WWE’s Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view (PPV) is shaping up quite nicely, and it feels like most superstars on the Raw brand are involved in a storyline that could be featured in a match on that card. Here are 10 plausible matches right now that have been given some television time during the build to Great Balls of Fire:
- Brock Lesnar vs. Samoa Joe
- Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
- Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt
- Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Hardy Boyz
- Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (and/or Sasha, Emma, Mickie, Bayley, Dana)
- The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose
- Neville vs. Akira Tozawa
- Enzo Amore vs. Big Cass
- R-Truth vs. Goldust
- Finn Balor vs. Elias Samson
The only problem with having this many potential matches lined up is that WWE’s recent 3-hour PPVs consistently struggle to cram in 10 full matches, even counting the pre-show.
The start of the women’s revolution at Battleground 2015 has changed the way time is allocated on PPVs. Women’s matches now take up a bigger portion of the card and are rarely relegated to 5-minute matches (outside of kendo stick on a pole matches). One consequence of this is that the main card of the typical 3-hour WWE PPV doesn’t even reach 8 matches all that much anymore. In fact, Fastlane 2017 is the only main card of a 3-hour PPV to include more than 7 matches since the brand-exclusive PPVs began in September 2016.
Here is the full list of how many matches have been featured on every single WWE PPV since the start of the women’s revolution at Battleground 2015, including all pre-show matches. PPVs that lasted longer than 3.5 hours are in bold, because they have more time to include additional matches than the typical PPV:
- 7 matches - Battleground 2015
- 10 matches - SummerSlam 2015
- 8 matches - Night of Champions 2015
- 8 matches - Hell in a Cell 2015
- 9 matches - Survivor Series 2015
- 8 matches - TLC 2015
- 6 matches - Royal Rumble 2016
- 8 matches - Fastlane 2016
- 12 matches - WrestleMania 32
- 8 matches - Payback 2016
- 8 matches - Extreme Rules 2016
- 11 matches - Money in the Bank 2016
- 9 matches - Battleground 2016
- 12 matches - SummerSlam 2016
- 8 matches - Backlash 2016
- 8 matches - Clash of Champions 2016
- 8 matches - No Mercy 2016
- 8 matches - Hell in a Cell 2016
- 8 matches - Survivor Series 2016
- 7 matches - TLC 2016
- 7 matches - Roadblock: End of the Line
- 8 matches - Royal Rumble 2017
- 8 matches - Elimination Chamber 2017
- 10 matches - Fastlane 2017
- 13 matches - WrestleMania 33
- 8 matches - Payback 2017
- 8 matches - Backlash 2017
- 7 matches - Extreme Rules 2017
- 7 matches - Money in the Bank 2017
I am going to ignore the five PPVs in bold for the remainder of this article, because one obvious way to fit 10 matches onto Great Balls of Fire is to extend the run time of the main card to 3.5 hours or longer; that’s the shared trait between all the PPVs in bold, which is why most of them include 10 matches or more.
That leaves 24 PPV cards on the above list, and only 4 of those PPVs were able to cram in more than 8 matches, even counting the pre-show. Here is a quick glance at those 4 cards to see how WWE pulled it off:
Survivor Series 2015
The main card of this PPV had a run time of 2 hours 46 minutes and 13 seconds (2h 46m 13s). There were a total of 9 matches, counting one pre-show match, as well as a 38 second match that featured Sheamus successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Roman Reigns.
Money in the Bank 2016
The main card of this PPV had a run time of 3h 23m 52s, so this was pretty close to a 3.5 hour run time. There were a total of 11 matches, with 2 pre-show matches and 9 on the main card. One of those 9 main card matches was an 8 second Ambrose cash-in on Seth Rollins.
The main card of this PPV had a run time of 3h 15m 49s, so this was roughly a 3.25 hour PPV. There were a total of 9 matches, with 1 pre-show match and 8 on the main card. 5 of the 8 main card matches lasted less than 10m 00s, and none of the matches reached 20m 00s.
The main card of this PPV had a run time of 3h 05m 05s. There were a total of 10 matches, with 1 pre-show match and 9 on the main card. One of the main card matches was Goldberg’s 23 second squash of Kevin Owens. There were also 2 unadvertised matches added to the main card, with Cesaro defeating Jinder Mahal, and Big Show defeating Rusev. 6 of the 9 matches on the main card lasted less than 10m 00s.
The only two PPVs among these 4 that reached 10 total matches each needed one of the 10+ matches to run for less than a minute. Most of these cards also needed to go beyond 3 hours in length, with Money in the Bank 2016 actually running closer to 3.5 hours, and that’s not even taking into account that two matches were thrown onto the pre-show for that event.
In order for Great Balls of Fire to cram 10 matches onto the card, it might have to run beyond 3 hours in length. It might need to throw multiple matches onto the pre-show. Many of the matches might need to be less than 10 minutes in length, and one or two matches might even go less than 5 minutes.
It’s possible for WWE to make this happen but it seems unlikely based on the prior two years of evidence. Therefore, it looks like one of these potential 10 matches that WWE has lined up for Great Balls of Fire is going to miss the cut.
Which match, if any, do you think is going to be left off Great Balls of Fire, Cagesiders?