WWE Great Balls of Fire 2017 Results: Braun Strowman, Biggest Winners and Losers
WWE Great Balls of Fire may have been one of the weirdest, most gimmicky pay-per-view names in company history, but there was nothing strange or nutty about the show the Raw brand produced Sunday night in Dallas.
An oftentimes violent, wild, chaotic and unforgettable show featured an Iron Man match, double-jointed champions, blood, attempted vehicular homicide and the establishment of wrestling's baddest man.
Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, two Superstars who overcame established heel roles, earned the adoration of the WWE Universe thanks to extraordinary performances that heightened their stars and enhanced their standing on the Raw roster.
Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks delivered an intensely competitive Women's Championship match that ensured a rematch will be necessary, and thankfully so.
Even Bray Wyatt scored a rare pinfall victory, halting a monumental slide that began in April at WrestleMania.
The Miz and Dean Ambrose were not quite as lucky as those Superstars, though. Neither saw his star grow or legacy confirmed. Left for dead, their latest in a never-ending string of matches was sent to the ring after a red-hot title bout and greeted with apathy.
They were the night's only losers.
Why did each Superstar earn the status they did? How might they shape WWE programming going forward?
Take a look for yourself.
(Hesitant) Winner: Bray Wyatt
There is no winner from Sunday's pay-per-view more hesitantly labeled as such than Bray Wyatt.
Kicking off the show against Seth Rollins, Wyatt scored a rare and much-needed victory. The Reaper of Souls largely dominated the match, seemingly having an answer for everything The Kingslayer threw his way. It was an impressive victory, the likes of which the third-generation star is rarely afforded.
Perhaps that is why his "winner" status is as shaky as it is.
Booking trends over the course of his career suggest his heat will be extinguished on Raw or at SummerSlam, where he will lose a rematch, thus negating everything he accomplished Sunday night. If that happens, Wyatt is back where he left off. He is most certainly not a winner in that case.
For now, one can hope WWE Creative has recognized the error of its ways and understands the best way to rebuild Wyatt's reputation is through convincing wins over name talent.
Booked on a par with Rollins, looking every bit his equal rather than a heel going through the motions ahead of the babyface comeback, he thrived and looked like a legitimate threat to any Superstar WWE could program him against.
It is time for management to allow Wyatt to generate the momentum that will benefit him exponentially.
But history tells us that is unlikely.
Winners: Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks
The Raw Women's Championship match benefited from what felt very much like genuine dislike between No. 1 contender Sasha Banks and titleholder Alexa Bliss.
Every strike had a little more behind it, every move was executed with a little more gusto than it otherwise might have been. At points, the pain looked real and the disdain evident.
While both Banks and Dana Brooke would allude to the tension between the women in the locker room at different points in the night, the feelings of the competitors were secondary to the in-ring product, which was downright fantastic.
The psychology and the spot placement were spectacular, and while the finish may not have been the most satisfying—especially in the minds of those who believe decisive finishes should be a hallmark of pay-per-view matches—the count-out played to the cowardly-yet-resourceful nature of the champion's heel persona.
Bliss' double-jointedness allowed her to give the impression that she had dislocated her elbow, only to pop it right back in place before catching Banks with a cheap shot. That spot was, in fact, one of the clever ones that helped elevate the contest from above average to good.
The outcome and the huge double-knee spot from the announce table that followed suggest Banks will remain in the title hunt, perhaps challenging Bliss to a rematch at SummerSlam. If that is the case, the August 20 event could well host another strong, perhaps even show-stealing, women's title war.
Losers: Dean Ambrose and The Miz
Dean Ambrose and The Miz have wrestled countless times on free television and pay-per-view—to the point the argument can be made the match is more than a little overexposed.
Throwing that bout out in front of the WWE Universe after the red-hot Women's Championship match between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss did it no favors. The fans in Dallas met the contest with great apathy and were quiet for the majority of the Intercontinental Championship clash.
Add to that the fact the match never lived up to its predecessors, with the lack of heat hurting it significantly, and you have a situation where Miz and Ambrose were the only two readily obvious losers from an otherwise electrifying pay-per-view.
After Sunday's contest, in which Miz relied heavily on interference from Maryse and the Miztourage (Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas), it is time for Ambrose do something else or risk the feud's repetition further dragging down both Superstars.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman was already the biggest babyface on Raw before the events of Sunday night.
What occurred following his Ambulance match win over Roman Reigns only further established The Monster Among Men in that role.
Attacked after the contest by Reigns, Strowman was shoved into the back of the ambulance and driven to the backstage area, where the three-time WWE champion proceeded to crash the vehicle into a tour bus and seemingly end his rival in stunningly violent fashion.
True to form, though, Strowman emerged from the ambulance and shoved away medical attention. "Leave me alone," he exclaimed as he stumbled away like a classic Hollywood slasher like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees retreating until the next opportunity to stalk his prey presents itself.
He was battered and bloodied, but that did not stop him from exhibiting tremendous heart and guts. Like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13, Strowman refused assistance and demonstrated his toughness. He was the most honorable man in a war with the Superstar supposed to represent all that is good in WWE.
While we may never see a classic double turn in WWE again, this was as close as it gets to Strowman's official babyface turn. Expect The Monster Among Men to be greeted with a thunderous ovation whenever he returns to television, which may be as soon as Monday.
Winner: Samoa Joe
The Destroyer challenged Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship in the highest-profile match of his WWE career and wasted little time establishing dominance against The Beast Incarnate.
Joe obliterated Lesnar from the get-go, attacking him before the bell and putting him through an announce table with an uranage.
From there, Joe dominated his opponent, making it clear he was the superior wrestler on that night. He withstood Lesnar's strikes and answered with some of his own.
Then the Coquina Clutch.
Joe trapped his opponent in the submission twice, with Lesnar's face turning purple as oxygen escaped him.
Unfortunately, it took only one thunderous F-5 from the universal champion to end Joe's night in a disappointing fashion.
Some may suggest the finish made Joe weak—that it somehow unraveled all of the work that was done to present him as a legitimate threat to Lesnar in the weeks leading into the match and in the six minutes that preceded it.
They would be wrong.
The main event was presented in a manner that reflected legitimate, big-money fights. Joe dominated the fight, but as is the case in thousands of battles in combat sports history, his aggression proved his downfall, as it took just one blow to put him down.
The staredown that followed the decision not only suggested Joe will remain in the title hunt but also hinted at the respect Lesnar has for The Samoan Submission Machine after the intensely fought marquee bout.
Some will point to Goldberg as the Superstar who looked the strongest against Lesnar. While there is an argument to be made for the WCW legend, some might say the nature of his success was more fluky because Lesnar had his number when the matches progressed past the two-minute mark.
Taking that into account, no Superstar has repeatedly made Lesnar look vulnerable the way Joe has. Win or lose, champion or not, he is a bigger star for having been part of this program. Now it will be up to WWE Creative to maintain his momentum and ensure all of his work was worth it.