The WWE Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view event took place Sunday night in Dallas. It was a WWE Raw show that provided several memorable moments and presented viewers with a lot of unanswered questions. While I still believe that Great Balls of Fire is a terrible name for the show, it’s proof that the name really doesn’t matter. What matters is the quality of the show and I think this was one of the better PPV events, so at least we can remember Great Balls of Fire in a positive light.

Here’s a rundown of every match in the order they took place and I’ll also look at what’s next for the performers.

Neville defeated Akira Tozawa to retain the Cruiserweight Title on the Kickoff Show

This was an okay match with a weak ending. There was little doubt that Neville was going to retain his title. The best near-fall for Tozawa happened when he hit a Senton Bomb off the top rope with a back splash. Tozawa failed to cover because Neville rolled to the floor. The finish was a spot where Tozawa was crotched on the top rope, Neville kicked the rope to cause more pain to his groin and Neville won with a spin kick to the stomach.

What’s Next: Neville moves on to the next challenger. I’m not sure who that might be, but Cedric Alexander is probably the best choice. Enzo Amore is a possible choice who’s not on the radar now, but he could be a good fit. Tozawa’s mild push is over for now.

Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins

I thought putting it in the opening slot was fine, but the action was uneventful. There was not a point in the match where they went into an exciting sequence or a flurry of offense from Rollins like we are used to. The finish was lame with Wyatt getting a thumb to the eye (the ref never saw it) and he hit his Sister Abigail move to win.

This was probably the worst Seth Rollins PPV match he’s had in five years on the main roster. I rate all the matches using star ratings on my site and I keep records of it. Without looking it up, this is either the worst or near the bottom for sure. Just an average match. I expect better matches from Rollins.

What’s Next: I’m not sure because there are a bunch of guys in the Raw upper midcard that could feud with others at any point. Wyatt winning might mean they do the match again with Rollins getting the win back. Wyatt could also move on to a feud with Finn Balor, which was teased months ago. As for Rollins, maybe he can feud with Samoa Joe again or do the rematch with Wyatt. Rollins could move on to the IC Title as well. Rollins could have used a move to Smackdown as much as anybody this year.

Big Cass defeated Enzo Amore

There was a promo from Enzo before the match. He quoted some Frank Sinatra song that drew no reaction because it wasn’t one of his biggest songs and Frank has been dead for a while. It’s not exactly a current name. Anyway, when Enzo talked about his heart and living his dream the crowd really got behind him, so that was good.

When the bell rang, it was all about putting over Big Cass. He dominated the entire match. Enzo didn’t get any offense and Cass got the win after about five minutes. The finisher was a big boot to the face, which is basic. Enzo sold the beating after the match by being helped up by referees. I thought it went exactly as it should have in terms of putting over Cass in a big way. Simple and effective.

What’s Next: Cass will likely end up getting a win over Big Show soon because they teased that rivalry in the last month. It would give Cass a credible opponent to go over to make him look like a viable singles wrestler. As for Enzo, I think he would have a tough time as a singles wrestler on the main roster. Either get him a tag team partner or put him in the cruiserweight division. I’m not sure what else he could do unless they make him a manager or announcer. No reason to do that yet, though.

Sheamus & Cesaro defeated The Hardy Boyz 4-3 to win 30 Minute Ironman Match for Raw Tag Team Titles

This was the best match of the night in terms of in-ring work. They also got the most time since they went 30 minutes and managed to work in seven falls. I liked the way they did every fall. Sometimes in a match like this, you might see one fall or three total, so to see them go with seven falls made it a lot more exciting. There was a slow build in the first 20 minutes and then the last 10 minutes were especially great.

When you do a match like this, the usual booking sees the heels go up by a fall or two and build to the faces coming back. In this match, the heel champs Sheamus & Cesaro were up 3-1 with the Hardys doing their best to tie it up. Of course, that ended up happening, thanks to Jeff pinning Cesaro and Matt pinning Sheamus with a Twist of Fate. The last few minutes saw the Hardys hit a double splash at the same time, which led to Matt gutting the right side of his head open because he hit Sheamus in the head. That looked bad. Here’s a GIF of it.

Cesaro ended up making a blind tag and pinned Jeff after he hit a Swanton Bomb on Sheamus. In the 15 seconds that followed, Jeff chased Cesaro out of the ring, went back in the ring, hit a Twist of Fate and the time ran out to give Sheamus & Cesaro the win at the 30-minute mark.

It was a great match that the crowd was into from start to finish. I expected Sheamus & Cesaro to win and they managed to get the job done. That team has had a great run since turning heel.

What’s Next: I’m not sure who Sheamus & Cesaro are going to feud with because there are a lack of face teams on the Raw roster. American Alpha would be a great fit there, but that would require a storyline explanation for a move. There could also be a face turn for Gallows & Anderson. I doubt The Revival are going to turn face. As for the Hardys, a feud with The Revival would be great.

Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss by countout; Bliss retains the Raw Women’s Title

Good work by both women in having a match that was better than I thought it would be. For two smaller women, they hit hard and set up a lot of cool spots that the crowd was into a lot. There was a fun spot in the match where Bliss showed that she was double-jointed in her left arm. She had done it before when she was on Smackdown, but the announcers reacted to it as if they had never seen it before.

The best near-finish moment was when Banks slapped on the Bank Statement submission. Bliss sold it great and looked like she might tap, but she got to the ropes. Shortly after that, Banks kicked Bliss out of the ring and Bliss just stayed out of the ring with a smile on her face. The ref counted while Bliss was up against the barricade. Banks wins, but Bliss keeps the title. I didn’t predict that, although I did say I doubt Bliss would lose the title. I’m not a fan of the intentional countout finish. It’s what the creative team does when they have nothing else. Nobody likes that kind of ending.

Post-match, Banks attacked Bliss, sending her into the video wall on the stage. Bliss tried a move on the announce table, but Banks shoved her off. Banks jumped off the announce table with a double knee onto Bliss on the floor to end the post-match segment on a high note. It was a risky-looking move that Banks pulled off well. It also means this feud is probably going to continue.

Banks was great on the Raw Talk show on WWE Network after the PPV, by the way. She ripped into Bliss a lot. I enjoyed that.

What’s Next: There will probably be a rematch since Banks won by countout. Whether that happens on Raw or at SummerSlam next month, I don’t know yet. It’s also possible that SummerSlam becomes a three-way with Nia Jax added to the mix. Don’t forget about Bayley and Mickie James too.

The Miz defeated Dean Ambrose to retain the Intercontinental Title

It was a predictable match that hopefully puts an end to this rivalry that has lasted way too long. It started back in January on Smackdown, then it went away, it came back again on Raw a few months ago and they are still having matches. The ending was the easiest to call on the show with Miz getting help from his “Miztourage” at ringside. Maryse put Miz’s foot on the ropes after Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds at one point. Shortly after that, Curtis Axel distracted the ref to allow Bo Dallas to hit Ambrose in the back of the head with a forearm. Miz followed up with the Skull Crushing Finale to win the match at around the 10-minute mark.

What’s Next: I think Miz will feud with a face like Finn Balor or Seth Rollins for the IC Title. I’m not sure which guy it might be, but they are both viable options. As for Ambrose, I have wanted him to turn heel for over a year. The gimmick of the goofy babyface who doesn’t take anything too seriously is doing more harm than good and I hope there’s a change on the horizon for him.

Braun Strowman defeated Roman Reigns in an Ambulance Match

They had a good match like they usually do, although I find Ambulance Matches to be boring because of the limitations that exist. In a regular match, you can win by pinfall or submission, so there are plenty of instances where you can get excited. In this match, you have to wait until they start brawling over by the ambulance on the left side of the ramp. It just limits what they can do.

The match went about 17 minutes, so they got plenty of time. One of the big spots was when they battled on the ramp and Reign sent Strowman crashing through the video wall. It was huge bump for Strowman, but as usual he kept on fighting.

Here’s a GIF that showed the finish of the match. Reigns charged, Strowman moved, Reigns went into the ambulance, Strowman closed the doors and that was it. That simple.

After the match, Reigns attacked Strowman, hit a Spear on him and threw him into the ambulance. Reigns kicked out the driver of the ambulance and drove into the backstage area. There were a bunch of different camera angles here to set up the big spot. Reigns backed the ambulance into a truck with the idea that Strowman was crushed. For the next five minutes, Raw general manager Kurt Angle, Jamie Noble and others tried to get in. Logically, they could have just driven the ambulance up a bit and opened the door, but that’s not what happened. The fire department and another ambulance came to open the ambulance. Strowman emerged with blood all over. They tried to help him, but he refused and told them to leave him alone while Angle looked on in awe. Strowman left on his own without anybody helping him.

The key part of all of this is that Strowman stumbled out of the wreckage refusing any medical help. It was a total babyface move that reminds me of Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13 20 years ago in terms of his refusal of help. I’m not saying this match was as good as that match. I’m merely stating that it came across as something done by a guy that we are supposed to root for from this point forward.

If this angle was done to turn Strowman face and make Reigns a heel, then it worked perfectly. If Strowman is still a heel and Reigns is still a face, then I think WWE is doing a poor job of listening to crowd reactions. It could be theorized (from WWE’s perspective) that Reigns was just getting revenge for Strowman attacking him a few months ago.

What’s Next: I thought this match would put an end to this feud, but based on what happened here, it might continue. Both men are possible contenders to the Universal Title as well. I’m not sure what’s next for either of them. That’s what intrigues me about the storyline here. I want to see how WWE books them in the weeks ahead.

Heath Slater defeated Curt Hawkins

This match took place during the ambulance scene where they were trying to get Strowman free. The finish of the match was never shown, but Slater was announced as the winner. Match of the year? Not exactly.

What’s Next: More losses for both of them, most likely. That was the easiest “What’s Next?” so far!

Brock Lesnar defeated Samoa Joe to retain the Universal Championship

There was a big fight feel to this match. As Paul Heyman did the introduction for Lesnar, Joe attacked Lesnar from behind with a forearm. They brawled outside the ring with Joe getting the advantage and hitting a uranage slam onto one of the announce table. It broke the table, so Lesnar was down selling for a few minutes. After Lesnar staggered back in the ring, the match began. I liked it as a start to the match to put over how aggressive Joe can be.

Time was the big thing I talked about in the preview. I thought if they went 12-15 minutes, we could be looking at a classic just based on their style. Instead, they went around 6:25 (after the pre-match attack) with Joe going for the Coquina Clutch, Lesnar fighting back and hitting those German Suplexes of his. While Joe was able to apply the Coquina Clutch a few times with Lesnar looking red in the face like he might pass out, Lesnar was able to break free every time. Lesnar hit six German Suplexes. Joe kept going for the Coquina Clutch, Lesnar broke free, Lesnar hit the F5 and covered to win. I was surprised that one F5 was enough to beat Joe, but that’s also a way to protect a finish. Having guys kick out of finishers can do a lot of harm.

I thought it was really good for the time given because it felt like a fight more than any match in WWE this year, other than Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania. That’s because Lesnar has that special aura about him that nobody else has. He’s got credibility as a tough guy. Joe showed that he can definitely hang with him too.

According to Samoa Joe on Twitter, this is only just the beginning of his rivalry with Lesnar.

What’s Next: There are a lot of rumors out there about what’s next. Since Lesnar and Strowman won their matches, it makes sense to me that they will face off at SummerSlam. If Strowman is too hurt to compete (in the storyline) then maybe Reigns is in that spot. It’s also a possibility that WWE really liked what they saw out of Samoa Joe, so they might want to do Lesnar vs. Joe again in a Street Fight type match that could get more time than this match did. Another option is to do Lesnar vs. Joe vs. Strowman vs. Reigns, but I’m not a fan of the Fatal 4-Way match. It could happen, especially to get the title off Lesnar if WWE chooses to do that. I guess all we can do for now is sit back and wait to see what the SummerSlam plan is. Clearly, there are a lot of viable options.

In Closing

I thought this was the best Raw brand PPV this year, but not best overall PPV. My top two PPVs of the year are Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber (Smackdown’s show in February). I went 6-2 in my predictions with Wyatt and Banks as my only losses. The Banks one was a partial win because I thought Bliss would retain the title, which she did.

It was a good PPV from a booking perspective because it leaves us with questions. Is Braun going to be a face now? It’s hard to boo him after last night. Was Roman Reigns’ act heelish because he did an ambulance attack on a guy who beat him fair and square? It would appear that way but if you think back to the story, it was also Roman getting revenge because Braun attacked him a lot in the past. I hope this means Roman is finally a heel, but you never know. As for Lesnar, who steps up as the next challenger? As I noted above, there are a lot of possibilities.

Toughest thing about WWE today is they don’t book the faces well and they’re not that likable. Especially on the Raw brand. I’m not sure who kids might be fans of because it’s tough to find people to root for. I feel like Seth Rollins should be a bigger star, yet he lost in 10 minutes to a guy who loses a lot. Finn Balor is another likable guy who wasn’t even on the show.

If you missed the show, the main event is worth watching, I liked the Tag Team Title match a lot especially in the last 10 minutes and the Reigns/Strowman action was cool too.

I’ll be back Tuesday with a review of Raw, which could provide us with some answers in terms of what WWE might be doing at SummerSlam next month.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He joined The Comeback/Awful Announcing team in 2015. Follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net. Cheap pop!

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