July 3, 2017
From the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Booker T
We are shown a video package on the Big Cass/Enzo Amore feud.
The live show starts with Enzo Amore coming down to the ring as Cole tells us he will beat his former partner, Big Cass, at the Great Balls of Fire PPV. Enzo tells us all of what he has been through this year and it happened when Cass had his back. He then accuses Cass of looking past him as Enzo talks about getting up every time he gets knocked down. Enzo then talks about not being the biggest, baddest, or strongest but is one of the toughest to step into the ring in a long, long time. He then tells Cass about not pretending who he is and that he is grateful for all of the kids wearing his merchandise as it helps him put food on the table, which is why he keeps getting up after being knocked down and that makes him believe in himself. Enzo then says Cass is nothing more than a “seven-foot catchphrase” that he (Enzo) wrote himself. Enzo then tells Cass not to get surprised when his next merchandise check reads “zero dimes” and will change when his shirt says “asshole.” Enzo’s music hits then he picks up the mic and says they were brothers but now that is dead due to Cass but that boot to his face gave him new life as Enzo calls himself an army of one and compares himself to Tupac Shakur because “all eyes are on me.” Cass is then shown watching backstage when Charly Caruso asks for his thoughts. Cass says he never heard someone talk for so long without actually saying anything then says he is where the money is and promise to beat him at Great Balls of Fire but Enzo attacks from behind until several officials break it up.
Enzo showed a lot of passion in his promo and as a result the crowd bought what he was saying and got behind him. Plus, it was nice to see Enzo get a bit of revenge against Cass by attacking him backstage. They’ve done a great job at humanizing Enzo since Cass turned on him and he has delivered on the mic. Right now, they have something with this feud.
Sasha Banks & Bayley vs. Nia Jax & Alexa Bliss
Nia overpowers Bayley to start. Bayley tries to fight her off then tags out. Sasha shoves Nia into the corner then dropkicks Nia outside. Nia shoves Bayley off of the apron into the barricade then hits a running knee smash as Sasha checks on her partner before the break. We return with Alexa working a chinlock on Sasha as Cole tells us that Bayley was taken backstage during the break and is now out of the match. Sasha fights back against both women but misses a double knee smash in the corner. Nia tags and hits a backbreaker then drops a pair of elbows as that gets two. Sasha gets out of a bearhug but gets tossed soon after that. Alexa is in and beats on Sasha. She yells how this is her division but misses a knee drop. Sasha fights back then kicks Nia off of the apron. Alexa attacks from behind and tries for a DDT but Sasha escapes and puts on the Banks Statement and Alexa taps out before Nia could make the save (10:11) *1/2.
Thoughts: This was not a good match. The action was clunky and it did nothing to make you want to see Alexa vs. Sasha this Sunday at Great Balls of Fire. The questionable handling of the Bayley character continued too, sadly, as if they are trying to rebuild her by heading down this path it will most likely fail.
Kurt Angle is in his office on the phone. Braun Strowman tells Angle what will happen when Reigns is unable to compete in the ambulance match. Angle says he heard Reigns will be ready but Strowman tells him he is wrong then demands competition. Angle tells Strowman the matches are all set but Strowman tells him he will have competition by the end of the night.
A video package of the Samoa Joe/Brock Lesnar feud is shown. It included promos from both men too. Great work here for a match that they have built up quite well. A match to look forward too this Sunday. Cole then tells us that both men are here tonight for an exclusive interview. Good stuff here.
Cedric Alexander comes out to the ring. He feels like a broken record due to always telling Noam Dar & Alicia Fox that he is through with him. Cedric then wants Dar to come out so he can send him back to Fox with a “magic neckbrace.” Dar comes out as does Fox then we get a match.
Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar w/ Alicia Fox
Cedric beats on Dar to start. He heads outside then Fox steps in front of him to protect her man. Dar blocks a satellite headscissors with a kick then goes to work on the arm. Fox gets on the apron to distract Cedric but that fails as Cedric hits Dar with the Lumbar Check and the win (2:10) 1/2*.
Thoughts: They really need to end this feud. Its been awful and the Dar & Fox pairing are doing nothing but dragging down the Cruiserweight Division.
We are shown clips from last week’s Miz TV with the Ball Family which leads to another episode this week as Miz addresses what happened last week.
Miz TV with Maryse and the Miztourage. Miz, sporting a cool white suit, talks about bringing the ratings last week then gets cheered by saying Lonzo Ball will be the biggest bust in NBA history then makes sure to get booed by dissing former Phoenix Sun Steve Nash. Miz then calls LaVar ball an embarrassment and a raving lunatic. He also cannot believe that LaVar wants Ambrose to represent the Big Baller Brand as Ambrose is nothing but wasted potential. Miz put over the promise he had when first arriving to the WWE, calling him the next Roddy Piper. However, we instead got “wacky” Ambrose as Miz keeps saying that Ambrose cannot handle success, stating he caves under pressure. He then says you can laugh all you want at the jokes but there is no bigger joke than Ambrose, who now comes out with a mic in his hand. He thought we’d never see Miz TV again after last week’s trainwreck but also said Miz was true in what he said. Ambrose also said he loves jokes and thinks it would be hilarious if they had a match right now. Heath Slater & Rhyno come out as Slater he was the last man to beat Miz in the ring and never had an Intercontinental Title opportunity in his eight years with WWE. Slater then talks about wanting to be able to provide for his kids. Miz tells Ambrose he will get a rematch when he says so before making fun of Slater for being a hick from West Virginia and is about to leave but Kurt Angle comes out. Angle tells Miz he decides who competes. Miz tells Angle to go discuss his personal problems with Graves then tells Angle he will put up the title Sunday and all he does is have to pick an opponent. Angle says both as he tells Miz he will have to face Slater now then Ambrose at the PPV this Sunday as Miz is in shock as we head to commercial.
I liked the segment here. Miz cut a good promo on Ambrose, ragging on him for not living up to his potential, then he got some comeuppance by being forced to defend the Intercontinental Title against Slater despite not being prepared to wrestle.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: The Miz (c) w/ Maryse, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel vs. Heath Slater w/ Rhyno
Ambrose is on commentary. Slater gets two off of a rollup then they take it to the mat as Ambrose makes fun of the Miztourage. They trade headlocks then Slater gets two with a backslide. He gets two with another rollup before going back to the headlock. Miz catches Slater with a knee smash but Slater fights back in the corner. Slater yanks off Miz’s shirt then hits an inverted atomic drop for another nearfall as Miz regroups outside as we head to commercial. The action returns with Miz now in control as the back of his pants have split. They brawl on their knees until Miz spikes him with a DDT but that only gets two. Miz guillotines Slater before tossing him outside where Rhyno fends off the Miztourage. Ambrose is on commentary asking who came up with the Great Balls of Fire PPV name, saying its awful, as Miz gets another nearfall in the ring. Miz then uses the It kicks but Slater ducks the last kick and pancakes Miz as both men are down. Slater is up first and runs wild. Miz rams him in the corner but Slater escapes and rolls him up for two. Slater gets another naerfall as the crowd is into this match. Miz comes back with a clothesline in the corner then poses. He heads up top but Slater runs up and hits a powerslam as the crowd goes nuts. Axel distracts the ref from the apron as Rhyno yanks him off and they brawl with the Miztourage getting the upper hand then Miz hits Slater with the Skull Crushing Finale for the win (12:47) **1/2. After the match, Miz tosses Slater outside to get beat up by the Miztourage but Ambrose runs out for the save. Ambrose chases Miz away then the Miztourage attacks him. Miz is back inside and yells in Ambrose face before hitting him with the Skull Crushing Finale.
Thoughts: Solid match as the crowd got behind Slater at the end and even bought some of the nearfalls. This match also did a lot to try and establish Axel & Dallas as more than just goofs. They laid out everyone at the end and it makes the Miz act more dangerous. It also appears that the Miz/Maryse conflict is over for how as they were on the same page.
Replay from last week when Strowman launched Reigns off of the stage and against the ambulance before putting him inside where Reigns is driven away.
Apollo Crews is texting someone backstage when Titus O’Neill walks in and tells Apollo he has an opportunity to be a star tonight by facing Strowman. Titus tries to convince him that Strowman made Kalisto and to take the match, even coming up with a new “Crews can’t lose” catchphrase that both end up singing as the segment ends with Crews agreeing to face Strowman.
Goldust is in the ring sitting in a director’s chair. He promises to show us his latest masterpiece titled the “Shattered Truth” before thanking us “little people.” Goldust then thanks R-Truth for being so naive as without that none of this would be possible. We then finally get to this film as its clips of Goldust jumping Truth before the bell last week but made up as a film trailer. The film ends and we see Truth eating popcorn in the ring behind Goldust before he beats him down. Goldust heads up the ramp after getting tossed outside as Truth is the one standing tall. I liked the segment. Goldust is showing off how his mic skills as they are slowly building up the feud between former partners. Although, you can say its overkill with two former partners currently feuding on the same show.
Angle is in his office. Cesaro & Sheamus enter as Angle tells him during Sunday’s Tag Team Title match against the Hardy Boyz they will have a 30-Minute Iron Man Match. Both men are actually pleased with the stipulation and said since they are in peak condition they want some action. Angle suggests Cesaro face Strowman but he wants Balor due to what happened last week. Angle then makes the match. The big news here is that the RAW Tag Team Titles will be defended in an Iron Man Match.
Before the match, Hawkins says he should be facing Strowman and giving him a run for his money. He then says last week’s crowd in Los Angeles did not believe in him and wants the “dummies” in Phoenix to get it right and asks if they think he will lose tonight, as they cheer, but Rollins takes the mic away and asks the crowd if they think Hawkins needs to shut up as they cheer then Rollins knocks him down.
Curt Hawkins vs. Seth Rollins
Hawkins charges but gets kicked then eats a ripcord knee smash as Rollins picks up the win (0:09).
Thoughts: Easy win for Rollins to give him some momentum heading into the PPV.
After the match, Rollins addresses Wyatt and says he knows he is here then addresses his comments about everyone needing to be saved. Rollins says he does not ignore his sins, he embraces them as it makes him the man he is today then tells Wyatt this Sunday there will be a cleansing of his mystique when it’s proven that he is not a god. After that, the only question remaining will be whether or not Wyatt is a man or a coward. This promo was fine I suppose but the entire point of the Rollins/Wyatt feud is not enough to make me care. Its a directionless program.
Now, we get a split screen interview with Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman. Joe cuts off Cole’s and says no one wants to hear his questions so he has one of his own for his opponent. Joe has a question for Heyman but Lesnar tells him he’s not facing Heyman this Sunday. Joe then tells the “champ” he will address him later. They both trash talk each other as Lesnar promises to walk in and out as the champion while Joe says he has beaten him at every turn then lists off the guys he has choked out in his career such as Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe. Joe then says why are we doing this as he yanks off his mic then starts looking for Lesnar backstage as Lesnar and Heyman cannot believe he is doing this. A few officials like Adam Pearce and Jamie Noble try to stop him but he does not listen. Joe then tells off Angle, who has several security members behind him, and finds where Lesnar is but is pulled back by everyone as he screams about how he will put Lesnar down, yelling “Come on, champ!”
Just a tremendous segment. The cocky, dominant champion remaining calm and reminding the unafraid challenger whose boss while the challenger reminds the champion that he has beaten him at each turn and constantly proving that he is not afraid. This is a money program and I would gladly pay the full PPV price to see this match. I really hope they continue this feud after the show as it is that good but it seems unlikely at this point.
Neville vs. Mustafa Ali
Neville takes Ali down then they mix it up for a bit as Cole brings up Ali’s feud against Drew Gulak, who is against high-flying. Ali uses his agility to escape from the corner and gets a nearfall with a crossbody. Ali heads up for the inverted 450 but Neville cuts him off and heads up top where Ali lands on his feet during a super back suplex attempt. Ali gets a nearfall with a floating DDT then drags Neville in position for the inverted 450 but Neville gets up and pushes him off as Ali crashes into the barricade. Neville heads out to roll Ali inside then roughs him up in the corner. He mocks the crowd then goes back to destroying Ali. He flapjacks Ali then mocks the crowd again but takes his time as Ali fights back. Ali tries his rolling neckbreaker but ends up getting clotheslined then Neville puts him away with the Rings of Saturn (6:22) **1/2. Neville refuses to break the hold after the bell then finally does before yanking his belt away from the referee. Cole then tells us that Neville vs. Akira Tozawa for the Cruiserweight Championship will take place on the Great Balls of Fire Kickoff Show.
Thoughts: Good action. These two had more time and a better match the RAW after WrestleMania 33 but still entertained tonight. Ali’s offense is impressive but at the end Neville once again looked dominant as he heads into Sunday with some momentum.
Bray Wyatt is shown walking through a desert as we will hear from him after the break. We return as Bray is shown in the desert telling us that he decided to give the world independence and that he is the chaos that fuels the fire. He keeps talking and talking then tells Rollins this Sunday he will get to look into the face of a god for the first time and it will burn.
I thought the promo was nothing more than jibberish and the segment itself overproduced. The Bray character is past its point of usefulness in the company. He never wins the big matches or feuds and has been saying the same stuff for the past four years. Its stale and this delivery is wearing on people.
Charly asks Alexa Bliss if her loss tonight will foreshadow what will happen on Sunday. Alexa plays it off that she gave Sasha the win to give her a false sense of security and its all part of her strategy. Charly isn’t buying that so Alexa then disses Charly for only being able to hold a microphone while she is the RAW Women’s Champion. I thought Alexa did a good job here and liked how Charly stood up to her obvious false claim that she lost her match tonight on purpose.
Finn Balor vs. Cesaro w/ Sheamus
The Hardy Boyz are on commentary for this match. Balor starts off by working a side headlock. Cesaro catches him and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Cesaro cuts off a comeback with a clothesline then works the arm. Balor rolls through a sunset flip and hits a basement dropkick before chopping away in the corner. Balor hits a few stomps as the Hardy Boyz keep putting him over on commentary. Sheamus distracts the ref then Balor himself gets wrapped up in that as it allows Cesaro to attack from behind. Balor fights back but gets dumped outside as we head to break. The action returns with Cesaro in control. He deadlifts Balor for a gutwrench suplex as that gets two then works the arm. Cesaro misses a corner charge but catches Balor and turns that into a suplex as that gets two. Balor continues to kick out of pinfall attempts as Cesaro gets pissed. Cesaro tries for the Neutralizer but Balor escapes then hits a double stomp as both men are down. Balor is up first and runs wild. He takes Cesaro down on the outside with a dropkick then hits a running soccer kick from the apron. Back inside, Balor hits a sling blade then sets up for a shotgun dropkick but is distracted by Elias Samson. Balor then charges but Cesaro pancakes him and hits an uppercut as that gets two. Cesaro hits a running uppercut in the corner but Balor takes him off the top with an enziguiri. Sheamus distracts the referee as Samson trips up Balor then the Hardy Boyz run out to even things off. Balor sends Cesaro to the floor with a backdrop then flies out with a tope con hilo. Cesaro comes back to slam Balor off of the apron as the crowd starts a “this is awesome” Chant as everyone is hitting big moves on the outside. Balor then dropkicks Cesaro into the barricade and rolls him inside for the Coup de Grace and the win (15:07) ***.
Thoughts: Good match that picked up at the end. However, with most of the commentary focused on the Iron Man Tag Match at the PPV, I do not know why you had Balor win this match. To go even further, with the way these guys have been booked on TV lately, they should have just put them all in another six-man tag match.
Back from break, an ambulance backs into the arena. Strowman then comes out and heads to the ring as he is demanding competition. Strowman says there are few things in this world he likes more than hurting Reigns. He then calls him out for being too stubborn to stay down and that he will leave Great Balls of Fire the same way he did last week, in the back of an ambulance. However, Reigns is not here and he wants competition before demanding Angle send someone out. We get Titus O’Neill in a suit telling Strowman that he is a big man with a plan but everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. He then promises a Titus Worldwide special match as Strowman will be facing a tough, hungry man who will prove that monsters can be defeated.
Braun Strowman vs. Apollo Crews w/ Titus O’Neill
Crews ducks a clothesline then hammers away. He escapes from the corner but runs into a big boot. Strowman then yells about Crews not being able to beat him before sending him to the floor. Crews rolls inside then Strowman cranks his neck. Strowman yells at Titus before kicking Crews outside then Titus tries to fire up his client. Crews slaps Strowman from the apron and snaps his neck off the top rope. Crews hits a pair of enziguiris then takes him down after a pair of basement dropkicks. Crews tries a standing moonsault but Strowman kicks him in midair was Crews flies across the ring. Strowman then picks up Crews and hits a running powerslam but pulls him up at two then hits it again and does the same thing. Booker then yells for Titus to do something as Strowman hits a third powerslam for the win (4:33) *1/2.
Thoughts: The match accomplished what it should have by putting Strowman over as a force and positioning Crews as a babyface who is not afraid to stand up to anyone. The moonsault spot was great.
After the match, Strowman continues his assault on Crews. Titus stands up on the apron then heads inside as the two jaw at each other. Titus then fires away but runs into a clothesline and hits him with a powerslam. Strowman heads out and tosses Crews over the barricade then takes him to the ambulance. Strowman opens the doors and tosses Crews inside and pats the back for the driver to take him away. However, the ambulance does not move as Strowman is getting pissed. Strowman then goes to the driver’s door and peaks inside to open it up as Reigns comes out and punches him in the face. Strowman fights back and throws Reigns against the ambulance and then onto the stage. Reigns fights back and drives Strowman into the screens before spearing Strowman off of a stage and through a table. Strowman is then on his feet near the ambulance as Reigns is on the stage as the show ends. I liked this segment as these two guys have great chemistry together. They had a nice brawl to close out the show.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a good show. The top two matches at the PPV have been built up quite well and they had some strong promos and segments throughout the show. Great Balls of Fire looks like a promising card and the build for Joe vs. Lesnar has brought us some of the best TV segments in quite some time. Tonight made me excited for the PPV and showed that while not all of the feuds are interesting or even good, the RAW brand does have some direction.