Welcome to the first Raw recap post in quite some time. WWE Great Balls Of Fire has come and gone, and while it was a solid show from a wrestling standpoint, not much has changed on the Red team. All the champions retained and Roman Reigns tried to literally murder Braun Strowman. You know, just another night. Let’s get to the recap!
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The Battle of the Bigs
Raw kicked off with a great Big Cass promo, and apparently by defeating Enzo Amore Sunday night he absorbed some of his passionate promo powers. This was just as good as his heel turn promo a few weeks ago, and while he’s got a long way to go before he’s going to be challenging Brock Lesnar or whoever happens to be holding the Universal title, there’s no harm in having 7 feet worth of confidence.
It seems like Enzo Amore is only capable of befriending people over 7 feet tall, because Big Show comes out to cut Cass’s promo short and they engage in a physical takedown battle. Big Show was really laying into Cass with knees and strikes, and although the brawl was quick, you got the sense that these two really hated each other. I’m torn on whether it was a smart move to have Big Show gain the upper hand, but I’m willing to let this play out and see how Cass responds. Big Show did a hell of a job putting over Braun Strowman in the past, so hopefully he can do the same for Cass.
The Drifter vs. The Ab King
The first match of the night saw Finn Balor take on Elias Samson. I’m not sure why these two weren’t featured on the GBOF card, but they had a solid match to open the show. Finn Balor is the best pure baby face that WWE has right now, and he’s the perfect mix of being cool as hell but also fighting like an underdog. With his size he’s almost always going to be fighting from underneath, like he did here against Samson, but his aura and charisma makes him impossible to look away from. He’s got a great entrance, he’s in phenomenal shape, and he’s single handedly inspired me to start wearing leather jackets with the collar popped and no shirt underneath (unrelated note – I was immediately fired from my job).
Samson continues to thrive on the main roster as well, and even though he takes the clean loss here, losing clean to Finn Balor is not the worst thing in the world.
Broken Brilliance Time?
With Enzo/Cass & Goldust/R-Truth officially done, The Hardy’s are not only the best baby face tag team on Raw, they’re the only one. It’s no secret that the fans (& The Hardy’s) prefer to be their Broken counterparts, and the pre match promo from Matt and Jeff was the closest they’ve come to that since joining the WWE. The follow up match against Gallows & Anderson might’ve pushed them even farther into Broken territory, and the post match beat down by The Revival sped things up even more.
The Hardy’s have no shortage of heel teams to feud with, especially when you add The Revival into the mix, and I’m glad Gallows & Anderson picked up the win here. The Hardy’s were banged up and clearly not 100%, so they can justify the loss, but it’s safe to say no team needed a clean win more than Gallows & Anderson.
Any Miz TV that doesn’t feature Dean Ambrose is good to great, which is why the first part of this segment was exactly that. Miz hands out the first ever ‘Mizzies’, which is definitely a name they came up with a 858PM, and it’s entertaining until Ambrose shows up to ruin everything. I loved Bo Dallas’s closing line of his acceptance speech (“let’s change the world”) and I think it should be a requirement that Bo Dallas get at least a few minutes of promo time every week. I’m a big time Bo-Liever, and IRS must’ve put something in his kid’s cereal to make them both so great on the microphone.
If you’re looking for a reason why The Miz has been so good lately, just listen to the end of his promo last night. He calls out all the frauds – Seth Rollins, Akira Tozawa, The Hardy’s – all of whom said they would win at GBOF but fell short. The Miz said he would retain his title and Dean Ambrose would cave under the pressure, and he was right. Granted he got some help from Bo Dallas, but a win’s a win. He also puts over Ambrose as one of the toughest guys in the WWE, which is always the best talking point. If Ambrose is one of the toughest guys in the WWE, that makes Miz even better for defeating him.
Speaking of Ambrose, he’s ‘crazy’ and a ‘lunatic’ so he charges the ring and gets the shit kicked out of him because he’s outnumbered 3 on 1. That brings out Seth Rollins for the save, and I’m sure that the Miz-tourage won’t try and retaliate on Rollins in the main event.
Raw Women’s Merry Go Round
The Raw Women’s division was not prominently featured last night, as they got only this tag team match. The match was really of no consequence, which is the worst thing wrestling can be. Sasha Banks lost to Alexa at GBOF after Alexa intentionally got herself counted out. She wants a rematch because of it, but now Bayley has a pin fall victory over Alexa too. Nia Jax was also promised a title shot by Bliss, so it looks like we’ll get a four way match at Summerslam. While that match could rule, I’m not interested in the Bayley or Sasha characters at all right now. Nia Jax is the best and Alexa is a wonderful heel, but in order for the match to be special Sasha and Bayley need to be characters that someone who’s not a little girl will root for.
The Golden Truth
Goldust turned on R-Truth on the May 15th episode Raw. That was almost two months ago. If they had done this match the following week, or even the week after that, I think the crowd might’ve been more invested. Instead the match was delayed to last night, and the crowd couldn’t have been less interested if Goldust and Truth were taking a nap in the ring. Raw is three hours every week, so there’s no excuse for running months worth of pre taped promos and then expecting anyone to give a shit when they fight 8 weeks later. If Balor is done with Samson and Goldust is done with Truth, I need a Balor/Goldust program like I need air to breathe.
If I had to recommend one segment from last night’s show, it would be this one. Kurt Angle & Brock Lesnar in a WWE ring is always great to see, but things really heat up when Samoa Joe confronts Lesnar. Look at Lesnar and Heyman’s faces when Joe’s music hits. They are SHOOK, and they should be, because Joe beat up Brock Lesnar more than anyone has since the mid 2000s. Goldberg might’ve pinned Brock, but that was a two move, one minute match. Joe beat Brock’s ass last night, and Joe put it perfectly: Brock didn’t win, he escaped. The intensity between Joe and Lesnar was off the charts, and it’s always great to see Lesnar step up his game when his opponent can match his intensity. I loved Brock getting some mic time too, and it also reinforced my belief that Lesnar can’t say 10 consecutive words without one of them being a swear.
You know who was the odd man out here? Roman Reigns, who was supposed to have a title shot at Summerslam because…he wants one? Reigns laid back promo style stuck out like a sore thumb here, and he looked out of place. I’m sure WWE wants Reigns/Lesnar, but they’d be foolish to pass up on Joe/Lesnar again. Joe and Reigns will fight in a #1 contender’s match next week, and I’ll be rooting for Joe all the way.
The (Kurt Angle) Secret
So Kurt Angle has a secret. He’s going to come clean next week, and during the closing segment of Raw, he was telling whoever was on the other end of the phone that he loved them. The consensus is that WWE is bringing Dixie Carter into the mix, and that fire was only fueled when she appeared in the WWE 24 special on Angle after last night’s Raw. It could also be Stephanie McMahon, which could lead to the rumored Angle/HHH match. It could also be Hornswoggle. Let the speculation begin!
Similar to the Women’s division, the cruiserweight’s only segment was a tag match between Neville/Noam Dar & Akira Tozawa/Cedric Alexander. Neville & Noam Dar were representing the very best and the very worst of the division, while Tozawa and Alexander were representing Neville’s title challengers. The match was fine, but nothing really happens outside of a reversal of fortunes from GBOF. Apparently there weren’t enough testicle related finishes at the pay per view, so Neville got straddled on the top rope for a comically long length of time. Tozawa won with his beautiful Senton splash, and around and around we go.
The Main Event
The main event was a GBOF rematch between Bray Wyatt & Seth Rollins. I enjoyed this match more than the PPV bout, and it mostly had to do with the finish. The story was that Rollins only lost last night because Bray Wyatt poked him in the eye, because even when Bray Wyatt wins it has to be something due to something ridiculous. They play off the eye injury here, but instead of a thumb glove being the deciding blow, it’s a head butt. The head butt not only makes Wyatt looks smart for taking advantage of Rollins’ injury, but it’s a more vicious move that sets up Sister Abigail. +1 to Rollins for his sell of Sister Abigail, because it looked brutal:
I always tell myself I’m not going to get sucked into rooting for Bray Wyatt, but two wins in a row is an improvement. If he starts winning matches at pay per views that don’t have the word balls in the title, I’ll get interested again.
The Miz and his -tourage show up after the match to pick the bones of Seth Rollins, but Dean Ambrose runs them off after a few chair shots. Hey, at least he brought a weapon this time!
That’s it for this week’s show. Join us next week to learn Kurt Angle’s secret and who will challenge Brock Lesnar for the Universal title at Summerslam.
During the build to the pay per view and throughout last night’s 3 hour show, I’ve probably heard Great Balls Of Fire 100 times. That is too many times. In the hopes that I never hear it again, I’m sending it off as our latest Music Monday entry. Also, if you thought that the comments section would be normal for a song with ‘balls’ in it, you would be very, very wrong:
If it seems like WWE has been running a lot of pay per views lately, that’s because they are. Since April 30th (including this Sunday’s show) WWE has had five pay per views. Add that onto the 5 hours of live programming that Raw and Smackdown Live bring to the table every week, and you have a metric shit ton of wrestling.
That brings us to the latest Raw pay per view, the hilariously named Great Balls of Fire. Nothing is going to get that precious 18-35 demographic ready for a pro wrestling show like a 53 year old rock and roll song. As silly as the name of the show is, the match card is anything but silly. 5 titles will be on the line, including Brock Lesnar defending his Universal championship against Samoa Joe. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Quick note: we’re going to start featuring more wrestling content on the blog, and hopefully that will include pay per view previews/reviews plus Raw & NXT reviews and any other newsworthy items. You can click the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our homepage to find all of our wrestling related posts. Also make sure to follow us on Twitter (@averagenobodies) & Facebook (www.facebook.com/AverageNobodies) and talk to us about how much you love pro wrestling. Or literal great balls of fire.
Cruiserweight Championship Match – Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa
Ever since he returned to the WWE at Roadblock in December 2016, Neville has been the literal and figurative King of the Cruiserweights. He won the Cruiserweight title a month later at the Royal Rumble, and has been dominant ever since. After Austin Aries was unable to dethrone Neville, the newest challenger to face the King will be Akira Tozawa. Akira was a CWC standout and a veteran of the Dragon Gate promotion who is finally getting his shot on the WWE main roster.
Tozawa has been paired up with Titus O’Neil and the Titus Brand recently, which takes the pressure off of him to deliver some of the over scripted dialogue that would be written for him. Tozawa and Neville match up pretty well, and both possess an explosive style that is hopefully highlighted during this pre show match. While it’s nice to see a fresh matchup for Neville, his reign has been too impressive to end on a challenger’s first title shot. If WWE is smart, they’ll keep building Neville until a worthy challenger (Mustafa Ali?) will finally take his title.
Prediction: All hail King Neville
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
The Enzo Amore character has been a tale of highs and lows. He doesn’t look like a professional wrestler, but thanks to his unending charisma and self proclaimed gift of gab, he’s made a name for himself both in NXT and on Raw. He and Big Cass were one of the most popular teams in NXT, and while they never did win the NXT tag titles, their overall run was a resounding success. During their early run on Raw, that success translated to the main roster, but as the weeks and months went on, it was becoming clear that seeing Enzo’s shtick every Monday night was starting to get old. Enzo & Cass lost match after match as the Raw tag team division struggled to find it’s identity, and then the mystery attacker angle started.
By the time Cass revealed he was the one attacking Enzo, I understood Cass’s vantage point more than Enzo’s, because everything Cass was saying was rooted in truth. Enzo was holding the team (and Cass) back and he continued to run his mouth with no sign of ever being able to back it up. Enzo’s performance during the initial reveal and his promo’s over the last two weeks have reminded me why I loved NXT Enzo so much, and now all I want to see is Enzo duke it out with his former best friend & partner. Enzo has always been a better character when he’s allowed to mix in the funny catchphrases with his very real passion for pro wrestling, and that’s exactly what he’s done during the build to this match. I don’t know how well these two will mesh in the ring, but the build up has been terrific. These two have to have fight again in Brooklyn where the crowd will be on fire, so I’m expecting some sort of double DQ here.
Prediction: Double DQ brawl
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt is the anti Enzo vs. Cass. There’s been no buildup outside of Rollins asking if Wyatt is a God or a coward, and the two have barely been in the same arena together. The character of Bray Wyatt is a wrestling tragedy, and the main reason for that is the monotonous build to all of his matches. He’ll sneak attack someone via spooky teleportation, cut dark room promos on them for weeks, and then lose the match at a pay per view. Rollins called Wyatt a false prophet, Wyatt attacked Rollins and has now spent the last two weeks talking about his god-like powers, including a bizarre, sweaty rant in the desert on Monday night. If you think this is going to end with anything besides Bray Wyatt losing clean to Seth Rollins, you haven’t been paying attention.
Prediction: Seth Rollins
Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
The Braun Strowman/Roman Reigns rivalry has been one of the highlights of many 2017 Raw’s, and outside of the bizarre booking of Strowman during WrestleMania season, Braun has looked like a legitimate monster against WWE’s new top dog. Whenever I’m trying to analyze a Reigns match, I look at it the same way I would a John Cena match. Reigns isn’t your prototypical wrestler, and there’s always a chance he’s going to power up and win the match, but his odds always decrease when there’s a wacky stipulation involved.
Enter the AMBULANCE MATCH, where you can only win by stuffing your opponent in the back of an ambulance where he’s presumably driven to the hospital (or just left in there for all eternity). The stipulation definitely favors Strowman because 1. he’s consistently gotten the better of Reigns and laid him out and 2. he doesn’t have to pin Roman to win. With this being Braun’s first PPV match since his return from injury, I think he has to pickup a victory and regain his momentum heading into Summerslam.
Prediction: Braun Strowman
30 Minute Iron Man Raw Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro & Sheamus (C) vs. The Hardy’s
Cesaro/Sheamus & The Hardy’s have been feuding since WrestleMania, and this 30 minute iron man match can go one of two ways. 1. Cesaro/Sheamus outlast The Hardy’s, defend their titles and move onto some Top Guys or 2. the match ends in a draw and we stretch this feud out until Summerslam where we’ll hopefully get a match with a definitive ending. I think a lot of this hinges on how soon Matt Hardy gets the rights to his broken gimmick, and judging from his Twitter account, it could be very soon:
Matt is very active on social media and has been using his broken character almost exclusively since this tweet on Sunday. As good as the Hardy’s still are as a team, I think there’s more legs in singles runs for both guys, especially if Matt is given the creative freedom to be his insane alter ego. The only thing that could delay the broken transformation is the lack of depth in the Raw tag division. Enzo/Cass & Goldust/R-Truth split up, so that literally leaves Revival, Gallows/Anderson & Cesaro/Sheamus as the only teams on Raw if the Hardy’s go their separate ways. With such a severe lack of depth, my pick is for this match to end in a draw and culminate at Summerslam.
Prediction: Time limit draw
IC Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Dean Ambrose
Watching paint dry. Driving in traffic. Lighting all my worldly possessions on fire. Sorry, I was just listing all the things I enjoy more than watching another Miz/Dean Ambrose match. The most frustrating thing about this feud is how GREAT Miz has been since being paired back up with Maryse, which shows you how awful the Dean Ambrose character is. Miz tore Ambrose down on Raw with a great promo about how he can’t handle pressure and can never win the big match, and Ambrose responded by slouching in the announce chair and pretty much agreeing with him.
The only looney thing about his character is that people still care about him, and all I can think about his how much better a Miz/Elias Samson or Miz/Finn Balor program would be. Hopefully the plan is for whoever comes out on top of the Balor/Samson feud to pair up with Miz next, and Dean Ambrose can move onto literally anything else.
Raw Women’s Title Match: Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks
Alexa Bliss has been the best women’s wrestler on the main roster for 2017, but unfortunately she’s been paired with the neutered versions of both Bayley and Sasha Banks for the last few months. Bayley is out of the title picture for what should be the foreseeable future, but Sasha Banks is currently the #1 contender to Bliss’s Women’s title. As much as I love Bliss, it’s tough to get into this match when there’s been negative momentum on Raw lately. The gauntlet match was pretty great, but there’s no character progression from anyone outside of Nia or Bliss, and every time you hear that Sasha is already a 3 time Women’s champ, it reminds how often the title has been switched around.
The best story in the women’s division is still Bliss/Nia Jax, so I hope she retains here and Sasha and Bayley can be paired up as something other than insufferable friends and hopefully get some of their NXT magic back in their characters.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Samoa Joe
When Samoa Joe became the #1 contender at Extreme Rules, it seemed like a bittersweet moment. Joe has been incredible in both NXT and on Raw, but the majority thought was that he’d be a minor speed bump for Brock Lesnar on his way to facing Reigns or Strowman at Summerslam. The booking leading up to this match has changed my mind dramatically, and Samoa Joe now looks like a valid threat to Lesnar.
The best part is that Lesnar hasn’t lost any of his shine either, because he can dismiss all of Joe’s actions as sneak attacks. And while he’s technically correct, Joe has still not backed down from Lesnar, and he still choked him out on the entrance ramp, and he still has outsmarted Brock at every turn. There’s still a chance that Lesnar destroys Joe, but it wouldn’t make sense when you look at how this feud has progressed. This is one of the most well built main events for a ‘B’ PPV in a long time, and I can’t wait to see these two destroy each other.
Prediction: As great as Joe has been, 100% healthy Brock Lesnar isn’t mortal. Lesnar retains in a brutal fight.
— AAC (@AACenter) April 28, 2017
WWE officials after they see the reaction to the PPV name
Brock Lesnar won the Universal Title from Goldberg at WM 33 and unsurprisingly hasn’t defended the title since. The same thing happened between Summerslam and WrestleMania 31, so whenever Lesnar has a title the only thing to expect is that the title will not be on TV or pay per view’s very often. As great as it is to see that Lesnar will be back suplexing schmucks very soon, the big news here is the new name of WWE’s RAW branded July pay per view. If you’ve needed a reminder that a 70 year old billionaire runs the WWE, look no further than the Great Balls of Fire pay per view name. The name references a popular song recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1964 and is also the same year Vince McMahon turned 19, which cannot be a coincidence. I’d bet you all the honey in the world that this is one of Vince’s favorite songs, and in that insane mind of his he thought July of 2017 was the perfect time to name a pay per view after it. It’s either that or he’s going to create a match where someone’s balls are actually lit on fire. It’s a toss up, really.