This year, the WWE decided to throw a curveball at us in their PPV lineup and actually name an event Great Balls Of Fire.
The name may have given you a laugh, but when we saw Brock Lesnar would be defending the Universal Championship against Samoa Joe, there was cause for excitement.
Then going into the event, Matt Hardy teased going ‘broken’, which gave us even more excitement.
In addition to that, the WWE finally started a significant storyline with Kurt Angle, as he was receiving mysterious messages a few weeks ago on RAW and we wondered if that would be developed further on RAW’s final PPV before SummerSlam.
The WWE tried to brand this event as having an ‘old school’ feel, which is weird because aside from the old drive-in movie trailer effect they did to open the show, it pretty much felt like a regular WWE event.
Anyway, branding aside, the WWE did actually have a good looking card going into the PPV. Lesnar vs. Joe. Reigns vs. Strowman. Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The Hardys. Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass. The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose. Oh, and the show opened with two top stars in Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. That sounds like a good card. But it’s one thing to put a good card down on paper. It’s another thing to execute a great show.
So, how did everything unfold? What does it mean for RAW’s plans as the build to SummerSlam begins? Read on and find out our top 15 takeaways from WWE Great Balls Of Fire.
15. The Cruiserweight Division Is Thin With Austin Aries’s Release
The WWE Cruserweight division took a hit on Friday when it was announced the company had released Austin Aries. It was a little confusing as to why Neville’s feud with Aries wasn’t continuing into Great Balls Of Fire and the release shed light as to why it seemed to quiet down.
We were left with Tozawa taking on Neville and while the two put on a solid match on the pre-show, it feels like Neville doesn’t have a true top babyface to feud with in the 205 division. First of all, it wasn’t entirely clear if Titus is now a face and/or what Tazawa’s role now is in the division.
14. Bray Wyatt/Seth Rollins Was Underwhelming
A depressing stat about Bray Wyatt’s WWE win/loss record was revealed on Sunday, as Wyatt’s win percentage in WWE going into the event was 29.55%. That percentage got a little boost with Wyatt beating Rollins, taking advantage of Seth ‘losing his cool’. It’s almost like WWE was aware of it, as the commentary team quipped before the match, “it’s one thing to spew your rhetoric every week, it’s another to back it up with victories.”
The match itself was pretty underwhelming for a PPV opener. It’s like the crowd has stopped caring about this feud, as it’s still not entirely clear why the two are even feuding. It feels like WWE threw this feud together until they could think of something better and meaningful for each man to do. Wyatt’s victory in this match didn’t feel important at all.
13. Cass’s Push Is On
From the moment Enzo & Cass split, we knew there’d inevitably be a one-on-one match on PPV and it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Cass would get the win. Cass has the look and presence that the WWE likes in its top stars and the company clearly has bigger plans for him, so it makes sense that Cass got the win.
Like the story built to, Enzo ran his mouth before the match (great promo by the way), but it spoke to why Cass’s character grew frustrated with his tag partner. What followed was Cass essentially squashing Enzo and there isn’t much more WWE could do with the feud.
12. What About Enzo?
Enzo essentially got squashed and the decisive victory for Cass doesn’t really fuel the appetite for a rematch.
That’s not to say Enzo shouldn’t have a bright future as a singles star. While he’s not the best in-ring performer, he still has a ton of charisma and not many in the company could match him on the mic. If Enzo can’t be a top star on the main event scene, why not throw him into the Cruiserweight Division. Remember when I alluded to the fact that the division is lacking a top face to feud with Neville? Enzo can’t match Neville in wrestling skill, so he already looks like the underdog, but he’s one that can actually rally a crowd and it seems like the best option for Enzo at this point. Rather than being another glorified jobber with the rest of the pack, let Enzo bring his skills to a division that really needs some firepower.
11. The Tag Team Ironman Match Delivered
The 30-minute Ironman Tag Team Championship match was highly anticipated, as many were wondering how such a match would play out in a tag-team version and it delivered. Sheamus & Cesaro scored a quick first fall within 30 seconds of the match beginning and from there, the Hardys played catchup throughout the match.
After falling 3-1 in falls, The Hardys began a dramatic babyface comeback and managed to tie the match, only for Cesaro to steal a pinfall after Jeff Hardy hit the Swanton on Sheamus. With Sheamus & Cesaro retaining, it leaves a question…
10. How Much Longer Will Team Extreme Go On?
The ending left us wondering if The Hardys are going to get another title reign anytime soon. More importantly, the Hardys losing makes you wonder if it’s the end of ‘Team Extreme’ in WWE. While The Hardys have been way over since coming back to WWE, it’s largely because the crowd is playing into the Broken Hardys we saw in Impact Wrestling last year. Matt continues to tease an eventual resurrection of the gimmick, but reports have been conflicting the past few weeks as to whether the Hardys are close or not to a settlement on the gimmick rights with Anthem Sports.
9. Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss Will Continue
With the countout victory over Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks will presumably get a rematch (they’re supposed to be automatic, but remember AJ Styles STILL hasn’t gotten his one-on-one rematch for his WWE Championship on SmackDown!). After locking Bliss in The Bank Statement, Sasha seemed to have the win, but Bliss then got to the ropes and rolled to the outside. She then stayed on the outside and took the countout loss, thus retaining her title.
I was expecting Bliss to retain and for a feud with Nia Jax to begin over the title, but it seems we’re going to get more of Sasha/Bliss… which I’m okay with.
Alexa Bliss continues to show why she’s the best heel in the women’s division on either brand. First, she feigns dislocating her elbow to create a momentary distraction, then when she looks beaten, she takes the countout loss to retain the title. While I’m not normally a fan of countout finishes on PPV, I’m okay with it when it’s used in the proper way and this certainly was. The heel is supposed to be underhanded and take the easy way out. Bliss did that.
7. How Much More Of Miz/Ambrose Do We Have To See?
This seemed to be the bathroom break match of the night. While The Miz has done great work as Intercontinental Champion, I am just so tired of this feud. It wasn’t attention grabbing on SmackDown, yet for some reason, the WWE decided to continue it when both Miz and Ambrose switched brands. You just knew that Miz was going to retain with the help of the Miztourage of Maryse, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
6. Do Ambulance Matches Ever Work?
Look, I’m all for gimmick matches that have been proven to work time and time again, but do Ambulance Matches ever actually work well in execution? Yes, the spot following the match was cool, but the object of the match has always seemed silly to me; get your opponent into the ambulance and shut the doors. The way the Strowman/Reigns match ended, it showed that the match can result in a fluke ending; I mean, Reigns loses an ambulance match because he misses a spear, the doors close on him and it was all over?
5. That Spot Though…
Silly ambulance match stipulation aside, the spot following the match with Reigns attacking Strowman, placing him in the ambulance and crashing it backwards into a semi-trailer was pretty cool. The whole ordeal that ensued of Kurt Angle and the medics desperately trying to break Braun out of the ambulance provided extra drama (Angle’s a pretty good actor). To top it all off, Strowman stumbled out of the ambulance, refusing any medical help. Damn, that looked badass, didn’t it.
The only question though is, how does this make Strowman look like the heel? Roman loses the match, but then loses it and delivers this heinous attack?
4. No Build In Kurt Angle Storyline?
It seems a little puzzling to me that both shows’ general managers have been mostly absent from the past couple of PPVs. They’re constantly on-screen for RAW and SmackDown every week, so why do they just disappear on PPV? The most we saw of Angle was following the angle of Reigns crashing the ambulance with Strowman inside.
About a month ago, the WWE began teasing a storyline of Kurt Angle getting a series of messages which if true, would supposedly ruin him, but not much has been touched on it since. Reports have been saying that it will lead to Angle feuding with The Authority and that Triple H would be his first in-ring opponent, but it would have been nice for WWE to give us some more development in this storyline.
3. Finn Balor Off The PPV?!
WTF WWE?! A year ago Finn Balor looked like he was going to emerge as the no.1 face of the brand but since his injury last year at SummerSlam, the WWE has barely done anything relevant with him at all. Now, on the brand’s last PPV before SummerSlam, Balor’s left off the RAW PPV altogether? It’s baffling that Balor is being so underused. The crowd let WWE know it too, chanting for Balor in the Reigns/Strowman match and the impromptu Curt Hawkins/Heath Slater match.
Either they have to move Balor to SmackDown or they have to turn him heel, because the status quo simply can’t go on. Even worse, original plans for Balor to face Lesnar at SummerSlam were reportedly scrapped a while ago, which leaves Balor in limbo.
2. Brock Retains; What About Joe?
Man, Samoa Joe really delivered in this feud. Joe has gotten insanely over with the WWE crowd, but still established his heel heat by attacking Lesnar while Heyman was introducing his client and putting him through the announce table. He then landed a low blow with the ref’s back to Lesnar. Lesnar’s offense consisted mostly of German suplexes – surprise, surprise – and eventually landed an F-5 after escaping a Coquina Clutch.
Samoa Joe was the more dominant of the two during the match, but of course, Lesnar ended up with the victory, so as most would have predicted, he’ll be heading into SummerSlam as the champ.
1. Is RAW’s SummerSlam Main Event All But Confirmed?
Let’s face it; RAW is going to get the last match of SummerSlam this year… Why? Because they have BROCK LESNAR and as we saw last year, anything Lesnar is doing seems to be more important to WWE than the rest of the roster. Oh, and he also just happens to hold the WWE Universal Championship.
With Lesnar retaining at Great Balls Of Fire and Braun Strowman scoring the victory over Roman Reigns, you’d think their feud, that has pretty much gone on and off since the beginning of the year, is over. Then again, does the feud end with Reigns crashing the ambulance with Strowman inside?
You have to think Braun’s victory will lead to Braun vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Then again, WWE seems to make rules up as they go along, so they could always make Roman no.1 contender for no reason.
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