WWE’s Great Balls of Fire retro in more than name

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Brock Lesnar (C) takes on Samoa Joe for the Universal Championship at WWE Great Balls of Fire, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Dallas. (Photo: Thomas Joseph)

Vehicles were a hallmark of the then-WWF’s Attitude Era.

The period’s most iconic feud, between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon, was inextricably linked to them.

Austin filled his boss’s Corvette with cement. Austin drove a zamboni to the ring in Detroit. The hell raiser even intruded on a segment with The Rock, Shane McMahon, and Mr. McMahon with a semi full of beer, and then sprayed them down with it.

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Fans line up for merchandise at the American Airlines center prior to WWE Great Balls of Fire, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Dallas. (Photo: Thomas Joseph)

The show

While last night’s pay-per-view, Great Balls of Fire, should have culminated in an epic match between Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar, the Ambulance Match between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns stole the show.

Reigns and Strowman have had a lengthy feud that dates back before the Royal Rumble. The ambulance stipulation stems from an altercation on the April 10 episode of Raw where he overturned an ambulance that contained an injured Reigns.

 The match

To their credit, Reigns and Strowman built an interesting match in the ring, with the violence escalating over time.

Reigns had multiple opportunities on offense that were punctuated by Strowman’s ability to shift momentum with a single move.

After fighting his way out of an early Strowman attempt to carry him up the ramp, Reigns got the upper hand in the ring. He worked Strowman’s previously injured right arm against the ring post with a steel chair.

Strowman eventually regained his footing, shrugging off multiple chair shots like a true hoss.

This effective, simple booking had the arena buzzing. Roman is not dumb or uncomcompromising; he knows what he needs to do to win. Braun looks like an unstoppable force.

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Roman Reigns emerges from an ambulance following Braun Strowman’s victory at WWE Great Balls of Fire, Sunday, July 9, 2017 in Dallas. (Photo: Thomas Joseph)

The aftermath

Strowman dodged a Reigns spear as the latter landed in the back of the ambulance. Strowman then shut the doors, winning the match.

Here’s where things get dicey.

Reigns would emerge in the midst of Strowman’s celebration, turning the tables and throwing Strowman in. He hijacked the vehicle and took it to the arena’s loading dock, where it was rammed into another semi.

In short, Reigns may or may not have attempted to murder his coworker. Hostile work environment aside, Strowman emerged from the ambulance bloodied, beaten, and stumbling, but on his feet.

We’ll see tonight whether this is the double-turn some fans have clamored for, but Reigns looked like positively evil at points.

The rest of the card

  • Cruiserweight Champion Neville defeated Akira Tozawa.
    • The crowd was a bit weak, but Tozawa’s war cry got ’em going.
    • Titus O’Neill is a national treasure.
  • Bray Wyatt defeated Seth Rollins.
    • Two great performers. One meager feud. I’m still not sure why these two are fighting.
  • Enzo Amore dropped a killer promo and was promptly demolished by Big Cass.
  • Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss (C) in a Raw Women’s Championship Match by countout, so Bliss retained.
    • Another candidate for MOTN.
    • Again, simple booking can make for great matches. Sasha took a big bump on the apron early that hurt her back, and Alexa stepped on her repeatedly before she could get up.
    • The finish and post-match, with Banks attacking Bliss near the announce table, left something to be desired. In a vacuum it works, but this card had quite a few heels winning and titles retained.
  • The Miz (C) retained the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose.
  • Braun Strowman defeats Roman Reigns in an Ambulance Match.
  • Heath Slater defeated Curt Hawkins, in a match meant to both satiate the live crowd and move things on from the carnage after the Roman and Braun fallout.
  • Brock Lesnar (C) defeated Samoa Joe to retain the Universal Championship.
    • An alright match, with Joe living up to his destructive reputation.
    • Another questionable finish though. Brock worked his way out of a potential submission hold and landed a clean F5 in the middle of the ring. Joe looked great, but it leaves their respective plans up in the air.

Finally Cesaro and Sheamus (C) defeated the Hardy Boys in one dusty Iron Match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. Here’s the finish:

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