WWE Great Balls Of Fire 2017 Review feat. Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe

Image Source: WWE
CompanyWWE
EventGreat Balls Of Fire 2017
SeriesGreat Balls Of Fire
Edition1
FormatPay-Per-View
DateSunday July 9 2017
VenueAmerican Airlines Center
LocationDallas, Texas, USA
Attendance16,579

WWE Great Balls Of Fire 2017

WWE Great Balls Of Fire 2017 attracted criticism as soon as the show title was announced, with many wondering if Vince McMahon had finally and completely lost his marbles by naming a PPV in 2017 after a Jerry Lee Lewis song that was released 60 (yes, sixty) years in advance. If you could look past this non-issue, though (and the logo seemingly resembling a pair of testicles, especially the original logo), this ended up being a surprisingly exciting card with plenty to offer for WWE fans, as I will explain.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS TV SHOWS? READ OUR PRE-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & 205 LIVE!

Kick-Off Show

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa

The tradition of a Cruiserweight Championship match being held on the pre-show resumed here, as Neville – having ended his lengthy feud with Austin Aries at Extreme Rules – defended his crown against Akira Tozawa. The two meshed together well and put on a strong effort, as one would expect from performers of this calibre. For Akira, this was the biggest match of his WWE career to date, and he aimed to make the most of it by capturing his first piece of gold (well, silver) from the self-proclaimed King Of The Cruiserweights. Ultimately, though, his quest would be in vain, as Neville struck with a stiff kick to pick up the win. Although Neville won fairly decisively here, it wouldn’t bother me at all to see these two collide again because this was a more than adequate contest, especially for the pre-show.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE VERY FIRST PPV? READ OUR WWF WRESTLEMANIA 1 REVIEW!

Main Show

Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt

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The opening match of the main PPV saw Bray Wyatt complete a unique treble, having now faced all three former Shield members on PPV in singles action at some stage. He faced Dean Ambrose at Survivor Series and TLC of 2014, he battled Roman Reigns at Battleground and Hell In A Cell in 2015, and now here he took on Seth Rollins (and he, along with Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, has even fought all three at the same time on PPV back at Elimination Chamber 2014). This feud hasn’t had a huge amount of time to build, but it was a fresh match between two of the bigger names on Raw. That made for an interesting spectacle, though we’ve definitely seen better bouts from Rollins on PPV this year. Wyatt scored the victory by catching Seth in the eye and then drilling him with Sister Abigail, meaning that Bray has not only fought all ex-Shielders solo on PPV, but he has defeated them all the first time around as well. And yet Bray is being booked to Hell on a permanent basis, right?

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS PPV? READ OUR WWE MONEY IN THE BANK 2017 REVIEW!

Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass

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In our second contest, we had the grudge match between ex-partners Enzo Amore and Big Cass, whose tag team (which at one point was hugely over and one of the weekly highlights of Raw) split up over the course of several weeks based on a who-dunnit series of attacks on Amore, with the 7-foot Cass being the culprit. This was a well-orchestrated plotline, and while it feels too soon to split up such a popular act, it’s understandable as to why WWE wants to fully utilise Cass’ potential and unleash him in a singles heel role. The only issue is that their PPV showdown was never going to be a classic, especially given that Enzo suddenly seems to be viewed by hardcore fans as a terrible in-ring performer. Nevertheless, this was decent enough, and unsurprisingly Cass scored a convincing win after drilling Amore with a big boot to the mush. The feud might continue given their history, but if it doesn’t, Cass is likely to begin scaling the ladder on Monday nights, while Enzo’s future away from his odd-couple tag team is unknown at this time.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PREVIOUS RAW PPV? READ OUR WWE EXTREME RULES 2017 REVIEW!

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship 30-Minute Iron Man Match
Sheamus & Cesaro (C) vs. The Hardy Boyz

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While so far we had seen several rivalries making their first bow on PPV so to speak, the next match was the assumed culmination of a long-running story. Matt and Jeff Hardy had returned to WWE in grand fashion at WrestleMania 33 by capturing the Raw Tag Team Titles in a Ladder match, and they had retained against Sheamus and Cesaro at Payback only for the Irishman and Swiss, erm, man to turn heel afterwards. The Europeans captured the belts in a Steel Cage bout at Extreme Rules, and a two-out-of-three falls contest on Raw – which we thought would draw a line under the feud – had a disputed finish, thus setting up this final battle, which was guaranteed to determine a true winning combo after 30 minutes of action.

Sheamus caught Matt with an immediate Brogue Kick to go 1-0 up, showing cunning strategy from the villains. A double-team White Noise on Jeff made it 2-0 to the champions, though Matt managed to catch Cesaro with a Twist Of Fate for 2-1. A countout allowed the heels to go 3-1 up, and from there the story became about whether or not The Hardyz could even things up prior to the time expiring. A quick pin by Jeff over Cesaro achieved 50% of the gameplan, and another Twist Of Fate to Sheamus put The Hardyz at 3-3 with a few minutes remaining, meaning that it was all to play for. As Matt was somehow heavily busted open by accident, Jeff hit Sheamus with a Swanton Bomb, but was rolled up by Cesaro to make it 4-3 to the titleholders, and though Jeff rebounded with a Twist Of Fate, the attempted cover was just too late, and so Sheamus and Cesaro retained in very dramatic fashion. I really enjoyed this match, and the finish in particular was very well done. I am interested to see what comes next for Matt and Jeff, though, since the legends have lost the feud overall, ruling them out of future title shots for the time being.

WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match
Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks

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After several months of Alexa Bliss humiliating Bayley both verbally and physically by virtue of recent PPV results, it was refreshing to see Alexa defend her title against somebody else, and who better than The Boss, Sasha Banks? There was a unique spot early on where Alexa appeared to have dislocated her elbow, only for her to reveal that she had the versatility to do so intentionally, thus drawing Sasha into an attack. Otherwise, this will be remembered mostly for the fact that it had a screwjob finish, with Alexa taking the countout loss to retain her title; a fuming Sasha, despite winning, attacked Bliss afterwards and hit a Meteora off the announcer’s table by the aisleway. Sasha went off completely on Alexa during the post-show Raw Talk programme, and she was so convincing that some have wondered if there is legitimate heat between the two. Sounds like a good way to build up a rematch (presumably at SummerSlam).

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
The Miz (C) vs. Dean Ambrose

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In contrast to Miz and Ambrose’s very entertaining opener at Extreme Rules, or even their exciting clashes on SmackDown at the turn of the year, I felt this was only average at best. Maybe it’s because they didn’t receive as much time, or maybe it’s because fans have switched off from the feud (they have been at each other’s throats for quite a while at this stage, to be fair), but this didn’t click as much as I thought it would. It was proficient enough from both men, and the involvement of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel added something that their previous showdowns didn’t have, but overall it feels like this was one PPV match too many between the two men. Miz capitalised on interference from Dallas to hit the Skull-Crushing Finale for the pin, which hopefully brings an end to this rivalry so that both men can move on to other feuds; who those rivalries would be with, I do not know.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE NEXT RAW PPV? READ OUR WWE NO MERCY 2017 REVIEW!

Ambulance Match
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman

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This match covered another lengthy saga, but it just happens to be the hottest feud of the year, and it took another intriguing step forward here. After previous straight singles battles between Roman and Strowman at Fast Lane and Payback, this was presumed to be the big blow-off (Braun had returned from an injury-enforced lay-off on June 19 to continue targeting Reigns), but that may not be the case based on what we saw here. This was a typically intense, back-and-forth battle between these two, and there were some brutal spots, with one of those being the moment where Braun hurled Reigns hard into the side of the ambulance from the stage. Whether fans continue to boo Roman or not, you can’t deny that he is going above and beyond to get the Monster Among Men over as a killer. Speaking of which, Strowman actually picked up the win, and he did so in a creative manner: Roman lined Strowman up for a Spear at the rear of the ambulance, only for Braun to side-step him, sending The Big Dog flying into the ambulance, and this allowed Braun to officially win. But we weren’t done yet.

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Roman escaped the vehicle and managed to Spear Strowman, before tossing him into the ambulance. That also wasn’t enough, though, because Reigns decided to drive the ambulance backstage into the parking lot. There, Reigns decided to go full-on Attitude Era by showing an evil glint in his eye as he reversed the ambulance into a damn production truck! Yes, the static 18-wheeler, which brought the crashing ambulance to a terrifying halt. Raw GM Kurt Angle looked at Roman as if to say “what the hell?”, but Reigns just walked away. At this point, we weren’t sure what Strowman’s physical state was, but this was a wild and brutal moment.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING PPV? READ OUR WWE BATTLEGROUND 2017 REVIEW!

Heath Slater vs. Curt Hawkins

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In an unusual move, as the WWE medical crew attempted to rescue a trapped Strowman from the wreckage, we went to the ring for an impromptu match between Heath Slater and Curt Hawkins, but with the cameras continuously showing the backstage scenes instead of the action in the ring, so much so that Slater won without us getting to see how he actually picked up the victory. Instead, the focus remained on Escape From Ambulance-Traz, with all sorts of tools being used to try and free Braun. They finally succeeded, and when we saw Strowman, he was sporting some gnarly cuts. However, he still managed to walk (well, stumble) away under his own power, with fans cheering the valiant monster. Did Reigns turn heel here? If not, then surely Strowman turned babyface. Either way, this was a memorable presentation, and if we get one final grudge match at SummerSlam, it could be one for the ages, especially if we did indeed get a role reversal for Roman and Strowman here.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LATEST PPV? READ OUR WWE BACKLASH 2020 REVIEW!

WWE Universal Championship Match
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Samoa Joe

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Closing the show, we had the first ever battle between Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe. Joe had been built up very well for this bout by choking out Lesnar and also Paul Heyman at different points, making him a credible threat to The Beast Incarnate. Joe attacked Brock before the bell even rang and drove him through the Spanish announcer’s table with a Uranage. Joe continued pounding Lesnar after the match began, though Lesnar did fire back with a short trip to Suplex City. Back and forth they went again before the submission attempts came into play, and at one point Joe had Brock in real trouble with the Coquina Clutch. But Lesnar managed to avoid submitting and instead demonstrated his power by dropping Joe with an F5 for the pinfall win. This was gripping, but it was way too short at less than seven minutes from bell-to-bell. If these two had been given 15 minutes, this would have been a classic; instead, it was really good, but it ended before it could truly exceed expectations.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOLLOWING TV SHOWS? READ OUR POST-PPV REVIEWS OF RAW & 205 LIVE!

Image Source: WWE

On the whole, then, WWE Great Balls Of Fire 2017 was a thrilling event. Roman-Strowman and the post-match angle stood out the most, but the Iron Man match and the main event were also well worth watching despite the truncated length of the latter, and Neville vs. Tozawa and Bliss vs. Banks were also rather enjoyable. It may have had a name that caused fans to laugh out loud, but Great Balls Of Fire was a damn good card and the strongest single-brand PPV of 2017 so far.

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