Welcome to the first wrestling review on Matt’s Entertainment. It’s only fitting that it coincides with the first “Great Balls of Fire” PPV event WWE is giving us. Ironically, the lame name of the PPV runs in juxtaposition with a really good card. Let’s see if the event lives up to billing.
We start with a clever montage giving us “movie trailer previews” of tonight’s match-ups. This is all set in a drive-in movie theater because if Vince is anything, he’s topical.
LIVE from The American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Wonder if the slogan is “At least we’re not Delta.”
Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T are your announcers.
We’re introduced to the foreign announcers (referred to as “international flair” by Cole as if this is a brand-new thing):
GERMAN: Carsten Schaeffer, Calvin Knie, Tim Haber
SPANISH: Carols Cabrera, Marcelo Rodriguez
Bray Wyatt vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins tosses Bray around to start which just makes Bray laugh. They continue on and Bray hangs upside down and Rollins acts frightened instead of, I dunno, kicking Bray’s head off because he’s seen done for four straight years. The fight drops outside the ring ropes and Rollins gets knocked, face-first, into the ring steps. Bray follows up the attack and puts him back into the ring for a headlock. Rollins breaks it but Bray chops at him and sends him into a corner. The two climb the buckle but Rollins fights back. Bray finally wins the battle and hits a SHADES OF COWBOY BOB ORTON WHO INVENTED THAT MOVE SUPERPLEX for two. Rollins fights to his feet but Bray just knocks him outside the ring ropes, then DDT’s him for a two count. Bray misses the Reverse Running Senton and Rollins gets to his feet. He rushes Rollins who sends Bray outside. Back in the ring, Rollins and Bray each try for a suplex but that’s not happening so Rollins hits a running dropkick, sending Bray outside and, of course, that means Rollins needs to hit the Suicide Dive and he does. Back in the ring, Rollins gets a two count after a flying fist to Bray’s face. Rollins hits the Blockbuster and gets two as Graves speculates that Rollins, much like Bray “is starting to feel frustrated for not getting a fall”. We’re at 8 goddamn minutes, Corey. This isn’t The Undertaker vs. Michaels. Bray goes for Sister Abigail but can’t lock in the initial move where he takes two minutes to make out with his opponent so Rollins hits the Falcon Arrow. He goes top rope but Bray knocks him off and then hits a Gutbuster for a near fall. Bray hits the Spinebuster and gets two, then goes into Human Spider Mode and starts slapping at Rollins, yelling at him to “fight”. Rollins finally does but Bray knocks him away, thumbs him in the eye and hits Sister Abigail for the win at 12:07.
Thoughts: C+. Solid match but there was really no point to this match. For weeks, Bray’s been yacking about Rollins “losing faith” and “committing blasphemy” but that doesn’t even begin to translate to any type of in-ring “story” here. This felt like a RAW match and a glorified squash in a way. Even more unfortunate is just how far Seth is beginning to fall.
We get an ad for the next PPV: Battleground.
We get an interview with the Hardyz backstage where they say they “make history and break bars”. I’m pretty sure that’s “set bars” but what do I know?
We get the build-up for Enzo vs. Big Cass.
Enzo comes out first and does his usual shtick which seems so sad now for some reason. He says that SAWFT debuted in this very arena a year ago.Tonight ain’t love, though. This is war and all’s fair in love and war. Enzo tells “all the kids” that “life ain’t fair”. His favorite song is “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra because it mirrors real life. One of the lyrics is “Riding high in April/Shot down in May” and that’s like his life. He ended up injured with a concussion. Then he came back. Enzo says his real life has become better than his dreams which is why he sleeps with his eyes open. Enzo says he’s not gonna “roll over” like Sinatra says in the song. He’s gonna spread his wings and fly. Enzo nearly has a massive coronary proclaiming that Cass is “only 7 feet tall” and that’s all he will be. And despite his size, Cass will always be in Enzo’s shadow.
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
The two guys stare each other down. Enzo runs at Cass who just clubs Enzo across the back. Enzo tries jabbing Cass in the corner but gets shoved away and tackled. Cass puts Enzo in the corner and stomps a mudhole in him. Cass puts Enzo in a chinlock then drops him into another corner. Cass hits a Fallaway Slam, then runs and splashes Enzo in the corner. He tries again but Enzo slumps down to the ring mat. Cass just stops himself and starts slapping at Enzo then beats the crap out of him as Enzo is draped across the turnbuckle. Cass continues to push Enzo around then stands him up, hitting a huge Gorilla Press Slam, tossing Enzo out of the ring. The referee takes forever to count to nine and Enzo barely beats the count. But that’s all for naught. Cass just kicks Enzo’s head off his shoulders and gets the win at 5:21.
THOUGHTS: D+. Nothing but a squash match for Cass and that’s what it should have been. The match sucked but works beautifully on a storytelling level. Enzo’s newfound optimism is challenged by the reality that Cass is simply better than he is and I look forward to see how this progresses.
We get a teaser for the Kurt Angle documentary.
The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) (challengers) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro (champions) in an Iron Man Match for the WWE RAW Tag Team Championship
The rule is that the most falls in 30 minutes wins the titles. Sheamus and Matt start out but Cesaro distracts Matt giving Sheamus a Brogue Kick and a fall at just 19 seconds. (1-0 Sheamus/Cesaro) Jeff comes in and initially gets beat up but Jeff fights out of the double-team. Cesaro plants Jeff in the heel corner and it’s a tag to Sheamus. Jeff beats him into the Hardyz corner where it’s a tag to Matt who comes in with an elbow to Sheamus’s arm. Matt sends Sheamus out. Matt goes outside and slams Sheamus’s head against the mat with the crowd yelling “DELETE” with every slam. Back in the ring, Matt goes for a Twist of Fate but Sheamus reverses it and Matt has to hit a DDT instead for two. Tag to Jeff and it’s a Rocker-like double-team for two. Jeff tries an armbar but Sheamus just slings Jeff out of the ring. Cesaro attacks him so Matt attacks Cesaro. It’s a brawl outside with Cesaro hitting an uppercut. Back in the ring, Sheamus and Cesaro take turns wearing down Jeff and Cesaro hits a Gut Wrench Slam for two. Tag to Sheamus and he hits a Flying Kneedrop for two. Cesaro gets back in and he stomps at Jeff, then boots him out of the ring. The match grinds to a halt so WWE shows us how Sheamus and Cesaro went up 1-0 with 19 seconds off the clock. Sheamus and Cesaro hit a double clothesline for two and Cesaro hits Submission Move #7 with 21 minutes left on the clock. Cesaro boots Matt in the face, knocking him off the mat. Jeff manages to get away from Cesaro after a Back Bodydrop but Jeff has nobody to tag. The two heels hit Super White Noise on Jeff for a second fall at 9:30. (2-0 Sheamus/Cesaro) Sheamus tries to shouldertackle Jeff but misses and hits the turnbuckle instead. Jeff goes for the tag and both sides do so. Matt hits several headbutts and rams Cesaro’s head into each turnbuckle one after the other. Cloethesline in the corner and a two count. Double Axehandle off the ropes. Two count. Tag to Jeff and it’s the Side Effect and Twist of Fate after knocking Sheamus off the mat. That’s good for a fall at 12:31. (2-1 Sheamus/Cesaro) Jeff beats on Sheamus in the corner and hits a nice springboard dropkick for a close fall. The Hardyz hit a double suplex for another close fall due to Cesaro saving it. They knock Cesaro off the mat. Matt and Jeff combine for a Suicide Senton to the outside. Outside the ring, Matt slaps Sheamus around and hits an uppercut. He tosses Matt back in but Cesaro grabs Matt and throws him into the VideoBuckle. The ref counts to ten faster than any ref in history and it’s a fall by countout at 16:51. (3-1 Sheamus/Cesaro) Back in the ring, Cesaro suplexes Matt and gets two. Sheamus and Cesaro each stomp Matt who tries to drive for a tag to Jeff but Sheamus stops him and applies a headlock. Sheamus hits two of the Ten Beats needed for a Baurin and then just shoves Matt outside. Cesaro beats up on Matt outside with a running uppercut as we have 10 minutes left. ANOTHER headlock and Matt breaks out and hits the Side Effect — but only gets two. Cesaro boots Jeff in the face across the ring after a tag, then hits the Sharpshooter on Matt — but Jeff makes the save. Matt tries to tag Jeff but Sheamus pulls Jeff off the mat which isn’t a DQ even though the referee saw it happen. Cesaro goes for a running uppercut but Matt catches him, locks his arms and tags in Jeff for a double team Backslide/Pin Combo and a fall at 23:06. (3-2 Sheamus/Cesaro) Jeff and Matt begin to play the two at their own game, interfering with Cesaro outside and nearly hitting two falls. Matt tags himself in after Jeff gets decked by Sheamus and Matt hits a Tornado DDT with 5 minutes left. It gets two. Cesaro gets in the ring but Matt dumps him out. Sheamus throws Matt into the turnbuckle and climbs up but Matt knocks him down and hits a Reverse Moonsault but Cesaro makes the save. Matt is barely on his feet and pulls Sheamus to the turnbuckle with 3:30 left in the match. Matt slaps at him and the two climb the buckle and Matt hits a HUGE Twist of Fate for the tying fall at 24:09! (3-3 Tie) Two and a half minutes to spare here. Sheamus is on the mat with Jeff going top rope. Cesaro pulls Sheamus out — so Jeff just dives at both of them outside. Sheamus is rolled back in. Jeff goes top rope again. Matt goes top rope on the other side and it’s a Double Frogsplash! Jeff goes for the pin but Cesaro makes the save. Cesaro uppercuts Matt but Matt kicks out. Jeff hits a Flying Swanton on Sheamus but Cesaro is the legal man and he rolls up Jeff WHO IS PERFECTLY FRESH for a three-count for a bullshit fall at 29:21. (4-3 Sheamus/Cesaro) Cesaro runs out of the ring and Jeff who is fresh as plucked fucking Butter Lettuce runs after him. He chases Cesaro into the ring, hits Twist of Fate but it’s about three seconds too late and Cesaro and Sheamus retain at 30:00.
THOUGHTS: B+. A great match which started incredibly slow and weak and got better at the end — with a really terrible finish which would have made more sense had Cesaro hit a devastating move on Jeff BEFORE HE PINNED HIM. But “That’s Life”!
We get the build up for Bliss vs. The Boss. The producers aren’t even bothering with playing Great Balls of Fire anymore so either they’re tired of it or WWE lost their rights to play it.
MOAR ANNOUNCE TEAMS!
PORTUGUESE: Marco Alfaro and Roberto Figueroa
FRENCH: Ray Rougeau and Jean Brassard
JAPANESE: Shun Yamaguchi and Funaki
HINDI: Obaid Kadwani and Shez Sardar
RUSSIAN: Moti Margolin and Zhan Pomerantsev
CHINESE: Meng Ai and Sean Deng
Sasha Banks (challenger) vs. Alexa Bliss (champion) for the WWE RAW Women’s Championship
Lots of grappling and a shoulder tackle by Bliss. Banks comes back with a dropkick and Bliss is already outside, taking a breather. Back in the ring, Banks hits a weak armdrag and gets two. Banks drops Bliss on her face. Bliss fakes a completely broken arm (and, SHIT that looks real) and then clocks Banks in the head when Banks gets too close. Ouch. Bliss tries the Backstabber but Banks counters into the Banks Statement. Bliss rolls out of the ring and then tries to walk away from the match. Banks chases and tries to toss her into the ring but Bliss trips her and Banks’ head hits the edge of the mat. Back in the ring, the two trade punches but Bliss drops knees in the middle of Banks’ back for two. Banks gets to her feet and rolls Bliss up for two. The two grapple and counter one another and Bliss whiplashes Banks backwards and gets two. Bliss goes for a suplex but Banks reverses it. The two get up and brawl back and forth with Banks hitting double knees on Bliss followed by dropkicks. Banks hits a Side Suplex and running knee for two. Bliss comes back and hits a beautiful Falling Sunset Flip pin for a VERY close fall. Bliss goes top rope but ends up running into the knees of Banks who immediately locks in the Banks Statement. Bliss gets to the ropes about 30 seconds later and the fight moves outside. Bliss taunts Banks who tosses her into the crowd barrier. Banks rolls her back in but Bliss escapes and goes back outside. Banks walks over to her but Bliss slaps her away and then just sits there and sucks up a countout at 11:49.
THOUGHTS: C+. A match that had intensity and was ruined by another shit finish. And would it be too much to ask for a babyface to “win” tonight?
Post-match, Banks is pissed and attacks Bliss. The two fight to the announce table. Bliss tries to put Banks through the announce table but that doesn’t work and Banks knocks her to the ground and hits double knees to her on the floor. Jesus, Sasha…please stop trying to kill yourself.
We recap the Kickoff Show Cruiserweight Championship Match where, yes, Neville the Heel won.
The Miz (champion) w/ Maryse & The Miztourage (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. Dean Ambrose (challenger) for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
This isn’t a good night for babyfaces. Not one bit. Ambrose immediately goes outside and attacks Axel. THen he goes inside to take out Miz before going outside to take out Dallas. Then he beats up Miz inside the ring and goes top rope. Axel distracts Ambrose so Mix knocks Ambrose down. Headlock by Miz but Ambrose breaks out and rolls up Miz for two. Miz hits a quick DDT for two as the crowd just dies. Ambrose tries to get to his feet but Miz just kicks him. Miz misses a running kick and Ambrose rolls him up for two. Miz comes back with the Corner Clothesline, then tries a Double Axehandle off the ropes, ending up in Dirty Deeds. Miz breaks it and Dean clotheslines him. Ambrose puts Miz on the top buckle and hits a Super Double-Hook Suplex for two. The two counter one another and Miz dropkicks Ambrose in the knee. He puts Dean in the Tree of Woe and hits dropkicks to Ambrose’s bad knee. Ambrose comes back with a clothesline. Miz counters Ambrose and hits a Figure Four which Dean breaks with the ropes. Ambrose can barely stand up. Miz hits YES Kicks to Ambrose and then misses the Roundhouse. Miz runs at Ambrose and misses a clothesline. Ambrose hits a splash off the ropes and NEARLY gets two. Maryse immediately distracts the ref and the Miztourage pulls Ambrose out of the ring on the Bounce-Back Clothesline. Ambrose takes them out, then clotheslines Miz outside the ring. Back in the ring, Ambrose goes top rope. Miz catches him and Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds — but Maryse puts Miz’s foot on the ropes. Ambrose hits a Suicide Dive on both, then rolls Miz back into the ring. It’s predictably 4-on-1 as Axel gets beaten up. Dallas, however, clocks Ambrose in the back of the head and Miz wins with the SCF at 11:18 to retain.
THOUGHTS: C+. I get that it’s 4-on-1. I can deal with that concept…but don’t telegraph it before the match starts. On top of that, having Dallas and Axel at ringside is redundant with the presence of Maryse. Other than that, can we let this feud die?
Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns in an Ambulance Match
Heat for Roman is white-hot here. Braun attacks but misses and Reigns kicks at him then runs at him but falls over because Braun is made of fucking bricks. Braun clotheslines him in the corner and Reigns is down. Big club to the chest and Reigns is in pain outside. Braun tries to toss Reigns into the VideoPost but Reigns reverses it and Braun eats it instead. Reigns eats it as well when he misses an attack and Braun tosses him into the ring steps. Braun picks up the steel steps and whacks Reigns with them twice. He tries a third time but Reigns ducks. Back in the ring, Reigns hits clotheslines and uppercuts. On the last attempt, however, Braun grabs him and throws him to the mat. Reigns gets up and goes to the corner. Braun gets booted in the face on a run but Reigns gets kicked in the head when Reigns runs at him. Braun picks Roman up and Fireman Carries him down the walkway. Roman, however, kicks free and gets back in the ring. Braun misses a corner attack and Reigns hits a Samoan Drop. Braun dives at Roman and misses. Roman goes outside and hits the Drive-By to Braun’s bad elbow. He continues to attack the elbow, then goes for a chair under the ring. Roman hits Braun’s elbow with the chair twice, then hits Braun again when he rolls out of the ring — but Braun no-sells that. Another chair shot but Braun’s not having it. He rips the chair from Roman and tosses him into the opposing crowd barriers. He walks Reigns up the ramp and rams him into the video screen. Braun walks to the main announce table and starts disassembling it. He goes back to Roman and tries a powerbomb but Roman hops out of it and punches Braun in the face several times. He goes for another punch but Strowman grabs Roman and throws him into the side of the ambulance. Braun goes and opens the ambulance doors. Braun picks Roman up and drags him to the doors but Roman fights back. Roman tries to put Braun in but Braun counters and tries to put Roman in. Roman escapes and hits a Superman Punch. Reigns hits another and Braun is halfway in. Roman picks up Braun’s leg and tries to dump him in but Braun kicks him away and picks up the stretcher backboard, using it as a weapon against Roman. The two fight on the entrance ramp. Braun runs at Roman and misses, hitting part of the video board. He recovers and picks up Roman who escapes and sends Braun into ANOTHER LED board, putting a huge hole in the thing. Roman is dead and Braun is getting to his feet. Roman looks scared as hell that Braun can even be alive right now. He tries to drag Braun to the ambulance but Braun shoves Roman to the ground behind the ambulance. Braun goes after Reigns who clocks Reigns with a lighting rig. He dives at Braun — who sidesteps the dive. Reigns ends up in the ambulance and Braun closes the doors to win the match at 16:40.
THOUGHTS: B+. Great fight between the two big guys. This was everything I thought it would be: an unsophisticated brawl.
Post-match, Roman flies out of the ambulance, spearing Braun. He tosses Braun into the ambulance, then drives backstage, where he puts the ambulance into reverse, flooring it. He pancakes the back-half of the ambulance and WWE officials go nuts, trying to get Strowman out. We go split-screen for the next match.
Curt Hawkins vs. Heath Slater
Really?! Slater with some armdrags and an armbar as Cole is distraught over the fact that Reigns may have murdered Strowman. Around 1:33, emergency vehicle noises are piped in and we see Angle backstage with a fire engine from Dallas…and that’s what we’ve cut to. They won’t even show the ending of the match which Slater apparently won at 2:30 and is loudly piped in for our own personal gratification.
The Jaws of Life are utilized to pull open an ambulance door which isn’t even that damaged. Finally, the door is popped open and if the paramedic who went in doesn’t fly out through the ceiling, courtesy of Braun, I’ll be very disappointed. Braun is cut up badly and tries to get to his feet of his own accord. He’s limping on one leg and his face is dinged up, too. He limps off like a monster, telling everyone to leave him alone. Glad the trained paramedics did just what he said.
We’re at 8 PM and Cole has suddenly contracted Laryngitis as he explains how Reigns nearly killed Braun Strowman — then casually moves us into our big main event because the show must go on!
Heyman introduces Lesnar but Joe attacks Lesnar in the middle of it and tosses him through the Spanish Announce Table. Lesnar takes forever to get up and, when he does, he can’t even stay on his feet.
Samoa Joe (challenger) vs. Brock Lesnar (champion) for the WWE Universal Championship
When he finally gets in, the match begins. Joe attacks and it’s a series of headbutts. Lesnar comes back with knees to the head. Joe rams Lesnar in the corner. The two are all over one another, dragging each other to the mat. Joe headbutts Lesnar and puts in the Coquina Clutch which, because Lesnar is so freakin’ big, just looks like a Sleeper. Lesnar breaks the hold by using the turnbuckle and hits Germans #1, #2 and #3. He goes for #4 but Joe grabs the ropes. Joe hits a low blow to Lesnar but the ref didn’t see it. Joe hits a Uranage (which has far too much of the word “Urine” in it for me to take it so seriously) for two. Joe hits the Sleep — er, Coquina Clutch again. but Lesnar counters with a Sidewalk Slam to break it. Brock hits German s #4, #5, and #6. He goes for the F5 — but ANOTHER Coquina Clutch by Joe. Lesnar falls to a knee — then gets up and hits the F5 to win it at 6:28.
THOUGHTS: B-. Yeah. That was a match — but considering the amount of build-up we got, this wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. Probably hindered by the lack of length it needed to go to be truly “epic”. And before you go off in the comments, consider that The Undertaker and Lesnar went through two long matches at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell during The Undertaker’s later years. This deserved FAR better.
OVERALL: C+. Match of the night was obviously the big tag match but you could have subtracted Enzo and Big Cass and settled that on RAW to give the main event more time to cook. The event had big-time promise and mostly delivered. I wouldn’t watch it again but I really like where WWE is going with the Universal title and, for a change, the Intercontinental Title actually means something rather than it trading hands every month. The question is whether WWE can continue to capitalize on the ideas they’ve presented.