exploits by Sheamus and Cesaro set the tempo for match of the night, the tag team exposition by the two teams was worthy of your hard-earned money used to buy a ticket. What was great about this match was that the Hardy’s were made the chasers when they went two points down, and it enabled the heel champions to bring the best out of the former champions. Matt Hardy was getting plenty of ‘delete, delete, delete!’ chants as the WWE universe sent the message to WWE that they want to see more of the crazed character that became a cult icon in the independent scene. There were also scores of ‘Brother Nero’ chants to support this claim, and it would be great to see what the company could do with the Hardy’s being able to express their weird curiosities in front of everyone.
Booker T confused us when he said it was an ironman tag-team classic, this was just before the Hardy’s gained a point to Cesaro and Sheamus leading the veterans 3-2, leading to a frantic six minutes of entertaining wrestling. We thought we’d have to skip some of the match but we didn’t want to miss a second of it, it was choreographed affair and credit goes to both teams for putting on a five-star match. Matt Hardy’s twist of fate to draw it 3-3 was an unbelievable moment, leaving us to question what Jeff Hardy was doing for his team. Booker was screaming for blood at one point, he wanted nothing but carnage, and Matt was bleeding in the final minute so he got what he wanted. Cesaro. The finish was hectic and down to the last second, Cesaro stole a late pin and in typical RAW fashion there was a moment of screwy booking with Jeff pinning Cesaro but running out of time for the final count to draw level. Cesaro and Sheamus are deserving champions and this display was an amazing feature, and seeing Matt Hardy being treated by the medics was a lasting memory of the show. Both teams gave it all, the better team retained their tag team championships.
Three matches, three heel wins. All the wrestling marks were losing their minds.
Alexa Bliss (c) vs Sasha Banks
RAW Women’s Championship
No matter how many times that Sasha Banks loses she is afforded opportunity after opportunity, this time it was an attempt to dethrone WWE’s legitimate ‘Goddess’ Alexa Bliss. Women’s matches are usually laborious and hard to watch, not because of the difference of gender, but because they are slow paced and normally lacking big moments. They don’t dare enough with the women on their roster, it is all very ‘same’. What ‘same’ means is this: different women, same results. You could replace Bliss and Banks with Bailey and Micky James and it would have the same impact at the end. WWE tried their best to have a different finish for the finish of this women’s match with a brawl after Bliss got deliberately counted out. Another screwy finish which has become a trademark staple of RAW matches does spoil the match, it wasted ten minutes of everyone’s time.
The crude assessment of this match is that Alexa Bliss is still the legit boss in the women’s division, and Banks will once again be afforded another opportunity.
The Miz (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz got a huge reaction on his entrance, and with the ‘Miztourage’ accompanying him it has elevated the character with the A-lister having a group of people dedicated to his success on RAW. Constantly having Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel constantly cause trouble for Dean, and once again it proved to be an excellent worked match. Layers is what this feud was based on, the parties have escalated and now there was the payoff that The Miz could finally get one back on Dean Ambrose.
The big downside is that this match wasn’t afforded a lot of time because they were setting up for the upcoming ambulance match. The end was the third consecutive screwy finish, and exactly what you expected from this match. Very predictable, very orchestrated, and lots of fun.
Fifth match, and fourth heel win of the night. The Miz deserves to be a world champion with the kind of work he is doing currently, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t stay Intercontinental Champion much longer.
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
First things first, the Roman Reigns angelic promo music evidence that WWE aren’t over trying to put Reigns over as the company babyface. What the promo hyping up the match didn’t show you was the constant boos that are aimed at Reigns, and the amazing reception Strowman got when he returned. This promo was quickly rectified when Braun stepped out in front of the Dallas crowd to a rapturous response, Roman as ever stepped out into nothing but a sea of dislike and jeers. Every time he steps out from behind the curtain you have that sense of dread that after thirty superman punches and ten spears he will throw Braun into that ambulance like a piece of garbage.
The summary of the match isn’t that good, mostly because you know what you are watching. Braun would dominate, and Proto-Cena would crank up his Reignsmania and attempt a comeback. After destroying the stage, the pair were poised in front of the ambulance, Roman look like he hadn’t broken a sweat after no-selling most of Braun’s moves. Braun was made to be the big bad monster; the question and suggestive language of the commentary team was about what ‘the guy’ Roman had to do to quell the big monster. The finish was blood boiling, Roman couldn’t sell the finish after he lost the match. Strowman stepped out of the way from his eight spear of the night to get the technical victory as Roman crashed into the ambulance, but Reigns refused to sell yet again and got the eight spear on Strowman anyway. Strowman was driven out of the arena and Roman went full Stone Cold and crashed the ambulance. After the skinniest guy in the universe tried to pry open the door with a crowbar it was assumed that despite being in a building filled with strong-men that he would be trapped inside for the rest of the night until the professionals could arrive.
Braun Strowman got his competition. Strowman was smarter, he used the spear against Reigns who got a taste of his own medicine. Incredible booking, great victory. All except making Roman look strong, because that is what was more important to creative. The heel lost this time round, and Braun was the second face of the night to pick up a victory.
Heath Slayer vs. Curt Hawkins
Welcome to the biggest job match in the history of the WWE. Also, it ranks highly as this year’s biggest disrespect to any two wrestlers ever witnessed on live TV in 2017, this was the silly hour of the Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view. After the two biggest jobbers on RAW’s roster started their match the sirens of an ‘elite’ fire crew had turned up to the arena where it took them an absurd amount of time to break into a door that was made from ancient dwarven mithril and totally impenetrable without the use of a complex elven spell. After painstaking minutes, the elven fire conjurers broke through the dwarven technology to deliver Braun Strowman to the mystical healing sages summoned from the underworld, all whilst Kurt Angle looked useless at his job to discipline Reigns for endangering one of his top talents. Strowman, akin in this scene to a confused cave troll who had never seen daylight walked away with his head held high, seeking out more competition.
Oh wait, there was a match going on. In the background of this whole Middle Earth conundrum you hear JoJo announce the winner of the match going on live in the arena to be Heath Slater. This by far is the ultimate jobbing for Curt Hawkins, defeated without the view seeing it, only hearing it. You no longer even need to see him get pinned to know the outcome, a real all-time low for both wrestlers who had been shunned by their own company to give even more emphasis to the ‘Big Dog’ Roman Reigns. Without even being in shot Reigns ruined what could have been a huge win for Slater.
The third face of the night had won, and there was only a few minutes left of the show for the ‘main event’ between Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe. All we know is that we’ll be tuning into RAW to see Strowman looking for revenge on Roman Reigns. We hate saying it as it involves Roman Reigns, but it was great entertainment.
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Samoa Joe
WWE Universal Championship
The promo before the match painted Samoa Joe as a warrior, a heavyweight wrecking ball on a mission. You knew going into this match it would be more of a brawl than it would be a spectacle of wrestling. The story here was two unruly beasts being unleashed into the ring to go to war with one another. Personally, for us at The Hype Train seeing Samoa Joe in a title match headlining a pay-per-view is a sweet moment of satisfaction after keeping track of most of the Samoan’s career. We always knew Joe could hang with the best, his feuds with Kurt Angle in TNA were stuff of legend, and now he was tussling with Brock Lesnar in a match you think that he has every chance of winning.
A hurricane descended unto Dallas. Within a minute Samoa Joe had put Lesnar through the Spanish announce table. Joe was no nonsense during the entire match. Just as it was anticipated it was a down and dirty fight. Lesnar looks vulnerable and was dominated by Samoa Joe, just as it should have been, and after two instances of being locked into Joe’s infamous clutch he rallied to deliver just one F5 to walk away still the champion. “The Champion is purple!”, Corey Graves screamed as you thought Joe had done it, but he simply got caught out by one move from Lesnar. Samoa Joe still looks strong coming out of this match, Brock actually looks weaker because it was sheer willpower of the champion to hold on.
The fifth heel of the night won, and last scene was a very coloured variant of Brock Lenser having another stare off with Samoa Joe. A fantastic way to end the show, and a hint that Joe isn’t through with Lesnar yet. The Great Balls of Fire belonged to your reigning, defending, undisputed, Universal Champion…Brock Lesnar.
Great Balls of Fire 2017 Results: 09/07/2017
KICK OFF: Neville def. Akira Tozawa (w/ Titus O'Neil) (WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match)
Bray Wyatt def. Seth Rollins via pinfall
Big Cass def. Enzo Amore via pinfall
Cesaro & Sheamus def. The Hardy Boyz via 4-3 ironman points. (RAW Tag Team Championship Match)
Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss via count-out (RAW Women's Championship Match)
The Miz def. Dean Ambrose via pinfall (WWE Intercontinental Championship Match)
Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns via avoiding a spear
Heath Slater def. Curt Hawkins via arena announcement
Brock Lensar def. Samoa Joe via pinfall (WWE Universal Championship Match)
Who’s on RAW’s Hype Train?
Braun Strowman: Where there is Roman Reigns, there is Braun Strowman shortly behind him yelling from an ambulance. Strowman's victory over Reigns makes him of the the few wrestlers who can recover from a loss against him, and every time he is there to thwart Roman the crowd love him even more. A modern day hero sent by the gods to put a stop to the Reigns Empire.
Sheamus & Cesaro: Defeating Matt and Jeff Hardy in an Ironman Tag Team match was the best match of the PPV, and one that may go for WWE Match of the Year at this years Slammy's. Cesaro in particular has been a great asset for the red brand since he embraced his heel tendencies.
The Miz: Everything The Miz has done since the beginning of last year has been really good, and brought into Team RAW following the departure of Chris Jericho the A-lister is doing a fine job at providing the hard work the show desperately needs. With the addition of his Miztourage only better things are in line for the Intercontinental Champion.
Great Balls of Fire: Observations
Women’s Division: Stale, flat, same old story. Characters aren’t deep enough and it now relies on your nickname. (Legit) Goddess versus (not very legit) Boss is pretty much how it should have been booked, not Alexa versus Sasha.
Cruiserweights: Not even a real part of the show anymore, they can’t even get ahead of Slater versus Curt Hawkins. Major redevelopment needed in all areas, or its own show away from all things RAW. Not even a good run on Smackdown could save the Cruiserweight division, it was a better novelty on its own show where it could shine, than be a bit-part of the main show.
Face Reigns: More boos, more heel actions from the ‘The Guy’, more accounts of only relying on the two same moves, and even more angelic music used in the promos to underline Roman Reigns as the babyface of WWE. It will be interesting to see how WWE package the ambulance crash, I’m sure they will put some heroic music laced with harmonic angel voices as the ambulance nearly killed his fellow employee, and all-round evil monster Braun Strowman.
Purple Rain: Brock Lesnar closed out the show by looking like a purple alien from Futurama, Corey stipulated that Brock wasn’t human and judging by the bright purple complexion of his skin there may not be actual proof that Lesnar is from a galaxy far, far away.
Samoa Joe: You can’t mention Lesner’s new purple look without thanking Samoa Joe for providing it. Joe had main event status stamped on him after this, he is not to be trifled with and it may not be easy for the likes of Rollins, Balor, and Reigns getting close to his level.
Screwy Finishes: Four screw finishes during the Great Balls of Fire, half the matches were infected with endings that are becoming all too familiar with the red brand lately.
Enzo’s Future: The biggest takeaway for the match was that Enzo was the quality out of the two of Enzo and Cass, and the seven-foot guy was just simply the boot behind the charisma.
No Balls of Gold: The match between R-Truth and Goldust couldn’t make the card after weeks of brilliant skits on RAW, it would have been a terrific addition to the show.
Swiss Cyborg: Cesaro once again proved his quality as one of the top performers in the whole company when he carried the Tag Team Ironman Match. Cesaro may be the best performer to never win the WWE Championship if the company don’t recognise what he can bring to the table.
- Green Shirt Guy was once again in his usual ringside seat, we are beginning to wonder how he keeps getting it.
- This was the first ever Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view.
- This was Samoa Joe’s first pay-per-view main event.
- This was the first ever singles match between Enzo Amore and Big Cass.
- Dixie Carter was on WWE TV, promoting the Kurt Angle network special. If you don’t understand the significance of this, she was the owner of TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling), the company Kurt defected to after he released by WWE. The company normally shies away from anyone or anything regarding TNA.
Verdict: Great Balls of Fire
The only point to make clear in the wake of this PPV is that there is almost little, to no story, in the whole of the red brand. Like Stephanie McMahon wants it to be there is only shallow characters all getting one over each other, and if there is any creative issues with 'character development' they just throw in a screwy finish and repeat the viscous cycle of repetitive cause and effect. The show as a whole was entertaining and worth the watch, which is a credit to the WWE product which has found a consistency since the brand split that was needed. Great Balls of Fire had everything you wanted, but then it also added in the things you love to hate about the show, like Roman Reigns refusing to sell his moves. RAW's major cracks were seen throughout its thing Women's division and lacklustre Cruiserweight division not picking up any momentum, also placing people into matches because you want them on the card...Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt's opener makes absolutely no sense as to why it even happened...it happened because WWE were too scared of dropping Seth Rollins from the card whilst he was promoting WWE 2K18. Thinking about the average fan attending the event in person you wouldn't feel short changed coming out of the event, especially after witnessing the Ironman Tag Team match, or the coming of purple Brock Lesnar.
And just like that, it was an official WWE pay-per-view, it fit in with the current content, it didn't feel out of place which is the glaring success of the event as a whole. The truth is that they could have called this event anything and it wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference. The predictability level of the current content being produced by the WWE doesn't leave us very optimistic for the next RAW exclusive event.
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