The next WWE pay-per-view event has the most ridiculous name of any WWE show ever: Great Balls of Fire. Trust me, I’ve been laughing about the name for the past two months. Yes, I know it’s a famous Jerry Lee Lewis song, but it isn’t the kind of name that most fans would associate with a wrestling pay-per-view. It’s a show presented by the Raw brand and takes place this Sunday night in Dallas. It will air on WWE Network, of course.
The good thing about Great Balls of Fire is that the lineup is the strongest for any Raw brand pay-per-view this year. I think the two best PPVs this year have been the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, which was a Smackdown show, while every Raw PPV has been average with none of them really standing out. I’ve been waiting for a great show from the Raw brand to give it some positive momentum and we may have found it with a show named Great Balls of Fire. How awkward is that?
Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe is a huge match in the main event slot. It’s surrounded by other matches like Reigns vs. Strowman, Cesaro/Sheamus vs. The Hardys and Miz vs. Ambrose that we’ve seen several times before, yet WWE felt like we needed to see them again. Other than Miz vs. Ambrose, I don’t mind the rematches. It’s just one of those things where you want to see different matches in a PPV setting because the same old thing can get boring.
It’s a full lineup with eight matches, including the Cruiserweight Championship on the Kickoff Show. I thought Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson and Goldust vs. R-Truth would be added, but as of this writing on Friday morning, neither match is on the card. Here’s a closer look at the main event.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe won the Fatal 5-Way Extreme Rules match at Extreme Rules last month to give him the right to face Lesnar at GBOF. Joe has been on a roll and looks like an unbeatable heel, the way he should be presented. It’s great to see WWE utilizing him this way.
Joe sent his first message to Lesnar by putting Paul Heyman, Lesnar’s advocate, in the Coquina Clutch on the June 5 edition of Raw. It was a way to get cheap heat by attacking a non-wrestler. If you do that kind of thing once in a while it means something, but if you do it too often then it comes off as lame. I thought this was well done.
A week later on June 12, Lesnar was back on Raw for the first time in two months and he got into a brawl with Joe. It was booked in such a way that Joe “won” the brawl because he got in a cheap kick on Lesnar when others held them back. This was also an effective segment that was done well.
On June 26, when Lesnar was on the ramp making his grand entrance, Joe attacked him from behind and put the Coquina Clutch on him. It was a cheap attack that Lesnar didn’t expect, but it fit Joe’s character as a guy who can strike at any time.
This past week on Raw, both guys took part in a split-screen interview designed to keep them apart. Lesnar was cocky as the champion, so Joe left his area and wanted to get his hands on him. Raw general manager Kurt Angle made sure that didn’t happen by having security there to take Joe back.
The key thing to every segment is they didn’t give away too much. Joe “won” most of the confrontations and every single time, it left us wanting more. The build has been excellent. It has the feel of an old school fight and if you want to see the pay off then you need to tune in to Great Balls of Fire on Sunday night. Great booking that could lead to a very memorable match.
I expect the crowd to be raucous for this match. It’s highly anticipated and both guys are great performers. Plus, Dallas is known for having some of the best crowds at WWE events.
Joe is clearly the heel in the match who should get booed, but I think he’ll be cheered a bit because some fans in the crowd are going to be happy that he’s finally reached the level of being a title contender for a major WWE title. Hardcore wrestling fans see this as a big moment in his career, which is how they should react to it.
Lesnar has a special aura around him as a bigger star because he only wrestles on television a few times per year. His last match was at WrestleMania when he won the Universal Title and he was cheered there. Lesnar is clearly in a face role here. Expect a lot of “Suplex City” chants while the crowd counts every suplex Lesnar delivers.
This is where I’m conflicted. What kind of Lesnar match are we going to get? If it’s the back-and-forth, competitive match that gets 15-20 minutes, then we could be talking about one of the best matches of the year. However, if it’s an easy win for Lesnar that’s over in seven minutes, then it would be disappointing.
I’m leaning towards Lesnar wanting to work a competitive match with Joe because of the way it has been built up. If Lesnar beats Joe in seven minutes and it’s a clear win, then that hurts Joe. If Joe takes Lesnar to the limit, nearly wins the match on multiple occasions and Lesnar comes back to win, then that makes Joe looks like a formidable opponent who could beat Lesnar if they wrestle again.
In the past five years, we have seen some amazing Lesnar matches such as SummerSlam 2013 against CM Punk and Royal Rumble 2015 against Seth Rollins and John Cena. There have also been some stinkers like the Dean Ambrose match at WrestleMania 32 and Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016.
I’m hoping that when the match is over we’re talking about Lesnar vs. Joe as one of the best matches in the career of both men.
I think the winner of this match will face the winner of Reigns vs. Strowman, which isn’t officially a No. 1 contender’s match, but that’s what it feels like. I’d be shocked if Lesnar loses the title here, so I think he walks into SummerSlam still the Universal Champion and in the main event of that show.
Joe has potential rivalries with several different faces on Raw. Joe’s feud with Seth Rollins really isn’t over and he’s 2-0 against Reigns, so that’s something that can pick up again leading to a PPV match, and Joe vs. Balor is a rivalry from NXT that would work on the main roster too. Win or lose, Joe should be firmly entrenched in the upper midcard on the Raw brand. I think WWE realizes how great he is now. I don’t know why it took them 15 years to figure it out, but they finally did.
I’m going with Lesnar winning the match clean. If he doesn’t, I’ll be very surprised. This is Lesnar’s first Universal Championship defense. Would WWE really take the title off him so soon? I doubt it. A reason to do a title change is because Lesnar works a limited schedule and it’s possible that WWE would want a champion who is more active on television. However, it just feels too soon for that to happen. I like Joe a lot and hope he gets to be Universal Champion one day, but for this match I’m going with Lesnar to win a hard-fought match after about 14 minutes of action.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar retains the Universal Championship
Here’s the rest of the lineup for Great Balls of Fire.
Ambulance Match: Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
The winner of this match is the first man to put the other man in an ambulance and close the doors. No pinfalls, no submission, no disqualifications and no countouts in a match like this. It’s the only match on the card where weapons will be legal, so it should be a physical match.
There are rumors that WWE may go with Lesnar vs. Reigns at SummerSlam, rather than waiting until WrestleMania next year. I don’t believe that. I think Vince McMahon is set in his ways in terms of Lesnar vs. Reigns at WrestleMania, so that’s what they’ll do. That’s why a Strowman win here makes sense to put him up against Lesnar at SummerSlam.
This is the kind of match where they will use a lot of weapons, probably fight all over the arena and try to do some big spots to pop the crowd too. Ambulance matches aren’t as exciting as a regular match because there’s not a lot of drama in watching a guy try to close a door. However, they are rare, so I don’t mind WWE trying something different in a PPV setting.
If Reigns loses, which is what I expect, then that means he has no PPV wins since the WrestleMania main event. He lost to Strowman at Payback (he was selling the arm injury) and he failed to win the 5-Way at Extreme Rules, although he wasn’t pinned. Some fans think Reigns wins all the time when he really doesn’t. Of the two, Strowman has fewer clean losses in the last year. Just putting it out there.
Prediction: Braun Strowman wins
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Banks earned the title shot with a win in the women’s gauntlet match on Raw a few weeks ago. There isn’t much of a story aside from Banks beating Bliss’ friend Nia Jax two weeks ago in the Gauntlet Match and Banks also making Bliss tap out in a tag match last week. That match also ended with Banks’ partner Bayley being helped to the back, so Banks has really been put over strong. I’m leaning towards a Bliss win, perhaps by disqualification or countout or maybe an assist from Jax. I don’t expect a clean finish here, which should mean another title match between them.
I’m not sure what the direction will be for Raw‘s women at SummerSlam. They could go with Bliss vs. Banks again or perhaps some kind of multi-woman match to include Jax, perhaps Bayley and hopefully my favorite Mickie James is involved too. For this match, I’m picking Bliss to remain champion.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss retains Raw Women’s Championship
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
This feels like a rivalry that was thrown together a few weeks ago when WWE’s creative team realized they had another PPV and needed to find an opponent for Rollins and Wyatt was the only heel they could find. It’s clear that Rollins is much higher on the priority list than Wyatt is. I think this will be a win for Rollins, who will likely move on to somebody else after the match is over. This doesn’t feel like a feud that needs to continue after Sunday night.
On another note, couldn’t WWE pick a better photo for Rollins? He looks like he doesn’t want to be there. A face should be smiling or at least looking more serious than that.
Prediction: Seth Rollins wins
Raw Tag Team Championships (30-Minute Ironman Match): Sheamus & Cesaro vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff)
I’m a big fan of these teams and am excited about this match. An Ironman (or Iron Man) match is when you set a countdown clock on a match and whoever gets the most falls in the allotted time is the winner. They don’t happen for tag team matches that often, but I think it’s a great idea in this case. This match stipulation is much better than the Tag Team Steel Cage Match they did last month, which had one of the weirdest finishes of the year where Jeff Hardy to escape the cage twice for some reason.
They should be able to tell a great story in 30 minutes since the Hardys are great at selling a beating and making the comebacks. I think a title change is possible because there aren’t a lot of face teams on the Raw brand for Sheamus & Cesaro to feud with if they get by the Hardys again. If the Hardys retain, they have The Revival waiting for them. That’s why I was surprised that Sheamus & Cesaro won the gold in that cage match because I figured Hardys vs. Revival was coming. Perhaps that’s where things are headed next.
I’m rolling with Sheamus & Cesaro getting the win three falls to two. That pick is not a lock by any means. Like I said, a Hardy win would make a lot of sense. It has a very good chance of being the match of the night too.
Prediction: Sheamus & Cesaro retain the Raw Tag Team Championships (3 Falls to 2)
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
I can’t believe they are doing this match again. I can probably call the spots before they even happen. I’m leaning towards a Miz win thanks to “Miztourage” buddies Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas helping him, while Ambrose will look like an idiot again. Can we get that Ambrose heel turn soon? Out of anybody on either Raw or Smackdown, Ambrose is the one guy who needs to change things up. His goofy face act is very stale. A year ago, he was the WWE Champion and now he’s just another guy on the show. That needs to change.
Prediction: The Miz cheats to retain his IC Title
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
The promo that Enzo did on Raw was well done, but also meant very little. In a story like this, you want to see the face wrestler (Enzo) beat the heel who turned on him, but that’s unlikely. Cass is the guy that WWE wants to push long-term, while Enzo is the smaller partner who’s a great promo and is also limited in the ring.
I think Cass will win easily in about five minutes or less with Enzo getting almost no offense. Watch an Enzo match closely. He really can’t do much and make it look credible anyway. I’m sure WWE knows this too. Cass should win the match, do a post-match attack and then Big Show will make the save. That will set up Cass beating Show in a feud between two guys with “Big” in their name.
Prediction: Big Cass wins
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Akira Tozawa
The build to this match has been just average with Titus O’Neil being used to do promos for Tozawa. The “Titus Worldwide” thing is a way to mask the fact that Tozawa doesn’t speak good English. Placing this match on the Kickoff Show isn’t good for the title, but that’s the way it is sometimes. Neville’s been a great champion who should retain because Tozawa feels like just another opponent rather than the next champion.
Prediction: Neville retains the Cruiserweight Championship
I’m looking over my picks and I realize I picked heels in every match except Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar on the face side. It wasn’t on purpose, I can assure you. It’s just how I feel the matches will go. While I’ve gotten every prediction right in previews in the past, it’s hard to do and it’s not like I expect that to happen every time I write one of these. You just never know what WWE might do sometimes especially this year with a lot of bizarre finishes in PPV matches.
As I said at the start of the preview, I think this will be a strong show in terms of match quality and excitement. It’s a major improvement over the other Raw brand PPVs this year, so kudos to WWE for stepping up their game in that regard. The presence of Lesnar helps a lot as well as his first time ever match with a great heel like Samoa Joe. It should make for an interesting night.
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t watch every PPV, this is one that I wouldn’t miss mainly for the main event. I have high hopes for it.
You can watch WWE Great Balls of Fire this Sunday on WWE Network at 8 p.m. ET with a Kickoff Show starting at 7 p.m. ET as well. I’ll be back on Monday with a review of the show.