Here’s my final thoughts on Raw’s WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017!
Neville (c) vs. Akira Tozawa (with Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews) (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Reactions: On the indies, this would go for at least 20+ minutes. But for a WWE PPV Kickoff Match, it got the expected 5-8 minute runtime I’m used to. Neville and Tozawa still put on a fun bout within that short time span, though. Tozawa’s always hyperactive self brought me and the crowd to life, plus Neville’s A-Game was definitely on this evening. The match never slowed down, Tozawa got in a good amount of offense, Neville did the same and all that resulted in a solid outing. What brings it down a notch is the lame finish to a match that was just kicking into a higher gear. Give this one five more minutes and a more satisfying conclusion and it could have easily got more than three stars. This was still decent enough after all is said and done.
Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Cesaro and Sheamus (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy) (30-Minute Iron Man Match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
Reactions: They may have fought in far too many rematches, but both these teams still presented another match worth a rewatch. This was the purest definition of a slow burn. Sheamus and Cesaro played it smart by getting a quick pinfall and making sure they kept one man down for an extended period at several points throughout the match. Things looked dire for Matt and Jeff as the clock ticked, but their match saving moments got me even more excited to see them pull off the big win. The match truly came alive after the score reached a tie. Both teams laid into each other with big moves. Matt and Jeff even pulled out their old top rope Leg Drop/Splash maneuver and Sheamus/Cesaro remained as slippery as they always are. The crowd (including me) came unglued when it looked like Jeff could actually tie things up once more. But that didn’t come to pass. Cesaro and Sheamus remain strong after putting on an Iron Man Match that will be placed alongside the greats of that particular match type. Kudos to The Hardy Boyz for their spirited offense throughout it all.
Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars
The Miz (c) (with Maryse, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Reactions: This…again. At least the added element of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas changed things up a bit. Ambrose was forced to target them as soon as the bell rung, which presented The Miz with the extra outside distraction he’s needed since becoming champion. The match itself proceeded just like their other matches, which made it quite stale as it unfolded. Things only got interesting after Ambrose laid Miz out with his Dirty Deeds. Maryse saved her man at the last minute and got Ambrose enraged to the point that he began assaulting Miz on the outside. A few moments later, Bo Dallas ended up getting his man the win by cracking Ambrose in the back of the head. One Skull Crushing Finale later and Miz ended up retaining. This felt like the type of match that belongs in the second hour of Raw. The lame finish and bleh action kept this title match from being anything worth remembering.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
Reactions: This was hard to watch unfold. I was a huge fan of this super charismatic tag team ever since they moved the crowd during their NXT run. This breakup storyline stung so much for me as you can probably tell. Enzo’s pre-match promo was as amazing as all of his other mic moments. Cass cared for none of it of course, which led to nothing but a pure squash. Enzo was just a victim here who went down after a long, drawn out assault from Big Cass. The Gorilla Press to the outside and devastating Big Boot match finisher made this short bout a bit more entertaining to watch go down. Cass wins, which isn’t a shock. Question is – where does Enzo go from here?
Rating: 1 & a Half out of 5 Stars