WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017
July 9, 2017
American Airlines Center
Dallas, Texas

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our reviewers:

Kelly Harrass: As of this writing, Kelly is sick and his voice sounds like Johnny Ace is whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Follow Kelly on Twitter @comicgeekelly.

Sean Sedor: The last time Sean reviewed a WWE PPV, the power went out in his house during the main event. Hopefully the same thing doesn’t happen to him tonight! You can follow Sean on Twitter @SASedor2994, and you can check out his wrestling reviews blog at http://dxvsnwo1994.blogspot.com.

WWE Cruiserweight Title – Neville def. Akira Tozawa

Kelly Harrass: While this match started a little slowly, this was a great time, especially for it being a pre-show match. Things picked up following the commercial break, which forced the traditional rest spot in a cruiserweight match. Neville is doing such a great job as champion, I really wish this division was handled better. I think that this is the feud that you really push to make the division get some notice from the fans. People have gotten behind Tozawa and I’ll always enjoy seeing two Dragon Gate alums in the same ring. Tozawa bumped like a mad man for Neville, who retained, but just barely. Neville utilized the ring ropes to hit Tozawa in his great balls of fire to set him up for a stiff kick to the stomach. I loved this ending as a way to keep Tozawa looking strong and to show that Neville will do anything to retain his title. Honestly, this was far better than a pre-show deserves. ***3/4

Sean Sedor: It’s a shame that this wasn’t on the main PPV because, for the most part, it was really good. Of course, these two know each other very well from their days in Dragon Gate, so it should come as no surprise that they managed to put together a very entertaining contest. Neville continues to be an awesome heel, and Tozawa was great in his role as well (the crowd got into his battle cry pretty early). Titus O’Neil was at ringside, but he only served as emotional support for Tozawa, and didn’t get physically involved at any point. The action in this one especially picked up following the commercial break, and there were a couple of points where it looked like Tozawa was close to winning. However, the finish was a little odd. Tozawa got dropped nuts-first on the ropes, sold for a little bit, and then Neville hit a kick to the gut for the win. In my view, it was a slightly anticlimactic ending, but still, this was definitely a match that’s worth checking out, if you missed the Kickoff Show. ***1/2

Bray Wyatt def. Seth Rollins

Kelly Harrass: These two could have been hitting each other over the head with light tubes and I don’t think I would have cared. Put Bray Wyatt into an extra pointless feud and you have a recipe for a match that I’ll have no interest in. This was fine, but I feel like it would have been better slotted on the pre-show. Bray Wyatt is the worst and Rollins was dragged down into the Bayou muck with him. No one will remember this match happened by tomorrow. **½

Sean Sedor: Why exactly are these two feuding again? I honestly can’t remember. Anyway, I know that this wasn’t exactly a match that was highly anticipated, but when the dust settled, it ended up being a perfectly acceptable opener. It was by no means spectacular, but it was technically solid. There was some decent action throughout, and the crowd seemed to it at points. Wyatt got the win after poking Rollins in the eyes, followed by Sister Abigail for the pin. This was essentially a match that you see on any episode of RAW or on any average WWE house show. It was an easily forgettable encounter, but again, I wouldn’t call it a boring match. I feel like it’s a rarity these days to see Bray Wyatt in a singles match on PPV that didn’t involved some wacky smoke & mirrors, so in that regard, it came off to me as a nice surprise. ***

Big Cass def. Enzo Amore

Kelly Harrass: Cass has new entrance music and it might be a contender for the worst in the entire company right now. Unlike the music, this match was exactly what was needed. We got to see Enzo show some fire, but Cass ultimately destroyed him. As we saw on Raw, Cass has no problem tossing his former partner around and we saw that again here. They could have ended the match after Enzo was thrown to the outside, but he managed to beat the ten count, showing that he still had some life in him. He may have made it back into the ring, but he wasn’t able to mount any offense as Enzo had his head kicked off by Cass for the win. As far as squash matches go, this was great. ***

Sean Sedor: Enzo cut a promo before the match, comparing his last few months to the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”. As far as promos are concerned, Enzo has been doing a fantastic job since the breakup angle. Meanwhile, Big Cass finally got some new entrance music, and it’s…..”meh”? I don’t know. While it’s certainly a heelish theme, I’m not sure that it fits Big Cass. A mix between rock and techno (I’m guessing that’s what it was) doesn’t fit a guy from Queens. The match itself was exactly what it should’ve been. Big Cass battered Enzo Amore for five minutes or so, and picked up the victory with ease. It’ll be interesting to see where both guys go from here, but based on what happened here, the feud is clearly over. N/R

RAW Tag Team Titles – Thirty-Minute Iron Man Match – Cesaro & Sheamus def. The Hardys (4-3)

Kelly Harrass: Full disclosure, I think Iron Man matches are terrible. In a midcard feud like this, the thirty minutes are needlessly long. The worst kind of Iron Man match is one with tons of flash pins that make you question why wrestlers don’t always try to sneak out wins like that. The greatest sin of the Iron Man match is that more often than not, they don’t follow the same internal logic of every other wrestling match. We’re less than fifteen minutes into this match and we’ve already had three falls. When you put that statistic up against every other match these teams have had, what makes tonight so different that the teams can so easily lose a fall? That all being said, I’m clearly a biased reviewer coming into this match, so take what I say with a grain of salt. These teams did the best they could with the rules they had, but this felt like every bit of thirty minutes long. I almost fell asleep around the twenty minute mark. I’m really not a fan of the fact that there was an average of over one fall for every five minutes, but I already went into that earlier. The best thing I can say about this is that it had a tremendous closing stretch. Other than that, I was bored, but I give them credit for making something not terrible out of a match stipulation that I hate. ***

Sean Sedor: It seems odd that any company, in 2017, would put The Hardys in this type of match. This stipulation seems tailor-made for The Revival (who are on the RAW roster, in case you forgot), but I digress. Cesaro & Sheamus used some trickery early to pick up a quick fall in the first thirty minutes. They essentially tricked Matt Hardy into thinking that Cesaro was started the match as the legal man, when it was in fact Sheamus, who hit the Brogue Kick for the pin. That’s not the first time they’ve used that type of trick, as they used similar chicanery to win the RAW Tag Team Titles from The New Day late last year. From there, the story of the match saw The Hardys fighting to catch back up. Cesaro & Sheamus controlled the lead for the majority of the match (leading 2-0 at one point and 3-1 at another point later on), but The Hardys managed to come back, and tied things up with less than three minutes left. Yes, the story was a very predictable one, and that did take away from the match (because you knew The Hardys would tie it up), but it has to be noted that the fans in the arena bought into the story. They seemed to really get behind The Hardys in the final third of the match. Cesaro managed to score a fall with a minute left to give his team a 4-3 lead, and then just ran away from Jeff Hardy while Matt Hardy stood there bleeding from the face. I’m not sure how he got busted open, but it was pretty significant. The match itself was technically sound, but again, the story was very predictable. The fans being into the final ten minutes definitely added to this one, and the action in that final third was very solid, but other than that, it was far from a memorable Iron Man Match. ***1/4

RAW Women’s Title – Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss (Count Out)

Kelly Harrass: This was great. I know I should be upset about the countout finish, but it’s a smart move to keep both women looking strong going into a rematch. The rumors are that these two don’t like each other and it really came through in the action. Alexa and Sasha took turns stuffing each other and I loved it. This is the kind of intense action I wanted. There was a moment where Bliss hit her version of the GTR on Banks and it looked even more brutal than when Goto executes the move. I’ll probably be the high man on the match, but who cares, I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to their next meeting, especially after that sick bump Bliss took on the floor when Banks went for the flying knees. ***¾

Sean Sedor: This was going really well….and then Alexa Bliss got counted out. Look, I totally understand why you would do this kind of finish on a brand split PPV. You want to continue the feud to set up a rematch down the line. However, it has to be mentioned that, on the five WWE PPVs we’ve seen since WrestleMania, three of them had featured a count out finish in a title match. Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using that finish on a PPV every so often, but at this point, it’s becoming grossly overused. As far as the match itself goes, it was very good. There was a great spot early on where it looked like Bliss broke her arm, but it was just a trick, as she (I guess) popped the joints back into place and attacked Banks. That was a great spot. The action came off as intense (which makes sense, since these two aren’t exactly fond of each other IRL), and there was some really entertaining back and forth between the two. After the finish, they brawled on the stage, and Banks eventually hit her flying double knees onto Bliss from the top of the announcer’s table. Even with the finish, this was still the best match on the card, up to this point. ***1/2

WWE Intercontinental Title – The Miz def. Dean Ambrose

Kelly Harrass: When you’re a tired feud that’s slotted after the stiffest match on the card thus far, I have a really hard time caring about you. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did, the match was fine. I can’t say that this offended me in any way, but it also didn’t make me happy at all. I have no takes for this. Better than bad, but worse than good. **½

Sean Sedor: Remember when these two were much bigger deals on SmackDown Live (The Miz in particular)? Their stock has fallen so much since they switched over to the “Flagship Show”. After the last RAW PPV, The Miz recruited former Social Outcast members Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel to be his “Miz-tourage”, and they joined Maryse (who has seemingly made up with The Miz) at ringside. It was really hard to care about this match, and the crowd didn’t seem to care that much either. The essential story here was that The Miz had the numbers advantage right from the start, and eventually, the numbers caught up to Ambrose, leading to The Miz retaining his title. This was as average and nondescript as it gets. These two felt like complete afterthoughts on this show, which is a real shame. **1/4

Ambulance Match – Braun Strowman def. Roman Reigns

Kelly Harrass: Had Brock not decided to grace us all with his presence on this show, this match would have been the main event. Even though it was the semi-main, Braun and Roman fought this match like it was going on last. They threw bombs at each other all match and I loved it. We even got a post match angle where Roman tried to kill Braun. I really enjoy how this feud has been going where these are the two unstoppable forces and neither man has been able to put the other away. Roman may have lost the match, but he was going to do his best to put Braun away for good. I have no problem saying that this feud with Strowman is the most that I’ve ever liked Reigns. I can’t wait to see where this goes next following this attempted vehicular homicide. ****

Sean Sedor: These two have had some pretty entertaining encounters in the past, and this Ambulance Match continued that trend. This was a great, physical brawl that saw both men absolutely destroy each other. It was incredibly entertaining to watch from start to finish. If you told me last year that these two would have such good chemistry with one another, I wouldn’t have believed you, but they’ve now put together three awesome hard-hitting matches. The closing stages of this one featured a lot of brawling on the stage (and at one point, Strowman got sent through the entrance way), and in the end, Strowman actually won the match after Reigns missed a spear and went flying into the ambulance. That wasn’t the finish of this whole thing, however, as Reigns immediately attacked Strowman after the bell rang. He tossed Strowman in the ambulance, drove it backstage, and then backed up at a high rate of speed, crashing into a semi-trailer. They then did this big scene where Kurt Angle, WWE staff, and firefighters tried to free Strowman from the ambulance. The jaws of life were used, but miraculously, Strowman stumbled away, bloodied and bruised, under his own power. That was actually a very cool moment, and perfectly illustrates the story of this feud. These two continuously beat each other up, but no matter how bad these beatings are, neither man can fully put the other away. Again, the match itself was great, and the post-match angle was very memorable. Strowman emerged victorious, but Reigns got the last laugh by attempting a vehicular homicide. That shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as WWE will never shy away from using vehicular destruction in storylines. ****

WWE Universal Title – Brock Lesnar def. Samoa Joe

Kelly Harrass: This is easily the best match that Brock has had since his Mania match against Roman. Lesnar’s match quality has gone to shit since the Suplex City gimmick began, but Joe was able to get him out of that rut. Outside of the terrible Goldberg matches, this is the most vulnerable that Lesnar has felt in his current WWE run. Throughout this whole feud, Samoa Joe has come off as a certified killer. It was to the point that I was completely convinced that he was taking home the title and sadly, I was wrong. My hope is that this isn’t the end of the feud and that Joe ultimately gets a big win over Brock. This was the hard hitting type of main event that I love and exactly the kind of match that Joe should be having. My lone complaint comes from the finish. Brock beat Joe with a single F5 and it fell flat for me. The ending wasn’t built up, it sort of just happened. I don’t want to say that it ruined the match for me, but it definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t mind a flash finish, but it’s never something I would do in a big fight feel match like this. I’ll always go with the epic conclusion over the shocking finish. Regardless of that, this was a very good match, but I think that it could have been even better. ****¼

Sean Sedor: Joe jumped Lesnar during Heyman’s introduction, and put Lesnar through one of the announce tables before the bell even rang. The match itself was very interesting. Lesnar was able to recover from that initial assault, but it never seemed like Lesnar was truly in control of the match. Yes, he hit German Suplex after German Suplex, but they seemed more defensive on Lesnar’s part as opposed to truly being on the offense. It honestly felt like Samoa Joe was the one who was in control for a significant portion of this match. The Coquina Clutch was the move that was constantly talked about throughout the build to this one, and Joe was constantly going for it. He locked it in a couple of times, and it really looked like Lesnar was going to pass out, but he never quit. In the end, it took just one F5 to put away Samoa Joe. The finish is the one thing about this that can be seen as a negative. Should it have taken more than one F5 to defeat Samoa Joe? A reasonable argument can certainly be made, but on the flip side, that ending does put over (or, at least, re-establish) the F5 as a true world beater, sort of like the RKO. If Lesnar manages to hit it, that’s the end of the match. Anyway, that small critique aside, this was a ton of fun to watch. Lesnar was playing the role of the underdog, and we really haven’t seen that in that role in quite some time. Meanwhile, Joe looked like a dominant force here, and even though he lost this match, he comes away from it stronger. Even though this wasn’t a five star classic, or a slam-dunk match of the year contender, it was still fantastic. A truly epic encounter. Hey, at least we finally got to see the match!! ****1/4