It’s the last episode of Raw before Sunday’s WWE Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view event. I still laugh every time I realize somebody in WWE thought Great Balls of Fire was a good name for a show. Anyway, by the end of the night we should have a better idea of the full card for the GBOF show.
Before I begin, just a quick shout out to all of my wonderful people in the United States of America for the July 4th Independence Day holiday. I hope it’s a great day for all of you that are celebrating. Enjoy the barbecue, have a few drinks and check out those fireworks. We just had Canada Day here on July 1 on Saturday and I had a great time because the weather was perfect. Yes, it gets warm in Canada too! I took it easy most of today and feel refreshed for Raw, so let’s get it going.
Live from Phoenix, Arizona this is the Raw Deal for episode #1256. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Thanks Melo Man for the banner up top.
The opening video package focused on last week when Big Cass turned on dummy Enzo Amore for the second straight week.
Enzo Amore Has Things To Say
There’s no Raw intro song or pyro this week. Instead, it began with Enzo Amore walking out on his own. Enzo will face Big Cass at Great Balls of Fire this Sunday, July 9.
Enzo did his usual promo as he got into the ring and was full of energy. Fans chanted “Enzo” for him. Enzo said over this past year he’s been through a lot and went over all of the various attacks that he has endured in his career. Enzo said that Big Cass was supposed to have his back, but he never really had Enzo’s back. Enzo talked about how for five years they were together, but Cass wasn’t there for him. Enzo said his mouth is about to go platinum. Enzo pointed out that he has been knocked down a lot in his career, but he keeps getting back up. Enzo said he’s one of the toughest guys in that ring.
Enzo said that he gets back up all the time because he’s a Certified G and he’s “exactly me.” Enzo said he’s confident in his abilities and he’s grateful more than anything else. Enzo talked about how he would push his dad down a wishing well before joining the dark side. Enzo talked about how he’s grateful for every kid wearing a Ceritifed G shirt, chain and wig and he’s grateful because it helps him put food on the table. Enzo spoke about how he believes in the good that he’s doing and that’s something you just can’t teach. Enzo spoke about how his mouth has never dug a hole so deep that he can’t walk out of it. Enzo said he knows who he is and he’s going straight to the top. Enzo had a line about how he’s crawled out of holes way taller than seven feet. I don’t want to ask questions.
Enzo told Cass that he is nothing more than a catchphrase that Enzo wrote. Enzo spoke about how there’s nobody in this business bouncing a damn check than Enzo. That led to Enzo pointing out that Cass’ next merchandise check will have zero dimes unless he starts wearing a shirt that says “Casshole.” Enzo went to leave, but he changed his mind and went back in the ring. Enzo spoke about how he and Cass were brothers that were ride or die. Enzo was fired up as he said now “it’s all eyes on me” in reference to Tupac and then Enzo left.
Analysis: It is rare to see a guy like Enzo start Raw with a promo, so it was different in a good way. Enzo is a very good talker and that was well done, but can he cut it in the ring? That’s the concern I have because he’s below average in the ring. His promos are fine in a tag team because he can take a beating for a match and tag in a partner. In a singles match, though, I don’t know if he’s got the skills to really make it that far. I’m not going to doubt him or hate on him without giving him a fair chance, though. I’m intrigued to see how he does.
Big Cass was interviewed backstage by Charly Caruso. Cass had a black shirt on. Cass said he’s never heard somebody talk so long and not really say anything. Cass spoke about how he’s where the money is. Cass kept talking, but Enzo showed up and jumped on Cass’ back. They fought on the floor, but refs and agents like Adam Pearce broke it up. Both guys were separated.
Analysis: Good to see Enzo take the fight to Cass. The attack was cheap, but so what? Fans are going to think that Cass deserved it for attacking Enzo first and we want to see Enzo stand up for himself.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Booker T and Corey Graves were shown on camera welcoming us to the show.
Sasha Banks and Bayley entered for a tag team match after the break.
Nia Jax made her entrance. A replay aired from last week showing Sasha Banks tapping out Nia Jax to win the women’s gauntlet match. The win by Banks means she gets a title shot at Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss at Great Balls of Fire this Sunday.
Bliss made her entrance. Good reaction for her even though she’s a heel. She has star power that’s for sure.
Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. Alexa Bliss & Nia Jax
Bayley started with Jax as Bayley hit some dropkicks early on. Kick to the face by Bayley. Banks tagged in leading to the faces hitting a double dropkick. Banks sent Jax into the turnbuckle and hit a dropkick to send Jax out of the ring. Jax shoved Bayley off the apron and into the barricade. Jax shoved Banks down in the ring. Jax hit a running knee attack on Bayley on the floor as the show went to break.
They returned from break saying Bayley was too hurt to continue and was helped to the back. Banks hit a knee to the face of Bliss and sent her into the turnbuckle. Bliss tagged out and Jax slowed down Banks with backbreaker followed by an elbow drop. There was a clip of Bayley getting helped to the back during the break. Back elbow by Jax on Banks followed by a bear hug. Bliss tagged in with her stomp on the back offense. Bliss slammed her down by the head, missed a knee attack and Banks hit a running knee. They messed up some spot out of the corner, so Banks hit a neckbreaker and kicked Jax out of the ring. Banks took down Bliss with an armbar and applied the Bank Statement for the submission win as Bliss tapped out. It went 11 minutes.
Winners by submission: Sasha Banks & Bayley
Analysis: **1/2 Solid match with Banks making her PPV opponent tap out. It turned into a handicap match, so most people probably thought the heels would win. I thought that would happen too. I like the idea of giving Banks some momentum heading into her title match on Sunday. Taking Bayley out of the match makes Bayley look really weak, but it also gives her a feud with Jax without the title on the line too. I think I’m going with Bliss to retain on Sunday.
Raw GM Kurt Angle was in his office. Braun Strowman showed up to ask Kurt what he’s going to do when Reigns doesn’t show up at Great Balls of Fire because he’s hurt. Strowman noted that Reigns isn’t there. Angle said he had a locker full of guys booked and Braun said he’ll go the ring looking for competition while noting that Angle’s a smart guy that will figure it out.
Analysis: Strowman is one of the best booked characters on the show and having him ask for competition all the time is a great way to use him.
Video package about Joe and Lesnar is up next.
A commercial aired for John Cena returning to Smackdown this Tuesday, July 4.
PLUG TIME: Here’s a new article that I wrote for The Comeback looking at some of the winners and losers in WWE in the first half of 2017. A lot of praise for some and plenty of criticism too. I enjoyed writing it, so let me know what you think…This week’s retro WWE review is SummerSlam 2004 as I continue the journey through 2004, which was an up and down year. That show featured Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero in the midcard, JBL vs. Undertaker for the WWE Title and Randy Orton became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion ever that night as well. It’s a record that Orton may hold for a long time.
The announcers talked about Lesnar and Joe to set up a video package.
A video package aired about Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar heading into their Universal Title match this Sunday. It’s the same video that aired last week on Raw with the addition of Joe choking out Lesnar last week.
Analysis: I always like when they feature Lesnar in a sit-down interview setting because that’s when he is at his best.
There was another reminder of Lesnar vs. Joe at Great Balls of Fire on Sunday. Both men will be on Raw later for an interview.
Cedric Alexander made his entrance. A clip aired from 205 Live last week with Noam Dar costing Alexander a match against Ariya Daivari.
Alexander called out Noam Dar for a match. Dar had Fox with her and she had a neckbrace on. Fox kissed Dar on the cheek.
Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar (w/Alicia Fox)
Alexander hit a springboard clothesline on Dar early on. Dar left the ring, Alexander went after him and Fox yelled at Alexander to distract. Dar hit a kick to the chest for a two count. Dar slapped on an armbar. Alexander hit a back elbow to the head. Fox went on the apron to call Alexander a loser. Dar tried to capitalize, but Alexander rolled through and hit the Lumbar Check double knees to the back for the pinfall win after three minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Cedric Alexander
Analysis: ** It was fine and hopefully it’s the end of this feud. Alexander should be a guy stepping up to challenge Neville for the Cruiserweight Title if they build him right. Dar has a good personality, but hard to get far while paired with Fox, who is too over the top that it hurts storylines with how silly she is.
The announcers bragged about how LaVar Ball and family generated a lot of buzz while showing graphics of different media outlets talking about it.
Analysis: They didn’t mention LaMelo Ball saying the “n” word twice leading to the company having to release a statement apologizing for inappropriate language. But hey, it got attention on ESPN, so that’s all WWE cares about.
Miz TV is up next as the first hour is over.
The Miz and his lovely wife Maryse were in the ring for Miz TV. Miz was wearing a white suit. The Miztourage duo of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas were in the ring in suits as well.
The Miz ranted about LaVar Ball and said Lonzo Ball will be a big bust while knocking Steve Nash to get some heat from the Phoenix fans that love the Suns. Miz talked about how he made stars like Axel and Dallas. Miz mentioned that LaVar Ball walked around topless like a raving lunatic while wanting Dean Ambrose to represent the Big Baller Brand. Miz spoke about how Ambrose represents wasted potential.
Miz talked about how Ambrose had toughness in the ring when he first got to WWE and he was going to be the next Roddy Piper. Miz said Ambrose was going to be the breakout star of The Shield, but instead we got wacky Dean Ambrose. Miz claimed that Ambrose can’t handle success. Miz noted that when Ambrose was a top guy he caved under the pressure, which is the pressure that Miz thrives in. Miz talked about how it was his job to make the IC Title relevant.
Ambrose spoke about how he was shocked that there was another Miz TV segment after last week’s trainwreck with the Ball family. Ambrose said maybe Miz has him all figured out after all. Ambrose challenged Miz to a IC Title match right there.
Heath Slater interrupted with Rhyno by his side. Slater noted that he was the last guy to pin Miz and he hasn’t had a singles title shot in eight years in WWE. Slater talked about how he had kids (while wearing his “I Got Kids” shirt) and how he wanted to make them proud. Ambrose told Slater he likes him, but back to the line for him. Miz cut them off. Miz told Ambrose he’ll get his rematch when Miz says he can and told Slater it’s not going to happen. Miz said they have a Fourth of July party in Hollywood…but here’s Raw GM Kurt Angle.
Angle was greeted by the lovely “you suck” chants. Angle said he gets to make the matches, so Miz told Angle to talk to Corey Graves about his personal problems. Angle told Miz to watch his mouth. Miz said he’s a big star and a box office draw. Miz said okay he’ll defend the IC Title at Great Balls of Fire and Angle can tell him who.
Angle told Miz he’ll face Ambrose for the IC Title at Great Balls of Fire and face Heath Slater for the IC Title up next on Raw. Miz complained about it because he was wearing a suit. The crowd cheered as the show went to break.
Analysis: That was a fun segment even though I’m sick of the Miz vs. Ambrose feud. Miz is the best talker among the wrestlers on Raw (Heyman is better) and he knows how to get genuine heat. He covered a lot in the promo ripping on the Ball family, ripping on the crowd, going after Ambrose talking about how he can’t live up to the pressure, then he went after Slater and Angle too. Miz covered a lot, but he does it so seamlessly and it’s rarely boring. I like how that segment went and the matches it set up.
When the show returned from break, the guys got in-ring intros by announcer Jojo. Miz wrestled in white pants and a white shirt.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (w/Maryse, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel) vs. Heath Slater (w/Rhyno)
Dean Ambrose joined the commentary team for this match with Cole noting that Ambrose faces the winner of this match for the IC Title at Great Balls of Fire.
Miz hit a shoulder block while Slater hit a hip toss and a shoulder block of his own. Cole asked Ambrose about Miz’s comments about Dean’s potential and Ambrose said he had done well for himself. Slater with a backslide on Miz for a two count. Slater with a rollup for two. Miz came back with a knee to the ribs. Slater opened up Miz’s white shirt and hit a hard chop to the chest. Slater covered Miz’s head with the shirt and punched him. Slater with an atomic drop for a two count as the show went to break.
Back from break, Miz was in control of the action when his white pants ripped open. The announcers mentioned the pants being ripped open. Miz hit a DDT for two. Miz hit a slingshot that sent Slater’s throat into the bottom rope. Miz sent Slater back first into the barricade and when they went back in the ring, Miz hit a kick to the head. Miz hit his weak looking kicks to the chest and Slater came back with a flapjack. Slater did the comeback with punches, clothesline and a running knee to the face. Rollup by Slater got a two count. Neckbreaker by Slater got a two count. Miz took control again with the corner clothesline. Miz stood on the top rope, so Slater went after him and hit a powerslam off the top. That drew a great reaction. Slater was too hurt to cover. Axel on the apron, Rhyno went after him, but Rhyno stopped when he got to Maryse, Dallas went after Rhyno and the heels sent Rhyno into the ring post. Slater was watching that, so Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale leading to the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: The Miz
Analysis: *** Good match with Slater coming close to winning a couple of times. That spot where Slater did the powerslam off the top was really well done although he didn’t get a nearfall after it. The finish looked familiar because they have done that in Jinder Mahal matches a lot in the last couple of months. It’s a reminder why we see heel wrestlers having allies at ringside with him. Use them to distract to set up the cheap finish. I’m glad Slater got a chance to show what he could do in a lengthy match. Miz was very good like usual.
The win by Miz means that he will face Dean Ambrose for the IC Title again at Great Balls of Fire this Sunday in Dallas.
After the match, Miz sent Slater out of the ring. The heels attacked Slater on the floor. Ambrose ran down for the save. Miz bailed to the floor, so Dallas and Axel knocked down Miz. Dallas picked up Ambrose and Axel hit a neckbreaker. Miz back in the ring for some trash talk followed by a Skull Crushing Finale on Ambrose. Miz music played to end it.
Analysis: The numbers game comes in handy again. Miz vs. Ambrose one more time should be okay, but we’ve seen it too often.
There’s an interview with Lesnar and Joe later on Raw.
A video aired of Strowman beating up Reigns last week. Strowman is on Raw later.
Goldust is up next.
The duo of Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews were backstage in the locker room talking about Titus Worldwide. Titus said that facing Braun Strowman would be the perfect opportunity for Apollo. Crews was reluctant about it, so O’Neil tried to sell it to him by talking about Crews’ new daughter and how he had to look out for her. Crews said he’d do it and Titus said “Crews can’t lose” so they chanted that repeatedly.
Analysis: I’m glad that the story has progressed to where Crews is on the same page with O’Neil.
Goldust was seated in a director’s chair in the ring. He welcomed us to “The Shattered Truth” premiere as he thanked the little people there. Goldust also thanked R-Truth because without him being so naïve, jealous and selfish, none of this would be possible. Goldust said with this film he does something that Truth couldn’t do himself. Fans chanted “what” at him and Goldust told them to shut their mouth. Goldust talked about gold. Goldust asked for the movie to air.
A “movie” aired called The Shattered Truth. It showed highlights of Goldust attacking R-Truth last week. The beating was basic with Goldust punching him and sending him into the ring post once. Goldust posed to end it, so that was the end of the “movie.”
When the camera was focused on Goldust in the ring, R-Truth was in the ring with popcorn. Truth attacked Goldust with punches. Truth sent Goldust shoulder first into the ring post, so Goldust bailed up the ramp and Truth’s music played to end it.
Analysis: The “movie” was just a replay of last week. Truth got the revenge with the attack from behind. It was payback for last week and also a brief attack like last week. The crowd doesn’t care that much.
Angle was shown on his phone in his office. Cesaro and Sheamus walked into the room. Angle said he had a stipulation for Cesaro/Sheamus vs. Hardys at Great Balls of Fire. Angle said it would be a 30 minute Ironman match against the Hardys for the Raw Tag Team Titles. Cesaro and Sheamus said that’s no problem because they’re great athletes. Cesaro wanted a match for Raw, Angle said he can face Strowman, but Cesaro fired back saying he wanted to face Finn Balor, so Angle said that’s fine. Cesaro was happy with that, Angle got a phone call and told them to be careful what they wished for.
Analysis: A tag team Ironman match is pretty rare. It should be an awesome match. I like it.
Seth Rollins was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
Seth Rollins made his entrance. Curt Hawkins was in the ring for a match. Rollins faces Bray Wyatt at Great Balls of Fire on Sunday.
Curt Hawkins did a promo asking the crowd if they think he’s going to lose the match. The crowd cheered. Rollins took the microphone and asked the crowd who thinks Hawkins needs to shut the hell up, so the crowd cheered and Rollins punched him.
Seth Rollins vs. Curt Hawkins
The bell rang, Rollins hit the high knee to the face and won after about seven seconds.
Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins
Analysis: Match of the year! Maybe not.
Rollins did a promo talking about Bray Wyatt saying that they didn’t need to be saved by Wyatt or anybody. Rollins warned Wyatt by saying that he will prove once and for all that Wyatt is not a God. Rollins said at Great Balls of Fire he’ll show us if Wyatt is a man or a coward.
Analysis: Simple promo from Rollins with no interruption from Wyatt, which was a bit of a surprise. That feud doesn’t have a lot of momentum or interest.
Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar were shown on a split screen for an interview up next.
Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar Chat
Michael Cole and the announcers set up a split screen interview between Samoa Joe and Universal Champion Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman.
Joe cut off Cole before he could say anything. Joe wanted to ask Heyman how it felt to be choked out. Lesnar told Joe that this isn’t about Heyman. Joe fired up saying that they were split apart for this because they wanted to protect Brock. Lesnar talked about all the guys he’s beat like Rock, Cena, Triple H and others. Samoa Joe said he’s choked out guys like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and others. Joe was mad, so he ripped off his microphone and went to find Lesnar.
Joe was shown walking backstage looking for Lesnar while Lesnar and Heyman were just seated backstage. Referees and agents like Adam Pearce and Jamie Noble were there. Kurt Angle showed up with security. Joe finally found the room with Lesnar, but security pulled Joe back. Lesnar told him to come at him, but Joe couldn’t get there because security pulled him away. Show went to break there.
Analysis: That was great like every segment these guys have done. I say great because it leaves us wanting more, which is the feeling you want to give fans when selling a PPV main event match. It’s weird how the heel Joe is the one that wants to fight and the face Lesnar is happy to sit in a room while people pull him away because that makes Lesnar look a bit weak. It also makes Lesnar smart because he only wants to fight when it’s time for a match. No matter how you see it, I thought it was very well done and an effective segment. I’m very excited about Lesnar vs. Joe at Great Balls of Fire.
Neville vs. Mustafa Ali
This is not for Neville’s Cruiserweight Title.
Ali with a dropkick and a headscissors takedown. Ali with a cross body block for a two count as the crowd is completely silent. Ali went up top, Neville with a forearm to the back and Neville went for a suplex off the top, but Ali landed on his feet. Neville went for a move, but Ali hit an amazing spike DDT for a two count. Ali up top again, Neville shoved him off and Ali went face first into the barricade. Neville brought Ali into the ring and stomped away on him. Running kick in the corner by Neville. Neville launched Ali in the air leading to a bump on the chest by Ali. Forearm by Ali and he went for a neckbreaker, but Neville crushed him with a clothesline. Neville applied the Rings of Saturn submission for the tapout win. It went about five minutes.
Winner by submission: Neville
Analysis: ** Good match with the champ winning non-title. I’m glad Ali got to show some off his athleticism because he’s one of the best fliers in the division if they just let him show what he can do. The crowd wasn’t into the match very much because it’s hour three and a long show already.
Neville vs. Tozawa for the Cruiserweight Championship at Great Balls of Fire is now a part of the Kickoff Show. Poor short guys.
Braun Strowman is still to come.
Bray Wyatt was shown walking in the Phoenix desert because there was dirt and cactus’ around him. It said Wyatt is up next.
Bray Wyatt did some promo in a desert. I only caught the last ten seconds of it when he claimed that Seth Rollins was going to burn or something to that effect. Sorry I missed it. Sometimes a man needs to use the washroom. I’m sure it was his usual thing about being a God and so on.
Analysis: I don’t think the Rollins/Wyatt feud is very strong. They should have built it up more. It feels like one match that Rollins will win and both guys will move on after it.
Alexa Bliss was interviewed by Charly Caruso backstage. Charly asked about what happened earlier and Alexa gave an answer about letting Banks win because it’s strategy. Charly questioned that, so Bliss mentioned she’s the Women’s Champion holding a title while Charly is just holding a microphone and Bliss said she’ll still be holding the title on Sunday.
Analysis: Bliss’ arrogance is her greatest strength. She does a great job of coming across as a cocky champion.
Finn Balor made his entrance for the match with Cesaro as the show went to break.
Cesaro did his entrance with his partner Sheamus even though it’s just a singles match for Cesaro.
The Hardy Boyz – Matt and Jeff – made their entrance. They joined the announce team for this match.
Finn Balor vs. Cesaro (w/Sheamus)
Cesaro was in control early on. Matt talked about how the Hardys were so resilient. Cesaro hit a clothesline and grabbed a headlock. Matt spoke about how they have to be the best wrestling tag team at GBOF. Balor came back with a dropkick followed by hard chops in the corner. Balor tripped up Cesaro and stomped away. Sheamus stood on the apron to distract Balor, so Balor went after him and Cesaro took advantage by sending Balor into the middle turnbuckle. More chops by Balor, Cesaro with an uppercut, Balor with more chops and Cesaro dumped Balor to the floor as the show went to break.
A commercial aired for “Free Agent” John Cena returning to Smackdown on July 4.
Back from break, Cesaro was still in control as he delivered a waist lock into a slam. Matt Hardy said they were ready for Sunday as Cesaro applied an arm bar. Balor tried to make a comeback with an attack over the top, but Cesaro caught him and hit a suplex. Running uppercut by Cesaro earned a two count. Balor fought out of a Neutralizer attempt and hit a double foot stomp to start his comeback. Balor hit forearms to the face, running dropkick and another dropkick that sent Cesaro into the barricade. Running kick by Balor while on the apron. Balor hit the Slingblade to take down Cesaro. Elias Samson aka The Drifter made his way down to the ring. Balor looked at him, so Cesaro hit an uppercut and that was good for a two count. Running uppercut by Cesaro in the corner. Balor came back with a leaping kick to the head while Cesaro was knocked to the floor. Balor ran the ropes, so Samson tripped him up. The Hardys went down to ringside to brawl with Sheamus and Samson. Balor with a back body drop that sent Cesaro over the top to the floor. Balor hit a somersault dive over the top to knock down the others. Cesaro sent Balor into the ring apron. Matt with Twist of Fate on Samson, Sheamus with a Brogue Kick on Matt, Jeff hit a diving attack on Sheamus, Cesaro uppercut on Jeff and Balor hit a dropkick that sent Cesaro into the barricade. Crowd was really into all of this. Back in the ring, Balor hit the Coup de Grace for the pinfall win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Finn Balor
Analysis: ***1/4 That was really good especially in the last few minutes with the crowd getting into it a lot as well. The pacing early on was slow and the crowd didn’t care, but then Balor did that comeback and the people bought into it more. I thought the stuff outside the ring added to the drama because it made you sympathize with Balor while also giving the Hardys a reason to get involved in the match. Everybody hitting moves on the floor was fine if you don’t think about how it should have been a countout finish considering how long they were on the floor. That’s okay, though. It’s about putting on a good match and finish. That’s what they did. I’m a big fan of Balor and Cesaro. They could have a great rivalry together one day.
The announce team shilled WWE Network while hyping up Great Balls of Fire this Sunday.
Braun Strowman was shown walking backstage because he’s up next.
A video aired to promote Lesnar vs. Joe at Great Balls of Fire and shill WWE Network as well.
An ambulance backed into the arena. A replay aired from last week with Strowman attacking Reigns and tossing Reigns into the ambulance.
Braun Strowman Is Looking For Competition
Braun Strowman made his entrance. Mostly boos with cheers.
Strowman said there are few things in this world that he likes more than Roman Reigns. Strowman said last week he almost put Reigns through the ambulance. Strowman said if Reigns shows up at Great Balls of Fire he’ll leave like he did last week in the back of that ambulance. Strowman said that Reigns isn’t there and he wants competition, so he told somebody to come face him right now.
Titus O’Neil said that normally he would go down to the ring to face Strowman himself, but it’s not him. O’Neil hyped up his buddy that is a first-time father that wants to prove that monsters can be defeated. O’Neil introduced the man representing Titus Worldwide, it’s Apollo Crews. That led to Crews making his entrance for the match.
Analysis: It’s such a random choice for a main event.
Braun Strowman vs. Apollo Crews (w/Titus O’Neil)
Crews used his speed to avoid an attack, but Strowman stopped his momentum with a kick to the face. Strowman dumped Crews out of the ring. Strowman applied a vice grip on the neck of Crews. Strowman dumped Crews out of the ring again, so O’Neil hyped up Crews. When Crews went back in, he hit two kicks to the head and a running dropkick to the knee. Running kick to the head by Crews. When Crews went for a standing moonsault, Strowman kicked him across the ring. That was a great bump. Strowman hit his running Powerslam and he covered for a two count because he picked up Crews. Strowman hit another running Powerslam for two and picked up Crews once more. Strowman hit a third running Powerslam for the pinfall win in five minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Strowman. Crews didn’t get much offense in as expected. The running Powerslam looks less devastating every time he does it.
Post match, Strowman went to attack Crews again and O’Neil saved his buddy Crews by pulling him down. O’Neil went face to face with Strowman, but Strowman hit him with a clothesline as Booker said O’Neil slipped. Strowman hit a running Powerslam on O’Neil.
Strowman grabbed Crews and threw him over the barricade. Strowman tossed Crews into the back of the ambulance, closed the doors and slapped the back of the ambulance to tell the driver to take them away. The driver didn’t drive. Strowman went up to the driver, opened the door and Roman Reigns hit him with punches. I doubt anybody was surprised by that.
Reigns and Strowman brawled around the ambulance. Strowman tossed Reigns across the top of the stage. Reigns came back with punches and shoved Strowman into the screen. With Strowman standing on the stage, Reigns charged in and hit a Spear that sent Strowman through a conveniently placed table. Big spot that sounded good too. Replays were shown of the table bump. Referees showed up to check on Strowman.
Strowman got back to his feet while Reigns was seated on the ramp as the show ended at 11:10pmET.
Analysis: It was obvious Reigns was going to be there since they mentioned him all night long by noting he wasn’t going to be there. When somebody in WWE says something like that, often times it’s a lie. It was good to see Reigns getting the revenge and evening things up between them.
I’m probably going to pick Strowman to win the Ambulance Match at Great Balls of Fire, but I may change my mind about that before writing the preview on Friday.
Three Stars of the Show
1. The Miz
2. Finn Balor
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 6
2017 Average: 5.83
Average since brand split starting July 25/16: 5.86 (Smackdown is 6.78)
Last 5 Weeks: 6, 6.5, 4, 7, 5.5
2017 High: 8 (April 3)
2017 Low: 4 (Jan. 9, Feb. 27 & June 12)
I give it a 6.5 out of 10.
It felt like an average show this week with guys like The Miz, Finn Balor and Cesaro standing out the most. Heath Slater did a good job as well.
I don’t mind that the show was just average because I think the Great Balls of Fire lineup is much better than the other Raw PPVs this year.
— WWE (@WWE) July 4, 2017
Here’s the lineup for Raw’s Great Balls of Fire show on July 9.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
Raw Tag Team Championships (30-Minute Ironman Match): Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Hardy Boyz
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
Big Cass vs. Enzo Amore
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Akira Tozawa (Kickoff Show)
Some of the other possible matches are Goldust vs. R-Truth and Balor vs. Samson.
I’ll be back with a preview on Friday.
That’s all for now. See ya next time for the Smackdown review.
You can contact me using any of the methods below. Thanks for reading.