Wrestling Review: WWE Great Balls of Fire (2017)

Goodness gracious, it’s WWE Great Balls of Fire, live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Tonight, every Raw title is on the line, as Alexa Bliss, The Miz, Neville and the team of Sheamus & Cesaro all look to defend their championships. The Universal Championship is currently held by the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, and is the prize for the man who wins – or will it be survives – when The Samoan Submission Machine Samoa Joe goes face to face with the defending champion. It has been a violent few weeks for both men, champion and challenger, as even Lesnar’s manager and hype man, Paul Heyman, has been on the receiving end of a few beatdowns, so you just know both Lesnar and Joe will come out swinging. Also on the card is the first ever tag team Iron Man match, as champions Sheamus & Cesaro battle The Hardys where whichever teams gets the most wins over the other in 30 minutes will be declared the winner. When Braun Strowman returned recently, in the back of an ambulance, he told Roman Reigns what we all knew: Strowman wasn’t finished with Reigns yet. And now the two will face off in an Ambulance match – either Reigns or Strowman needs to incapacitate their opponent long enough to put them in the back of an ambulance.

+ Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman (Ambulance Match): these two have always put on good matches together, and this feud has been one of the best in years (because, lo and behold, both guys are made to look like threats). This was another fantastic battle, with some incredible character work from both men, Strowman especially. Some amazing post-match shenanigans, including an unrelated “impromptu” match only added to the affair. This will go down as one of the best matches of the year, and perhaps one of the best moments of all time
+ Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Samoa Joe: to keep with the cars motif of the show, this was 0-100 in under three seconds, and it was glorious. This was quite short, especially following the Ambulance match, but the ending was certainly unexpected, and opens up a few new opportunities. I admit I did expect some more, but for the most part this was everything I wanted for this dream match
+ Sheamus & Cesaro (c) vs The Hardys (Matt & Jeff Hardy) (30-Minute Iron Man Match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships): some very early shenanigans started the match at a frantic pace, but the intrinsic issue with iron man matches soon became apparent. The idea of a team winning or losing against another team multiple times in ~30 minutes each makes them look both strong and then weak, which blends together to make them stay where they were , and even when one team wins, it is usually the case of ‘well we beat you x number of times anyway’. My personal issues aside, this was a really good match, with some perfect timing (as well as one small timing issue). Someone was bleeding, someone might have been KOd, and damn if it wasn’t enjoyable to watch

– Alexa Bliss (c) vs Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): I’ve never really cared for Sasha, especially once Bayley, Charlotte and sespecially Becky came into their own, and the emergence of Asuka, Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot on NXT, and the champion Alexa Bliss’ meteoric rise to the top, so I didn’t much care for the build to this. Some clever mid-match moments, which were call backs to previous matches these two have had with others were welcome additions. Unfortunately, ANOTHER stupid finish on a show with too many of them already meant this left a bad taste in my mouth
– The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs Dean Ambrose (WWE Intercontinental Championship): I don’t even know what to think about this. Ambrose was so sluggish it almost looked like he was either drunk or still asleep. This felt like it went forever and by the time it was over I couldn’t care less about anyone in this match – not even Maryse’s monstrous cleavage
– Enzo Amore vs Big Cass: originally scheduled for the Kickoff Show, this was instead the second match on the show. As far as storytelling goes, this was everything it needed to be, but as a wrestling match it was very poor. Cass did debut some new music, which reminded me of the random “Create a Wrestling theme #235435” from any SmackDown game, and Enzo delivered a hell of a pre-match promo, but overall this was not necessary to be on a PPV
– Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins: there was such a weak build to this match that I had forgotten to even write it on my list before the show started. Basic back and forth action before an incredibly frustrating ending meant this was average at best
– Neville (c) vs Akira Tozawa (W/ Titus O’Neil) (WWE Cruiserweight Championship): it is a travesty that Neville is STILL relegated to the pre-show, when his matches, against any and all opponents, have been top contenders for match of the night every single show. Unfortunately, this did not live up to that standard, especially with it’s somewhat wonky ending

> SHEAMUS AND CESARO DID THE FUSION DANCE FROM DRAGON BALL Z
> the crowd was muted horribly as Roman Reigns made his entrance. I honestly thought my speakers had died mid-entrance

Should you watch this event: The writers for WWE need to learn that screwy finishes don’t make anyone involved look good, and they really need to tone them down. This was mostly a show of two matches, and gosh darn they delivered in spades. The Ambulance match may well go down in WWE history as one of the best matches and moments of all time, and the simple fact we are seeing Samoa Joe versus Brock Lesnar, for a top WWE Championship nonetheless, is surreal. The tag team match was the non-main event standout, because the rest of the card was a long way off the mark. Seek out the main event, the Ambulance Match and the tag team titles, but maybe give the rest a miss.

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