I know the WWE has been struggling creatively for a while now, but is Great Balls of Fire the best name they could think of to replace the Bad Blood pay-per-view name? And why did they have to change it? Did Taylor Swift file a lawsuit against the WWE for using one of the names of her songs? And if this was the case, did they have to rename the pay-per-view event with another name? If this was the idea, is it just a few months before we see new WWE events like Jungle Boogie and their new December show, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer?
Whatever the reason, let’s go take a look at the first ever RAW exclusive event, Great Balls of Fire!
Match #1: Seth Rollins vs Bray Wyatt
Why are these two feuding again? It’s hard for me to get really invested in a match unless I understand the motivation why they’re fighting in the first place. Oh, sure, they try to make it so like Seth Rollins is upset with Bray Wyatt because he’s some kind of false god but I just didn’t buy into it. Because of this, even though this was an okay match, I couldn’t find it particularly interesting.
The action was actually okay with both Rollins and Wyatt doing some fun stuff but nothing you wouldn’t see from these two in an ordinary episode of RAW. This entire match just didn’t have a pay-per-view quality to the action. There was no real urgency in the spots. They teased a couple of big moves, like The Architect setting up The Eater of Worlds for a Pedigree from the top turnbuckle but nothing came of this. There was nothing to write home about and the action was just okay from bell to bell.
The finish came after Rollins tried to make a comeback, which had Wyatt escape to the outside. Rollins tried to beat Wyatt from inside the ring and the referee attempted to break this up. Wyatt took advantage of the distracted official and jammed his thumb into Rollins’ eye. This stunned The Kingslayer long enough for The New Face of Fear to nail the former with a Sister Abigail for the pinfall victory.
This was a standard RAW match and it definitely didn’t set anything on fire, despite the name of the pay-per-view. However, it would be unfair to say that the action was lackluster as well because, if this was on RAW, I wouldn’t have minded this being the main event. Still, there were no highlight to speak of so this came of as just average.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 RAW matches on a pay-per-view event
Match #2: Enzo Amore vs Big Cass
Remember when I said about getting invested in a match? Well, this was one of those matches where I wanted to see two guys really go at it. The buildup to this match was really good. No one really saw Big Cass betraying Enzo Amore as the duo was one of the most popular tag teams in the WWE. While most fans may disagree with breaking them up, it does free up Enzo Amore and Big Cass to do their own thing. The Certified G still is one of the best talkers in the business and the 7-footer ain’t exactly a slouch either. I do think these two guys will be fine despite the breakup.
The action was… Well, there was hardly any action, as a matter of fact. This match was just Big Cass dominating Enzo Amore from start to finish. And it was beautiful! This was what exactly had to happen for the two to come out stronger. Big Cass got to display his power and show that he can be a ruthless bad guy, willing to destroy his former best friend. Enzo got to show his heart and determination against insurmountable odds and keep on coming back for more.
The end of the match came shortly after the Amore got unceremoniously tossed to the outside by Big Cass. Enzo managed to crawl into the ring before the ten-count. A frustrated Cass then came off the ropes with a big boot. It was lights out for The Certified G after that.
No real spots or action. However, the in-ring storytelling was what mattered here. Big Cass looked good and showed that be wasn’t the goofy sidekick to Enzo anymore. He showed that he could be callous and brutal, which he needed to be in order for us to accept him as a possible big baddie in the future. And while Enzom hardly made any offense, it was easy for the fans to get behind him due to the grit and determination he displayed. The match was fun not because of the action but because of the characters in the ring.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 dominating Big Casses
Match #3: The Hardy Boyz vs Sheamus and Cesaro for the RAW Tag Team Championship in the first ever 30- minute Tag Team Iron Man match
After this match, I actually hope for this feud to last just a bit longer.
This was a brilliantly executed and planned match. It was really smart to get Cesaro and Sheamus to pick up the early lead, making it so the Hardys had to play catchup throughout the majority of the match. Of course, the Hardys did eventually catch up, which just ratcheted up the tension during the closing minutes of the bout. Oddly enough, it looked like the high flying Jeff Hardy looked a little winded by the halfway mark, which did make his moves lose a little impact. It was understandable as to why he looked ragged, though. After all, him and his brother Matt were on the receiving end of a lot of punishment for most of the match.
The closing moments were a nailbiting 2-minutes of near falls and blistering action. However, it was Cesaro and Sheamus that managed to one up the Hardys in the end. Cesaro managed to get a blind tag from Sheamus but the Hardys didn’t see it. Because of this, the duo focused on the Celtic Warrior instead of the legal man. This allowed Cesaro to roll Jeff up after the latter nailed Sheamus with a Swanton Bomb. Jeff did try to get to tie the score after a Twist of Fate but it was too late as the 30-minutes ran out before the three count could be done.
This was easily the match of the night. Both the Hardy Boyz and Sheamus and Cesaro worked well together and were able to fill in the 30-minutes with action throughout. There were a few minutes at the beginning that was pretty slow but that was to be expected; this is a marathon and not a sprint, after all. It was also a little more brutal as Matt Hardy got busted open but that was due to him jamming his head on the mat after a double team attempt. Wonder why one of the Hardy Boyz have to get injured after a match with Sheamus and Cesaro, though?
Rating: 8.0 “broken” Matt Hardys
Match #4: Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship
It was going to be difficult to top the 30-minute Iron Man Tag Team match but, thankfully, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss, while they didn’t manage to deliver a better match, they did produce a solid bout.
I guess it helps to be paired off with a wrestler with the caliber of Sasha Banks because this was probably Alexa Bliss’ best pay-per-view match to date. There was great back-and-forth between the two and both Banks and Bliss got to show off their stuff. Little Miss Bliss is still a little slopping in the ring as you can see some of her moves clearly not connecting on The Boss or they looked a little too unsafe, like that time Bliss dropped Banks on her knee. Ouch! Bliss is definitely improving but she still needs a lot of improvement.
The finish was a little bit too obvious that Alexa Bliss would use the champion’s advantage to her favor. The Wicked Witch of the WWE attempted her Twisted Bliss spinning splash but The Boss managed to get her knees up to counter it. Banks then locked the Bank Statement but Bliss managed to escape to the outside. Bliss then hanged outside to get the countout loss but still keep the RAW Women’s Championship as the title cannot be lost via countout. This did not sit well with Sasha Banks, though. The Boss chased Bliss and attacked her near the announcer’s table.
This was a really good match with some fantastic in-ring storytelling. It’s still kind of disconcerting how mangled Alexa Bliss’ arm looks when she does her “fake dislocated elbow” trick but she won’t be able to use that trick for a while because she used it here. And Little Miss Bliss needs to really work on making her moves a little less dangerous. Of course, Sasha Banks performed like a Boss as usual, elevating the energy of the match overall.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 Alexa Bliss’ dislocated elbows
Match #5: Dean Ambrose vs The Miz (with Maryse and the Miz-tuorage) for the Intercontinental Championship
Look, WWE. I know I said that Dean Ambrose and The Miz worked well together and they can pull off great matched when they have to work together. I didn’t mean that they have to work together all the time!
I honestly couldn’t get excited for this match because this feud has already ran out of steam a long time ago. I get they’re trying to keep it fresh by making The Miz get two new lackeys AKA The Miz-tuorage AKA Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. But it’s time to kill this feud. Even if there were a few good spots, they’ve already done those spots before. It’s already getting too predictable and the pairing has gone incredibly stale already.
The finish came after Ambrose reversed a Skull Crushing Finale by The Miz. The Lunatic Fringe tried to get a pinfall after nailing The Miz with Dirty Deeds but Maryse grabbed her husband’s leg and draped it over the bottom rope, breaking the count. Chaos ensured with Maryse and Curtis Axel distracting both the referee and Ambrose. This allowed Bo Dallas to sneak up from behind and clock Ambrose. The Miz then took advantage by hitting a Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall victory and to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
In all honestly, this was a very average match and you just knew the Miz-tuorage would interfere in some way, which they did. The problem is that The Miz and Ambrose have been going at it for too long. It just took a lot of wind out of the match to the point that I didn’t care for it.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 The Miz and Ambrose again?
Match #6: Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns in an Ambulance match
I usually put the good guy first then the bad guy whenever mention who’s competing. So why did I put Braun Strowman first then Roman Reigns? Well, after this match, I think Strowman came out looking like the good guy and Reigns the bad guy!
First, I will say that this was a pretty good match. Both Reigns and Strowman came off looking strong, but the latter much, much more so. The match started out as standard fare with Strowman dominating early but Reigns eventually getting the upper hand with, what else, Reigns avoiding a Strowman charge, making the bigger man run into the steel post. But this didn’t last for long as The Monster Among Men seemed unstoppable, barely even flinching when being struck by Reigns with a chair!
They also upped the ante with a few special tricks like Reigns tricking Strowman into smashing through the LED wall and Strowman tossing Reigns into the side of the ambulance wall. Really gimmicky but good stuff.
Now, the finish is where I believe Reigns became a bad guy. The Big Dog managed to stun The Monster Among Men by hitting him a strobelight. Reigns then tried to shove Strowman in the ambulance with a spear but the latter man (monster?) sidesteps out of the way, sending Reigns into the back of the vehicle. At this point, I laughed so loud… Anyway, Strowman closes the ambulance doors to get the win. However, Reigns is apparently a sore loser because, even though he lost due to his own stupidity, he decided the best thing to do is to try to outright murder Strowman!
Yep, that’s the guy the little kids are cheering for.
This was a fun match. There were a little bit of over reliance on set pieces and blatant stuntwork but it did add a lot of drama to the match. The best thing is that Braun came out looking like a unstoppable monster that only a car crash could stop. I really do think that Roman Reigns should become a bad guy after what he tried to do against Braun. It was his own fault as to why he lost and throwing a murderous temper tantrum just means that he shouldn’t be the face of the WWE.
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 attempted murder charges against Roman Reigns
Anyway, there’s no time to check on if Braun is okay or not. It’s time for the next match!
Match #7: Heath Slater vs. Curt Hawkins
This looks like an impromptu match but I can’t wait to see what Heath Slater and Curt Hawkings will do. I hope the bring their A-game to show that they deserve to be in a pay-per… wait. Why are you cutting back to the ambulance? Well, they are trying to rescue Braun from that wreckage so it’s only fair that they check on that once in a whil… wait. Heath Slater won while they were showing the fire department bringing out Braun?
Well, it’s good to see Braun is still alive. He’s badly injured and refusing medical attention but he’s managed to survive the murderous Roman Reigns.
Rating: 10.0 of… just kidding! No rating here because this was just nothing match to set up Braun’s new turn as the biggest good guy in the WWE like Hulk Hogan.
Match #8: Brock Lesnar (with his advocate Paul Heyman) vs Samoa Joe for the WWE Universal Championship
Yep, I’m treating Brock Lesnar as the good guy here. Hence, he gets billed first.
This was another fun match. Joe blindsided Lesnar before the bell to get the early upper hand, which was incredibly smart. This didn’t faze Lesnar for too long though as he eventually came back by sending Joe to Suplex City a couple of times. There was a seesaw battle for supremacy with Joe and Lesnar alternating between who dominated the match. This was a match between two powerhouses and it looked brutal!
The match wasn’t all that long, though. The finish came roughly five minutes after both Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar entered the ring. The Samoa Submission Machine locked the Conquina Clutch and it looked like Lesnar was going to fade out. His face even turned a shade of purple! However, The Beast managed to get enough strength to lift Joe up into the F5 for the pinfall victory.
This was a very quick match but it didn’t have to be very long since both Superstars did what they needed to do in that short span of time. There was nothing fancy and it was a straightforward match. It could be seen as a little disappointing as Samoa Joe didn’t really get to show off his library of moves. But as this was against Lesnar, I feel the match had to be really short to retain that air of indestructibility the WWE has cultivated for Lesnar.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 purple Brock Lesnars
Overall Rating for WWE’s Great Balls of Fire
Despite having an incredibly dumb name, the first ever Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view was a success. Not a roaring success thanks to some lame matches like Rollins vs Wyatt and Ambrose vs The Miz. But there were more good matches than bad ones. It’s worth a watch just for the 30-minute Tag Team Iron Man match alone.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 Goodness Graciouses
What did you think of the WWE’s first ever Great Balls of Fire? Let me know in the comments section below!