Previously on the Best and Worst of WWE Great Balls Of Fire: Jerry Lee Lewis released a hit song in 1957, and an 8-year old Jerry Lawler was like, “one day I’m gonna get the rights to that and name a wrestling show after it.” The good news is that 1957 was a SPECTACULAR year for wrestler births, as it gave us both Bret Hart and the original Tiger Mask. Also, Steve McMichael. Note: this pay-per-view is named after a song that came out the year a guy who played on the Chicago Bears 30 years ago was born.
If you missed Great Balls of Fire 2017, click here to watch it on WWE Network.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Great Balls Of Fire Pay-Per-View® 2017 for July 9, 2017.
Worst: Let’s Start #WWEBalls With Two Shots To The Balls
The crowd wasn’t entirely there for Neville vs. Akira Tozawa on the Balls pre-show, but I was enjoying what they were doing until the finish, which was #WWEBalls appropriate. Tozawa ends up crotched across the top rope, unable to move for some reason even as Titus rightfully yells MOVE, GET OFF THE ROPE at him, so Neville kicks the rope behind the referee’s back and delivers a second nutshot.
The champion taking a cheapshot to set up a rematch is nothing new, but they way they did it seemed custom designed to suck whatever air the crowd had built up out of them. Tozawa’s on the ground, so Neville just kinda wanders around the ring. Tozawa tries to get up, so Neville kicks him in … the stomach? And then just pins him. And I mean, yeah, I guess if you just got hit in the balls twice a kick to the stomach would probably explode your guts, but it was anticlimactic as hell and made Tozawa look like a chump.
Ball shot number two is BRAY WYATT OPENING THE SHOW.
Come on, guys, the opener is supposed to get people excited.
Wyatt vs. Rollins wasn’t bad, I guess, but I have to be honest and remind everyone that wrestling matches do not exist in a contextless vacuum, and that it would take intervention from an Actual God to get me to enjoy his matches on an objective surface level again. I just can’t do it. Every time I see him I see the compilation of him losing, my tweet about every Bray Wyatt angle, the bug ring at WrestleMania, the reverse ghost tractor and the dilapidated fridge of doom and all the other horrible bullshit from the House of Horrors, the endless promos that say nothing and accomplish less, all the times he wins via unrelated third-party cheating, that stupid delay on the Sister Abigail that makes everyone who takes it look stupid, and a career win/loss record with a 29% win percentage.
In comparison, the Internet Wrestling Database has Disco Inferno’s win percentage at 31.90%. Bray Wyatt, a God, the terrifying eater of worlds and former WWE Champion for like a month is mathematically worse than the Disco Fucking Inferno.
Here, the mystical spooky teleporting God wins with a thumb to the eye, which WWE treats like a point-blank gunshot. I know Bray’s supposed to be a liar heel and all that stuff, but man, how often did the spooky-ass classic Undertaker flick dudes in the dick before chokeslamming them? His wrestling persona has legitimately turned into “homeless person nobody has the heart to tell to leave.”
And to recap, the show’s first two matches — this show with a really great card on paper — ended with a nutshot and a thumb to the eye. Hope nothing ends on like, a count-out or distraction interference.
Worst: Matches Ending In Count-Out And Distraction Interference
Worst: Miz vs. Ambrose, Part A Million
These guys have been feuding since like, January. Of 1912. Here’s what I wrote in our predictions post:
Dean Ambrose will hit 4-6 moves with the velocity of Precious Moments figurine and look like he’s about to win, but he’ll be distracted by either Axel or Dallas, actually hit by the other one with the referee’s back turned, and pinned by Miz.
That’s exactly what happened. And yo, I know that accurately predicting the finish of a Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz match doesn’t make me Nostradamus, but the finishes at a pay-per-view after like seven months of stories and build shouldn’t end like a Raw match booked on week 1 of a new cycle. Just unbearable and lazy as shit.
- The Miz won, and will hopefully feud with ANYBODY ELSE now
- Bo Dallas looks like all the members of Aces and Eights as one dude
Seriously, if Wes Brisco and Garrett Bischoff somehow had a baby, it would be Bo Dallas. And bonus points to Corey Graves for his “some of what Bo Dallas is wearing could be considered fashionable” line.
Best: Everything About The Women’s Championship Match (Except For The Finish)
Sasha Banks is a great opponent for Alexa Bliss. They compliment each other really well, as Sasha just kinda wrestles her own match around Bliss and doesn’t pull her punches, forcing Bliss to knuckle up or get shit-kicked. Every time they faced off in NXT, Sasha wrecked her. She even busted her open a few times. Sasha’s inherent recklessness and disregard for her own body forces Alexa to be present in the match and fight, as opposed to being in there with Nia or Bayley or whoever and be too concerned with hitting the right stuff at the right time.
The downside of the match is the finish, which as you might’ve guessed, is a count-out. That’s a Raw finish, guys, not a Raw pay-per-view finish. I guess the modern landscape of WWE Network pay-per-views is that they’re all episodic, and there’s never really an ending in mind. They just keep everything going as long as they can, never sticking more than their toe in the water, so they can get 15 of the same match over a six month period instead of one that matters. Then you’d have to like, work for the next one.
It’s all an excuse to get to the post-match attack, one of two “babyfaces attack the heel and beat them up beyond reason” moments of the show. For this one, Sasha actually wins by count-out but doesn’t win the belt, so she goes after Alexa, beats her up on the stage and drops knees on her from the table to the floor. None of this is safe, ESPECIALLY if you’re Sasha Banks:
Discounting the finish, this was probably the best total singles match for Alexa Bliss so far, and one of the best Sasha Banks matches in a while. The key to fixing the Raw women’s division is to probably not have every angle revolve around a roaming pack of goalless women whose only settings are “jealous” or “loser.”
Best: When The Arena Graphics Make It Look Like The Name Of The Show Is EAT BALLS
Best: When The TitanTron Graphics Make It Look Like Enzo Amore Is Wrestling BIG ASS
How much better of a gimmick would that be for him? New Japan Pro Wrestling is all about Billy Gunn for some reason, why not bring in Colin Cassidy as his Bad Luck Fale and call him BIG ASS? Related note: 100% this gets changed, possibly as soon as Monday night. Unless they’re ribbing him. Or he’s going to start teaming with Rikishi.
Best: Enzo’s Life
The actual match between the two plays out like it should, with Cass just beating the dog Christ out of Enzo, gorilla pressing him to the floor and booting him in the face. To his credit, Enzo does his part, which is just to take a hell of a beating to make Big Ass look like the devil, and show a little resiliency. It is what it is.
The other purpose of Enzo is to cut another incredible promo before the match, which he accomplishes. I can’t believe how quickly the Cass angle flipped my opinions on the guy. All you needed was to realize that he’s very good at talking on the microphone and give him a task, and something to talk about. Even the best talkers in history can’t come out every week with a Road Dogg-ass singalong speech and cut promos about how fuckable the fried chicken is and sound good. Removing Enzo from Cass positioned him as an actual human being, and for maybe the first time in his WWE career makes him look, sound and feel like a human being. His Frank Sinatra promo gets him over as a fully-formed person, and the “young blue eyes” thing could stick. In contrast, Cass is very tall.
I would’ve never guessed that the breakup could end up with Enzo soaring and Cass as the Jannetty, but I guess you should never underestimate the dangers of being that close of a human to Test.
What Do Mr. T, Chewbacca And Matt Hardy Have In Common?
Gross, I’m trying to eat over here.
Worst: Giving Sheamus A Pinfall With A Brogue Kick In 19 Seconds
It’s been five years and that shit still gives me PTSD.
Best: The Rest Of The Match
There are two truths about the Iron Man Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship:
1. It’s the best match between some combination of the Hardy Boys and Sheamus and Cesaro to date, which is saying something, because there have been a lot of them. And,
2. You have to sit through 20 minutes of an okay match to get to the good part.
The downside to WWE iron man matches is that they usually go into a holding pattern somewhere in the middle, as logic dictates that whoever’s in the lead should like, slow down the pace and try to run down the clock so they can win. It makes sense, it’s just not especially entertaining most of the time, especially when you know the drama of the match is in the final moments, and you KNOW they aren’t gonna go into the final minutes with one team having a huge lead.
That said, the final 10 minutes of this were really damn good, and surprisingly bloody. There was a lot of incidental blood on the night, come to think of it. But yeah, once the Hardys come back to tie it up, shit gets tense and urgent. That’s when it shines. And the good news is that the champions retain their title, which means (hopefully) that this is the definitive end of the feud, the Hardys put someone over and made them look like a million bucks (finally) (eventually), and everyone can move on to something else. Not that there’s a lot to do in the Raw tag team division, but maybe Sheamus and Cesaro can give Apollo Crews and Akira Tozawa a point for a while, and The Hardys can get officially broken by the Revival. Hell, they did it to the New Day.
Best: I’m Not Finished With You Yet
Roman Reigns matches are usually very good when they’re not half an hour long, and they’re not trying to convince us what he’s an underdog who might not win the championship. Of course he will, he’s goddamn Roman Reigns. I’m never buying that dude as the underdog. He’s out here wearing a padded vest, selling his ribs. Boy you phony.
Additionally, Reigns’ matches with Braun Strowman are almost always good-to-great, because Reigns excels when his opponent can legitimately beat the shit out of him. See his matches with Strowman or Brock Lesnar, and compare them to the ones with gentle-punching midcard guys. Reigns is like a John Cena who needs to know he’s in for a fight. Strowman is supernaturally made of fights. So if you can escape one of these without, say, Roman Reigns pinning Braun Strowman clean, you’ve got something great.
The good news here, and the best news of the entire pay-per-view, is that Strowman wins. And HOW he wins is hilarious. You know how Strowman’s one weakness is running at you and not being able to stop if you move, so he crashes into the ring post or the security railing or whatever? He has actually begun to adapt, and uses that very move to send Reigns into the back of the car like a happy dog:
And because this is WCW Monday Nitro and we can’t be happy, not even for a second, Roman sells the win for about negative four seconds before opening the ambulance, spearing Strowman from it anyway and beating him up with my very least favorite thing WWE does, the …
Worst: Pre-Taped Multi-Camera Backstage Vehicle Attack
Oh my God, they’re the worst. WWE has a very specific sense of reality, where the stuff in the ring and the stuff backstage has a uniform look. Then, sometimes, WWE turns into a terrible action or horror movie with a dozen cameras in all sorts of crazy, convenient places to capture a bad stunt involving cars. See also the nWo killing The Rock with a truck, JBL trying to kill John Cena with a car, Shane McMahon trying to kill Kane with a limo, Steve Austin trying to kill Vince McMahon with an ATV, and about a hundred others. The second those cameras change, my brain checks out, because I’m taken out of the moment, and I know something corny is about to happen.
Sure enough, Roman Reigns backs the ambulance into a truck at high speed, smashing Strowman in the back of it. I’m not sure if attempted vehicular manslaughter because you’re mad about losing a match constitutes a heel turn, but Roman is certainly a total asshole here. Especially since the bit ends with Strowman walking away under his own power, which is the A-number-1 sign that a heel has just turned face. I don’t think anyone’s going to note it on commentary or even follow through with what it means — the announce team’s just gonna treat Reigns like Cena 2 no matter what he does, or why — but if they do, they’ve got the foundation of something real under all the nonsense.
Shout-out to the fire fighters for using the jaws of life to free Strowman from the ambulance instead of, I don’t know, getting in it and driving it forward slightly.
Best: Joe Goes Toe-To-Toe
First of all, jump to the 1:10 moment in that video for the single best part of the match, which is Brock by God Lesnar doing the Akira Tozawa “crawl backwards through a guy’s legs and German him” spot. I won’t say Lesnar really “wrestled” this — it’s still just German suplexes and an F-5 — but at least he looked like he was trying for a second.
So here’s something I need to say about the main event: I’m bummed that Samoa Joe lost. It’s one of those situations where Lesnar is clearly mailing it in in every possible way, and Joe’s doing the polar opposite. Joe’s bringing it in the ring and on the mic and in fights or backstage every single time, showing intensity, fire, power, and all the stuff they tell you you’re supposed to have to be the top guy in the company. Joe as champion would be shocking, and we’d actually have a champion on the show again. And the booking for SummerSlam wouldn’t be so damn obvious.
That said, this is about as good as a six minute match between these guys probably could’ve been at this stage in Brock’s career and development as a performer. Joe kicks his ass for almost all of it, which is spectacular, and Joe like legitimately blocking Brock’s knee strikes made me happy. Anybody with a brain and a functioning pair of eyeballs should come out of this match knowing Joe’s the money performer, whether bored modern Brock is the actual money or not.
The finish came a little out of nowhere, too, but I think I like it. Joe goes down to only one F-5, which is kinda how it should work, but WWE’s built nearly every Brock match around dudes kicking out of two or three of them. So it’s the right call on paper, but in context it kinda made Joe look like he could dish it out but not take it. A small complaint, though. Also, check out the fearful symmetry of Joe getting back on offense via a nutshot. They book-ended Great Balls Of Fire with people getting hit in the balls.
So here we are, finally on the Road to SummerFest. At least on the Raw side. Smackdown’s still got Battleground to get through. Anybody else bummed that the Hardy Boys are on Raw, so they can’t make “prepare the Battleground for masscare” references?
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
The Real Birdman
At least WWE’s consistent. The booking certainly shook my nerves and rattled my brain.
Brock: I’m ready to start the match.
Ron Howard: He was not ready to start the match.
Once again, Vince puts over the wrong Samoan Joe
Brock suplexing Joe had heart. But Joe kicking Brock in the groin had Joe kicking Brock in the groin.
The French guys were so excited because they thought it was a Jerry Lewis-themed pay per view.
Roman is in the back wondering why Big Cass didn’t get the entrance music.
Enzo sounds like he’s giving a best man speech where he’s about to drunkenly confess he’s in love with the bride
So just started, but just want to say that we’re at the point where Bray wins are more shocking than Cena losses.
Kevin Nash Booked This
I don’t want to see the Hardys do anything for a half an hour that wasn’t filmed in their backyard.
The first match at Great Balls of Fire is to determine who has dropped the ball the most.
That’s it for the FIRST-TIME EVER® GREAT BALLS OF FIRE PAY-PER-VIEW EVENT®. If you’re lost, don’t be. Even Barb and Will found their way out of the Upside Down to be at the show.
Be sure to click the social share buttons on the column to share the jokes with people, and drop down into our comments to Um Actually us about whatever moves you. And hey, be here on Monday night for the fallout from Great Balls Of Fire. The BALLOUT.