In a lot of ways, Great Balls Of Fire was the kind of brand-exclusive PPV that Smackdown Live tried to pull off at Money In The Bank last month. It had its big-draw matches: Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe and The Hardys vs. Cesaro & Sheamus. All three of three of these matches delivered, but in very different, unique ways. But, like Money In The Bank, this was another brand-exclusive PPV that was dominated with the heels standing tall over the babyfaces. Unlike Money In The Bank, I didn’t feel as exhausted and disappointed in seeing the dastardly heels decimate the babyfaces at Great Balls Of Fire in what felt like every match on the card. More than anything, it was an enjoyable way to spend three hours, which is rare and noteworthy when it comes to the red brand.
In what will be a new, consistent thing going forward, here are five major takeaways from Monday Night Raw’s Great Balls Of Fire PPV.
I still can’t get over that Enzo Amore promo.
Sure, he got squashed and Big Cass is clearly about to get the huge, standard monster push following this feud, but, man, Amore can talk. He talks a lot. Yes, we know that. It’s part of the rationale behind Big Cass turning on his loudmouth brother to begin with — he’s all talk and not much else. But in a professional wrestling climate in 2017 where just about every member of the WWE roster is capable of working, at minimum, a B+ match, Amore is not able to get there. That should be, generally speaking, a problem that Amore isn’t a polished, above-average in-ring worker — but it’s not. What Amore brings to the table is something that he shares with only one other current WWE superstar — John Cena — and it’s A+ mic work. Almost everyone can wrestle in today’s WWE, but almost nobody can cut a promo like Amore or Cena can in today’s WWE. Last night, I saw a WWE superstar who could be a WWE champion one day, and I also saw another towering heel that’s doomed to flounder in a year.
Where do the Hardy Boyz go from here?
This feud has reached its logical conclusion after Matt and Jeff came up just short once again against The Bar. They need to do something else, but what? Turning either isn’t a good idea with how over the duo is — along with how many tag teams the WWE has elected to break up this year. But it’s time to split them up, and not through another Matt Hardy turn. Jeff has shown since his return to the company that he’s just as much a fan-favorite as he was when he left almost a decade ago. He should be in the main event scene, having singles matches with Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, etc. In a company starving for over babyfaces, Jeff Hardy has been sitting right there for a few months now. It’s probably time to get him in the Raw Universal title picture.
I’m glad The Miz and Dean Ambrose are not going to be having anymore matches with each other anytime soon.
It’s been 13 years now, or it at least feels like it. The Miz is too good and Ambrose needs to do something else. (What, I have no clue. Samoa Joe?) The Miztourage — which is, of course, an absolutely terrible name for the tag team of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel — is even better than I expected. This stable just works and watching them surround the ring for this match and getting involved here and there is just interesting to watch. Every match with The Miz should feel like a handicap match, and it does. The Miz deserves a main event opportunity, and, with this unit, the time is now to elevate him to the top of the card to feud with the likes of Rollins or Balor or even the biggest babyface in the company — Braun Strowman. The Miz is the best heel in this company, and he’s earned more. WWE is a meritocracy, right?
Strowman might be my favorite thing in professional wrestling these days.
Getting through Raw is never easy, but it could be two hours of Goldust and R-Truth segments and I’d still immediately perk up if Strowman’s music were to hit right after. His match with Reigns was brutal and vicious and very confusing. Fans love Strowman, and they really love Strowman beating the hell out of Roman Reigns. But, really, who doesn’t? Reigns came out of this match looking like the biggest heel in the company, and how could you not be rooting for Strowman after all this? WWE creative still doesn’t get it with Reigns, and they likely never will, but, man, has Strowman panned out as the monster heel with gigantic babyface potential that WWE has been salivating over since Undertaker, Big Show and Kane hit Father Time. (Is Strowman pressing charges against Reigns, by the way?)
Samoa Joe is now a Top Guy.
Two years ago, I would never have believed that this were possible for Joe, but here we are. Like the Lesnar vs. Goldberg series of matches, this was a nasty brawl, with a bit more wrestling and nuance sprinkled in. Joe gave Lesnar everything he could handle and they both came out better for it. Joe doesn’t need the Raw Universal title because he has now been established as a guy who is capable of winning it. That was what Lesnar needed to do for Joe — beat the Samoan Submission Machine clean because it’s first title defense Post-WrestleMania, but do it in a way that left the viewer walking away thinking they were close to the same level. That’s what happened. Joe, realistically, can be booked as the badass babyface like Strowman or the nasty, annoying heel that Kevin Owens has mastered. What they do next with Joe is huge, though, because he may never have this much momentum in the company again.