It’s got one of the worst names in wrestling history, but Brock Lesnar v Samoa Joe is a dream match. How does the rest of the card stack-up?
Ever since Samoa Joe arrived in NXT, there was the potential that he could get to the very top of WWE. He had issues with motivation during latter parts of his TNA run, but the sheer physicality and brutality of his in ring style meant fans had high hopes for his WWE career, and some even dared to dream of a match up with the Beast Incarnate himself Brock Lesnar. And since his debut on the main roster, Samoa Joe has looked like a killer, and a month ago he became the number one contender for Lesnar’s Universal title. A dream match that people have speculated about for a decade finally happens this Sunday at Great Balls of Fire.
But this isn’t just a one match show. The Hardy Boyz get one last match at Sheamus and Cesaro’s tag titles, and The Miz defends against Dean Ambrose. Alexa Bliss moves on from Bayley and takes on The Boss Sasha Banks. Wyatt and Rollins doesn’t do much for me, and although Big Cass v Enzo and Neville v Tozawa are only at the beginning of feuds, they should all still be fun matches. Plus the return of Braun Strowman to beat up Roman Reigns has been very entertaining.
Anyway, here’s my run down of the Great Balls Of Fire card.
WWE Universal Championship Match
BROCK LESNAR (Champion) v SAMOA JOE
– Brock Lesnar won the WWE Universal Championship from Goldberg at Wrestlemania 33, and this will be his first defense. He is a four time WWE Champion, and this is his first Universal Championship reign.
– Samoa Joe was the first two time NXT Champion, and is a former ROH and TNA Champion. He won a Fatal Fiveway Number 1 Contenders match at Extreme Rules, beating Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and Bray Wyatt, making Balor pass out in the Coquina Clutch.
Since winning the number one contender’s match, Somoa Joe has raised his game to an even higher level. He calmly attacked Brock Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman, locking in the Coquina Clutch until he passed out. Lesnar and Somoa Joe had a pull apart brawl that needed the entire locker room to separate them, and then a week later Joe caught Brock in the Clutch and caused Brock to pass out. What many thought was an easy win for Lesnar has been built into a competitive match, and Samoa Joe has shown he can hang with the very best of WWE.
PREDICTION: Brock Lesnar. Somoa Joe has been on fire, but I don’t quite see him dethroning Lesnar.
ROMAN REIGNS v BRAUN STOWMAN
– Braun Strowman split from The Wyatt Family about a year ago, and set about destoying everyone he faced. After begging for more competition, in February he was granted a match with Roman Reigns at Fastlane, where Reigns was successful. Strowman continued to attack Reigns though, including one fantastic segment where he threw Reigns, on a stretcher, off a stage, and then TIPPED OVER THE AMBULANCE taking Reigns away.
Stupid, but so entertaining. Strowman defeated an injured Reigns at Payback, but himself picked up an injury, putting him out for 6 months. However, Strowman returned much earlier, attacking Reigns during a match with Samoa Joe, and setting up an Ambulance Match here.
– Three time WWE Champion Roman Reigns was unsuccessful in the Extreme Rules Fatal Fiveway to become Number One Contender to Brock Lesnar’s Universal title. A few weeks later however he announced that he would challenge for the title at Summerslam, whoever the champion was. This annoyed Somoa Joe, leading to a match later that night, where Braun Strowman made his return. An attack later and we have our Ambulance Match.
Braun Strowman has been one of the success stories of RAW since being drafted last year. Like countless others before him, squashing jobbers got him over with the crowd, but since working with Sami Zayn earlier in the year he has started to gain more confidence in longer matches. And of course, beating up Roman Reigns is making him even more popular with a certain part of the audience. However, the WWE machine shows no sign of changing course on the Roman Reigns Face of the Company push, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.
PREDICTION: Roman Reigns to march on to a WWE Universal title shot at Summerslam.
RAW Women’s Championship Match
ALEXA BLISS (Champion) v SASHA BANKS
– Alexa Bliss won the RAW Women’s Championship from Bayley at Payback, becoming the first woman to hold the RAW and Smackdown Championships. She defended the title against Bayley in a Kendo Stick on a Pole match at Extreme Rules, and now makes her second defence against Sasha Banks
– Three time RAW Women’s Champion Sasha Banks won a Gauntlet match on 26th June’s RAW to become the number one contender. This moved Banks back into Championship contention after feuding with Alicia Fox pretty much since Wrestlemania.
Alexa Bliss has surprised most people with her success on the main roster. She had done almost nothing of note in NXT, but grew into her role on Smackdown, and outclassed Bayley in their recent feud. Banks is a strange fit as a baby face right now, I would much rather have seen her in Bliss’ role as the one to take Bayley’s title from her. I think the WWE sees more mileage in Bliss’ as RAW Champion, perhaps some matches with Nia Jax as well, before a rebuilt Bayley makes her return.
PREDICTION: Alexa Bliss. Sasha has slightly moved down the card since losing the title, and Bliss is just at the beginning of her reign.
SETH ROLLINS v BRAY WYATT
– The night after Extreme Rules, Bray Wyatt announced that he would seek revenge on those who had beat him in the Fatal Fiveway Number One Contenders match. This lead to a match with Roman Reigns (which Reigns won) and then later in the night Wyatt attacking Seth Rollins. Since then, Wyatt has cut his usual sinister promos on Rollins.
– Seth Rollins has been named as the cover star for WWE2K18. This has earned him even more contempt from Wyatt, claiming that even if he is “The Man”, Wyatt is “A God”
These are two undoubtedly talented guys, but my expectations for Bray Wyatt are incredibly low. His work with Randy Orton in the Wyatt family seemed to be heading in the right direction before going off the rails, leading to a disappointing match at Wrestlemania and a laughably bad House of Horrors match at Payback. Wyatt simply loses too many big matches, and his rambling promos have no meaning behind them. Until he strings some big wins together – even when he won the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, he lost it a month later – I don’t think that will change. He’ll still have his “firefly” entrance and act spooky, but the chances of him becoming the next Undertaker recede with every clean loss he takes.
Seth Rollins is also a bit directionless. Since beating HHH at Wrestlemania, he got a roll-up win against Samoa Joe – a man who tried to end his career, but getting a cheap victory was revenge enough for Rollins. Rollins then failed to become number 1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship, and was also unsuccessful in the Fatal Fiveway at Extreme Rules. This seems like a placeholder feud for both men until something better comes along.
PREDICTION: Seth Rollins. Put simply, Bray Wyatt doesn’t win matches, and Rollins has got a new finisher.
30 Minute Iron Man Match for the RAW Tag Team Championship
SHEAMUS & CESARO (Champion) v THE HARDY BOYZ
– Making their return at Wrestlemania, the Hardy Boyz won the RAW Tag Team Championships on their first night back. They defended against Sheamus & Cesaro at Payback a month later, but then lost the titles in a Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules. The had a 2 out of 3 falls rematch for the title on the 12th June episode of RAW, but it ended in a draw after a double countout. They were then granted another shot at the titles in a 30 Minute Iron Man Match at Great Balls of Fire.
– After Wrestlemania Sheamus & Cesaro beat Enzo & Cass to become number 1 contenders to the Hardy Boyz, and after losing at Payback, they beat the Hardyz down. This new attitude helped them clean sweep a gauntet match, beating every other tag team on RAW to become number 1 contenders. They were successful at Extreme Rules, becoming two time tag team champions.
Since their heel turn, Sheamus and Cesaro have gone to another level. Their team work is better than ever, and their nasty streak makes them tough to beat. The Hardy Boyz have been surprisingly fresh since their return, but there comes a point soon where they can adapt or they will simply be a nostalgia act, like the Dudleyz ended up. Whether that is a single run, or a return to their Broken gimmick, I see it happening soon.
PREDICTION: Sheamus & Cesaro, pushing the Hardys closer to breaking.
Intercontinental Championship Match
THE MIZ (Champion) v DEAN AMBROSE
– The Miz became a seven time Intercontinental Champion when he beat Dean Ambrose at Extreme Rules, having rekindled an old feud with Ambrose when they were both drafted over from Smackdown. Since then, Ambrose has caused problems between Miz and Maryse, although The Miz got the upper hand now that he has been joined by Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel as The Miztourage.
– Dean Ambrose won the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz back in January, and successfully defended it through Wrestlemania season against Baron Corbin before being drafted to RAW. He lost to the Miz via disqualification in a title defense, leading to a match at Extreme Rules where he would lose the title if he was disqualified. Dean Ambrose lost the title night, but he has been tormenting The Miz since, leading to this rematch.
The Miz and Dean Ambrose have a long running feud, with the delusional film star and the loose cannon matching up well to provide some really entertaining segments. This part of the feud seems to be setting up for a blow-off match next time out, so expect the Miztourage to get involved and keep the Awesome one as the most must see Intercontinental Champion of all time.
PREDICTION: The Miz, probably in an underhanded way to build to one final match at Summerslam between the two. I like Dean Ambrose, but Miz is a better Intercontinental Champion.
Enzo v Big Cass
– After failing to win the RAW Tag Titles at Wrestlemania, and then losing a number one contenders match the next night, Enzo and Cash managed to beat Gallows and Anderson at Payback. Enzo was then mysteriously attacked backstage, with Cass accusing a series of wrestlers. Cass was also beaten up back stage a few weeks later, and when The Big Show filled in for a tag match with Enzo, Cass accused him. Most people saw The Revival as the likely culprits, having spotted them backstage despite supposedly being on the injured list. Things came to ahead on 19th June when Corey Graves announced that Cass had faked the attack on himself, and that he was behind the attack on Enzo.
– Big Cass revealed that he was sick of carrying Enzo, and that he was nothing more than dead weight. He delivered the Big Boot to a tearful Enzo, before leaving to a chorus of boos. The next week, Enzo came out and apologised for his annoying behaviour, and that him and Cass were brothers. Cass came down to the ring and seemed to accept he had made a mistake, before laying out Enzo again.
The WWE has a patchy record at splitting tag teams recently. Titus O’Neill and Darren Young have never got anywhere close to their success as The Prime Time Players – and they were never particularly successful as the Prime Time Players. Also, Enzo and Cass seem to be very early in their run to split. There is a lot more upside to Big Cass in the ring than Enzo, whereas Enzo is one of the most charismatic guys on the roster. However, we’ve seen quite a lot of Big Cass as a singles guy, and he has come along so much sin only a few short years since he started in NXT. Once upon a time, he would have come out in a suit and tie and calling himself Colin Cassidy again, but it will be interesting to see what they have planned for him. I see him blasting through Enzo and perphas going on to work with Big Show.
PREDICTION: Big Cass in about 3 minutes.
Cruiserweight Championship Match
NEVILLE (Champion) v AKIRA TOZAWA
– Neville joined the Cruiserweight division in December, attacking champion Rich Swann, and won the Cruiserweight Championship at the Royal Rumble. He defended it against Jack Gallagher at Fastlane, and then Austin Aries at Wrestlemania, Payback, and Extreme Rules. He then defended against TJP two nights later, ending a loose alliance between the two. This will be his seventh title defense.
– A long time star in Japan, Akira Tozawa was a stand out in the Cruiser Weight Classic, beating Jack Gallagher and gaining a following for his explosive kicks, screams of joy, and a sick looking German suplex. He was kept off TV for a long time, only making his debut in February. The Brian Kendrick offered to mentor him, which led to a series of matches between the two, with Tozawa finally defeating him in a Street Fight. This has led to Titus O’Neil wanting to sign him to this Titus Worldwide Brand, alongside Apollo Crews, and getting him a title shot as a show of what Titus can do for him.
Neville has developed into one of the best heels in WWE. His match with Mustafa Ali the night after Wrestlemania, where he smirked at the crowd and instead of delivering the Red Arrow, he just jumped off the top rope and instead locked in his Rings of Saturn, showed just how confident he has become in his bad guy role. With him as a long term champion, the cruiserweight division looks stronger than ever, and there are new contenders being built up for him. Personally, I think Cedric Alexander might be the one to dethrone him, but I could see Neville still holding the title through to the end of 2017. Titus O’Neil seems to be finding a groove with Titus Worldwide, and perhaps Tozawa and Crews could form a tag team in the future, and when they actually ever win a match the celebrations would be tremendous.
PREDICTION: Neville is rightly The King of the Cruiserweights, and a Titus O’Neil managed Tozawa is not the man to take the belt away from him.
So, Great Ball Of Fire has the chance to be a good pay per view event. Those are my predictions, but what do you think will happen?
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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