WWE Great Balls of Fire comes at us live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX, and we will have live coverage of the show as it happens, starting with limited coverage of the preshow at 7:00pm EST, and full coverage beginning at 8:00pm EST.
Here is the currently announced card, as follows:
- Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Universal Championship
- Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman in an Ambulance Match
- Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship
- Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
- Cesaro & Sheamus (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy) in a 30-Minute Iron Man Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship
- The Miz (c) vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
- Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
- Neville (c) vs. Akira Tozawa for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (Preshow Match)
Be sure to join us for live coverage here throughout the night, and on Twitter @RingRap for live commentary throughout the show as well!
Preshow: Neville (c) vs. Akira Tozawa (w/ Titus O’Neil) for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
The Action: The two tie up early on. Neville takes Tozawa down with a shoulder. The two dodge each other. Tozawa sends Neville to the floor, but Neville catches Tozawa with an enzuigiri off the apron. Back in the ring, he maintains control. He sends Tozawa to the floor and launches him into the barricade. We go to break.
We return, and Neville hits a running low dropkick for two. Neville kicks him in the head repeatedly. He panders to the crowd. Tozawa starts to fire back with chops. He catches Neville with a feint jab and a snap German suplex. He sets Neville up in the corner and readies to leap off, but Neville rolls out of the ring. Tozawa goes diving, head first, after him – twice.
Tozawa rolls Neville in for the cover and two. Neville tosses him onto the apron. Tozawa catches Neville with a shoulder, but leaps directly onto Neville’s shoulders. Tozawa reverses it into an octopus stretch. Neville breaks it on the ropes. Tozawa climbs up to the top rope, Neville dodges him, and catches Tozawa with a forearm and some kicks into the ropes. He nails a running dropkick for two.
Neville stalks Tozawa and connects a running elbow in the corner. He misses a reverse 450 from the second rope. Tozawa scores a two-count. He hits a snap hurricarana and a running knee. Tozawa heads up top and connects with the flying senton. Neville rolls to the floor before Tozawa can make the cover.
Neville catches Tozawa onto the ropes and kicks the rope, crotching him. Neville covers Tozawa, who can’t seem to recover from the low blow. He gets the win.
A good match, but for me the finish fell a bit flat. Obviously Neville is willing to do whatever he needs to pick up the win, however this was an exciting match that I felt was ruined by the finish. I assume they’ll go another month with these two, at least.
WWE Great Balls of Fire Main Show
Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins
The Action: Wyatt comes to the ring first, Rollins second. Rollins hits a snap mare and a kick to the spine. Rollins keeps the pressure on Wyatt, and Wyatt bails out of the ring. He catches Rollins with a punch to the face, cutting him off from leaping to the floor.
Back in the ring, Wyatt slows the pace down. Rollins counters with a face buster into the second turnbuckle. Wyatt bails out of the ring again. The two fight on the apron, trading blows. Wyatt drops Rollins face-first onto the steps. He plows into Rollins, sending him flying into the barricade.
In the ring, Wyatt wears Rollins down. The two start brawling on the top turnbuckle. Rollins teases a sunset flip powerbomb. Wyatt turns it into a superplex instead. The two struggle to their feet and trade blows. Wyatt yanks Rollins to his feet and hits an elbow to the back of the head. He drives Rollins head-first into the apron.
The two trade reversals. Wyatt goes to the floor, Rollins dives after him. He hits a springboard forearm for two. Rollins hits a running elbow and a sling blade. He nails a blockbuster for two. Rollins teases his finisher. He fights out of Sister Abigail, but Wyatt catches him with a clothesline. Rollins counters with a Falcon Arrow for two.
Wyatt crotches Rollins and hits a top rope chin breaker for two. STO for two. Wyatt starts talking trash. Rollins fires back. He swings at Wyatt through the ropes, but Wyatt hits a thumb to the eye. He hits Sister Abigail for the win.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
Color me surprised. Wyatt picks up a much-needed victory. This was a fast-paced match that didn’t allow much time for long-term selling. Overall, not bad, but nothing mind blowing either.
Backstage, Matt and Jeff Hardy speak with Charly Caruso. She asks them what they’re going to do to win. Hardy drops a few hints to his previous promo, but puts over Sheamus and Cesaro. Jeff says they’re used to being in firsts, and they’re looking forward to getting their tag titles back.
A vignette airs for Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass. It highlights the entire saga over the past few weeks. Extremely well done.
Enzo comes out to the ring first, by himself. He dances a bit in the ring, and the audience is totally behind him. He says last year, in this arena, he and Big Cass made their Raw debut. 20 thousand said their names on their debut. “That was love. But that ain’t what this is. This is war.” He says all is fair in love and war, but the same can not be said about life. He has tattoos that remind him that life isn’t fair. He quotes Sinatra – “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.” He talks about getting attacked in May, but he shrugs it off, and got back on top in June. He says he was in a 7-footer’s arms, but they weren’t Big Cass’s arms. He says Cass can’t stomp on his dream – he’s going to keep on dreaming. He says he sleeps with his eyes open, because his real life is better than his dreams. He quotes Sinatra again, in defiance this time. He says Cass may be 7-feet tall, but he’s always going to be in Enzo’s shadow. He says there’s only one word to describe him: S-A-W-F-T!
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
The Action: Cass stares a hole through Enzo. Enzo immediately goes on the attack, but Cass clubs him in the back. Cass shoves Enzo away. Cass locks in some sort of a submission hold. He drops Enzo to the mat. Cass hits a fallaway slam. Splash in the corner. Enzo collapses in the corner before Cass could hit a second one.
Enzo starts to fire back with kicks, but it’s a short lived attack. Cass corners him again. He kicks Enzo repeatedly. He gorilla press slams Enzo over the top rope to the floor. Enzo struggles to get his feet and barely breaks the count at 9.5.
Enzo struggles to his feet. Cass hits a running Big Boot and gets the victory.
Winner: Big Cass
I think the match may have been shorter than the promo. However, this was the expected win, and frankly, the right win. This is positioned to further the feud, and I’m fine with that, as Enzo never really quit until he was knocked out. But Cass needs the win more than Enzo does, especially if this is going another month.
The Hardy Boyz (Jeff and Matt Hardy) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (c) in a 30-minute Iron Man Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship
The Action: Immediately, Cesaro ducks out of the ring and Sheamus hits a Brogue Kick to Matt, legally, to get the first fall.
Fall #1: Sheamus & Cesaro
Jeff Hardy jumps in and goes on the offence on Cesaro. Cesaro fired back with a strike and tags out. Hardy starts to fire back and tags in Matt, who hits an elbow off the second rope. The fans chant Delete as Matt slams Sheamus’s head into the apron repeatedly. Back in the ring, he goes for a Twist of Fate, but turns it into a regular DDT for two. Tag to Jeff, and the two hit tandem offense. Sheamus arm-drags Jeff to the floor. Off of a distraction, Cesaro attacks Jeff at ringside. Matt runs over and evens the odds, and all four brawl on the floor. Cesaro tags in. He deadlifts Jeff and hits a gutwrench suplex for two. Rapid tags for Sheamus and Cesaro, who are keeping Jeff Hardy grounded.
Cesaro knocks Matt Hardy off the apron. Jeff breaks free but there’s noone to tag. Sheamus tags in, and the two double team Jeff for another fall.
Fall #2: Sheamus & Cesaro
Jeff struggles to his feet, and immediately Sheamus goes on the offense. Shoulder block for two. Sheamus misses a shoulder in the corner. Sheamus makes the tag, as does Jeff. Matt headbutts Cesaro and slams Cesaro repeatedly into all three turnbuckles. Hardy gets a two-count. He hits a splash for another near fall. Jeff connects with Poetry in Motion, Matt with a Side Effect, Jeff a Twist of Fate, and the Hardys get a fall.
Fall #3: Hardy Boyz
Jeff and Cesaro trade blows. Sheamus tags in and immediately drops a knee. He hits a pendulum dropkick in the corner for two. The action spills out of the ring, and Jeff goes leaping off of Matt’s back onto Sheamus and Cesaro at ringside. Matt lays in a series of strikes on Sheamus, still brawling at ringside. He rolls Sheamus in, but Cesaro cuts him off and sends him face-first into the ring post. The referee finishes his countout, and Sheamus and Cesaro get one more fall.
Fall #4: Sheamus & Cesaro (via countout)
Back in the ring, Sheamus kicks Hardy immediately. Cesaro tags and covers for two. Snap suplex. Sheamus locks in a headlock and works the back. He starts clubbing him across the chest on the apron, then pushes him off the apron. Cesaro leaps off of the apron with an axe handle, then tosses Matt into the barricade, following it up with an uppercut.
Back in the ring, Sheamus and Cesaro hit a double suplex. Matt hits a desperation side effect and falls into a pin for two. Cesaro kicks Jeff in the face, and then locks a sharpshooter on Matt. He drags Matt into the center of the ring, Jeff makes it back in to break the pin. Sheamus runs around and yanks Jeff off the apron. Cesaro whips Matt into the corner and hits a series of uppercuts. Matt catches him mid-swing in the opposite corner, Jeff tags in and catches Cesaro in a leg drop split pinfall.
Fall #5: Hardy Boyz
Jeff hits Whisper in the Wind and gets a near fall. Sheamus tags in and the two set up a double team, but Matt dumps Cesaro off the top rope. Jeff with a near fall, he hits a split leg drop and a dropkick for two. Matt tags in, wiggles out of a senton, and hits a tornado DDT for two. Matt takes out Cesaro, Sheamus goes for a top rope suplex, but Matt fights free. He connects with a top rope moonsault, Cesaro breaks the pin.
Chaos breaks out and Jeff runs in on Cesaro. The ref regains control again as the fans tell the ref he sucks. Matt and Sheamus from up top, Matt hits a Twist of Fate for a pinfall.
Fall #6: Hardy Boyz
There is less than 3 minutes left in the match. Jeff tags in and waits as the referee checks Sheamus. Jeff attacks and goes up top for a Swanton, but Cesaro pulls Sheamus out. Hardy leaps onto them at ringside anyhow. He rolls Sheamus back in and goes back up top. Both he and Matt leap off, and Jeff makes the cover. Cesaro breaks it up.
Tag to Matt with 1:10 left. Matt is busted wide open. Cesaro hits an uppercut from the apron and apparently tags Sheamus. Jeff makes a blind tag with 35 seconds left. Swanton on Sheamus, but Cesaro is legal. He runs in and makes the pin.
Fall #7: Sheamus & Cesaro
Cesaro runs around the ring to stall for time. Jeff goes after him hard and hits a Twist of Fate, but there’s no time left. The buzzer rings as the ref is in mid-count.
Winners: 4-3 Sheamus & Cesaro
This started out a bit weak but ended pretty strong. A fun match overall. The right team picked up the win here. Side note, Matt picked up a nasty cut above the eye just as the match was coming to an end.
So far, this is my match of the night.
Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss (c) for the Raw Women’s Championship
The Action: The two tie up. They both trade the advantage. Banks stays on Bliss with a headlock. Bliss bails out of the ring early on to buy some time. Back in the ring, Sasha leaps up the ropes for an armdrag. Banks does a nasty arm wrench, sending Bliss face-first into the mat. Bliss sells it like her arm is busted, and pops the elbow out of the joint, but she’s double jointed and suckered Sasha in, nailing her with a forearm.
Banks recovers and hits a Back Stabber, and goes for a Bank Statement, but Bliss bails out. She yells “I don’t need this” and starts to walk away. Banks stops her. Bliss yanks Banks off of the apron, back first, and then stomps her face into the floor repeatedly. Cover for two.
Bliss stays on Banks, going for repeat covers. She wrenches the back. Banks fights back, but Bliss reverses her and hits a back breaker on the knee. Bliss immediately attacks and hits a series of covers for two. Banks hits a suplex into the turnbuckle. Banks hits a kick and a back suplex. Running knee for two. The two fight in the corner. Bliss hits a sunset flip powerbomb for two.
Bliss heads back up top for her Twisted Bliss. Banks gets the knees up, and immediately locks in the Bank Statement. Bliss crawls to the ropes. Sasha tries to push the rope, but Bliss makes the grab, breaking the hold. She rolls out of the ring. Banks tries to pull her back in, but Bliss hangs her up on the bottom rope. Banks reverses and tosses her into the barricade.
Back in the ring, Banks once more goes for the legs. Bliss kicks her away and rolls out of the ring. Banks goes for Bliss, Bliss slaps her away as the referee counts her out.
Winner: Sasha Banks via countout. Alexa Bliss retains
After the match, Sasha Banks chases Bliss up the ramp and attacks her from behind. She tosses her into the LED wall, but Bliss counters and tosses Banks into the announcer’s table. They climb onto the table. Banks pushes her off the table and leaps off the announcer’s table to the floor with her diving pair of knees. Banks’ music plays
Alright, so this is my favorite match of the night so far. These two worked really well together, and Bliss is just so clever in her offence and cheating. It’s awesome seeing a heel that’s being a heel. I’m fine with the finish, because the post-match attack gives Sasha some heat going forward with the feud, which is clearly going another month.
The announcers recap the disappointing finish to the Crusierweight Title match. We see a clip of Tozawa getting pissed about it. He asks Titus to make things right. He wants a rematch. Titus says he’ll work on that, but he needs him to go to the trainer and get some ice.
The Miz (c) (w/ Maryse & Curtis Axel & Bo Dallas) vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Action: Ambrose immediately attacks the entourage. He takes out Axel, then back in the ring goes on the offense on Miz. The ref pulls him away, and Ambrose attacks Dallas, sending him face-first into the steps. Back in the ring, Ambrose attacks Miz again, dropping him to the floor. Axel gives a distraction and Miz gets the advantage. Ambrose rolls Miz through for two. Miz immediately hits a kneeling DDT for two.
Miz hits a series of kicks. Ambrose ducks a kick with a rollup for two. Miz fires back with a clothesline in the corner. He goes up top and leaps off, but Ambrose catches him with a boot and a swinging neckbreaker. Ambrose fires up and hits a running clothesline. He hits a suplex off the top for two. Miz counters a suplex and kicks the leg, then dropkicks it out. Tree of woe in the corner, Miz stomps Ambrose, and follows it with a dropkick to the leg – twice.
Ambrose struggles to his feet. He goes for Dirty Deeds. Miz counters with a Figure Four. Ambrose is bleeding from the mouth. He breaks the hold, but can’t stand up. Miz starts with the roundhouses. Ambrose dodges the last one and slaps him. He goes up top and hits a leaping elbow for two. Maryse jumps onto the apron for the distraction, but Ambrose counters. Ambrose goes for a rebound, and the Miztourage yank him out of the ring. He ducks them and Miz, and then leaps off the top rope onto all three.
Ambrose goes up top once more, struggling with the bad leg. Miz catches him and goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Ambrose counters with Dirty Deeds. Maryse puts his leg on the rope, breaking the pin. The fans hate the ref again. Ambrose leaps onto Miz at ringside, then tosses Axel into the ring, but Dallas hit Ambrose from behind. Skull Crushing Finale, and it’s over.
Winner: The Miz
Chaos, just chaos. I’d like to think these two can move on to other things now, but I feel like that’s not the case. Anyhow, fine for what it was.
A vignette airs hyping Strowman vs. Reigns. Another good package putting over their feud.
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns in an Ambulance Match
The Action: Strowman immediately pushes Reigns away. He splashes Reigns in the corner. The action spills out of the ring, and Strowman sends Reigns into the ring post, and then the steps. He picks up the steps and nails Reigns in the face twice. He misses a third attack. Reigns counters and sends Strowman into the post. Back in the ring, Reigns fires up and tries to take Strowman down. Strowman tosses Reigns face-first into the mat like a ragdoll.
Reigns catches a boot in the corner. Strowman hits a powerslam. He drags Reigns out of the ring, and picks him up on his shoulders. Reigns rolls off and gets back into the ring. Strowman misses an attack, and Reigns hits an impressive Samoan Drop. Strowman tries a shoulder block and misses, hitting the post again. Reigns hits a drive-by and then yanks the arm. He grabs a chair and hits the arm against the post. Strowman starts no selling the chair shots and yells at Reigns: “You son of a bitch!” He slams Reigns into the barricade repeatedly, and starts rolling Reigns up the ramp.
Strowman sends Reigns into the LED wall, then pulls apart the announcer’s table. He picks Reigns up, but Reigns slides out of the move. Strowman throws Reigns off of the ramp into the ambulance. He brings Reigns to the door. Reigns sends Strowman head-first into the door. Strowman picks Reigns up and tries to shove him into the Ambulance. Reigns hits a Superman Punch, and Strowman falls into the Ambulance. He eats a kick to the face, but fires back with another Superman Punch. Strowman hits Reigns with a stretcher backboard.
Back on the ramp, Strowman picks Reigns up for a powerslam, but Reigns pushes him off into the LED wall, breaking it. It’s a pretty awesome sight, and Strowman is struggling to get out of the wreckage. Reigns pulls Strowman, and Strowman shoves him off the ramp into the ambulance. The two make it to their feet in front of the ambulance. Reigns uses a stage light and hits Strowman, but charges for a spear and misses, going straight into the ambulance. Strowman closes the doors immediately, and Strowman picks up the win.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Naturally, Reigns leaps out of the ambulance and spears Strowman. He hits Strowman with the door repeatedly. He throws Strowman into the ambulance and closes the door, yanks the driver out and drives the ambulance away. He stares in the mirror, then tosses it in reverse and slams it into one of the production trucks! Kurt Angle walks up to Reigns, with a “What the hell?” face as people start working on getting the ambulance open.
A fun match with an awesome angle to wrap it up. This was a good stipulation for the feud, but this feud definitely doesn’t feel over. I’m curious to see if this goes to Summerslam after all, or a different direction.
Back in the arena, Curt Hawkins heads to the ring, followed by Heath Slater. Neither guy is ready for the match, really.
Heath Slater vs. Curt Hawkins
The Action: Slater gets control early on. I wasn’t prepared for this match, and still have to finish typing up my previous thoughts, so coverage here is light. They’re playing this as impromptu however. During the match, a siren is audible, and we see backstage as a pair of fire trucks pull in.
The bell rings, but we never saw the finish.
Winner: Heath Slater
The firemen start working on the door with the Jaws of Life. They manage to get the door open and climb into the ambulance. Strowman is not having the help. He’s bleeding from the arm, and crawls out on his own accord. He’s bleeding from the mouth too. He struggles to his feet, but can’t stand. He keeps trying to stand, keeps falling. and drags his bloody hands all over a white bus. His face is busted up and bloody, and he hobbles away without help.
The announcers recap the accident from multiple angles, and put over what just happened, before cuing up a vignette for the Universal Championship match.
Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Universal Championship
Joe out first, Lesnar second. Paul Heyman introduces Lesnar, naturally. He calls him the “Samoan Beating Beast.” Joe gets pissed and attacks Lesnar from behind.
The Action: The bell has not yet rung, Joe slams Lesnar into the announcer’s table, then hits an STO into the second table, destroying it. Lesnar is in bad shape already. He struggles and stumbles to the steps. The fans chant “Joe is gonna kill you!” Lesnar makes it in and laughs, and the bell rings. Joe immediately attacks. Shoulder and enzuigiri. He hits a series of headbutts. Joe stays on him. Lesnar fires back with knees. Joe hits shoulder blocks. He lays in strikes in the corner. He takes Lesnar to the mat, but Lesnar pushes Joe into the corner, and drops shoulder blocks and knees, but Joe blocks them. Joe headbutts him and locks in the Coquina Clutch. Lesnar sends Joe into the turnbuckle.
Suplex City time. Lesnar hits German Suplex #1, then #2. Heyman gives us a Suplex Count at ringside. #3. Lesnar looks pumped up. He goes for another suplex. Joe grabs onto the ropes, then holds on to the ref’s face as he gives Lesnar a low blow. Urinagi for two. He stalks Lesnar, and locks in the Clutch. Lesnar struggles to get up, but Joe doesn’t let go. Lesnar drops Joe with a side suplex. Lesnar misses a shoulder in the corner, but slips under the legs for Suplex # 4, #5, and #6. He goes for the F5, Joe slips off and cinches the Clutch once more. In the corner, Joe wraps the legs around Lesnar.
Lesnar drops to one knee. He slips out of the hold and hits an F5. He covers Joe and gets the win.
Winner: Brock Lesnar to retain the Universal Championship
That was an awesome match, but that finish sucked the life out of the room and just fell completely flat for me. I know it’s his finisher, but there was no build to it. It just came out of nowhere, and felt… wrong.
Maybe I just had too much stock in Joe winning. I’m willing to admit that. I really wanted to see Joe take the title, and with the way the feud went and the way the match started, I felt there was a chance. And I’m disappointed, both because my guy didn’t win, and because a good match ended in a way that didn’t fit what had already happened.
Overall, thumbs up for the night. This was certainly a night for the heels, as they won just about every match on the card. Sometimes you need to do that, and setting up for Summerslam, there’s a number of feuds that can be capped off. But Joe ended up being just another bump in the road for Lesnar. Despite my initial fears, they made me believe that he stood an actual chance of beating him, but nope. Just a speedbump.
I’ll have more to say about this on Around the Ring on Tuesday. In the meantime, Bill is back in the saddle for Raw tomorrow night, and I’ve got Smackdown Tuesday evening. Thanks for watching with me tonight folks. See you next time!