By Brad Carroll
The WWE’s Great Balls of Fire PPV is in the books and while there was hits and misses across the card, overall, it was a great night put together by the Raw brand. Of course, there was a host of winners and losers at the event, and that’s doesn’t mean who got their hand raised or not, but instead who came out better than they came in.
So, here’s the Winners and Losers from Great Balls of Fire.
Roman Reigns: Starting off with Roman Reigns in the Winners list? Have I gone mad? Probably. But Reigns actually deserves to be in the Winners spot here, even with his loss to Braun Strowman Sunday night. Reigns wasn’t better in or out of the ring than Strowman was before the sudden finish, and he didn’t do anything special before Strowman won the Ambulance Match, but afterward, Reigns made the kind of statement that could carry him all the way to the main event at WrestleMania next year. In a moment that could only be described as Attitude Era-like, Reigns smashed an ambulance driven by himself and with Strowman inside into a production truck backstage, collapsing in the back part and, in theory, nearly killing Strowman. It was a very heel thing to do, even though Reigns is still a face. We won’t get into the whole attempted murder thing, but Reigns really did take this rivalry to the next level and I have to believe wrestling fans everywhere want to see Reigns vs. Strowman again at SummerSlam. Reigns may have even picked up some fans as well. Not enough to outweigh the haters, mind you, but some inroads had to be made. Of course, if Reigns now turns heel, watch out, things could get good.
Braun Strowman: Not only did he beat Reigns in the Ambulance Match, he looked like a true beast in doing so. Him shrugging off the chair shots he blocked with his arms was great; him tossing Reigns over his shoulder like a rag doll was great; and him moving out of the way of a spear to win the match was great as well. Everything about Strowman is great right now. Even when he was the victim of attempted murder by Reigns, he still came out looking as strong as ever, despite limping and falling all over the place after getting rescued from the ambulance. It would have surprised no one if Strowman got out of the ambulance and went directly on the hunt for Reigns. I can’t wait to see what he does next, especially tonight on Raw, which should be must-watch for that moment alone. Strowman may have come close to “death” Sunday night, but he was a huge winner once again.
Samoa Joe: He lost clean to Brock Lesnar, yes, but Samoa Joe was so good in the match he proved to everyone in WWE he is a main event level guy. He took the fight to Brock Lesnar, and dominated the match from before the intros were even over with, before succumbing to an F5 outta nowhere. It would have been nice for Joe to kick out of Lesnar’s finisher once, but either way, Joe more than held his own. It’s now up to the WWE to continue to book Samoa Joe correctly, or his month of greatness will be cast aside and forgotten about, which is something the WWE has a knack for.
Sheamus and Cesaro: They had a thoroughly enjoyable 30-minute iron man match with the Hardy Boyz, and the finish was beyond exciting, including the surprise pin by Cesaro to basically clinch the win. I’ve written about it and tweeted about it before, but I’ll write it again, Sheamus and Cesaro are my favorite tag team, they have the best entrance in all of wrestling, and both are talented in the ring. Now that they have finally dismissed the Hardyz, we’ll see where these two can soar from here. But they both should be big players for the long haul.
Miz: He’s got Maryse. He’s got his Miztourage. He’s got his intercontinental title. And, finally, he’s dumped Dean Ambrose. Nothing could be better for the Miz right now. Hopefully, he will now move on to something and someone better starting tonight on Raw. Miz deserves everything he’s getting, as he’s been pure gold as a heel, no matter what stage or show he’s on. Ambrose was dead weight, and Miz got rid of it at Great Balls of Fire.
Bray Wyatt: This was probably the shocker of the night … Bray Wyatt actually got a PPV win, over Seth Rollins no less. He might give it right back on Monday Night Raw, but for a rare moment, Wyatt got to celebrate a win on the big stage.
Brock Lesnar: He did beat Samoa Joe clean Sunday night, but nobody can tell me he looked good in doing so. Lesnar has been on a downward trajectory since Goldberg entered the fray, and it continued against Samoa Joe Sunday. I’m not sure which way the WWE is going with Lensar, but he looked beatable again, and that’s the opposite of how he’s been booked in the past. Maybe it’s a slow burn for Joe, or someone else, hopefully not Reigns, to take the belt from Lesnar, but right now, the Beast has looked as bad as he ever has. So, Brock got the win and has the title, but he’s fading fast. Not to mention, it doesn’t appear like he can wrestle more than 10 minutes anymore, which kills every main event he’s going to participate in.
Enzo Amore: Enzo gave another great, not to mention emotional, pre-match speech before taking on Big Cass Sunday, but that’s where the good ended. Enzo went down easily against his former best friend, getting nearly no offense in during a five-minute squash match. It made zero sense for WWE to destroy Enzo like that, but that’s what they did. Enzo has no direction now and might be sent “down” to 205 Live, where he could challenge Neville for the cruiserweight championship. That could keep him in the spotlight for a few months, but after he loses, cause there’s no way he could really beat Neville, what would be next? The split was great for Cass, bad for Enzo, but WWE did him no favors with his match at Great Balls of Fire.
Dean Ambrose: Thank God his rivalry is over with the Miz, as it went on way too long and nobody cared about him winning the title anyway. Miz is so much better a champion than Ambrose is, I’m glad the WWE finally sees it. Ambrose has become beyond stale and boring and needs a switch to get back near the top of the card. Right now, he’s just a bit player, and deservedly so.
Seth Rollins: He lost to Bray Wyatt, a guy who never wins on PPV. That’s gotta sting for the former face of the WWE. The WWE will say it wasn’t clean, but c’mon, if an eye poke is all that’s needed to do a guy in, then the guy stinks anyway. Rollins will be fine after this loss, but he joins a small group of wrestlers who actually lost to Bray Wyatt.
Hardy Boyz: They sure did make it exciting at the end of the match against Sheamus and Cesaro, and they are completely over with the crowd, but they will now take a back seat in the tag team division after losing the iron man match. It’s probably for the best, as Matt and Jeff have both suffered some pretty gnarly injuries against Sheamus and Cesaro, especially Matt Sunday, who was severely cut open after jumping from the top rope and butting heads (at least that’s what it looked like) with Sheamus on the mat. A week off television might be good to have Matt recover and possibly come back Broken.