WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017: B/R Expert Match Picks, Predictions and Analysis

WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017: B/R Expert Match Picks, Predictions and Analysis

WWE will be holding its first pay-per-view under the Great Balls of Fire name on Sunday, and despite the ridiculous title, it has the potential to be a great show.

Eight matches have been scheduled for the event. Here is a full rundown, according to WWE.com:

    • Neville vs. Akira Tozawa (Cruiserweight Championship)
    • Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
    • Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman (Ambulance match)
    • Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The Hardy Boyz (30-minute Iron-Man Tag Team Championships match)
    • Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
    • Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks (Women’s Championship)
    • The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental Championship)

Bleacher Report’s lineup of contributors will examine each feud and provide predictions for the matches on the Great Balls of Fire card. Our larger-than-normal group is made up of the following:

    • Yours truly, Chris Mueller (@BR_Doctor), will forgo providing predictions because of the high level of participation from the other writers.

Let’s go through the matches on the card and attempt to make some logical predictions.

Neville vs. Akira Tozawa (Cruiserweight Championship)

Question: How has being aligned with Titus O’Neil affect Akira Tozawa’s character in recent weeks?

Anthony Mango (AM): Tozawa has only benefitted from joining Titus Worldwide because, oddly enough, O’Neil is doing the best work of his career right now. It’s strange that the same guy who cut the infamous “make it a win” promo is succeeding as a mouthpiece not just for himself but also for Apollo Crews and Tozawa, who both struggle with mic work. Tozawa is good as a guy who speaks little and lets his actions do the talking, but with O’Neil’s support, someone else gets to hype things up as well without exposing Tozawa’s flaws.

Prediction: As good as this has been for Tozawa, he’s still going to lose to Neville.

James Moffat (JM): Tozawa has certainly benefitted from the increased exposure, but there’s been no development to speak of. It’s still early in their relationship, so that may change if WWE continues to pursue this angle. Alliances like the Titus Brand aren’t the norm, but I’m happy to see even the slightest crossover between the cruiserweight division and the rest of the main roster. It’s a welcome development and something WWE should explore more frequently. Superstars like Cedric Alexander and Tony Nese could certainly hang with Raw’s midcard, even if it’s only to build their stock in the cruiserweight division.

Prediction: Neville wins.

Jeff Johnson (JJ): It’s given Tozawa more publicity and helped draw overall interest to his character. Tozawa’s in-ring ability isn’t at question, but other than the “HA!” chants, utilizing O’Neil as the boisterous mouthpiece can only help.

Prediction: Neville retains. He’s been awesome during this run, and I think when he loses the title, he loses it on a bigger stage.

Ryan Dilbert (RD): Tozawa has added a new sharp look and is bolstered by the fact O’Neil wanted so badly to add him to his stable. Their relationship has allowed Tozawa to exist outside of the confines of the cruiserweight world, getting added airtime in the process. There’s plenty to explore with this relationship moving forward, and it could be a boon for Tozawa if not written for laughs.

Prediction: Neville retains by underhanded means to set a rematch for SummerSlam.

Kevin Berge (KB): I have really liked Titus as a manager, particularly working with Crews. However, I have not bought into his alliance with Tozawa yet. Tozawa could use a mouthpiece, but the pairing is awkward. Until it is clearer how much he cares about Tozawa, there is no reason to believe the partnership can last.

Prediction: Neville wins thanks to an accidental assistance from Titus.

Tom Clark (TC): O’Neil’s association with Tozawa has been odd, to say the least. O’Neil was a heel in the beginning, but now he’s seemingly turned face. This has helped Tozawa, if only because O’Neil is so entertaining that fans can’t help but enjoy it. It’s no secret that 205 Live has had its share of challenges, as the brand has not been booked the way the Cruiserweight Classic was. Sadly, if there is no intent on presenting the cruiserweight product with a sports-show vibe, then more comedy will be included. It’s WWE’s way of producing television, and it works with the right dose, but it’s not helped 205 Live thus far.

Prediction: If Tozawa does not win, then the Titus Brand will have some serious explaining to do. Neville is doing a fine job as champ, however, so he should retain the title at Great Balls of Fire.

Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass

Q: Which Superstar would benefit more from a win in the long run?

AM: I don’t think it’s even up for debate that Cass should win this match. It will do significantly more harm to Cass than it would be beneficial to Enzo, who won’t get a serious push out of beating his former partner. Cass, on the other hand, stands a chance to get some attention thrown his way, and if he starts his solo career off with a loss against someone smaller, he’ll look like a chump. Cass needs to win.

Prediction: Big Cass is victorious.

JM: Not only does Big Cass need this win, but any sort of loss or false finish would quickly evaporate the push he’s received over the past few weeks. Cass is on the verge of becoming a breakout star in the singles division, someone who could challenge for a title. Anything that would stunt his push—a double count-out, a fluke win by Amore, any sort of stumble—would be detrimental.

Prediction: Big Cass wins big.

JJ: Cass. He has to stand on his own and present himself as a monstrous heel for this to payoff. Enzo will always be good as long as he has functional vocal chords. Cass needs this to legitimize the split from Enzo and travel down that Dieselesque path to singles success.

Prediction: Cass dominates in a better-than-expected grudge match.

RD: Big Cass has to win here. He would look like a fool breaking away from Amore only to lose to him on the first try. Amore can sustain a loss or two. He’s the underdog. Cass needs to devour Amore here and go marching up the Raw food chain.

Match Prediction: Cass wins.

KB: If Enzo has any chance in WWE as a singles wrestler, he needs to win this match—even by nefarious and fluky means. Big Cass has made clear he is the star and has always been weighed down by Enzo. If he defeats Enzo easily in their first meeting, it will prove his point and leave Enzo with no momentum. That said, it may be a lost cause to invest in Enzo as anything more than a manager.

Match Prediction: Big Cass destroys Enzo, who cannot bring himself to fight his best friend.

TC: Enzo has the most to lose if he does not go over. Big Cass is supposed to win, but fans know he’s headed for bigger and better things. If he loses via a quick schoolboy, or if Big Show comes out on Amore’s behalf and helps him get the win, Cass will still come out looking good. But if Amore is pinned, there is a chance he may not recover.

WWE could be setting Enzo up for big things too, and his most recent promo on Monday Night Raw was the best of his career. He definitely has the ability to get over, but the mismatch in terms of size may be too much for WWE to ignore. Each man will bring everything to this match, and they should tell a great story.

Prediction: Enzo may need the win, but WWE probably will not give it to him. Cass is just too big and too important to be stopped. While Amore could pull off a sneaky pin and come out as the winner, this is likely going to be a victory for Big Cass.

Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt

Q: Has Wyatt reached the point of no return in regard to being taken seriously as a top competitor after being defeated so many times in big matches?

AM: I was of the mindset that he reached that point long ago—before his WWE Championship run. To me, putting the title on Wyatt just to transition it to Randy Orton was a mistake, and Wyatt has never proved himself to be worthy of maintaining that top spot in my book. Being on Raw just exposes the monotony of his promos because he struggles as a big fish in a small pond, and when he’s tossed into a larger pool, he fades even more into obscurity.

Prediction: Flip a coin. Both men could lose, and it wouldn’t matter in any regard, so WWE may just decide who wins at the last moment.

JM: You’d never guess it based on his booking, but Wyatt is 7-3 in his past 10 pay-per-view matches. The problem is, any momentum he gets is almost immediately stopped with a terrible loss. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I view Wyatt similarly to Dean Ambrose—a very good main eventer who won’t ever be taken as a serious title contender.

Prediction: Wyatt will win since there is no title on the line and a loss doesn’t hurt Rollins at all moving forward.

JJ: I think he has one more chance in him, but at what point does WWE commit to him? His abbreviated title run was a mistake, he loses 90 percent of his significant feuds, he can’t keep a faction stable and he has recited variations of the same promo for years. Who expects him to win a major match anymore? I know “winning isn’t everything” in pro wrestling, but you can’t proclaim yourself to be the Eater of Worlds while you starve for relevance.

Prediction: I’ll contradict myself and choose Wyatt here. Rollins doesn’t need a win as much. If Wyatt loses, don’t expect people to care about him for a long time.

RD: No. It only takes a sustained push and some smart booking to get someone going again. Should he knock off someone like Lesnar, the narrative around him completely changes. WWE just has to commit to him longer than it did for his recent world title run.

Prediction: Wyatt wins via trickery.

KB: He needs a radical change in character. It is hard to imagine his standing in the company changing, and no one is going to believe he can take the next step, as he was supposed to do just that on SmackDown Live and was quickly sent crashing back down. The only answer I can see for Wyatt is a face turn, likely improving his booking and credibility right away.

Prediction: Rollins wins to begin his rise to the title scene and solidify his status as the WWE 2K18 cover star.

TC: As much as fans complain that Wyatt never wins big matches—and he doesn’t—that never seems to factor into the thought process. Fans have a tendency to take it one match at a time, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But while Wyatt’s record is indeed dreadful, the majority of WWE fans usually don’t have his win-loss record dedicated to memory. However, they do know he loses quite a bit, so his promos typically come out as nothing more than white noise.

Wyatt is talking a good game, and Rollins would look just fine with failure at GBOF, but that means the…