When it was first announced, the WWE Universe scoffed and joked about the Great Balls of Fire PPV name. Not many expectations were set high for the PPV initially but when the card started to come together, fans found themselves surprisingly excited for the event.
As expected late in the game, the PPV met almost every high expectation and delivered on almost every match of the night.
- Cruiserweight Championship Match: Neville vs. Akira Tozawa
The Cruiserweight Division has been relegated to the Pre-show for the third straight PPV, but Neville continues to deliver as a strong heel champion. Tozawa and Neville both delivered strong spots, but in true Cruiserweight Division style the finish was weak. No finisher finish, the ref being blind to a blatant low blow, followed by Neville giving a low midsection spin kick with a quick pin.
Overall Match Grade: B
- Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
In what was built as one of the strongest, creative driven PPV’s in recent memory, this match was kind of thrown together last minute, but still involved two of the biggest names on Monday Night Raw. Wyatt is once again in a “Must Win” match scenario against Seth Rollins who’s seemingly in limbo right now on Raw as Brock is Universal Champ. Two headliners kicking off the brand new PPV is a strong move. Rollins and Wyatt put the butts in the seats early and held the audience’s attention from bell to bell. Wyatt delivered some hard shots early; Rollins of course rallied back and land several signature moves leading to Bray ultimately escaping the ring to catch a breather. When Rollins went to retrieve Wyatt he raked the eyes leading to a blind Rollins walking into Sister Abigail.
Overall Match Grade: B+
- Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
Everyone who has eyes knows this match wasn’t going to be a close one. Big Cass is seven feet tall and outweighs Enzo by an easy 150 pounds, but the build-up and final promo that was cut leading to the match gave us hope that maybe Enzo could pull it off. Maybe he could hit Cass in one of his knees and score a pinfall off a quick roll up. However, once the match started it was clear that Cass was going to absolutely manhandle his former best friend and tag partner. With an awesome Guerilla Press toss out of the ring that lead to a very close nine count, Enzo somehow rolled himself back in the ring. Cass seemingly unamused by Enzo’s never say die attitude, hit Amore with a devastating big boot and took the pinfall. The promos made the match meaningful, otherwise this would’ve been a complete snooze fest.
Overall Match Grade: C+
- Raw Tag Team Title Ironman Match: Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The Hardy Boyz
The latest chapter in the Hardy Boyz vs. Sheamus & Cesaro saga has the fun added twist of being the first ever Ironman Tag Team Titles Match. In typical WWE Ironman Match fashion we had a quick pinfall within seconds of the match starting. Cesaro & Sheamus got out to a quick and dominate 2-0 lead before the Hardy’s picked up their first pinfall. Matt Hardy delivered on many #BrokenMatt spots in the match without, as he hinted he would on his twitter all week long, but the match felt in hand for the defending champs when they took the 3-1 lead with only 14 minutes left in the match. The Hardy’s mounted a huge comeback tying it at 3 a piece with only a little over two minutes left. A late flurry of double team moves lead to some confusion late as Cesaro swooped in and pinned Jeff Hardy after he hit the Swanton Bomb on Sheamus, thinking he was the legal man. The defending champions retained, leaving the Hardys, dare I say, broken.
Overall Match Grade: A-
- Raw Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Alexa seems to be embracing her new underdog role and rolling with it in style. She and Sasha put on a spectacular match including an awesome moment when Alexa revealed she is double jointed. Sasha dished out some awesome arm drags leading to Alexa coming up screaming and holding her arm that appeared to be dislocated. Cole did an incredible job on commentary of selling this didn’t appear to be scripted and Sasha seemed genuinely concerned for her competitor, only to have Alexa slap Sasha across the chest and give her patented Bliss laugh. After some serious shots from both sides, including a Bank Statement in the middle of the ring by Sasha & Alexa laying major shots to Sasha’s back, Alexa realized she couldn’t beat Banks on this night so she took the Champion’s Advantage and was counted out. Banks won the match but Bliss retained the title. Afterwards Banks was so filled with rage we got an awesome spot where both Bliss and Banks started attacking each other on the ramp. Alexa initially appeared to have the upper hand as she set Sasha on the commentary table, but Sasha quickly countered and threw Alexa off the table and too the floor below. Banks finished off the Raw Women’s Champion with a devastating double knee drop from the table to the floor on Bliss. The rivalry appears to just be getting started.
Overall Match Grade: A
- Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
In what feels like the 20th telling of The Miz/Dean Ambrose story for the IC Title, we actually got a fun little twist this go around. This time The Miz wouldn’t be accompanied to the ring by just his wife, Maryse, but he’d also have the assistance of the newly formed Miztourage, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Dean and The Miz put on yet another quality match, with several swings of momentum for both sides, but ultimately The Miz had too much help to be defeated. Ambrose dealt with Axel but Dallas attacked him from behind leaving him vulnerable to The Miz’s Skull Crushing Finale.
Overall Match Grade: B
- Ambulance Match: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns
Unlike the aforementioned Dean vs. The Miz rivalry, the Braun vs. Roman feud has the WWE universe on the edge of their seats. Both men are juggernauts, who at one point or another in their short careers, who have looked absolutely indestructible. Braun immediately started waylaying Roman with heavy shots. Roman and Braun continued to land big shots on one another in the ring before Roman got his hands on a steel chair. After the first initial shot Braun began shaking off the hits almost like a bear swatting a gnat away. Strowman threw Reigns off the ramp and into the side of the ambulance, reminiscent of what we saw on Raw. Reigns came back and threw Strowman through the entrance stage wall. Strowman got to his feet again and Reigns continued to try and put him away but Strowman lured Reigns into setting up his Spear in back of the ambulance. Strowman sidestepped the spear and slammed the doors shut and won the match. Roman snapped though and attacked Braun after the match. He threw Braun into the back of the ambulance, pulled away in the ambulance, stopped, then put the ambulance in reverse and floored it into another truck. Roman got out of the driver’s seat and proceeded to limp away as Raw GM Kurt Angle looked horrified at what Reigns had done. After some time and a filler match that no one really cared about, Braun was pulled from the ambulance and proceeded to stagger away, refusing medical attention, building his reputation as an unstoppable force.
Overall Match Grade: A+ (Will be a “Match of the Year” candidate)
- WWE Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
Lesnar’s first Universal Title defense saw him taking on the “Samoan Submission Machine” Samoa Joe. Joe took several shots at Lesnar in the past weeks and for the first time in recent memory Joe was built as a legitimate threat to Lesnar. During introductions Joe attacked Lesnar from behind and put him through the German Announce table before the bell rang. Lesnar finally staggered back into the ring and the match could start. Joe reigned down heavy blows before Lesnar finally got his hands on Joe and took him to Suplex City. Joe managed to break up the suplexs and go on another heavy spurt of blows before locking in the Koji Clutch for the first time. Lesnar got free and took Joe back to Suplex City but Joe again managed to lock in the Koji Clutch and as he dropped Lesnar down to both knees it seemed like he had the title within his grasp, but then Lesnar popped up and delivered a devastating F-5 to retain his title.
Overall Match Grade: A-
Overall Grade for Great Balls of Fire: A-
In this Mark’s opinion this has been the best PPV the WWE has put on in 2017. The promo work and story telling leading into each match was spot on. I was hooked and wanted to see each match. Enzo has much more to learn in the ring, but his promo in the ring before the match gave me Goosebumps. Braun’s build as an unstoppable force doesn’t feel as forced as others in the past have *cough* *cough* Roman Reigns *cough* *cough*. As for the Main Event, while Joe didn’t walk away with the belt I feel that the WWE did a fantastic job of building him strong. Also if the Summerslam Main Event for the Universal Title ends up being Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar, then Brock’s retention makes perfect sense.