The SmarK Rant for WWE GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!
Live from Dallas, TX
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T.
Apparently tonight is a “throwback feel”, which would be neat if it was in any way true. Doing a stripped down PPV set without all the LED screens, like it was a show from the 50s, would be cool. This is just another show.
Bray Wyatt v. Seth Rollins
Like, what exactly is Bray’s gimmick at this point? He no longer has followers, and now he’s just a guy who rambles about stuff and doesn’t wash his hair. Basically he’s a crazy homeless guy, I guess. Seth takes him down with a snapmare as Cole recaps their feud: Bray called Seth a coward, and Seth called Bray a false prophet. Wow. Bray bails and gets dropkicked into the announce table, but he recovers and cuts off a suicide dive with a forearm to take over. Rollins leverages him into the turnbuckles, so Bray goes to the apron and manages to hurl Seth into the stairs in a dangerous-looking bump. Kind of like the old Pillman railing bump. Back in, Bray with the chinlock, but they slug it out on the top rope and Wyatt ends up getting the superplex. They slug it out and Bray takes him to the apron for a DDT (it’s the hardest part of the ring, you know!) that gets two. Bray misses a senton and Seth comes back with a dropkick that puts him on the floor again, followed by the suicide dive. Back in, a flying forearm gets two. Rollins makes the comeback with a slingblade and blockbuster for two. Bray tries Sister Abigail, but Rollins counters with the dodging enzuigiri and my mind immediately went to the WWE Champions mobile game and I was like “OH DAMN, 10K damage, Bray’s screwed now!” but alas this is not a jewel breaking game and the match continued. Bray comes back with a lariat to the horror of a random fan in the crowd, but Bray hits him with a falcon arrow for two. Seth goes up and Bray brings him down with a neckbreaker thing for two, and the uranage gets two. Seth fights back, but Bray catches him with the old thumb to the eye and finishes with Sister Abigail at 12:10. Really, a thumb to the eye? Well, Jesse Ventura would be proud, at least. Pretty weak finish, decent TV formula match. **1/2
Meanwhile, the Hardy Boyz are ready for the Iron Man match, and Matt seems a bit wackier than usual. Perhaps it’s all the delightful superhero cartoons he was watching.
Enzo Amore v. Big Cass
Enzo gives a long, long, long promo that’s probably longer than the match is gonna be, and it’s a really good one about Frank Sinatra and how life is unfair and stuff. And now he’s got custody of the SAWFT catchphrase and Cass has generic music and generic tights. Enzo attacks and gets completely mauled like a geek. It’s a really weird dynamic here, where the company takes away the act like people like, then pushes the guy that people don’t like by having him completely squash the guy that people like. Like, what about the whole “We put smiles on peoples’ faces” branding rhetoric? Cass beats on him in the corner and then tosses him to the floor like garbage. Enzo barely beats the count, so Cass puts him away with the big boot at 5:20. Not a particularly impressive showing for Cass. Enzo was completely buried here, not surprisingly, literally not even getting a single move on offense. DUD
RAW tag titles: Cesaro & Sheamus v. The Hardy Boyz
Sheamus head-fakes Matt with the help of Cesaro and hits the Brogue Kick at 0:15 in a cool spot, and they’re up 1-0. Jeff comes in and tries a chinlock on Cesaro, and the Hardyz gets Sheamus in the corner for some double-teams. Matt bounces Sheamus’s head off the apron while doing the Broken mannerisms, and back in for a DDT that gets two. Matt saves Jeff from a beating on the heel side on the floor, but Jeff gets double-teamed in the heel corner anyway. The crowd is just dead for this. Sheamus with a kneedrop from the middle for two. Cole and Booker go into a weird metaphor about football and Booker gets all fired up about it, and then Corey calmly shoots him down with “I don’t care about football, Booker.” And then JBL texts Cole to correct Booker’s apparently incorrect address of the old Sportatorium while I got check Street View on Google Maps for fun because this match is so boring thus far. The champs do a double-team White Noise on Jeff and pin him at 9:50 to go up 2-0. Sheamus misses a blind charge and hits the floor, and it’s hot tag Matt, which finally wakes up the crowd while they chant “Delete” a bunch of times. Matt with the bulldog on Cesaro for two and an elbow off the middle for two. Poetry in Motion into a Side Effect and a Twist of Fate gets the pin at 12:50 and it’s 2-1. Jeff with a suplex for two, and he pounds on Sheamus in the corner and gets the mule kick for two. Matt chases the champs out and Jeff hits them with a dive, but Cesaro runs Matt into the post and he’s counted out at 16:50. So they’re up 3-1 and now we’ve got boring falls on top of the boring match. Matt gets beat up in the corner as this drags on with more chinlocks, and now the announcers switch to hockey metaphors instead of football metaphors. Matt comes back with a Side Effect for two on Sheamus, but Cesaro immediately cuts him off with a Sharpshooter until Jeff saves. And then Sheamus takes out Jeff and Cesaro goes to work on Matt again, but Jeff hits a double-team jackknife on Cesaro and gets the pin at 23:00 to make it 3-2. Jeff makes his comeback on Sheamus with a seated dropkick for two, and Matt comes in with a tornado DDT for two. Sheamus blocks the Twist of Fate and they fight to the top, but Matt puts him down for a moonsault that gets two. They head back up and Matt brings him down with a top rope Twist of Fate to tie it up at 27:10. Jeff goes up and hits them with a dive, and the Boyz do stereo splashes on Sheamus for two. Matt has managed to get busted open somehow, but Jeff blind tags in and hits the swanton, but Cesaro steals a pin on Jeff at 29:30 to go up 4-3 and the champs literally run away to retain at 30:00. A hot 5:00 couldn’t save the match, as this feud drags ON AND ON and this settled nothing, as usual. ***1/4
RAW Women’s title: Alexa Bliss v. Sasha Banks
The video package for this match did absolutely nothing to make me want to see this match, so I can only imagine how brutal the actual buildup must have been. More weirdness, or at least to me, as the announcers talk about the Four Horsewomen as though this was a thing that happened. Which it never did. Like, some people might have known about their backstage relationship as a group, but it’s not like there was ever any Four Horsewomen stable on TV. It’d be like if they started pretending like the Clique was a stable on TV. Sasha works on the arm for a bit and Alexa does a pretty impressively gross fake shoulder separation and uses the distraction to take over. Why would you waste that spot on something other than the finish? You can only do that gag once and now it’s done. Sasha comes back with the Bank Statement, but Bliss bails to escape. She tries to run away, but Sasha hauls her back in, resulting in Bliss outsmarting her AGAIN and tripping Sasha on the apron to take over. Back in, that gets two. Bliss with the double knees for two and she works on the back and gets two. Sasha comes back with a suplex into the turnbuckles and gets a Shining Wizard for two. Bliss comes back with a Code Red out of the corner for two and goes up with a Sparkle Splash, but that misses and Sasha hooks the Bank Statement. Alexa makes the ropes and they fight on the floor, as Bliss keeps running away and gets counted out at 11:48. They did the fake shoulder injury as a meaningless heat spot and then booked a COUNTOUT finish? Why not have Bliss do that injury thing and have the ref stop the match due to injury, and THEN she reveals that she was faking? I guess the feud must continue. **1/4 They continue fighting up by the announce table, where Banks hits her with double knees to the floor in a spot that’s better than anything from the match.
Intercontinental title: The Miz v. Dean Ambrose
Given that Miz has three people at ringside for him, I’m thinking the bad finishes will continue here. Ambrose attacks Miz in the corner and stops to beat up on the Miz-tourage, but he gets distracted and Miz takes over. Short DDT gets two. Miz stomps away and hits the corner clothesline, but Dean comes back with a neckbreaker and the crowd is just scary dead. They head to the top and Dean gets a butterfly superplex for two. Miz dropkicks the knee and works on it in the corner, literally not even making contact with his kicks. There’s working light and then there’s being ridiculous. Figure four and now Dean is bleeding from his mouth somewhere along the line, which you’d think would be impossible since that would require Miz to actually connect with a punch. Miz throws the Yes Kicks, but Dean suddenly makes the comeback and goes running around the ring and comes off the top with the flying elbow for two. And then he goes back to grabbing his knee again. Maryse distracts the ref and the Miz geeks go after Ambrose, so he takes them out with an elbow to the floor before randomly remembering to sell the knee again. Back in, Dirty Deeds gets two as Maryse puts Miz’s foot on the ropes. And then all the geeks run in and the Skull Crushing Finale finishes at 11:06 in ANOTHER convoluted and shitty finish tonight. This was like the dumb interference-filled ending you use for the first match, not the final blowoff after a million stipulation matches. Regardless, FEUD OVER. Miz won, it’s done, let it go now, we never need to see it again. Really lackluster match between two guys who have worked a million of them together, and the Ambrose off-and-on knee selling was a sore point for me. **
Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns v. Braun Strowman
Braun pounds away to start and they head to the floor, where Braun misses a charge as usual and hits the post, but comes back and sends Roman rib-first to the post. Back in, Roman tries to come back, but walks into the facefirst chokeslam. Braun cuts off the spear with a big boot and powerslams Roman. Braun tries to haul him outside, but Roman fights him off and comes back with a samoan drop, then goes to work on the arm. This is such a weird match, as you’d think they’d do a big brawl in the back and fight over the ambulance, but instead they’re just kind of doing a match. Roman grabs a chair and pounds on Strowman with it, but he just shoots Roman an irritated glance and no-sells it. Reminder: Strowman is supposedly the heel and Roman is the babyface here. They finally fight up to the announce position and Braun throws him into the ambulance, but Reigns makes another comeback and they tussle at the ambulance doors. Roman comes back with a superman punch, but physics is unable to comply and hurtle Strowman into the vehicle from that position. Braun hits him with a backboard and they head back up to the screens again, where Strowman gets shoved through one of them. NOT THE LED SCREENS! We get a half-hearted “This is awesome” chant from that, but come on now. Back down to the ambulance again for more laying around, but Roman tries a spear, misses, and somehow launches himself into the back of the ambulance for the loss at 16:40. OH COME ON. What kind of bullshit banana peel “win” is that? And then Roman throws him in the back of the ambulance and steals it anyway, and we get a contemplative camera angle where we see Roman in the side mirror deciding what to do, before smashing the ambulance into the back of a truck. THIS MAN IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE TOP BABYFACE. Also, I know WWE has spent the past 20 years pining for the Attitude Era, but we don’t need the literal return of Crash TV. Match was like, I dunno, *** or so. Just an average kicky punchy brawl with an ambulance gimmick stapled onto it.
Heath Slater v. Curt Hawkins
We apparently need a standby match because these shows aren’t long enough, while the idiot agents try to rescue Strowman from the back of the stunt ambulance. And then we just abandon all pretense of this match meaning anything and head to the back again while Heath wins off-screen at 2:30. I’ll assume the finish sucked because all the other ones have tonight.
Meanwhile, the fire crew uses the jaws of life on the ambulance side-door because apparently no one thought to just drive the ambulance forward 10 feet and access the back. Thankfully, they finally get the door open and rescue Braun from the back of one ambulance, so he can be delivered into another ambulance. Strowman, covered in fake blood, emerges from the wreckage and crawls around in pain while referees and agents keep telling him to stay down. However, he’s too angry, and just walks away. Well, any car crash you can walk away from is a good one, at least. But really, Roman just stole an ambulance and committed attempted murder on international TV, so I hope there’s some consequences. Maybe a $5000 fine and having to wrestle Big Show.
Hot take: THIS IS SO FUCKING STUPID. If it’s not a double turn, I don’t even know what to do with it.
So after the entire show has been dragged to a crashing halt by this nonsense, we have a main event left to hopefully save the show.
Universal title: Brock Lesnar v. Samoa Joe
Joe doesn’t even wait for Heyman to finish his spiel before smashing Brock through an announce table with the uranage. Well that’s one way to go about it. So the match officially starts and Joe blitzes him with knees, and Brock fires back on instinct. They do some wrestling in this here wrestling match and Brock keeps fighting on auto-pilot, which allows Joe to hook the choke until Brock runs him into the corner to break. And now we go to Suplex City, but Joe goes low to break up the run and hits Brock with a uranage for two. Back to the choke as Heyman yells “HE’S STALKING YOU!” because he’s amazing. Brock, despite turning purple, escapes with a slam and then starts throwing the suplexes again. Joe escapes the F5 and tries the choke again, but Brock continues being superhuman with an F5 to retain at 6:24. Well, Joe gave it a good try, but I don’t think anyone is shocked that it went down like that. *** Wish it would have been longer, but Brock doesn’t get paid by the hour.
Total thumbs in the middle. Aside from the ambulance shit, the worst of the show was just kind of dull same-y WWE formula stuff, which is not actively bad or anything. I really wish they would have broken out of the comfort zone and had Joe win the title in a shocker, because he could just drop it to Reigns at Summerslam or whatever, but that’s not how they roll. It wasn’t a bad show or a good show, it was just a show.