This Sunday WWE will unleash the inaugural Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view. Despite multiple logo changes and seemingly infinite ridicule, the show is actually promising. From top to bottom Great Balls of Fire may WWE's most balanced show in recent memory.
WWE has returned to a long form storytelling format where characters were supplied several weeks to build their feuds. And to their credit, nearly all of theses programs have reached their tipping points. For the first time in a while, a WWE PPV feels necessary.
So let's take the excitement up a notch. Myself and the esteemed leader of the WWE division here at PopCulture.com, Brandon Gnetz, have been heavily meditating on this card all week and are finally ready to share our thoughts.
What follows are thoughtful predictions that are sure to be wrong and some playful banter. Imagine two guys smoking Marlborough's by a dumpster trying to project the future movements of WWE and that was our essence. Enjoy!
WWE Cruiserweight Championship - Neville vs. Akira Tozawa
Jack: I want this to be the match of the night, but these guys may get treated like a Tori Wilson vs. Victoria match circa 2001. Neville is one of the best acts in WWE and has no business losing until at least the year 2021. As much as I like Tozawa, Neville will retain.
Gnetz: It's a shame this is the bathroom break match. These two are fantastic, but everything 205 Live touches turns to 'meh. If Tozawa wins it's only because WWE wants us to believe the cruiserweight division is not just Neville and a bunch of dudes. Which they may do. But I think Neville is the Brock Lesnar of this division and should hold the belt until WWE realizes it's time to shut this damn show down.
Jack: Hey, 205 Live is probably the number one show in the Philippines. How far are we from seeing Neville unleashed on the main roster? He is bigger than 30% of them, you know.
Gnetz: Look, if Neville had Finn Balor's head, he'd be a main eventer.prevnext
RAW Tag Team Titles - Matt and Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro and Sheamus
Jack: Man did these Hardy's cool off quickly, huh? I guess when you tease your super-awesome secret persona every week people get tired of your current schtick. Even if the titles change hands, I don't see much consequence here. I'll guess Cesaro and Sheamus win just because foreign heels are the bees' knees in 2017.
Gnetz: It is totally en vogue. But I'm going to go with The Hardys simply because Sheamus is about to take some time off to film a movie no one will ever see. The Hardys latest run has been like catching up with an old friend you used to party with in college. At first it's great and you think you guys should be hanging out all the time, but only a few weeks later, you realize you've matured into a different person while they're still wearing jncos every time you see them. Ok, that last part may have been more specific to the Hardys, but you get my drift.
Jack: You may have just torpedoed friendships across the globe. I'm totally seeing that Sheamus movie, btw.
Gnetz: You would.prevnext
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
Jack: Matches like this one and the Cruiserweight are a tribute to WWE building their mid-card. Enzo and Cass have the hottest angle of the year and should get the opportunity to do something special on Sunday. WWE already has a star in Big Cass, and they may have another in Enzo. Because Big Cass can sustain a loss, and a win would save Enzo's career, I'm taking 'Zo.
Gnetz: That's a BOLD prediction. This feud has been straight money on the mic. I'm a little worried it loses some steam in the ring. However, I do believe Zo has major roll-up, countout, fluke upset potential here, and you could probably argue that Zo needs the win more than Cass to sustain his latest momentum, but I think WWE stretches this one out over the next two months, with Cass absolutely destroying Enzo over and over again until the certified G gets a certified win.
Jack: I'm glad they're giving this time, otherwise Enzo may have become the Alicia Fox of the men's division. Wait, that still might happen.
Gnetz: Ok, now I'm excited about the possibility of an Enzo and Noam Dar tag team.prevnext
Intercontinental Championship - The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
Jack: The only way Dean Ambrose wins this match is if he's been Maryse's secret lover all along. For so many reasons, The Miz should and will win.
Gnetz: Whoa, now. You're totally discounting the possibility of LaVar Ball making a run in for his Big Baller client, Dean Ambrose. Sure, I know that Dean isn't officially a member of the Ball brand, but do you think LaVar knows that? Yeah, Miz wins here. These two have been great together and have had to carry a feud much longer than anyone ever should, but I'm ready to move on.
Jack: Right? They have utilized the same above average script now on both RAW and SmackDown. Maybe they'll do one more installment for the sake of their Intercontinental Icons DVD releasing sometime during Trump's second term.
Gnetz: And with that, let's move on.prevnext
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
Jack: Seth Rollins is proof that if you don't have a finisher in WWE then we, on a near scientific level, cannot care about you.
Bray Wyatt should consider running for public office based sheerly on the fact that no one makes more promises they don't deliver than the Eater of Worlds.
I'm picking Rollins, but if there were a way for both of them to lose, I'd pick that.
Gnetz: Um, excuse me, but Seth Rollins does have a finisher. It just belongs to Kenny Omega.
I feel bad for Bray Wyatt. Not in real life, of course – he dates a ring announcer in her 20s and gets paid boat loads of money to pretend to be a snake charmer. But in wrestling sense, I feel bad that he has to keep having the same feud over and over again. For someone so talented, he deserves better material. Like a video game character that keeps running into the same wall over and over again, Bray Wyatt has become a glitch in the WWE universe. Rollins wins.
Jack: Bray needs to find himself. I vote he does an entire season of Naked and Afraid by himself.
Gnetz: Only if we can have Erick Rowan be creepily lurking somewhere in the background of every scene.prevnext
RAW Women's Championship - Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks
Jack: Just a week ago, Sasha Banks looked like a Greek Hero after she silenced the beast that was Nia Jax in Raw's Gauntlet Match. I knew WWE would have to rush Banks/Bliss into Great Balls of Fire, but man, this has barely been developed. Hell, we didn't even get a contract signing! Instead, we got an arbitrary tag match that furthered nothing. Because this has been so hastily put together, I have to pick Bliss, hoping that these two can craft an all-timer.
Gnetz: Since we are sharing our feelings on this very private forum I feel open to let you know that I am in love both of these women. So, it makes it hard for me to pick a winner here. WWE has to be thrilled with everything lil' miss Bliss has done since winning the title, so I'll say we keep this rolling for another month and get one of WWE's famous multi-women matches at SummerSlam with Bayley and Nia thrown in the mix.
Jack: Bayley needs to join Team Extreme as a Lita cosplayer. Nia Jax should be the female version of Vader. That's all.
Ambulance Match - Romans Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Jack: I don't care what the odds say - I'm picking Reigns! Would you have bet against John Cena in 2009? Or Austin in 1999? Love him or hate him, WWE has been steadfast in their positioning of Roman at the top of the company. Although Strowman shouldn't be losing any matches either, he's just in the wrong place at the wrong time - for which WWE is at fault. His push is just getting going and instead of feeding him the damned souls of WWE, he's been put in a position where, even if he wins, he won't look at strong.
Gnetz: I'm not finished with my picks yet! There is actually so much more at stake here than just which one of these jamokes gets to ride back to the dressing room in an ambulance. The winner of this match sets off a chain reaction that will determine the narrative for WrestleMania 34. The big question here is whether or not Vince wants to keep with his original plan of holding off on Roman and Lesnar until WrestleMania 34 or if he is bold enough to put the belt on Reigns at SummerSlam, which would lead to a dream match with John Cena. I think he sticks with his original plan and Strowman wins.
Jack: I think regardless of the outcome, either man is totally capable of headlining SummerSlam with Lesnar. My only true hope is that the Undertaker stays retired.
Gnetz: Don't say his name! It's like Beetlejuice. If we say Undertaker three times, he has no choice but to return. Oh God, we've said it twice.prevnext
Universal Championship - Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
Jack: This feud has "made" Samoa Joe. Even though he'll be losing this Sunday, he's carved out an enviable position near WWE's top. Whether or not he's championship material is still undecided - a great match with Lesnar could crystallize Joe, though. As good as he's been, I still really hate his shorts.
Gnetz: Frankly, your lack of Samoan fashion knowledge is embarrassing. Everyone in Samoa wears these kind of shorts. They combine two basic colors with the same flawless effort the Samoa cookie combines caramel and coconut. Look, I know Joe is losing this thing, but I can't wait to see how it happens. Lesnar is always able to make his matches feel like UFC main events and Joe has established himself as a guy you really think could hang with Brock in a bar fight. That's as good as a win in my book (Guys Who Could Probably Hang With Brock In A Bar Fight, is now available at all Barnes & Noble bookstores).0comments
Jack: Would WCW artifact Glacier make that book?
Gnetz: No, but the team of High Voltage did.prev