Back in March, reports surfaced that WWE was planning to bring back one of their classic pay-per-views, Bad Blood. A PPV that has contained numerous Hell in a Cell matches and the debut of Kane, it’s an event that while not one of the big four does have an undeniable legacy. However, a couple of weeks later, it was revealed that rather than going with an event with an already established history that also happens to share a name with one of Taylor Swift‘s biggest recent hits, Vince McMahon either reached into his old vinyl collection or came across a Time Life infomercial like these at 3AM and was so amused by a 1957 Jerry Lee Lewis hit that he just had to dump Bad Blood in favor of a show called Great Balls of Fire instead. Ignoring the fact that Lewis himself was problematic as all hell and is suspect for a company with PG-rated product to be linked with, it is impossible to get around the fact that this is an absolute absurd name for a wrestling event. And to WWE’s credit, they actually realize this and have been humorous with their promotion for the event, but it still doesn’t change the fact they named a PPV “Great Balls of Fire”. Next thing you know, we’ll end up with shows like WWE Love is a Battlefield, WWE Livin’ On A Prayer, and WWE Mama Said Knock You Out, all of which is assuming Vince is aware of any music past 1970. But yeah, that’s the name of the July RAW-branded PPV, and despite the silly title, the actual match card has a legitimately exciting main event, even if it’s being propped up by an undercard that ranges from “This could be cool” to “Wait, didn’t we see that already?” Let’s check out the card for WWE The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Titus Worldwide is finally beginning to develop some sort of valuable stock as it appears that Titus O’Neil has finally escaped the doghouse that he was unceremoniously placed in following putting his hands on Vince McMahon during Daniel Bryan’s retirement segment. While his earliest client, Apollo Crews, continues to struggle, his latest client finds himself in the Cruiserweight Championship picture after now-free agent Austin Aries failed to unseat The King. Many of the Cruiserweights have had trouble capturing the attention of the WWE Universe since the division returned less than a year ago; Akira Tozawa, however, managed to get himself mostly over due to his wrestling style, snap suplex, and grunting chant. With Aries out, TJP and Rich Swann having a friendly competition going on, and promising wrestlers like Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali still building a following, O’Neil succeeded in getting his client a title opportunity for WWE Walk On The Wild Side, which is amazing considering he can’t seem to get the guy better quality food in his supposed VIP arena seating area.
Who I Want to Win: Neville; Tozawa is awesome, but I’m still holding out hope on Ali or Alexander ending the reign of the King
Who Will Win: Neville; even with assistance from Titus, I don’t see Tozawa walking out with the title, at least not on this night.
30-Minute Iron Man Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The tag team division on Raw isn’t so hot these days. Tag team wrestling in WWE in general lately has been lacking, what with Smackdown suffering from Jason Jordan going down with an injury and putting American Alpha on hold and The Ascension and The Colons looking nowhere near credible for a title run. But at least that division apepars to be on somewhat of a rebound with The New Day, The Usos, The Hype Bros, and The Fashion Police. The issues have been worryingly notable for the red brand lately. Since losing The New Day to Smackdown, losing The Revival to injury, losing The Club to irrelevance, and recently losing Enzo & Cass due to breakup (we’ll get to that), Cesaro & Sheamus have been stuck facing the still-not-broken Matt & Jeff Hardy since WrestleMania. Now dubbing themselves “The Bar”, the team’s heel turn has kept them fresh and arguably made them more entertaining, if for any reason putting an end to their bickering. As expected, Jeff Hardy’s risk-taking style was the very thing that cost he and his brother at the last Raw-branded PPV, Extreme Rules. So WWE Welcome to the Jungle could serve as the final confrontation these duos have with each other. Maybe if we’re lucky, it’ll signal a broken, or at least cracked turn for the duo assuming those legal issues get worked out.
Who I Want to Win: I’ll take a victory for The Bar; I don’t know who they could possibly face after that, but the Hardy matches have run their course.
Who Will Win: The Bar; it would benefit The Hardys to move on and feud with someone else, or maybe even each other, more than it would another match with The Bar.
Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins are both way too talented to be as formulaic as they have become. Since turning face, Rollins hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations set for him. His WrestleMania victory against Triple H should have been the triumph that sent him to the top of the mountain as at least one of the faces of the company. Sadly, he’s been booked as WWE typical babyface, which is a shame. Still better than what they’re doing with their other could-be top face, Finn Bálor, but still not to the level fans would hope. Bray Wyatt is formulaic in a different way; randomly pick a feud with someone, cut a cryptic, well-written, well-performed promo that sounds eerily similar to most of his other promos, go on to lose to whoever he’s feuding with, rinse and repeat for the next feud. It’s kind of washed away some of his intrigue. Because of this, I can’t say that I’m all that excited for their match on WWE Come On Eileen, but it’s going to happen, and hopefully it connects better than Seth’s matches with Samoa Joe; at least a creepy House of Horrors won’t be involved.
Who I Want to Win: Bray Wyatt, just because it gets really sad seeing the guy lose as much as he does.
Who Will Win: Bray Wyatt. Yes, I’m serious. He’s gonna win using some cheating tactic. Seth Rollins won’t be as lucky on this night as he was at Payback.
Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
Enzo Amore & Big Cass have been BFF’s since back when Big Cass was going by Colin Cassidy. Pre-Enzo, it didn’t seem like the giant had much of a direction; sure, the sing-off with Aiden English was entertaining, but where was he to go from there? His aligning with Enzo for catchphrase-spewing funcatchphrase-spewing fun put them both on the map and garnered them huge crowded reactions from their NXT run up to even recently post-Rusev feud. Sure, there were some times where even Cass was visibly puzzled at Cass’s style of trash talk, but he stuck by him regardless. Didn’t get him a Tag Team Title though, and that was cited as one of the reasons why Cass decided to turn on his pint-sized partner recently following a genuinely intriguing ‘Whodunit?’ angle. He also confirmed that he is one of those people who found Enzo to be an annoying anchor on Cass’s career. To be fair to Enzo, his performances in this entire angle have been stellar and he’s shown himself to be better at displaying emotion than he is at actual wrestling. However, that does kind of imply he won’t walk out of WWE Nothin’ But A G Thang victorious.
Who I Want to Win: On any other day, I’d be rooting for Enzo to pull out a underdog win, but given the context, I’ll say Big Cass. Don’t cut his momentum so fast.
Who Will Win: Big Cass, and it’ll likely be a dominant beatdown just like every other match of Enzo’s career.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
This feud dates back to both men’s stint on Smackdown, where it was eventually cut short for their WrestleMania programs with John Cena and Baron Corbin respectively. And even back then, the main prize for their feud has been WWE’s longest reigning midcard title, which The Miz has held a grand total of seven times now. At this point, he should probably be able to cash these things in for Universal Title opportunities. However his task at WWE St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) is once again fending off the challenge of WWE’s mischievous lunatic. In their last match, it was ruled that then-champion Ambrose would lose his title if he got disqualified, a stipulation that made no sense on a PPV whose very concept and origins encouraged the use of weapons. The Miz is the defending champion and following a month of bear-related hijinks that Ted was clearly sober enough to pass up and Winnie The Pooh likely turned down due to not being paid in honey, he will have the backup of former Social Outcasts and Miz’s Marine 5 co-stars Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Assuming he doesn’t bring the Ball’s back (which is unlikely given what happened when they were on Miz TV), Ambrose has no one by his side in this one.
Who I Want to Win: The Miz; he’s on a roll again with this Entourage stuff and as much as I enjoy Dean Ambrose, he doesn’t need to touch the IC Title again anytime soon.
Who Will Win: The Miz; following his failure with the belt recently, I doubt WWE will trust Dean Ambrose with the IC Title again for a while.
WWE RAW Women’s Championship
After helping send Bayley jumping over the proverbial shark at Extreme Rules by massacring the former Women’s Champion with a kendo stick, Alexa Bliss is on top of the Raw Women’s Mountain. But she’s quickly learning that being champion isn’t easy, especially on Raw when they expect you to carry a writing travesty like this on your shoulders. She has Nia Jax on her tail, Mickie James and Dana Brooke also have it in for her as evidenced by the scuffle that left Alexa’s lip busted, and even though she’s been presented as a non-threat at the moment, it’s not out of the question for Emma to attempt to step in a try to take down her fellow blonde. But the big money match at the moment seems to be Alexa Bliss vs. Sasha Banks, given the unconfirmed internet speculation that these two probably legitimately despise each other in real life. It’s a good time to be Sasha Banks; she’s a Teen Choice Award nominee and she was even invited to the BET Awards, showing that there is crossover appeal with her. What better way to solidify her place as the face of the women’s division than by toppling its current top villain at WWE I’m Every Woman?
Who I Want to Win: Alexa Bliss. I would say Sasha Banks so we can get to that match with Bayley at SummerSlam, but given how badly Bayley’s been ruined, I think that’s dead in the water for the moment.
Who Will Win: Alexa Bliss, likely with the help of Nia Jax, who is definitely holding that promised shot at the title against Alexa Bliss over the small blonde’s head.
Good news: Braun Strowman is back! Bad news goes solely to Roman Reigns because almost anytime the two men are in the same room with one another, bad things happen to Reigns. At Payback in May, Roman was bloodied and brutalized at the hands of Strowman, to the uncomfortable amusement of the WWE Universe. Really, they were ecstatic to see the supposed hero get destroyed by Godzilla with a ponytail. Following the event, Strowman attempted to continue his beatdown of The Guy as he was being loaded into an ambulance and taken out of the building, but failed in hilarious fashion that must be seen to be believed. Strowman was out of action for a while but came back in the back of an ambulance and picked up right where he left off. As entertaining as this feud has been, it does have to come to an end, and WWE Like A Rock just might be the perfect venue to do so, especially with one of these two men likely challenging for the Universal Title at SummerSlam.
Who I Want to Win: Braun Strowman; he is the absolute greatest thing about RAW these days – never thought I’d say that. Don’t tame the beast now! Sadly…
Who Will Win: ROMAN WINS! LOLZ!
WWE Universal Championship
Anyone who has followed Samoa Joe’s career over the last decade, be it his work on the Indys or his early run in TNA, knows that Samoa Joe is capable of being one of the most dangerous wrestlers around. And that always makes for compelling television as his feuds with the likes of Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, and Finn Bálor, were some of the finest bouts in TNA and NXT history. For a while on the main roster, the aura hasn’t been completely replicated; he was left off of WrestleMania completely after all. But lately, they’ve begun to tap into what made Samoa Joe so compelling to begin with; starting with his first promo with Paul Heyman where he took The Advocate to the side, whispered a threat to him, and choked him out to send a message to Brock Lesnar. Since then, Joe has been in peak badass mode, even making Lesnar humble by turning him into Brother Love on a recent Raw. After making it clear that he does not fear Brock Lesnar during the go-home Raw, there was no going back. I didn’t expect it to happen, but WWE has managed to hype up the main event of WWE Start Me Up as something exciting and must-see.
Who I Want to Win: Samoa Joe, easily. Even if it means having to look at the physical abomination that is the Universal Title, I want to not only see Joe win a top title in WWE but also for the top champion to show up on a more regular basis.
Who Will Win: Brock Lesnar; rumor has it WWE wants him to main event SummerSlam and WrestleMania with the title on the line, so as fun as this Samoa Joe angle has been, it’s just a placeholder. A genuinely enjoyable placeholder.