WWE – Stomping Grounds 2019 (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 192 minutes approx.
Another year, another new PPV name to make the eyes roll, along with such classic duds as Bragging Rights, Great Balls Of Fire, and Roadblock to name but a few. The tag line for Stomping Grounds was “taking names and kicking ass” whilst the logo was designed to resemble a boot with the musical accompaniment for the promos being an ersatz version of the Nancy Sinatra Classic These Boots Are Made For Walking to show that 105 year-old Vince McSenile was still down with the kids.
If the name wasn’t bad enough, this show suffered from coming hot on the heels of the third Saudi Arabia sausage fest thus featured many rematches from that card along with repeats of bouts from the previous month’s Money In The Bank. This resulted in a weak build up on TV in comparison to the Saudi show, as it meant more money to the company, which might also explain the poor audience turn out for a PPV show.
Stomping Grounds took place on June 23rd 2019 at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington before a shockingly low 6,000 fans with commentary from Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton for the SD Live matches and Graves with Michael Cole and Renee Young for the RAW matches.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers, though there are a couple on the back DVD cover (including the mystery ref for the main event), expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches.
WWE RAW Women’s Title Match – Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lacey Evans
The first rematch of the evening, though it defies logic since Evans lost her title shot at MITB so should automatically go to the back of the line but with nobody else being used or pushed on TV as a threat (plus Vince loves the gimmick because it is from his era) so here we go again.
Not a bad opener but not a smooth one either as Evans is still a few steps behind where she needs to be as a title contender or on the main roster, but she does carry herself like a star, which means more to the old man. There are a couple of awkward botches which expose Evans’ greenness but the crowd were into Becky enough to make this seem better than it was.
The New Day vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
I guess the Wild Card rule is in effect here as Zayn is officially on RAW yet Owens and The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) are on SD Live. No real story behind this one as such, more a tangential one from the Kofi-Owens feud with New Day already holding two victories over Zayn and Owens in 6 man tags on TV.
Pretty much bell-to-bell action with Woods isolated at the start and beaten up for five minutes before Big E is tagged in runs riot. Plenty of near falls and double team action to bring this solid encounter to an end, but not really a memorable or significant one.
WWE US Title Match – Samoa Joe (c) vs. Ricochet
Apparently winning title in NXT mean nothing on the main roster as Michael Cole kept insisting former NXT North American champion Ricochet was challenging for his “first title in WWE”. Ricochet won a fatal five way on RAW to earn this shot at what has become a hot potato title changing hands with alarming frequency prior to this due to former champion Rey Mysterio getting injured.
More of a Joe match than a Ricochet one, though the latter does get plenty of his crisp high flying moves in (save for the botched flip during his entrance!) to show off his remarkable athleticism. Good match, though if you want to see Ricochet firing on all cylinders, check out his NXT matches or stuff from New Japan Pro Wrestling, like the infamous acrobatic display against Will Ospreay.
Smackdown Tag Title Match – Daniel Bryan & Rowan (c) vs. Heavy Machinery
This event is taking place in Daniel Bryan’s home town of Washington so naturally the fans are on his side despite him being the heel, which amazingly they don’t fight at all. Some of you may recall in 2013 when they had the Title Unification summit on RAW in Washington, and the fan chanted for Bryan throughout the whole segment, ignoring the supposedly momentous ceremony taking place!
Heavy Machinery are Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic, the latest victims of losing half their names once moving up to the main roster (see Rusev, Andrade, Ali, Elias, etc.). Otis is a bumbling oaf thus Vince loves him, while Tucker is very agile for his size. This was actually a good match, especially when Bryan was in there, which saw the challengers managing to break free of the 21st century Bushwhackers comedy act stigma to come across as a legit threat.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
Another match dictated by the Wild Card rule as Bliss is a RAW wrestler challenging for the SD Women’s title, which Bayley won at MITB after cashing in on Charlotte moments after Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch for it. Fans may remember the 2017 feud between Bayley and Bliss that completely buried Bayley but thankfully, it has been forgotten here.
Instead, this feud revolves around Nikki Cross following Bliss around, not heeding the warnings that she is being manipulated, preferring to believe Bliss’ attention is an act of genuine friendship. Not the best foundation for a title feud (though not the worst) and the match was decent for what it was, with Bliss taking some scary bumps for someone with her history of concussions. Maybe not a career highlight for either woman, but at least Bayley didn’t look weak this time.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
The third rematch of the night is from Wrestlemania 35, however, it is a result of Shane O’Sweatface (as everything on WWE TV is these days) beating Roman at the Saudi show a couple of weeks earlier thanks to Drew’s interference. Oh and Drew is RAW wrestler and Roman is on SD Live so this is another Wild Card influenced bout.
Pretty much every Reigns match you’ve ever seen where he hits his three power moves over and over, whilst his opponents try to keep the advantage on their side. Whilst it had to be longer than their first match, it didn’t need to go 17 minutes, and with the show already 2 hours old it brought the energy down. Solid stuff but the Shane stuff is getting silly, taking away from both Reign and Drew.
WWE Title Steel Cage Match – Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Who would have thought that Kofi would be booked as the stronger champion compared to Seth Rollins on RAW? I saw that regarding his resolve as a fighting champ and not a whiner like Rollins. Not helping is his list of challengers being erratic and underwhelming but that is not Kofi’s fault, which the fans recognise and have stuck with him.
So why Ziggler? Well, with Daniel Bryan injured, Kevin Owens was hastily turned heel to face Kofi but then Owens refused to go to Saudi Arabia so Ziggler was brought back as a replacement challenger. Obviously, Ziggler lost that match but for some reason tried to blame it on the other New Day members and demanded this cage match rematch. The effort was there, but aside from the creative finish, there is nothing much to see here in this 20 minute snooze fest.
WWE Universal Title Match – Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin w/Corbin’s Choice of Special Guest Referee
Yes folks, we live in a world where Baron Corbin is in the main event of a WWE PPV and in a Universal Title match to boot! The black hole of charisma that is Corbin lost a title match against Rollins in Saudi Arabia but like Ziggler, somehow was allowed to make a second challenge and choose the stipulation, in this case, his own choice of referee. Many names were teased on TV leading up to this, the favourite being MITB briefcase holder Brock Lesnar, but he went for someone different as spoiled on the DVD cover.
This inspired choice led to an old booking gimmick first used in 1998 in a match between Steve Austin vs. Dude Love to resurface which might have worked had Corbin not done the exact same thing his entire run as interim RAW GM these past few months! Plus Corbin just isn’t a main event worker under any circumstances and the fans already could see where this was leading, so we have an overbooked match that fails to meet its objective as a compelling title match to help keep fan interest alive in this time of falling ratings.
I don’t know if it supposed to be commensurate but WWE PPVs with silly names have a tendency to underperform, and Stomping Grounds is no different. To be fair, even the better named and established shows have a trouble living up to expectations these days and we all know why, so it can’t all be down to the lame moniker bestowed upon it.
Working against this show was the poor build up due to the promotional focus being on the Saudi show, explaining the glut of rematches from that event and undoubtedly the lack of fan interest. That it only drew 6,000 fans should have been the wake-up call for Vince McSenile, and in a way it was, but as ever, he couldn’t help himself and looked to the past to try and secure the company’s future.
But surely, when your heel challenger has been publicly blamed (storyline or not) as the reason for the TV ratings dropping and draws groans and not boos whenever he comes out, there are questioned that need to be asked as to why they are there. And when the fans chant “this is stupid” during the main event, and your top babyface champion is upstaged by his girlfriend, clearly your ides are just not working.
Should Stomping Grounds ever be remembered for anything other than its dumb name, it will be for the two lame main event matches, that turned the show around from being a passable event into an embarrassing mess.
Best Match – Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs. Heavy Machinery (by default)
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black