When the name of this show was announced, we all facepalmed. Seriously? Great Balls of Fire? It was almost like Vince was trying to see just how loony he could get and how we’d react. But then the buildup came, and things didn’t look so crazy. And as the card took it’s final shape, it looked to be a potentially really good show. So how did the pay per view with the most ridiculous name ever turn out?
Cruiserweight Title Match: Neville (c) vs Akira Tozawa
Good pre show match. Both guys play to the crowd, which we need more of from the cruiserweight guys. As far as the match placement on the card, it kinda gives away that there won’t be a title change but they also don’t get cut for time (more on that later) or get stuck in a cool down spot. Neville winning dirty sets up a rematch, of course.
Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins
Pretty good match here for the main show opener, good to see Bray get a win in a big match to overcome the perception that he never wins those (one day I’ll talk about that). They got eleven minutes but could have gone five more without things dragging. It wasn’t a totally clean win but wasn’t an overbooked shenanigan fest either like some of his pay per view victories. I think we get more from them later.
Big Cas vs Enzo Amore
Enzo‘s pre match promo was great, Cas’s new music not so much. The match was a five minute glorified squash, which is what I expected, but wasn’t as brutal a beating as I thought we’d get. I was looking for Cas to pull out some new stuff in the ring, but there wasn’t any. And that suggests that his ceiling may not be so high without Enzo as a mouthpiece.
Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs The Hardys
Great match. Iron Man matches should always be 30 minutes and not 60, in my opinion. The shorter time adds urgency and that’s a good thing. It’s time to talk about Cesaro as an all time great tag team partner a la Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton. What he’s done before coming to WWE and with the company alongside Sheamus and Tyson Kidd is downright extraordinary. I know a lot of you want him to get a big singles push but at the end of the day what we have gotten is pretty damn good. Go ask Arn Anderson if he’s a failure because he was never a solo main eventer and see what kind of answer you get.
Women’s Title Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs Sasha Banks
Hard to follow that Iron Man match but this was good. This was an important match for Alexa. The knock on her, at least my knock on her, has been that she mostly works short matches and needed to do more. The match at Extreme Rules was a sad example of that. They went 11 minutes here and she did get some work in her own but she’s still more character than wrestler. She’s light years ahead of Eva Marie but she’s clearly a level below Sasha, Charlotte, etc. The countout finish fits her character and sets up a rematch next month. If she can hold up her end of a good 15 minute one on one match with Sasha next month that will speak volumes. If we get another Fatal Four way or Six Pack challenge kind of thing that will speak volumes also.
Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (c) vs Dean Ambrose
Like you, I’m ready for both these guys to move on. Thankfully, Miz’s new backup guys Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel (the aptly named Miztourage) added a new element to the mix to make the match more interesting. The match itself was good, but now hopefully this thing is over.
Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman
This was phenomenal. This is why we watch the WWE. I’ve been saying we need to embrace the absurdity sometimes and this is Exhibit A. The very idea of an Ambulance Match is ludicrous but who cares? Strowman looked like a monster and Roman was vicious during and after the match.
As for the aftermath, yeah it was way over the top but that’s why we’re here. Kurt Angle and Jamie Noble’s facial expressions helped sell that whole episode, too. Just a great all around great sports entertainment match and post match scene.
Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar vs Samoa Joe
Short (6 minutes) and intense, which is what I prefer from Brock today. When Brock is dialed in and brings it, it makes for better matches. Was it a match of the year candidate? No, but it was a really good, spectacular fight between two big guys. It’s a close to a shoot fight kinda match as we’re going to get. Yes I could have gone for another minute and Joe not going down to one F5, but he didn’t get squashed and went out looking strong. I’ll take the way this one ended over endless kickouts and no selling of finishers. And let’s be real two big dudes going full tilt are not gonna have a 20 minute match. More of this from Brock, please, and I’ll gladly take a rematch.
Really good show. The build up for this was the best since Mania, and the final product did not disappoint. If your preferred winners didn’t prevail I can see being unhappy with that but otherwise I don’t see any real grounds for complaint. Every match got the time it needed too, which is a quibble I usually have with at least one match on every show. Definitely check it out.