The first ever edition of the most peculiarly named PPV in WWE history is in the books. The inaugural "Great Balls of Fire" event featured Brock Lesnar defeating Samoa Joe in the main event, successfully defending his Universal Championship in the process.
For a B-level PPV, they certainly went all-out for Great Balls of Fire. Brock Lesnar wrestling on one of the non-major PPVs is a special occurrence, and his match with Samoa Joe certainly delivered.
Joe was a perfect opponent for Lesnar. Ever since appearing on the independent wrestling scene in 2000, Joe has always incorporated MMA style moves and strikes into his matches. This style meshed perfectly with Lesnar's, and led to one of the most exciting main events of the year. They also did just enough to convince fans that Joe actually had a chance of winning, leaving room for a possible sequel to their story somewhere down the line.
While Great Balls of Fire will be remembered for its main event, there were plenty of other notable occurrences at the PPV. Some of them good, some of them bad. In this article we review 10 things about Great Balls of Fire WWE got wrong, and 10 they got right.
20 20. Got Wrong: Bray Wyatt's Whole "I Am A God" Thing
Does Bray Wyatt have magical powers or doesn't he? This has been going on for years now, and it's high time we got some answers!
He made the mats at WrestleMania turn into images of slimy maggots, and he fought Randy Orton inside a haunted House of Horrors. Now he refers to himself as a god.
So how does this God beat Seth Rollins at the PPV? He sticks his thumb in his eye, then gives him his finisher, and pins him.
It seems as though they have gone back and forth on who exactly the Bray Wyatt character is so many times now, that people have lost interest. Also, he loses all the time. His win/loss record in 2017 has been listed by some pro-wrestling stats websites as 25W-52L. I feel like Gods, or people with magical powers, should be able to at least have a .500 win percentage.
19 19. Got Right: Surprisingly Good Pre-Show Match!
You may have missed it, but Tozawa and Neville had a solidly decent match on the Kickoff show.
Few people seem to like 205 Live. Lots of people liked the Cruiserweight Classic however. Many of the same wrestlers from last year's tournament wrestle on 205 Live now, so why have people turned against them? It's most likely the goofy stories which seem to feature non-cruiserweights, such as Alicia Fox and Titus O'Neil, more than they do the actual wrestlers. Maybe if such angles weren't a staple of 205 Live, the show would be more enjoyable.
Before Sunday, few gave Tozawa a chance in this match. Midway through the bout however, numerous near-falls had the crowd thinking differently. It wasn't until Neville kicked the rope Tozawa was straddling that the heel picked up the victory.
Oh, and Titus O'Neil was there too.
18 18. Got Wrong: Enzo's Poor Career Projections
You knew Enzo and Cass would break up eventually, but did it need to happen so soon? Before they even won the tag titles at least once?
Cass destroyed Enzo, as he should have, and will now go on to be pushed as a big star. Where Enzo ends up however, is much more uncertain.
Enzo is a great talker, but some experts have referred to his in-ring work as a little unpolished. The fear is that taking him away from a tag-team might lead to him being pushed farther down the card.
The fans really like Enzo however, so it's hard to imagine WWE won't have something interesting for him to do. He wouldn't be the first guy in his position to get lost in the shuffle however.
17 17. Got Right: Big Cass' Positive Career Projections
Cass needed to just run right through Cass in this match, and that is exactly what he did.
Whether you believe it was too soon for Enzo and Cass to break up or not, you have to admit Cass is coming across as a potential main event guy.
He had new ring music, new entrance video, new tights, and the full "repacked wrestler" combo from wardrobe. All of this in an effort to communicate to fans that Cass has moved on from the silly little mid-card tag team fans had seen him in for years.
WWE will push Cass. Vince loves big guys and Cass, as we have been informed frequently, is 7 feet tall. His inclusion at the top of the card on Raw should shake things up in an alrighty stacked singles division.
16 16. Got Wrong: Hardys Not Winning The Tag Titles
The Hardy Boys are one of the hottest acts in wrestling. Fans love them, they buy their merchandise, and would love to see them have an awesome reign as tag team champions. They have now lost 2 straight tag team title matches on PPV to Sheamus and Cesaro however, so not sure where that leaves the Hardys' future title aspirations.
It is possible that the Hardys and Sheamus & Cesaro meet yet again on PPV at SummerSlam, though it feels like them losing twice in a row for the titles takes much of the lustre out of a Hardy tag title run.
Wouldn't it have made much more sense to just let your hottest tag team have the championships right now? WWE just broke up the 2nd most popular tag team, and now they're beating down their most popular team? Seems like that might be the wrong direction.
15 15. Got Right: Letting The Hardys Have Great Matches
WWE has been putting more emphasis on the tag-team division since the Hardys return at WrestleMania. While many won't have liked the outcome of their match at Great Balls of Fire, it was still exciting.
Cesaro awkwardly rolled across the ring to distract Matt Hardy to begin the match, allowing Sheamus to kick him the face and pin him for the first fall. It was a creative way to start off what would be a fun match.
It even got a little bloody, when Matt Hardy got busted up near the end of the bout. It was even exciting, albeit disappointing, when Cesaro swooped in and stole the pin away from Jeff Hardy. These two teams also had a good steel cage match against one another at the last PPV. It's been a long time since we've seen these kinds of tag matches in WWE.
14 14. Got Wrong: Alexa Bliss Retaining a Title on a Count-Out
Recently at Money in the Bank, the Usos retained their tag-team championships by simply getting themselves counted out. Don't worry though, because New Day then defeated the Usos in a rap battle later on Smackdown.
Having champions retain their titles by getting themselves counted out is the wrestling equivalent of a sitcom doing a "to be continued" part 1 of 2 special. All they are doing is delaying the actual match between the two until SummerSlam.
It's sort of a lazy finish to the match, but when you've got Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe wrestling in the main event, you can be forgiven for being a touch lazy in a few other segments. That being said, WWE's lazy booking in this instance is still landing in the "Got Wrong" category.
13 13. Got Right: Pushing Sasha Banks
As we were leading into Great Balls of Fire, it actually looked to be Nia Jax in Sasha Banks' position. For weeks, WWE has been teasing an Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax match. Ever since Bliss won the title she has been cozying up to Nia, making it appear as though a feud between the two was brewing.
Evidently WWE gave up on that program, because it was Sasha Banks challenging Bliss at the PPV, with Nia nowhere to be found. Perhaps Bliss was supposed to beat Nia at Great Balls of Fire, leading towards a match with Sasha Banks at SummerSlam, only WWE ended up losing confidence in Nia.
Regardless of how it happened, Sasha Banks being put back in the title picture makes sense. She is arguably the most talented female wrestler on the Raw roster, fans love her, and she has exciting matches.
12 12. Got Wrong: The Miz-tourage
They went from Social Outcasts to A-listers apparently. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are now Miz's 2 run-in buddies in his "Miz-tourage".
That Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are even still on the main roster breaks WWE's 4th wall slightly. How is it that two guys who never win televised matches are still employed in storyline? It's the equivalent of a basketball player who never hits any shots, and can't play defence, being kept on an NBA roster for years.
WWE will seemingly run Dallas and Axel through an endless stream of low-level gimmicks and tag-teams, before finally discarding them when they hit their forties. Their inclusion in Miz's faction does little to boost The Miz, as it really just takes attention away from Maryse at ringside, and nobody wants that.
11 11. Got Right: Champions Retaining
There were 5 championships defended at Great Balls of Fire, but none of the titles changed hands.
The only champion to lose at the event was Alexa Bliss, however she only did so via count-out, allowing her to keep her title.
While title changes are often exciting, it can lessen the value of the achievement when championships change hands too frequently. Such was the complaint regarding the women's championship being handed back and forth between Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair throughout their rivalry.
The best moments in WWE title-change history occur after a champion has had a lengthy title reign. The longest reigning champion to appear on the show last night was Neville, who is coming up on his 7th month as champion. It was the right move to let the champions win out.
10 10. Got Wrong: No Finn Balor Match?
Obviously, not every top Superstar can appear on ever PPV, but we were sorely missing an appearance by one of Raw's most popular stars last night.
Finn Balor has been working a small program with "the Drifter" Elias Samson recently. This angle was not played up at all at Great Balls of Fire, and Finn Balor played no role at all on the PPV.
It feels as though WWE has gotten a little gun-shy with Finn since his return. Last year at this time, Balor was gearing up to win the first ever Universal championship at SummerSlam. This year however, he is positioned for a mid-card match with a recent NXT call-up at the same event. It's possible that Balor's shoulder injury last year, and minor concussion he received shortly after his return, have WWE worried about putting him in big angles.
9 9. Got Right: Braun Strowman Beats Roman, Cheats Death
While WWE sees Roman Reigns as their next John Cena, Braun Strowman also has a very bright future in the company. It would hurt his character if Roman just ran right through him on his way to the main event of SummerSlam. Strowman needed to defeat Reigns here, and he did.
While Strowman would win the battle, Reigns would continue the war. After Roman slammed the ambulance into a tractor trailer, Strowman was surprisingly able to limp away from the scene and refuse medical attention. This showed that Braun Strowman can not only beat Roman Reigns, he can withstand more punishment than mortal men.
For a big guy, Strowman can move around the ring well. His voice, appearance and even his move-set all create the impression that he is a wrestler who will win the world title one day, possibly sooner rather than later.
8 8. Got Wrong: Roman Commits Attempted Murder
Roman Reigns has said that he isn't a "good guy", he isn't a "bad guy", and that he is just "the guy". With that being said, it seems like sort of a "bad guy" move to attack your opponent after losing, throw him in an ambulance, and then attempt to seriously injure him by backing into a tractor trailer.
WWE has been doing everything they can to get Roman over as a babyface, so its tough to see why they decided to go with the character committing attempted murder and being a sore loser.
Not only that, but after placing Strowman in the ambulance, Roman aggressively yanked the ambulance driver out of the front seat. That driver was an innocent by-stander!
Some are saying that Roman's actions amount to a heel-turn, but that seems awful unlikely.
7 7. Got Right: Relaxed Attitude Towards Blood
Blood appeared in 3 different matches at Great Balls of Fire, possibly a modern era record for WWE.
When WWE first adopted a strict no-blood policy, they would actually have referees stop a match to deal with any cuts a wrestler received. Fans did not enjoy these ill-timed breaks.
After Brock Lesnar opened up Randy Orton to a grotesque degree at last year's SummerSlam, it was unclear if WWE would ever let much blood be seen on their programming ever again.
Yet when Matt Hardy got busted open, WWE just let the match go on without interruption. Same thing when Dean Ambrose was bleeding from the mouth in his match. Then Braun Strowman was covered in blood when he left the ambulance at the end of his segment.
6 6. Got Wrong: Only One Woman's Match
We are supposed to be in a revolutionary era of women's wrestling, but are we? Before this revolution, women's wrestling only occupied one segment or match on each PPV. Now, since the revolution, we still only get one women's match per show.
WWE is gong to miss the boat if they don't up the amount of women involved in their shows. Women's wrestling is hot on the independents, more younger women are watching the show than ever before, and the pool of women's wrestlers out there is larger than ever before as well.
Bayley, Mickie James, and Emma are 3 very talented female wresters on the Raw roster who weren't given any time on the PPV. More women's matches would also be a great way for the company to build towards the upcoming Mae Young Classic, but unfortunately they seem unwilling to go that route.
5 5. Got Right: Brock Lesnar's "Purple Face"
WWE cameras made sure to focus in on Brock Lesnar's "purple face" as much as possible while Joe had him in the Coquina Clutch. Either Joe was really choking him, or Brock knows just how to make his head look like a giant grape.
This is something that was noticeable during Brock's MMA career as well. He sweats like crazy and turns all sorts of shades of red and purple when he's tired. When you have as much muscle on you as Brock does, your body has to work extra hard you see.
The cameras didn't miss an opportunity to focus in on Brock's ever-changing face colour, which added to the excitement of the match. Brock's face did the best sell-job anyone's ever done for Joe's finishing move, well done face!
4 4. Got Wrong: Logo with Balls on Fire
If you're going to name a PPV "Great Balls of Fire" it only makes sense for your logo to feature balls that are on fire. How many balls should the logo have? The answer, of course, is two.
When asked on Twitter if she felt the new Great Balls of Fire logo resembled genitalia, Sasha Banks didn't hesitate to tell the fan that she did in fact feel that way. She's not alone in that opinion. Whether anyone told Vince McMahon they felt the same way or not is unknown.
Another interesting note regarding the name and logo of this PPV, was that Jerry Lee Lewis actually phoned Jerry Lawler to contact the company after he heard the name. Lewis owns the trademark to the name and a deal was worked out between the two sides for WWE to use the name and song.
3 3. Got Right: Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
Even fans who wanted Joe to win have to admit this was an exciting match.
Joe took so many cheap shots to gain the advantage, that it started to seem conceivable that he might win. Brock would later be able to claim Joe cheated, setting up a NO DQ match between the 2 at SummerSlam. That's not what would happen, of course, but for a few moments it seemed possible.
The match followed a fairly simple formula: Joe would do something dastardly, try to choke Brock out, Brock would fight back and suplex Joe a bunch of times, then Joe would do something dastardly again and the routine would start over again.
First Joe gained the advantage by attacked Lesnar during the ring introductions, then he gave him a low blow later. It all made it seem as though Joe was going to get a tainted victory, and then just like that it everything changed.
2 2. Got Wrong: Heels Won Most Matches
The "bad guys" really ran away with this show, up until the very end at least.
Neville beat Tozawa , Bray Wyatt beat Rollins, Cass ran through Enzo, Cesaro & Sheamus defeated the Hardy Boyz. Heels won every match for the first 2 hours of the show.
Sasha Banks was the first babyface to win, but she only did so by count-out, allowing the heel to retain her championship in the match. Then the Miz beat Dean Ambrose. Braun Strowman was technically the heel in his match and he defeated Roman Reigns.
The first babyface to truly win was Heath Slater, when he defeated Curt Hawkins. Brock Lesnar was definitely a babyface when he beat Samoa Joe however.
Babyfaces won only 3 of 9 matches, with 2 of the 3 having not exactly been substantial victories. They really didn't give the fans much to cheer about on this PPV until the very end.
1 1. Got Wrong: Great Balls of Fire Without Kane?!?!
Granted, Kane is busy preparing for his upcoming mayoral political race, but it seems like a real loss that he wasn't included in some way at this PPV.
The name of the PPV is Great Balls of Fire. Kane has been shooting balls of fire from WWE ring posts for 20 years! That WWE would do a PPV with this them and not include him seems like a wasted opportunity.
Sadly, Kane's in-ring career is winding down. At 50 years of age, few have wrestled for as long as he has, and literally nobody has wrestled in more WWE matches. Kane was first signed to WWE in 1995, and after toiling away as a fake Diesel and an even faker dentist, he was cast as The Undertaker's brother in 1997.
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