WWE Stomping Grounds (2019)

Tacoma, Washington, 23rd June, 2019

Honestly, this was one of those shows where I couldn’t care less going into it. The WWE Title match is a rematch. The Universal Title match is a rematch. The biggest non-title match was a rematch. The Raw Women’s Title match was a rematch. Nothing really stood out as amazing, and all the challengers (Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles) were all not believable as viable winners. Thankfully, WWE managed to pull out a good show despite the lacklustre card and build.

 

Cruiserweight Title: Tony Nese © v Drew Gulak v Akira Tozawa

Pre-match prediction: Drew Gulak

The only match on the pre-show was unfortunately saddled with an advert mid-match. A show with an hour-long pre-show still needs to advertise during their only pre-show match. I haven’t really taken to Tony Nese as champion, and feel his run has been overall quite disappointing (especially when compared to Buddy Murphy, who has disappeared off the face of the earth since being drafted to Smackdown), so I felt a triple threat match was a good excuse to take the title away from him without pinning him, and that’s exactly what happened. Drew Gulak became the new champion by pinning Akira Tozawa, and this match was overall a lot of fun. The highlight of the match was Tozawa’s breaking up the pin by attacking from top of the ropes. The cruiserweights always have a good showing, I’m just not invested enough in their characters (due to not watching 205-Live) to award this match a higher rating.

Winner: Drew Gulak, by pinning Akira Tozawa

Rating: * * *

Stomping Ground, 1

Raw Women’s Title: Becky Lynch © v Lacey Evans

Pre-match prediction: Becky Lynch

I’ve wanted NXT call-ups to go straight into the title picture for a long time (probably since Finn Balor won the Universal Title within a month of his call-up), but Lacey Evans is not the one to get that push. She’s not bad in the ring, but her matches still contain too many botches. One in particular in this match was when Becky went to hit a springboard back kick but Lacey wasn’t in the right position to take it. Her inexperience probably forces Becky to call spots during the match more often, and this was a particularly bad night for Becky, with a rather loud ‘back elbow’ being heard by her. The fans in the crowd also didn’t buy Lacey as a threat with chants of ‘You can’t wrestle’ and ‘Lacey sucks’ filling the match. Which is a shame, because her character is fantastic. Her sweat-wiping gimmick is disgusting, but it works because she’s a heel (although the ref pocketed the handkerchief which had Lacey’s sweat and her saliva on it). This match was fine, nothing more.

Winner: Becky Lynch, by tapping out Lacey Evans

Rating: * * ½

Stomping Ground, 2

Tag Team Match: The New Day (Xavier Woods & Big E) v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Pre-match prediction: The New Day

Match of the night. Hot opening with Kevin Owens taking out Big E so they could beat down Xavier Woods (who was the legal man), and when Big E finally got the hot-tag the speed almost doubled (from a fast opening). This match rarely let-up and featured some impressive spots, such as Woods picking up Big E on his shoulders for a double team move. I got this match incorrect in my predictions but Owens and Sami Zayn got a much-needed win so I’m not too disheartened.

Winner: Kevin Owens (& Sami Zayn), by pinning Xavier Woods (& Big E)

Rating: * * * ½

Stomping Ground, 3

US Title: Samoa Joe © v Ricochet

Pre-match prediction: Samoa Joe

There’s been very little build to this match that I just couldn’t get invested in it. Samoa Joe feels like a chump who constantly gets rolled up to lose matches (including losing the US Title in such a fashion) and Ricochet, despite how much I loved him down in NXT, just feels like another man on their incredibly large roster. This match was a good clash of styles, with Joe trying to slow the pace (while also having speed himself) whereas Ricochet was trying to speed up the match with his high-flying manoeuvres. Ricochet’s bumping, though, is incredible. He can sell the hell out of any larger man’s moves, and every wrestler much be excited when they see his name next to theirs on the card.

Winner: Ricochet, by pinning Samoa Joe

Rating: * * ½

Stomping Ground, 4

Smackdown Tag Team Titles: Daniel Bryan & Rowan v Heavy Machinery

Pre-match prediction: Daniel Bryan & Rowan

Any show in Washington-state is going to see Daniel Bryan cheered, and this was no exception. They chanted ‘Please recycle’ and ‘Drive a Prius’ throughout, aiding Daniel Bryan’s save-the-planet gimmick. The only downside was they booed Heavy Machinery, the babyfaces, quite a lot, which I can’t see helping Heavy Machinery in the near-future. This was a standard match, in my opinion, with Heavy Machinery getting their spots in (including a brilliant stalling suplex where Otis actually passed Bryan over to Tucker to finish the move), but ultimately they fell short on their first PPV title match.

Winner: Daniel Bryan (& Rowan), by pinning Tucker (& Otis)

Rating: * *

Stomping Ground, 5

Smackdown Women’s Title: Bayley © v Alexa Bliss (w/Nikki Cross)

Pre-match prediction: Bayley

WWE’s commentary is pretty bad, but this match (and the main event) really highlighted it at its worst. Saxon’s love of the babyfaces was great in Kofi’s rise to being WWE Champion, but at times like this is just sounds ridiculous, and when you add Graves’ love of the heels they can bicker. And in this match they bickered. Again, this was a bog-standard match, I felt, with the storytelling being quite strange (with Nikki Cross costing Alexa the match but nothing came of it). Also, stop doing a powerbomb into the bottom turnbuckle to someone with a history of concussions.

Winner: Bayley, by pinning Alexa Bliss

Rating: * *

Stomping Ground, 6

Single: Roman Reigns v Drew McIntyre (w/Shane McMahon)

Pre-match prediction: Roman Reigns

And this was where the card turned. A boring match full of rest-holds and beat-downs (seriously, a Roman Reigns match is just him being beaten down for ages before making a comeback). The chants of ‘Roman sucks’ were quite audible here, with the boos also being heard during his entrance (perhaps the honeymoon period of being cleared of his leukaemia is wearing off). This was one of the worst matches at Wrestlemania and this was roughly about the same.

Winner: Roman Reigns, by pinning Drew McIntyre

Rating: * *

Stomping Ground, 7

WWE Title, Steel Cage Match: Kofi Kingston © v Dolph Ziggler

Pre-match prediction: Kofi Kingston

How has Dolph Ziggler, in kayfabe terms, gotten himself two PPV championship matches in 2019? He’s just not a viable contender that it loses all investment as a result. They used the cage quite well, with some inventive spots and the commentary did a decent job at selling how confined it is and how useless the ropes are for springing back, but Dolph was never going to win. I did like the finish, though, with Kofi leapfrogging Dolph out of the cage. That was cool.

Winner: Kofi Kingston, by escaping through the door

Rating: * * ½

Stomping Ground, 8

Universal Title: Seth Rollins © v Baron Corbin (w/Lacey Evans as Special Guest Referee)

Pre-match prediction: Seth Rollins

The crowd were not into this match, if you can call it a match. With chants of ‘Bullsh*t’, ‘Daniel Bryan’ and the ever-popular ‘CM Punk’ filling the match. Baron Corbin announced Lacey Evans as the Special Guest Referee before the match and I actually thought that was a clever move; Seth Rollins can’t attack a woman with a chair and Evans has been in a rivalry with Rollins’ real-life partner, Becky Lynch (which the commentary team really ran home). Evans did all the things you’d expect: slow counts, changing the rules (can a referee do that?), aiding Corbin at every opportunity. And it was all so boring. Lynch made the save (eventually) and Rollins won with another referee counting the pin fall. Not a great way to end the show, even if the image of Rollins and Lynch was quite nice.

Winner: Seth Rollins, by pinning Baron Corbin

Rating: * ½

Stomping Ground, 12

They certainly produced a much better show than the card would have suggested beforehand, but it was still littered with poor matches and strange decisions. The use of Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Lacey Evans in World Title matches also took away any drama because we all knew they weren’t going to win. But, a WWE PPV that lasted just over three hours? I’ll take it.

 

Match ratings, in descending order:

The New Day v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn: * * * ½

Tony Nese v Drew Gulak v Akira Tozawa: * * *

Samoa Joe v Ricochet: * * ½

Kofi Kingston v Dolph Ziggler: * * ½

Becky Lynch v Lacey Evans: * * ½

Daniel Bryan & Rowan v Heavy Machinery: * *

Bayley v Alexa Bliss: * *

Roman Reigns v Drew McIntyre: * *

Seth Rollins v Baron Corbin: * ½

 

 

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