It’s time for WWE Great Balls of Fire presented by the Raw brand. The show is headlined by Brock Lesnar’s Universal Title defense against Samoa Joe. It’s their first match and a lot of people are excited about it including me, so let’s see what happens.

WWE Great Balls of Fire
American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas
July 9, 2017

The Kickoff Show started at 7pmET like usual. I don’t really have an interest in recapping the Kickoff Show because it’s just promoting the matches coming up later. The panel for this show is Renee Young, Peter Rosenberg and David Otunga. Poor Renee with those two.

After 40 minutes of talking, the first match of the night began.

The 205 Live announce team of Vic Joseph and Corey Graves were at the Raw announce table to call the Cruiserweight Championship match.

Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Akira Tozawa (w/Titus O’Neil)

Tozawa fired up the crowd with his shrieking. Shoulder tackle by Neville, Tozawa avoided an attack and hit an arm drag. Tozawa hit a back splash on Neville. Tozawa hit a kick to the head that knocked Neville to the floor. Neville came back with a jumping kick to the head of his own. Neville whipped Tozawa outside the ring and Neville sent Tozawa into the barricade as they went to break.

Commercial aired for WWE Network.

Back from break, Neville was still in control with a running kick to the face for two with O’Neil trying to motivate Tozawa. The comeback for Tozawa started with hard chops to the chest, Neville shoved him away, Tozawa with a jab to the face, a kick to the chest and back suplex. Tozawa went up top, but Neville rolled out to the floor. Tozawa hit a suicide dive and he went back in the ring to hit another suicide dive. Back in the ring, two count for Tozawa. When Tozawa went for a leaping attack, Neville caught him on his shoulders and Tozawa slapped on an octopus stretch submission. Neville got to the ropes to break the hold. Tozawa up top, he jumped off, Neville moved and Neville hit him with a forearm. Neville with kicks to the chest and a running dropkick while Tozawa was trapped against the ropes, which led to a two count. Running forearm by Neville on Tozawa. Neville to the middle rope, he went for a Phoenix Splash, Tozawa moved and got a rollup for two. Tozawa with a hurricanrana followed by a shining wizard knee to the face. Tozawa up top and he hit his jumping senton off the top where he landed back first. Neville rolled to the floor. Back in, Neville crotched Tozawa on the top rope, so Neville kicked the rope to cause more pain to the groin. The ref held Neville back so he could check on Tozawa. Neville hit a spin kick to the stomach and pinned him after that. It went about 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Neville

Analysis: **1/2 It was a good, competitive match with a weak finish. When it was over I shook my head wondering why that was it. The story was Neville controlling early, Tozawa making the comeback and the champ Neville finding a way to hold onto his title as most of us expected. They did a number of solid nearfalls although there wasn’t a point where I thought Tozawa was going to win. I guess you could say the finish was done to show that Tozawa’s balls were…on fire. Yeah I said it.

Video package aired for Lesnar vs. Joe to end the Kickoff Show.

WWE Great Balls of Fire Main Card

The opening video package was done like an old school movie as they showed highlights of all the key players in the big matches.

There was no pyro to start the show as Michael Cole welcomed us to Great Balls of Fire. Bray Wyatt made his intro for the first match of the night.

Analysis: The lack of pyro to start the show is weak. I get it for TV once in a while, but they should do it for every PPV. I’m not sure if it’s a cost saving thing or what the reason may be.

Seth Rollins made his entrance to a nice ovation from the crowd. The announce team of Michael Cole, Booker T and Corey Graves welcomed us to the show. The German and Spanish announce teams are also at ringside. I couldn’t understand what they said except the part about how you should visit TJRWrestling.net daily. Thanks guys.

Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt

Rollins started with a kick to the back. Wyatt went for a suicide dive early, but Wyatt stopped that attempt with a punch. Rollins sent Wyatt face first into the middle turnbuckle. Wyatt back elbow. They brawled on the apron, which led to Wyatt sending Rollins face first onto the steel steps. Wyatt ran around the ring and hit a shoulder tackle that sent Rollins into the barricade. Wyatt worked over Rollins by the turnbuckle. Rollins fought out with headbutts, but Wyatt followed through with a superplex for a two count. Wyatt was on the middle rope rather than the top rope when he did it. Still looks good. When Rollins tried a comeback, Wyatt hit him with a punch to the back. Wyatt with a DDT on the apron that was good for a two count. Rollins sold that great. Wyatt slapped on a chinlock. Rollins sent Wyatt to the floor, Wyatt back in quickly, they ran the ropes and Rollins hit a dropkick followed by a suicide dive. Rollins with a springboard clothesline. Rollins hit the Slingblade followed by the Blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count. Rollins went for a kick, Wyatt caught him and Rollins came back with a leaping kick. Wyatt hit a huge clothesline leading to a flip bump by Rollins. Wyatt went for a move that Rollins countered into a Falcon Arrow slam for a two count. Rollins on the top rope, Wyatt knocked him down and hit a shoulderbreaker-like move for two.

Wyatt hit a uranage slam for a two count. I say it all the time, but that should be his finishing move. Wyatt trash talked Rollins telling him to fight him. Rollins tried a comeback with kicks, but Wyatt kicked him in the right knee. Wyatt on the floor, Rollins went to attack, Wyatt with a thumb to the eye (ref didn’t see) and when he got back in the ring Wyatt hit Sister Abigail to win after 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Bray Wyatt

Analysis: **3/4 Good match that was below average for a Rollins PPV match. It wasn’t that exciting in terms of nearfalls that people bought as a finish because there was a lack of those. Cheap finish with Wyatt hitting the thumb to the eye followed by his finish. I like it because Wyatt obviously needs wins since they don’t happen often enough. I picked Rollins in the preview because I have so many other heel wins (everybody except Lesnar), so I’m surprised a bit with Bray win. Rollins feels lost at the moment. He should be presented in a bigger way than he is and it feels like creative has nothing for him.

Commercials aired for Battleground and WWE’s charity work.

The Hardy Boyz (Jeff & Matt) talked about their Tag Team Title match against Sheamus and Cesaro. They were confident in talking about how they were going to win the 30 Minute Ironman match.

Video package aired to set up Big Cass vs. Enzo Amore. Don’t cry.

Enzo Amore did his pre-match promo to hype up the crowd with his catchphrases. Enzo noted that last year in that arena in Dallas they made their WWE television debut. Enzo said that was love, but that was love and this is war. Enzo said that life ain’t fair and said his favorite song is “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. He quoted some lines from that song. The crowd was losing interest in this a bit. Enzo talked about how he’s a dreamer that will keep on dreaming (crowd cheered that). Enzo said he no longer sleeps because his real life is better than his dreams. Enzo said he’s a star and that Cass will always be in his shadow because he’s going to be larger than life. Enzo ended it with the “SAWFT” bit.

Analysis: He is a great talker, but it went a bit long. I’m not sure if the WWE audience is the best group to reference Frank Sinatra songs in front of. The crowd got behind him for his catchphrases at least.

Cass entered to some new theme music that sounded generic. No lyrics. Just a basic tune.

Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass

Cass shoved Enzo across the ring and hit a shoulder tackle. Cass punched him. Cass slapped on a headlock. Cass hit a fallaway slam that sent Enzo across the ring. Cass hit a running splash on Enzo in the corner. Cass put Enzo on the top and punched him in the back repeatedly. Cass picked up Enzo in a press slam position and dumped him over the top to the floor. Big bump there. Enzo stumbled his way back into the ring. Cass bounced off the ropes and hit a boot to the face for the win in six minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Big Cass

Analysis: * Squash match victory for Big Cass like I expected it to be. I didn’t think Enzo would get no offense, but that’s what happened. I have no problem with it because Cass has a bright future as a singles guy and I think it’s going to be tough for Enzo as a singles wrestler unless they put him with the cruisers.

Post match, Cass walked out victorious while Enzo was helped up by referees.

Analysis: The scenario I noted in my preview was Cass attacking post match and Big Show making the save, but that didn’t happen. Maybe they do it on Raw.

A commercial aired for WWE 24 featuring Kurt Angle that airs on Raw tomorrow night. It features comments from Vince McMahon, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and even former TNA President Dixie Carter. Looking forward to that.

The Miz and his crew were backstage getting ready for his match later.

The Tag Team Title Ironman Match is up next.

Raw Tag Team Championship 30-Minute Ironman Match: Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff)

There’s a clock on the bottom right corner. Cesaro stepped towards Matt, who ducked a clothesline and Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Matt. Sheamus covered Matt for the first fall of the match in the first ten seconds.

Sheamus & Cesaro get a pinfall; Lead 1-0

Jeff went in there for his team against Sheamus. Matt tagged in and hit a clothesline that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Matt sent Sheamus headfirst into the ring apron multiple times while the crowds chanted “delete” for it. Back in the ring, Matt hit a DDT for a two count. Jeff worked on Sheamus’ arm, which led to Sheamus whipping him to the floor. Cesaro charged at Jeff on the floor and sent him into the barricade. Matt went after Cesaro on the floor and then it was broken up. Cesaro hit a gutwrench suplex on Jeff for a two count. Sheamus with a knee drop off the middle rope for two followed by an armbar. The announcers talked about protecting a lead and Booker pointed out the Atlanta Falcons blowing the lead in the Super Bowl, so you have to be careful. I bet on them of course. The heels worked over Jeff for a few more minutes. Sheamus hit a powerslam on Jeff for a two count followed by a tag by Cesaro and that led to a double clothesline. Cesaro decked Matt with a boot, so when Jeff hit a back body drop on Cesaro he couldn’t tag out. Cesaro with a forearm to the back of Jeff. Sheamus was legal, he picked up Jeff and the heels did a double team White Noise. Sheamus pinned Jeff for the second fall. It was around ten minutes into it.

Sheamus & Cesaro gets a pinfall; Lead 2-0

Sheamus whipped Jeff into the turnbuckle, Sheamus charged in, Jeff moved and Sheamus hit the ring post with his shoulder. Matt got the hot tag against Cesaro. Matt sent Cesaro’s face into all three turnbuckles repeatedly. Matt with a corner clothesline and bulldog for a two count. Matt hit an elbow smash off the middle rope. Jeff tagged in with the Poetry in Motion attack on Cesaro in the corner. Matt with a Side Effect and Jeff hit a Twist of Fate as Jeff pinned Cesaro.

The Hardy Boyz get a pinfall; Sheamus & Cesaro lead 2-1

Cesaro hit an uppercut on Jeff. Sheamus tagged in and Jeff hit a mule kick on him. Jeff hit a corner dropkick for a two count. Match is past 15 minutes now. Heels were on the floor, so Jeff ran the ropes, jumped off Matt’s back and did a somersault onto both heels on the floor. Matt rolled Sheamus in the ring, but Cesaro grabbed Matt from behind and Cesaro sent Matt into the ring post. The ref was counting, so Matt was down and the ref counted for the countout loss for Matt.

Sheamus & Cesaro get a fall by countout; Lead 3-1

Analysis: That was well done. I like doing a fall by countout in a match like this because it works in terms of telling the story that it’s a grueling match. They timed it really well too.

Sheamus hit a knee lift on Matt and Cesaro tagged in with a slam on Matt. Sheamus back in and he prevented Matt from tagging out. Sheamus worked on Matt with forearms as Cesaro told him to take his time. Sheamus stopped at two forearms instead of ten like he used to. They were about 20 minutes into the match. The heels continued to work over Matt. After a headlock by Sheamus, Matt broke free and hit a Side Effect for a two count. Cesaro tagged in and hit Jeff with a boot to the face. Cesaro slapped on the Sharpshooter submission on Matt. Jeff made the save with a double axe to Cesaro. Sheamus pulled Jeff off the apron. Cesaro hit Matt with an uppercut in the corner. Matt finally tagged in Jeff, rolled up Cesaro with a backslide and Jeff hit a legdrop type move to keep Cesaro’s shoulders down.

The Hardy Boyz get a pinfall; Sheamus & Cesaro lead 3-2

Jeff hit his corkscrew body attack for a two count on Cesaro. Matt prevented the heels from double teaming. Jeff hit a leg drop and a dropkick on Sheamus for two. Sheamus kicked Jeff in the head and hit a knee to the face. Matt tagged himself in and hit a Tornado DDT on Sheamus for a two count at the five-minute mark. Cesaro went in there, Matt was distracted by that, so Sheamus shoved Matt sternum first into the turnbuckle. Matt knocked Sheamus off the turnbuckle and hit a Moonsault for a two count because Cesaro broke it up. Matt set up Sheamus on the top rope and Matt hit a Twist of Fate off the top for the pinfall on Sheamus.

The Hardy Boyz get a pinfall; Match is tied 3-3

Jeff was legal against Sheamus. Cesaro brought Sheamus to the floor. Jeff hit a dive off the top onto both heels on the floor. Jeff and Matt each went to the top rope. They hit splashes at the same time on Sheamus and Cesaro made the save. The crowd hated that. There’s 1:14 left in the match. Matt’s face was bleeding. I think he got cut open when he hit Sheamus’ head. Matt and Sheamus hit a double clothesline. Jeff hit a Swanton Bomb on Sheamus. Cesaro was apparently the legal, so he went to Jeff and rolled him up for the fall with about 20 seconds left.

Sheamus & Cesaro get a pinfall; Lead 4-3

Cesaro ran out of the ring, Jeff chased after him. When Cesaro went back in the ring, Jeff hit the Twist of Fate. The clock ran out before Jeff could cover, so that meant Cesaro & Sheamus won after 30 minutes of action.

Winners 4 falls to 3: Sheamus & Cesaro

Analysis: ***3/4 That was a really good match with an awesome final few minutes as I expected. Nearly four stars out of five. These guys are all great performers that know how to build to an exciting conclusion and that’s what they did. There was so much to digest in there. It’s hard to pinpoint everything that they did correctly, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Every fall made a lot of sense and was set up well. When you do a match like that you want to have the heels go up and the faces come back. That’s why they went 3-1 for Sheamus/Cesaro and then the Hardys came back on fire with the crowd rallying behind them. I picked the champs to retain, so I got that prediction right.

Post match, they replayed the final sequence. Matt was getting checked on by a doctor that was looking at the cut he suffered on his face. Sheamus & Cesaro happily left with the titles.

There was a clip of Xavier Woods at the Rocket League World Championships because Rocket League is a WWE sponsor.

Commercial aired for WWE Battleground on July 23 featuring Cena vs. Rusev in a Flag Match.

Bliss vs. Banks for Raw Women’s Championship is up next. It gets a video package even though there’s not much of a story.

Sasha Banks made her entrance. Good pop for her. The international announcers were shown in the arena. Sorry I didn’t get them by name because I was writing praise about the tag match. Alexa Bliss was cheered when her music hit, so it’s not like she got a heel entrance.

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks

Banks with a deep arm drag and a double knee attack in the corner for two. Banks with an arm wringer takedown. Bliss did her thing where she bent her arm back. Banks was reluctant, so Bliss hit her with a forearm. That was great! Bliss is double jointed. The announcers acted like they had never done it before, but I remember Bliss doing it on Smackdown. Bliss tried to leave. Banks was on the apron, Bliss tripped her up and Banks did a hard bump on the apron. Bliss with a standing STO followed by double knees to the back off a cartwheel. Bliss continued on offense by sending Banks’ neck into her knee. Banks started a comeback with a suplex into the turnbuckle with Bliss’ legs hitting the turnbuckle. Banks hit a dropkick followed by a knee and a belly to back suplex. Running knee by Banks earned a two count. Bliss hit a sunset flip into a Powerbomb for a two count. That was cool. Bliss threw a temper tantrum after she realized it was only a two count. Bliss went for the Twisted Bliss splash. Banks got her knees up and blocked it. Banks slapped on the Bank Statement submission. It was nearly the finish, but Bliss crawled to the bottom rope to break the hold. Bliss was on the floor and Banks sent her into the barricade. It was around ten minutes at this point. Back in the ring, Bliss kicked Banks away and Bliss went to the floor. Banks grabbed her by the hair, so Bliss slapped her in the head. Bliss sat against the barricade and lost by countout with a smirk on her face. It went 11 minutes.

Winner by countout: Sasha Banks (Bliss retains Raw Women’s Title)

Banks wins the match, but Bliss keeps the title. The fans cheered when Bliss was announced as the champion.

Analysis: **3/4 Good work in the match with a crappy finish. They did some cool moves that were hard hitting and looked believable. It was probably the best singles match Bliss has had at this point in her career. They did the countout finish during a Smackdown PPV a few months ago and I didn’t like it then either. It’s what WWE does when they don’t want to book a loser, but they want to keep the feud going. Fans never like it.

After the match was over, Banks went after Bliss as she went up the ramp. Bliss fought back and sent Banks’ into the announce table. Bliss went for a DDT on the table. Banks shoved her off. Banks jumped off the announce table and hit Bliss with the double knee attack. Banks’ music played to end it. That was an impressive move although it was risky too.

Analysis: Banks gets revenge for Bliss intentionally getting counted. Big move off the table that was risky as I said, but it keeps the feud going.

Commercial aired for Battleground on July 23 featuring Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison match.

The announcers mentioned that they want to see Smackdown on Tuesday because AJ Styles won the US Title from Kevin Owens last Friday at a live event in NYC.

There was a replay of Neville beating Tozawa earlier in the show.

A clip was shown of Titus O’Neil with Tozawa. O’Neil said he knows it was a low blow and asked Tozawa what he wanted. Tozawa said he wanted a rematch. O’Neil said he would work on it. O’Neil told him to get some ice.

Analysis: I don’t think Tozawa will be the guy that gets the title from Neville. I think Cedric Alexander would be a better choice.

The Miz made his entrance with his wife Maryse, Curtis Axel in a suit and Bo Dallas in some outfit that is hard to describe. Dean Ambrose entered to a nice ovation.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Maryse, Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) vs. Dean Ambrose

This feels like the 371st match between them. It’s a feud that needs to end soon.

Ambrose went out of the ring to attack Axel and Dallas individually. Ambrose went up top, Axel distracted, Miz hit Ambrose in the back and hit a kick to the face. Ambrose slapped on a headlock as Booker was heelish in saying there was nothing wrong with Miz having a lot of help at ringside. Ambrose rollup for two, Miz with a kick to the knee and a DDT gets two. Ambrose got a rollup again, Miz kicked out at two and Miz hit a corner clothesline. Miz jumped off the top with nothing, so Ambrose hit a neckbreaker. Crowd is not into this much at all. Ambrose with forearm shots followed by a running clothesline. Ambrose with another forearm. Ambrose with a butterfly suplex off the top. Miz kicked Ambrose in the knee followed by a dropkick to the knee. Miz hung Ambrose upside down in the corner and he hit two dropkicks to the knee of Ambrose. Ambrose broke free and hit a clothesline. Miz blocked a Dirty Deeds attempt and slapped on the Figure Four Leglock in the center of the ring. Ambrose got to the ropes to break the hold. The crowd is still dead. Ambrose had a bloody mouth. Miz did his “yes” kicks he stole from Daniel Bryan, Ambrose avoided a roundhouse kick, Ambrose up top and he hit a flying elbow on Miz for a two count. Maryse distracted the ref, so Axel and Miz could pull Ambrose out of the ring. Ambrose fought out of it, clothesline on Miz and Ambrose hit a flying elbow smash on the three guys on the floor. Ambrose up top, he jumped off, Miz caught him and Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds DDT. Maryse put Miz’s foot on the bottom rope, the ref saw it and it was only a two count. Ambrose hit a suicide dive on Miz on the floor. Axel on the apron, so Ambrose brought him into the ring. The ref checked on Axel, Dallas hit Ambrose in the back of the head and Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall win after 11 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: The Miz

Analysis: **1/4 Average match by two guys that wrestled eachother too often. I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened. I thought that Miz would win thanks to his wife and the Miztourage guys. It was a very predictable match. I think it’s telling that the crowd was dead for almost the entire the match except when Miz stole moves from Daniel Bryan. Ambrose’s comeback was good and the crowd bought into it a bit, but not that much. That should be the last Miz vs. Ambrose match for a long time. Move on, please.

After the show it’s Raw Talk featuring Sasha Banks, Big Cass, The Miz and his Miztourage as guests.

Video package aired to set up Strowman vs. Reigns in an Ambulance Match.

Braun Strowman made his entrance. He got a mix of cheers and boos like usual for him. Cole mentioned the padding on the right elbow while saying Strowman was going to be out six months, but was back in six weeks. The six months number was just for storyline.

Roman Reigns entered to mostly boos with some cheers in there as well.

Ambulance Match: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns

Winner of the match is first man to put his opponent in the ambulance and close the door. The announcers kept talking about how this will be the ending of this rivalry, which makes sense.

Strowman hit Reigns with two splashes in the corner. Strowman with a punch to the chest. They went to the floor with Reigns shoving Strowman into the ring post. Strowman sent Reigns back first into the ring post followed by a hard whip into the steel steps for Strowman. Strowman picked up the steel steps and hit Reigns in the head two times. Strowman went after him again, Reigns moved and Strowman missed a charge on the floor. Reigns got in some punches, so Strowman slowed down his momentum with a one-armed slam onto his stomach. Reigns with a boot to the face. Strowman hit a running Powerslam, went for a cover, realized there’s no cover and did his yell instead. That was funny. Strowman put Reigns on his shoulder, but Reigns freed himself and went back into the ring. Reigns hit a Samoan Drop. Strowman charged, Reigns moved and Strowman hit the ringpost. Reigns hit a Drive By dropkick to the right elbow. Reigns took off the elbow pad and rammed it into the steel post. Reigns hit the arm with a chair two times in a row. Of course, he really just hit he post and not the arm, but that’s the story they’re trying to tell. Reigns went for another chair to the left arm this time and Strowman no sold it. Reigns did it again, so Strowman no sold it again. Strowman grabbed the chair and whipped Reigns into the barricade twice. They went up the ramp. Strowman picked up Reigns for a Powerbomb, Reigns slipped out, fought back with punches and Strowman sent Reigns into the side of the ambulance. Same spot they did on Raw.

Strowman opened up one of the ambulance doors. Reigns sent Strowman’s head into one of the doors of the ambulance. Strowman picked him up, but Reigns broke free with elbows. Reigns hit a Superman Punch that knocked Strowman into the direction of the ambulance. Another Superman Punch by Reigns. Strowman grabbed a backboard out of the ambulance and hit Reigns in the head with it. Strowman hit Reigns in the back with the board two times in a row. Strowman ripped the stretcher out of the back of the ambulance. Strowman tossed Reigns across the stage. Strowman ran at Reigns, so Reigns moved and Strowman hit the video screen. Strowman wanted a Powerslam, Reigns slid off and Reigns shoved Strowman into the video wall. That spot broke the wall as Strowman had a rough landing. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for that. After a couple of minutes, Strowman managed to stumble to his feet. When Reigns tried to pick him up, Strowman shoved him away. They were near the ambulance again. Reigns hit him with a spotlight or some lighting structure to stagger Strowman. Reigns charged at him while the doors were open, Strowman moved and Reigns went into the ambulance. Strowman shut the doors to win the match. It went 17 minutes. In other words, Reigns went for a Spear, missed like a dummy and Strowman won.

Winner: Braun Strowman

Analysis: ***1/4 Good match as usual from them. The stipulation makes it hard to have a really great match because without the drama of nearfalls it can be tough. The finish came off like a bit of a fluke win by Strowman where he just moved out of the way to win. It also protects Reigns because he didn’t get pinned. Reigns also didn’t get beaten up that badly either. He got up right away. I picked Strowman to win because I think he’s next for Lesnar. I’m not sure if that’s the plan, but that’s what I would do.

After the match, Reigns hit a Spear on Strowman. Reigns put Strowman in the ambulance and then Reigns got in the driver’s seat. Reigns drove the ambulance into the parking lot. Reigns paused for a bit. Reigns backed the ambulance into a truck that was there so that there was a big collision with the ambulance crashing into this semi-truck. People showed up to try to check on Braun., but they couldn’t get in. Kurt Angle, the Raw GM, showed up to tell them to call 911. Jamie Noble had a crowbar to try to open the doors. They couldn’t open the door.

Analysis: It was a big angle to have Reigns get his heat back immediately. Those were the kinds of stunts WWE used to do in the past, but it’s been a long time since they have done something like that. It was likely done with Strowman getting out of the back when the camera was on Reigns, then was put in again on the other side.

Curt Hawkins made his entrance for a match against Heath Slater. This is so random.

Curt Hawkins vs. Heath Slater

The fans chanted “We Want Balor” as these guys tried having a match. Slater with an arm drag. Hawkins with a forearm to the back. An ambulance was heard driving to the arena as the fans stood up to try to see it. Angle was shown signaling the fire truck and ambulance. The action wasn’t even in the ring. The bell rang and Jojo the announcer said “here is your winner Heath Slater.” They didn’t even show it. Match went three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Heath Slater

Analysis: Can’t rate it. Sorry. Blame WWE, not me.

The camera was focused on the backstage scene with the announcers using SERIOUS VOICES~! to try to guide us through the scene as the firemen tried to use the jaws of life and other tools to break open this ambulance. They finally got the door open. Braun stumbled his way out of the ambulance. He was bloody with internal bleeding and he couldn’t get to his feet. Strowman limped away from the people trying to help him and he said “leave me alone.” Angle was stunned by it with Noble telling Kurt we’ll get him some help.

Analysis: If the goal was to turn Strowman face then they succeeded with what he did there. I don’t know if that’s the goal, but Reigns acted like a heel and Strowman came off like a face. A double turn would be perfect right now. Is it official? Not sure yet, but that’s what it felt like.

The announcers summarized everything again with a lot of replays and using the SERIOUS VOICES~! again.

Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe is up next. Here’s a video package.

Samoa Joe made his entrance first. Lots of fans chanting “Joe” for him.

Brock Lesnar, the Universal Champion, entered to a huge ovation from the crowd. He had Paul Heyman with him of course.

The introductions were done when the guys were in the ring. Jojo did Samoa Joe’s introduction. Heyman did a fantastic job of introducing Lesnar, but before he could say the name Joe attacked Lesnar from behind.

Joe attacked Lesnar from behind with that forearm that knocked him out of the ring. Joe sent Lesnar into the barricade. Joe put Lesnar through one of the announce tables with a uranage! Damn! That was great. The bell hasn’t even rung yet.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Samoa Joe

Lesnar slowly made his way into the ring and the match started at 10:57pmET, so they’re going past the 11pmET hour. They each got some strikes in. Joe with a waist lock takedown, but Lesnar got back to his feet and drove Joe into the corner. Lesnar with knee lifts. Joe went for the Coquina Clutch and Lesnar countered by driving Joe face first into the turnbuckle. Lesnar hit a release German Suplex and he hit another one that caused Joe to land hard on his right shoulder. Lesnar hit a third release German Suplex. Lesnar held onto Joe, Joe was against the ropes, the ref tried to break the hold and Joe hit a low blow back kick to knock Lesnar down. Heyman was freaking out at ringside. Joe hit a uranage slam for a two count. Lesnar fought his way out of the Coquina Clutch attempt and hit a sidewalk slam to get out of it. Lesnar charged, Joe moved and Lesnar hit the steel ring post. Lesnar showed incredible quickness in slipping through an attack leading to a release German Suplex. Lesnar hit two more German Suplexes for his sixth of the match. Lesnar picked him up, but Joe slapped on the Coquina Clutch again. Lesnar drove him to the turnbuckle. Joe locked in the Coquina Clutch and it looked like Lesnar was going to pass out while Heyman was yelling outside the ring. Lesnar fought out of it, Lesnar put Joe on his shoulders and hit a F5. Lesnar covered for the win after eight minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar

Analysis: *** Really good story for the time given. Lesnar was all about the suplexes as usual while Joe kept going for the Coquina Clutch. It was a simple story between two great grapplers trying to hit their signature spots. I would have liked a few more minutes because it would have been cool to see Lesnar selling a bit more and telling more of a story, but they kept it more simple than that. If you include the pre-match attack it went over ten minutes. I was hoping for a 15 minute match that could have been a classic championship fight. What we got is still good. I just wanted to see more. I thought Joe would kick out of that F5 and that Lesnar would have to hit him with another one. One F5 winning the match puts it over as a huge move, so it’s a way to protect it. Having Joe kick out would hurt the move. I didn’t think Joe was going to win at any point, but you could tell some fans wanted that to happen. Lesnar retaining in his first title defense is the right choice.

There was a replay of Lesnar finishing off Joe with Graves talking about how Lesnar won’t forget about Samoa Joe.

Lesnar walked away with the Universal Title while Joe was fuming in the ring about the loss. The show ended with Lesnar on the ramp looking back at Joe while holding the Universal Title.

The PPV had a run time of 3 hours, 6 minutes.

 

Five Stars of the Show

1. Braun Strowman

2. Cesaro/Sheamus

3. Hardy Boyz

4. Brock Lesnar

5. (tie) Samoa Joe

5. (tie) Roman Reigns

 

Final Thoughts

It gets a 7.5 out of 10 from me.

Very good show from top to bottom. It didn’t have a singular standout match or moment to put it at the top of my PPV rankings, but it was the best Raw PPV this year. No doubt about that.

Big night for the heels as expected. I got two predictions wrong because I picked Rollins and Bliss to win. Bliss lost, but it was a countout, so she’s still champion as I expected. It was a predicatble show and that’s okay because it was well booked while every wrestler busted their ass to put on a good performance.

My favorite moments were the the Tag Team Title match, Strowman walking away from the wreckage like a badass that makes me want to cheer him and Lesnar/Joe was excellent although I wish they got more time.

 

WWE PPV Rankings 2017 (Scores on the 1-10 scale)

Royal Rumble – 8

Elimination Chamber – 8

Great Balls of Fire – 7.5

Backlash – 6.5

WrestleMania 33 – 6.5

Money in the Bank – 6

Extreme Rules – 6

Payback – 6

Fastlane – 5

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