By The Real DC @TheNotFakeDC
Great Heels of Fire
As last night’s first ever Great Balls of Fire burned on, it became apparent that this was not going to be the night for the good guys. By the end of the night, the only face walking away with anything to smile about was Brock Lesnar, though one could argue he’s more of a tweener than a true babyface. The hosses were out in force and destruction was rampant on WWE’s final PPV before “The Biggest Party Of The Summer”, Summer Slam.
Brock Lesnar (C) defeated Samoa Joe to retain the WWE Universal Title
Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman in an Ambulance Match
Sheamus and Cesaro(C) defeated The Hardy Boyz (4 falls to 3) to retain the Raw Tag Titles
The Miz (C) defeated Dean Ambrose to retain the Intercontinental Title
Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss (C) by countout. Bliss retains the Raw Women’s Championship
Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins
Big Cass defeated Enzo Amore
Neville (C) defeated Akira Tozawa to retain the Cruiserweight Championship
Heath Slater defeated Curt Hawkins
With the intense buildup to the Brock Lesnar/Samoa Joe Universal Title tilt, it would be easy for the match itself to be a bit of letdown. While this match didn’t disappoint, an extra 5 minutes could have made this special (though I guess its not a bad thing to be left wanting more). Samoa Joe got an early jump in this match, laying out Lesnar mid-Heyman intro. Joe looked every bit the part of a legit threat to Lesnar’s realistic fighting style, muscling up The Beast throughout the match. Clearly he studied tape on Brock, as he artfully distracted the ref so he could sneak in a low blow (why does Lesnar always get hit in the groin? Oh yeah, it’s Great Balls of Fire, duh). Lesnar would find his groove though, hitting a series of suplexes before falling prey to a Coquina Clutch. Lesnar would reverse the hold though into an F-5 for the pin. That the announcers played it up that Joe may have just had a quick mental lapse, makes me think Joe may not be totally gone from the title picture just yet.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em…Vehicular Homicide!
The Roman Reigns/Braun Strowman match was every bit the brutal hoss fight we expected from these two. Strowman spent much of the match manhandling Reigns, showing off his brute strength, though Roman was able to show off his own strength as well, lifting the “Monster Among Men” on his shoulders for a Samoan drop. Strowman however continued to prove impervious to pain, basically walking through multiple chair shots unfazed and even getting up from being thrown through the video board on the stage ramp. Reigns would go for a quick strike with a spear, but was “ole’d” through the open ambulance door for the win.
The real fun though came after the match, when Reigns leaped out of the back of the ambulance and speared Strowman to the ground. He was then able to corral Braun into the vehicle where he then proceeded to drive him backstage. At this point, Roman decided the next logical step would be to ummm KILL Strowman (and possibly himself) by ramming the ambulance in reverse at full speed into a parked truck. After the fire department emerged on the scene (rudely interrupting an impromptu Curt Hawkins/Heath Slater match) they used the jaws of life to free Strowman, who was not dead, but just bloodied and angry. Do we now get the rubber match in the Almost Killing The Other Guy With An Ambulance series?
Poor Enzo Amore. Not only did he lose his best friend, but said friend mocked his boy Sinatra to his face while beating him up; “That’s life, huh?” Cass pretty much had his way with Enzo, though this wasn’t the over the top beatdown I would have expected, save for a great ‘big guy tosses little guy’ moment that would have made Bam Bam Bigelow (see Spike Dudley) and Kevin Nash (see Rey Misterio and a side of a truck) proud. Cass later appeared on Raw Talk where he seemed intent on bigger things, such as winning the Universal Title and main-eventing Wrestlemania. Enzo Amore will likely have something to say about this however.
In what was one of the best matches of the night, Alexa Bliss more than held her own against Sasha Banks, managing to look like the superior aggressor and intellect in the process; at one point Bliss seemingly disjointed her arm, lulling Banks into thinking her injury was “legit”. She then popped her arm back in place, leveling “The Boss” with a stiff forearm to the face. Although she would stay outside the ring and take a cheap count-out loss to retain her title, it appears the budding rivalry is far from over between these two. After getting screwed out of a chance at gold, Banks would hunt down Bliss post match, leading to a brawl near the stage/announce booth area. Banks would leave the night on top, nailing “The Goddess of WWE” with a double knee to the face from high above the announce table.
Defeated But Not Broken
The champs held the advantage for most of this Iron Man contest, at one point leading three falls to one. The match was tied up at three before Cesaro pinned a tired Jeff Hardy who had just connected on a Swanton Bomb. Cesaro then wisely ran away for the remaining 50 seconds or so and the champs retained. Matt Hardy was abused quite a bit in this match and left the contest beaten and bloodied. Is this enough to “break” him? I guess only, the wise owl knows.
Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins – Wyatt was in control for much of this match, getting in a lot of offense early including a booming shoulder to the barricade and a face first spike of Rollins into the ring apron. The Eater of Worlds later thumbed Rollins’ eye, leading to the Sister Abigail for the win. I guess this means Wyatt really is the sun god or something. Hopefully these two can both get into a better program before Summer Slam.
The Miz defeated Dean Ambrose – Bo Dallas continues to impress with his sartorial selections from the One Man Gang catalog (maybe next month he can start dressing like Akeem!). Dallas was actually the difference, striking the Lunatic Fringe from behind and feeding him to Miz for the Skull Crushing Finale. Can WWE give us an Ambrose vs. Dallas feud that Bo actually wins? Ya gotta BO-lieve!
Neville defeated Akira Tozawa – While an entertaining match, it was far from the showstopper that it could have been. Being placed on the pre show didn’t do them any favors either. Tozawa had the crowd behind him and was impressive with a double suicide dive and octopus stretch. The announce team sure seemed to push the phrase “The Neville Level.” Maybe WWE is planning on releasing a new line of back-to-school merchandise; coming soon the Lunatic 3 Fringe Binder. The match ended somewhat abruptly with Neville kicking Tozawa in the gut and covering him for the 1-2-3. Later in the evening a frustrated Titus O’Neill promised Tozawa he would secure his client a rematch.
Heath Slater defeated Curt Hawkins – This match took place in the chaos of the post Reigns/Strowman fight. Apparently WWE thinks the fans would rather see updates on Braun Strowman getting pried out of a busted ambulance than showing Heath Slater earning a PPV victory, as the feed cut away from the match during the pinning sequence. If I was Curt Hawkins I’m saying it didn’t count if no one at home saw it.
It will be interesting to see if WWE pushes some of these feuds through Summer Slam or if we’ll get fresh rivalries for August. Reigns has anointed himself the no. 1 contender for Lesnar’s Universal Title, but Strowman seems far from finished with The Guy. Perhaps we get a Joe/Lesnar and/or a Bliss/Banks rematch at Summer Slam? Likely the Miz and Sheasaro will be moving on to new programs.