Anytime you name a wrestling pay-per-view “Great Balls of Fire” (Sunday, July 9 in Dallas, TX), you better hope that you stack that event with some great matches so that people stop making fun of the name.
It appears that is exactly what the WWE is doing.
Holy hell this looks to be one of the best cards of the year, and there are still more matches to be confirmed. What we do know is that Brock Lesnar will finally return from his farm in Saskatchewan to defend the Universal Title against Samoa Joe. Imagine that, having your champion actually appear on TV and defend his title.
Lesnar is a part-timer and most wrestling fans are okay with that, but should he be holding the Universal Title? Samoa Joe has the chance to take the title back and give it the attention it deserves. At one point this matchup was nothing more than a wrestling wet dream, but now it’s finally happening. Pinch yourself, because these two beasts are going to collide for the first time.
Both men have an MMA pedigree and their styles could really make for an interesting slugfest of a match. This might be professional wrestling, but if given enough time, you could see a hybrid of pro-wrestling, MMA, and just stiff shots. Or the WWE could do what they always do with Lesnar: have him beat Joe in two minutes and turn off the lights.
That’s not the only match to get excited about. Say what you want about Roman Reigns, it appears that Braun Strowman brings the best out of him. This is a feud that will probably end at Great Balls of Fire (I can’t say that name enough) but they are going to do it in style with an ambulance stipulation. Whoever gets shipped off to the hospital first loses. Bring on the violence!
Add in a women’s title match between Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks and a cruiserweight title bout that could bring the house down, and you have yourself Balls of Fire! Great Balls? Whatever. You have a stacked event with a silly name.
Below are the odds and my predictions for the matches that have been confirmed, along with a few rumored ones because the WWE waits too long to confirm things. We don’t wait for anyone. Let’s set the table for Great Balls of Fire! (There’s an ointment for that.)
UPDATED – Card updates were made on July 6, 2017, and are represented by [Brackets]
WWE GREAT BALLS OF FIRE 2017: ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
NB: one or two more matches may be added over the next week.
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Samoa Joe (Universal Title)
When Samoa Joe won his shot at the Universal Title back at Extreme Rules, many were pleasantly surprised that the WWE was pitting him against Brock Lesnar. Hardcore fans have wanted to see this matchup for years, and now that it is finally upon us. I just hope that it’s not a one-and-done.
Earlier in the night, Roman Reigns will meet Braun Strowman in a number-one contender’s match, and the word on the street is that Lesnar could hang onto this title to either lose it at SummerSlam in August or possibly against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 34. If this holds true, Lesnar will most likely beat Samoa Joe at Great Balls of Fire and then move onto a different program. So this fantasy matchup feels like nothing more than a squash match where we don’t get to see these two in an extended storyline. Sad.
In what I hope is actually a solid and technical match that goes far more than five minutes, I see Lesnar getting the win here. I’m guessing if the WWE wants to build towards a big showdown that involves Lesnar at SummerSlam, they will probably want the unbeatable Beast to look strong heading into one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year.
One thing is for sure, fans haven’t been thrilled with a very part-time performer holding the Universal Title. I expect that to change before Wrestlemania. I just think it would be weird timing to happen at Great Balls of Fire unless plans change and they want to continue this feud. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility because, if the ratings and the entertainment value appeases the WWE executives, they’ll want the rivalry to continue.
Enjoy the lead up to this intense matchup. Let’s hope it delivers
Predicted winner (and odds): Brock Lesnar (1/4)
Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman (Ambulance Match)
It’s only fitting that these two have an ambulance match; the stipulation — destroy your opponent and shove him into the back of an ambulance — seems like something these two big men would have no problems indulging in. There is also some ambulance history in the rivalry that was supposed to come to a head back at Extreme Rules, but that was put on ice when Strowman had to recover from elbow surgery.
If you would have asked me last week, I would have leaned towards a Strowman win. But with the recent rumors swirling about Reigns facing Lesnar at SummerSlam, I am all of a sudden gun shy to make this prediction. What I do know is that these two have actually put together some solid work in this feud so a third match is welcomed. I fully expect that this will be the blow off, with the program coming to an end between these two giants.
Since the WWE would love to stack the card for SummerSlam, setting up Lesnar vs. Reigns for this summer, instead of waiting for Wrestlemania, makes sense (and “cents”). I don’t think the WWE has been super stoked about Lesnar’s part-time schedule (although they are the ones who agreed to it); they’re likely having second thoughts about the title being around his waist past September.
Given the logic underpinning Reigns vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam, Strowman is most likely going to lose.
Predicted winner (and odds): Roman Reigns (2/3)
Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks (RAW Women’s Championship)
Sascha Banks was able to get through the number-one contender’s gauntlet, emerging victorious after beating Nia Jax in the decisive final fall. Now “The Boss” is set to meet Alexa Bliss for the Women’s Championship and, if given enough time, it should be an excellent matchup.
This match may start a feud that leads to SummerSlam. Maybe the WWE adds Nia Jaxx to the mix and we get some sort of triple threat later on. Banks has remained healthy and has looked great since moving to RAW. I know the WWE is very high on her, but also cautious due to her previous injury issues.
In what should hopefully be an entertaining bout, I see Alexa Bliss taking the win here through nefarious means. But keep in mind, this is the Women’s Championship, so it’s always hard to predict what the WWE will do. It has been passed around with no rhyme or reason. So there is a real chance that Banks steals the title here. Nothing will surprise me, thus why the odds are nearly locked at 50/50.
Predicted winner (and odds): Alexa Bliss (9/10)
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
This feud has some interest, but I’m still not sold on Seth Rollins as a face. It feels very forced. That said, he seems to be over with the fans and will be the cover boy of WWE 2K18. When he meets Bray Wyatt at Great Balls of Fire, it will be “Man vs. God” and very hard to call.
I question the timing of having these two facing each other now. They are two of WWE’s brightest young superstars but their current program couldn’t have come at a less opportune time.
Both men really need a win to remain strong, especially Wyatt, who has lost most of his major feuds. The question is: who can recover the best from a loss? Although a loss would put a stall in Rollins’ current momentum, he would stand a better chance of bouncing back.
With how poorly Wyatt has been booked thus far, I could see the “Eater of Worlds” beating the “King Slayer.” There’s also a third option where the match ends with some sort of disqualification or interference, allowing both men to remain strong.
Predicted winner (and odds): Bray Wyatt (9/11)
Neville (C) vs. Akira Tozawa (Cruiserweight Championship)
Neville has been on a great run as the 205 champ and, having beaten both Rich Swann and Austin Aries, it’s hard to imagine that Akira Tozawa will be the one to knock off the champ. But don’t sleep on this matchup because Tozawa is a genuine and credible threat. It may not be at Great Balls of Fire, but I believe Tozawa is a future champ in this division. The question is, how long does the WWE wait? Is this a feud that will continue into SummerSlam?
For now, I am taking Neville to defend his title.
Predicted winner (and odds): Neville (1/3)
The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental Championship) – [Confirmed]
For the Love of God, can this feud be over? I feel like these two have been going at it since last year. Oh wait, they have, with a small Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin interlude. But since the roster shakeup, when Miz and Ambrose moved to RAW, the WWE has had them together.
It’s not like their program has been boring, I’m just tired of seeing these two in a ring together. I would much rather see Miz defend his title against more interesting opponents. A fresh feud will be best for both parties after this match.
The Miz now has an entourage of Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas who, despite their cute teddy bear costumes, will be up to no good and will probably be a major factor. I see Miz hanging onto the Intercontinental title and hopefully getting a new program going into SummerSlam.
Predicted winner (and odds): The Miz (3/17)
Cesaro and Sheamus (C) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Tag Team Championship)
[30-Minute Iron Man Match] – [Confirmed]
After losing the tag team titles at Extreme Rules, The Hardy Boyz enacted their rematch clause and have a third date with the new champs, Cesaro and Sheamus. After their Extreme Rules Cage Match, and the recent two-out-of-three falls match on RAW, I would think there would be some sort of stipulation added to their final go around.
Cesaro and Sheamus just won the titles and I don’t think they will flip them over again to The Hardys, who really don’t need the belts at this stage. In what will be another very physical matchup full of some big spots, I see the Hardys coming up short again.
Predicted winner (and odds): Cesaro and Sheamus (1/1)
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass – [Confirmed]
Although this was predicted weeks ago, Big Cass was recently outed as the man behind the recent attacks on tag team partner Enzo Amore. The segment ended with a big heel promo by Cass and a big boot to the face which now sets up their match at Great Balls of Fire.
This is an easy one to call. Although it sucks to see this popular tag team come apart, Cass has bigger fish to fry as a singles competitor. I see him beating a smaller Enzo to a pulp and moving onto a different feud. Could there be another match at SummerSlam? Potentially. Maybe The Big Show comes to Enzo’s aid and we get a match between two big men at SummerSlam.
Big Cass is going to get a Big Push from the WWE.
Predicted winner (and odds): Big Cass (1/9)
Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson
Squash match. Finn Balor is waiting in the wings for a bigger feud. In order to give him a killer entrance and remind people that he is still a big star, the WWE could feed him Elias Samson at Great Balls of Fire. If this rumored match does happen, it’s the best bet of the night.
Predicted winner (and odds): Finn Balor (1/19)