WWE: Great Balls of Fire 2017

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Dear Reader,

I must mention the title for this WWE summer Pay-Per-View. Great Balls of Fire. What were they thinking? Why did they choose such a title? I know in sports entertainment there’s room for comedy, and feel good shows and activities, but how can a behemoth of a wrestling company come to complete terms with such a title? Without a fuss?

Sure the song was a hit in the 50s. The song became popular by the artist Jerry Lee Lewis. I read the lyrics. It’s a love song with a catchy, awesome melody that gets the listener dancing and grooving. How does a love song contribute to men in spandex competing in a serious storytelling matter? It doesn’t. The song wasn’t even playing during the event. Goodness gracious, that was a good idea!

Anyway, the title hinders any known creativity WWE might still have left. The title could’ve showed the strong storytelling of these matches and feuds. Think about the words for moment: Great Balls of Fire. I picture giant flaming balls hurdling down upon an area. The giant flames are unbearably hot and scorching. Wouldn’t that thought resonate with all the babyfaces since they must portray how exciting they are to watch and it is the babyfaces time to shine? And of course the land or area these giant flaming balls are hurdling down upon are the heels. Of which the heels try to stomp out the momentum of the babyfaces. This analysis might be too much. However, if this was marketed, we probably wouldn’t have teased at the title so much. WWE didn’t make the title of the PPV work. I’m trying to do just that.

Here another thought: since WWE owns WCW…why not use Bash at the Beach only for RAW PPV in the summer. This would lead to SummerSlam. And personally, I think SummerSlam should be a both RAW and SmackDown event. I love Bash at the Beach anyway.

Now onto the matches!

Kick-Off Show

I personally do not like the Kick-Off Show. Wrestling isn’t meant to be broadcasted like MMA, Sports Center, or any other sport that follows this formula. If this doesn’t not push the talent, then why is it there? If crazy things doesn’t happen while wrestlers are getting interviewed by the panel of journalists, then why should I watch it? Oh guess what? If I miss it, I miss a pre-show match that could have waited to be booked on the main card. I consider professional wrestling to be a sport, no matter if others think otherwise. I also know it’s fake. I just want to see more action and story to push the talent. And if the journalist, announcers, and interviews can help out, that’d make the show great.

The first match of the night is the Cruiserweight Champion Neville defending his title against Tozawa. Did you guys know that Tozawa is part of the O’Neil brand now? Like…why? And how did this happen? I admit. I don’t tune into Superstars or 205 Live as much as I tune in to RAW, SmackDown Live, and NXT. So how did this alliance form and why? Now it feels as if they are keeping Titus O’Neil just because and throwing talents that have somewhat of a following in his direction to try and boost them. Titus and Young did very well as a tag team, sprouting out “Millions of dollars! Millions of dollars!” But I just don’t see him as a manager role. He didn’t do much during the match either. Plus, Tozawa has unlimited talent and potential. We all saw how well he took the bumps from Neville, and matched Neville’s intensity. So why does he need a manager? I love how Tozawa placed Neville in the Octopus stretch. Haven’t seen that move in a long time. I love how Neville’s heel reign is going even if it’s a little stale. He claims to be the true King of the Cruiserweight, but an afterthought in the mind of the writers. There should an equal number of writing teams for all shows that can effectively utilize the talents. The match included much action from both competitors. They showcased their skills in front of a filling in crowd. They must still feel like they’re still wrestling in the indies. I enjoyed the match. I don’t like that Tozawa is with the O’Neil brand because I don’t believe he needs to be there. Neither does Apollo Crews. But that’s another debate for another time. Your winner and still champion is Neville.

Main Card

Bray Wyatt vs Seth Rollins

Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins fought twice according to the announcers. Seth Rollins is a horrible babyface. But I have to take it in stride since I’m a fan. My fan-ship started when he debuted in Ring of Honor and joined Jimmy Jacobs group: Age of the Fallen, as Tyler Black. (Oh yeah, I’m a wrestling fan.) I honestly like the character Tyler Black more than the character Seth Rollins. It’s so plain and bland. At least when he was getting booked in Ring of Honor, I understood the Tyler Black character. I get the Seth Rollins character here in WWE, however, it’s not enough. Maybe because now he’s standing still. He no longer has The Authority angles, or The Shield angles, or The Architect angles. Now he has the stale babyface angles. And now faced with Bray Wyatt.

Bray Wyatt is one hell of a talent. Used great at times. Used poorly at other times. We do not have the storytellers of the attitude era that did wonderful things for the Undertaker character. That’s what Bray Wyatt needs. Bray talks wonderful on the mic, but how long can this character goes before the WWE Universe grows completely, and I mean completely tired of him? I don’t want the Bray Wyatt character to end. There are endless storylines to be done with the right wrestlers. There’s still the family coming back together. There’s still the team up of Bray and Bo. So much potential. So much little time. So much bullshit from the writing team.

The match was decent. Nothing spectacular. Cool spots here and there. Bray spiked Rollins on the ring apron, the hardest part of the ring. Rollins would gain momentum at times, only to have Bray dominate during the whole match. Rollins did manage to hit the Blockbuster and Falcon Arrow moves on Bray, but didn’t pick up the victory. Bray won the match via poke in the eye, the referee didn’t see this illegal move. Bray went for the pin and gained the victory.

It’s cool that Bray won the match. Both competitors have gain a losing record for Pay-Per-Views. To have Bray win, where does the creative team go from here? I know where. I have an idea. But I know it won’t happen. Let’s place him in a storyline with The Miz and the Mizterage. As for Rollins, where does the writing team take him?

Enzo Amore vs Big Cass

Enzo is an amazing talker on the mic. I finally gave him props. I didn’t mind listening to him before, but this night his promo was crisp. That’s probably because he knew what he was talking about. He had a clear, motivating agenda. It wasn’t like before where he would say the first thing that pops into his mind. I’m not fond of the heavily scripted promos. I like to see these guys fly with confidence when doing promos. I loved how Enzo placed the whole premise of his promo on of his favorite songs. Great. Give us, the fans, something to connect with. His promo was so strong, that the match feel short. No pun intended because of Enzo’s height.

Big Cass is the hybrid of Edge and Test. I acknowledge him. Just not a complete fan yet. I want to see what else he can do. He can surely hold his own as a competitor. He tall, giant tall, and hails from Queens, New York. I love that he’s a heel. He can do more as a heel than a babyface. In the background he can work on his promo skills. When Cass had a line to deliver with Enzo, it felt like he had a to remember and search for the line. It was bland and choppy. He seems at home when he (incorrectly) spells soft.

Big Cass won the match. This match probably should have not ended so shortly and have Enzo lose after his great speech. However, Cass’s win only builds this feud even more. In the upcoming matches between Enzo and Cass, Enzo needs to be smart just as he is witty. If not, this feud would collapse.

Iron Man 30 Minute Tag Team Match: Hardy Boys vs Cesaro and Sheamus

Oh man! By far, best match on the card, on the PPV. I took pictures of my notes on this match. Will show you. So much actions and story. Where do I begin?

This match proved that WWE can still have great storytelling within the match as well as putting on a five-star match. The main story of the match: The Hardy’s are old; Sheamus and Cesaro are young. But this proved to be far from the truth. The Hardy’s still kept up with Sheamus and Cesaro. However, Cesaro used his ring awareness to his advantage. Every open opportunity was a means of destroying one or both of the Hardy’s so the points can go to him and Sheamus. Remember the opening of the match? No? Me either. But it was great. It caught our attention. The moment we blinked, Sheamus and Cesaro gained a pinfall. Quick as lightning. Quick as foxes delivering a blind tag and a Brogue Kick. And the match goes on! For 30 minutes, it was a great ride. All these emotions of excitement and suspense is highly missed with general WWE programming. This match brought it back.

Sheamus and Cesaro did well to keep the ring in half. They didn’t allow too much tagging to happen between Matt and Jeff Hardy. But at least Matt or Jeff would interfere in the match just to create some leeway to create a fighting chance. Cesaro was the MVP of the match. Jeff Hardy took most of the onslaught. Why? I have this age-old debate amongst my coworkers about who’s better: Matt or Jeff? I go for Matt Hardy because I’m a fan of the technical, the ground game. I enjoy high-flying death defying moves, but sometimes that misses the mark because it can be reckless, shock-value only, or may not progress the story. Great you can fly, but how well can you fight?

Cesaro and Sheamus gained a 2 point lead since destroying Jeff Hardy for nearly the whole match. The Hardy Boys did make a comeback. Matt and Jeff double team Cesaro and set him up for the Poetry in Motion and Twist of Fate. The score was 3-1. Sheamus and Cesaro leading. Cesaro puts Matt Hardy in a sharpshooter later in the match. Jeff breaks this hold up, and they gain a pinfall over Cesaro with a custom pinning combination. Now the score is 3-2. Matt Hardy then did an awesome looking moonsault onto Sheamus. This is the part where the referee messed up and alerted to everyone that we would not see new tag team champions. The referee clearly count 3, thus should’ve awarded the pin fall to the Hardy’s but retracted that and only announcing it was a 2 count. The fans, sometimes an enjoyable crowd, chanted “Ref you suck!” Which he did. But in turn, this did not stop the Hardy boys, neither did they complain about it. They kept fighting and eventually tied it up! Matt Hardy (I believe) did a top-rope Twist of Fate which gained The Hardys the pinfall to tie-up the score: 3-3. Hope was renewed. Maybe we would have new tag team champions. The time was trickling down to the mere moments. Matt and Jeff both splashed Sheamus, hoping for the deciding pinfall to win, however, Cesaro stopped that. Mere seconds slipping away. Cesaro uppercutted Matt Hardy, causing him to bleed from under his eyebrow. Jeff hits the Swanton, but Cesaro capitalizes with a pin having the score now a 4-3. Jeff then chases Cesaro wasting precious seconds, now back in the ring, and a Twist of Fate is hit on Cesaro. Jeff goes for the pin, the referee counts, but then the buzzer sounds. Time is up. And still tag team champions: Cesaro and Sheamus.

I did not know how to feel after that. That high intensity coming down in an unfinished climax. It left wanting more. I wanted new champions only to stimulate the storytelling further. I still say it’s the best match on the card. Well done.

 

Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss

Now onto the lady’s wrestling. How do you follow that? They didn’t. As much as I love these two, this match fell short. Again, no pun intended due to height. However, Alexa Bliss is very keen on keeping the heel story alive. That’s why it didn’t do as well as it could’ve. Alexa has the freaky ability to pop out her elbow joint to fool opponents…and the wrestling fans. Alexa Bliss pulled out a sunset flip on Sasha.

Sasha Banks gained a lot of momentum so quick that I believe it’s hurting her. She no longer has feuds with Charlotte or Baylee. She needs to gain more wrestling moves. Her promos can improve. She has a certain attitude that can work, just need the right situation. And I noticed that once a wrestler “gains an injury,” that must always be the focus in the match. That’s not a good way to draw sympathy from the crowd. Well not all the time. It works at times, but don’t milk it. Sasha lately has become a jobber in her matches. To the point where the other wrestler carries her. I’m not sure for this. And I don’t like it. I know, and can see her potential. Maybe it’s time to have The Boss off television for a while to recreate what she stood for.

The winner of the match: Sasha Banks via count out. Alexa walked out.

The Miz vs Dean Ambrose

Oh my. Why this again? It’s not even entertaining or well put together. The Miz is great. He improved greatly since his days on MTV Real World and Road Rules. He became what he wanted.

I feel like Dean Ambrose has lost his fire. I never really rallied behind him. Don’t feel a connection to actually cheer or boo him. I wonder what he thinks about when it comes to his character. If he was great in the indys, as some wrestling fans will tell you, then why isn’t that utilize here in WWE?

You remember the Stone Cold Podcast that featured Dean Ambrose? That set the tone for the rest of his career. No actual answer, almost seemed as if he dazed off and came back to reality when Austin was getting a little heated with him. I don’t get it. I don’t like to “bash” wrestlers, but sometimes with booking as such, you get lost in the shuffle. Maybe it’s time to let Dean Ambrose be Dean Ambrose.

The Miz won with help from the Mizterage.

Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns

YES! Thankfully Roman Reigns did not win this match! I have a huge dislike for Roman Reigns. I never published my reasons for my dislike for him, but will soon. I don’t care about the match. I cared about the outcome. We all know that Braun is a monster. And did a wonderful job displaying that. I want to talk about this supposed “heel” turn of Roman, and the desperation of reaching for drama. A regular Ambulance match would have had the doors closed once the opponent got inside and after slapping the side of the truck a couple of times, the ambulance would proceed to the hospital. On this night, that was not the case. Even after Strowman slaps the truck, it does not drive away. Roman spears his way out the truck and takes down Strowman. And then proceeds to throw Strowman in the truck and drive off. Such a sore loser. Anyway. Roman then gets the bad idea to stop, backup, peer into the side mirror with a devilish grin. Oh boy…shades of Rikishi. He does the unthinkable. And Michael Cole DOES NOT help with his commentary. I get it. I’m supposed to feel the drama. But that drama died a long time ago when Vince McMahon decided to “kill” himself on live TV only to retract it when Chris Benoit actually and literally killed himself and his family. So this whole scene wasn’t working for me. I was laughing. I knew Strowman was alright. Kurt Angle’s face was priceless. Jamie Noble barking like an annoying Chihuahua with concern in his voice and body language. Again, wasn’t buying it. So the fire department was called and used the Jaws of Life. Seriously? I was waiting for Strowman to kick the door open like a badass. Now that’s great booking. Plus, where was the key to simply open the door? An official always have the key during cage matches? Why no one had the key for the ambulance? After everything, Strowman walked away. He gained more credit than Roman Reigns. I think this was a bad attempt at “making” Roman heel if that was the supposed plan. Rikishi did it once. Don’t do it again. They guy is still breathing. This would just anger Strowman more. So horrible ending. I laughed. I loved Strowman more. And nothing changed my feelings towards Roman.

Curt Hawkins vs Heath Slater

Filler match. Was happening during the Strowman/Reigns drama. Your winner: Heath Slater. I don’t know this happened. Seriously.

Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar

This was a bullshit of a match. I started watching Samoa Joe’s career when he debuted in ROH. I also saw some of his matches in PWG and other indy promotions. When I used to watch TNA (now Global Force Wrestling) I tuned in to watch all the wrestlers including Samoa Joe. Samoa Joe is a badass Samoan without a legacy linage. And I respect that. Samoa Joe is the embodiment of a submission machine. Now this match…what the hell. I question WWE’s tactics. It’s great to showcase the champion at times to become vulnerable. All champions are defeatable. But again, this was a one-sided build. Just like Rock vs Cena.

I thought they would give him the belt that night. We have a “wrestler” that barely shows up for work. A three-month wrestler. How dare they put him with the title? How much money does he actually pull from the crowd? He’s no longer the badass he used to be. I wonder when WWE will see this? He’s no longer the top rated cash-cow.

Alright. Enough.

I just didn’t like all the build-up and fierce action in the ring to end with a simple F5 to get the win. All that goes to shirt. And Joe will be brought back to the mid-card level eventually. I’m fond of the idea of having Reigns vs Lesnar again. I’m not fond with Reigns with the championship belt. And if they do give Reigns the belt, it should be a triple threat match: Reigns vs Joe vs Strowman. Something entertaining. Something better.

Last notes

Raw needs to step up and leave certain formulas behind. The formula of one-sided story build doesn’t go over well. The fans want certain things; obviously let’s not give into ALL the demands of the WWE universe, but some. New champions. New writing team. New idealists that can handle the storytelling. It shouldn’t be a novella. It shouldn’t be an opera with horrible climaxes and endings. It should be filled with common sense and enjoyment for the product. Not an afterthought. Thankfully, that 30 minute Iron Man match saved this pay-per-view. That’s how you make wrestling enjoyable again.

 

Thanks for reading my dear readers!

Sincerely,

Marie DiMarzio

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