Your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017Posted on July 8, 2017 by Matthew Martin WWEShare On: Tweet In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead. Last time on SO OF COURSE, WWE Smackdown hosted Money in the Bank, a PPV so nice they ran it twice; Smackdown encored the show two days later after fans complained that Carmella won the MITB contract with too much help from her chinless stooge. It was a heel move, done by a heel team, yet the perpetual-complainers complained that it hurt the prestige of “the first” women’s MITB match, yada yada yada. Smackdown’s had a drama-filled month, but Raw has been on fire. That show has been planting seeds for SummerSlam next month but in the meantime they’re set for their July show. And because WWE refuses to do things the easy way, they’re not just having July’s show be “Bad Blood” or “Great American Bash” or “Fully Loaded” or some other name from the past. So here we are, consider this your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE GREAT OF FIRE! How are you gonna have this PPV and not have it in Memphis! It’s like having… Wait a second… I swear this whole PPV was a dare mixed with a game of chicken. Someone told Vince that he didn’t have the guts to produce a phallic-themed supershow, and when he took the dare, they just kept adding onto it to see what his breaking point would be. The man has no breaking point. They even got “almost sued” by Jerry Lee Lewis himself for using the name of his greatest hit without permission. Jerry Lawler is apparently kept on retainer to handle such disputes; he and Lewis’ people worked it all out. They even used the song as the official theme of the show. Does anyone else picture Vince playing this song on his Zune, thinking its a hip new rock tune from a hip new artist with three first names? Jokes aside, the show itself is loaded; this is almost good enough to be a SummerSlam card and many of the feuds have been built up either by slowly ratcheting up the heat or by quickly throwing gasoline on the fire. The feuds that don’t need a long build up (Enzo vs Cass) haven’t been given one, but the ones that could have benefited from patience (Reigns vs Strowman) have been afforded it. Good job RAW. Let’s talk about how Vince can screw it up… CESARO/SHEAMUS vs HARDYS Part one in the “let’s get this match out of the way” double-header features Cesaro and Sheamus competing (again) against Matt and Jeff for the Tag Team championship. The feud has successfully accomplished one thing: It’s proven that many fans were right to suggest that last year’s brand split should have put all the Tag Teams on one show (and all the women on the other, although their division has survived the split much more ably). WWE Seems to be in a holding pattern with the RAW Tag Title, and with their (seemingly) only two teams available. Until they move to the next step in the story, fan interest will continue to be diminished. The extent of this feud has been various matches featuring these four men. Singles matches, six-man matches, non-title matches before the PPV match (let’s call them “prematches”) and on and on. This is the second tag match between these two in a row and we’ve already seen all there is to see. The only ray of light in all of this is that (A) the four men have good in-ring chemistry and (B) the feud is hopefully ending on Sunday. Maybe we’ll get the start of a month’s-long transition into WWE’s version of “Broken Matt Hardy” and “Brother Nero.” But if you actually expect Vince to sit back and not micro-manage and short-attention span that thing to death, well…you clearly haven’t been reading this column. SO OF COURSE! THE MIZ vs DEAN AMBROSE Part two in the “let’s get this match out of the way” double-header features The Miz competing (again) against Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental championship. The feud has successfully accomplished one thing: It’s proven that many fans were right to suggest that no one should change brands without a clear six-month plan in place for them. WWE Seems to be in a holding pattern with both of these guys and with the IC title itself. Until either moves on to something new, fan interest will continue to be diminished. Though this feud is well-worn (it’s been done already, and recently too, on Smackdown) and though no one seems to know how to make Dean Ambrose both (A) a babyface, and (B) intimidating at the same time, there has been a bright spot in the back-and-forth… Seriously. Miz has more than earned a second chance at being World (Universal, whatever) champion. His eye-opening promo on Talking Smack earlier this year has not been a one hit wonder; he’s consistently delivered the best mic work of his career over the past year and while his in-ring style has never been and will never be “flashy” it has proven to be (1) safe on his opponents, (2) safe on himself, and (3) just good enough to support his heat-magnet character. It’s a shame Dean Ambrose is such a block of ice lately. Miz seems to be moving away from Maryse (and using an entourage of Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel), so there’s the possibility of finally getting some closure, allowing Miz to move on to a stepping-stone feud that points to a Fall or Winter main-event run. SO OF COURSE! ENZO vs BIG CASS Blood. Feud. I think most people thought the day would come that Big Cass would move on from Enzo. Despite the fact that they are made for each other (Enzo is the talker and Cass is the brawler, and neither can do at all what the other does well), Cass is big, tall, healthy and young. Naturally Vince is enamored and ready to see if he can be pushed. And since Roman is apparently etched in stone as “tha guy” that means Cass has to turn heel for what will be an eventual main-even run (and ultimate defeat). Where does that leave Enzo? That depends on if he expands his shtick and applies his vocal talents to new areas, growing his character in the process. If he just tries to be “one half of Enzo and Cass” he’s going to go the way of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn when The New Age Outlaws split up. Enzo has the range so hopefully he’ll be let loose after this feud ends. And this feud will definitely end on Sunday. It may seem quick and you may think they can milk it, but there’s no reason at all for this to be anything other than a short, one-sided beatdown. Cass has a whole foot and a whole 100lbs on Enzo. The only way to stretch this out till SummerSlam would be for Enzo to get some kind of a surprise roll-up, ala The Kid vs Razor Ramon, but this is even more of a physical mismatch than that was, and that story was begging for a surprise win for the little guy; Razor went into his match over-confident; whereas Cass is a man on a mission to stamp Enzo out and forge his own path. Enzo meanwhile has been cutting the promos of his life but when the bell rings there’s no logical way for him to come away with a win. You can always give him some kind of a tainted victory, but that would just (A) undercut his underdog babyface role, and (B) only delay the inevitable in the eyes of the fans. The only thing that can be done for poor Enzo on Sunday is the old “heel beats up the babyface in the corner too much and the ref disqualifies him” trick, but that’s still a one-sided beatdown. The real interesting thing will be where Enzo goes from here. Hopefully he is given the chance to make it as a solo act. SO OF COURSE! Actually I think that’s a hilarious idea that I hope they never do. ALEXA BLISS vs SASHA BANKS The build-up to this match, which honestly should be a bigger deal than it’s being hyped to be, has been very by-the-numbers. That’s not a bad thing in this case; the so-called “women’s revolution” will only be over when their feuds are treated exactly like the men’s feuds: There needs to be an “ordinariness” to it all, in a way that Miz vs Dean Ambrose feels (other than that one giant man-dressed-as-bear incident a few weeks ago). Not every women’s match needs to be about girly jealousy (on one side of the spectrum) or about “the first time ever women’s _______ in the history of evar!” (on the other side of the spectrum). Let’s just have two really good workers and characters meet in the ring after a winding road storytelling in the weeks preceding. Bliss has continued to be her “Women’s MVP” self, having held on to the Women’s title at Extreme Rules. Banks stepped back to allow other ladies to take the spotlight in the division but now she’s back to challenge in a one-on-one PPV match (her first since February). She won the right to challenge after feuding with Nia Jax, a feud which spilled over into a #1 Contenders fight with several other ladies. The build-up allowed Jax (who would end up getting pinned by Banks in the contender’s match) to look strong, setting her up for her defeat, which in turn made Banks look strong for defeating her. It was solid, multi-layered booking, the kind you don’t see everyday in the women’s division. There isn’t a babyface on the roster that feels like the right challenger to defeat the small and pompous Bliss, however. Bringing up Asuka as a babyface seems like the most logical pick, but that won’t happen until after Takeover Brooklyn III and SummerSlam, you’d think. SO OF COURSE! ROMAN REIGNS vs BRAUN STROWMAN Roman Reigns is the biggest heel on Raw. Braun Strowman is the biggest babyface on Raw. I don’t know what WWE thinks they’re doing and I don’t know what they will do, either Sunday or just going forward in general, but the fans have spoken. Braun took “cliche monster heel beats up jobbers” and got it over. He took “cliche monster heel challenges big boys on the roster but loses because he’s cliche monster heel” and managed to stay over. He took a moment that should have Shockmaster’d him into mockery and infamy… …and got it over! Listen to the ovation when he pops out of the ambulance! Since then he’s managed to turn “beep-beep-beep” into the new “Glass Shatters!” For EVER, Vince has wanted a monster wrestler that was really and truly over, that he could push as his top guy. By the time he took over for his daddy, Andre was already in his twilight. Earthquake flopped, Yokozuna was too fat, Diesel too corny, Undertaker and Kane too “genre specific.” Big Show was always too lukewarm. Braun Strowman is your guy. Ride him till the fans tire of him. They’ve long since tired of Reigns. SO OF COURSE! SETH ROLLINS vs BRAY WYATT The tiny people are slumming it on the pre show so this looks like as good a match as any to serve as the bathroom break before the main-event. Bray Wyatt has now battled each member of the former Shield trio in one-on-one storylines, and with after each feud he has come away looking more and more pathetic. Seth Rollins meanwhile seems finally to be getting into a groove as a babyface. All signs point to an easy victory for Seth and for Bray to drop another one. Cut and dry. SO OF COURSE! BROCK LESNAR vs SAMOA JOE When Joe signed, we dreamed of this day, but we also “so of course’d” it into smithereens, and expected Brock to truck Joe and make short work of him. I suppose that may still happen on Sunday, but at least we’ll have the buildup, which has seen Joe essentially play “mini-Brock,” striking fear into the heart of lesser men (Heyman) while facing down his challenger with a mixture of confidence and rabid ferocity. I hope Joe goes 100mph. I hope Brock does more than a german suplex-german suplex-F5-knees in the corner, belly suplex, german-suplex, german-suplex, german-suplex, F5, win.” I hope we get a finish that protects Joe somewhat and doesn’t completely annul how great he’s looked over the past month (the best he’s looked on the main-roster, and possibly including NXT as well). I hope the fight is competitive. I hope Vince is paying attention to the reaction Joe is getting, and not only that, but the heat the fans are giving to a Lesnar feud that seems like it might be the one that doesn’t just end in an another easy squash. The novelty has certainly worn off on Brock, but there’s still money to be made in some great one-on-one contests; this is one of them IF they are paying attention and they book it correctly. SO OF COURSE… Oh well. I’ve come around to this being the greatest PPV name ever and I hope we get 25 iterations of it. Here’s to Sunday. ~ Think you can predict the outcome of each event? 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