The ticket sales for WWE Stomping Grounds were floundering and there wasn’t a lot of interest to see this show for a variety of reasons. WWE has a chance to right the ship and turn over a new leaf. Let’s see what they have in store.
Drew Gulak def. Tony Nese (C) and Akira Tozawa – Cruiserweight Championship
I loved every moment of this, and it’s what every great Cruiserweight match should be, and that is balls to the wall action from the opening bell.
Drew Gulak has been the face of 205 Live for a while now and I’ve loved how he has reinvented himself from when it became an independent brand, and he finally got what he deserved.
Overall, it was high paced action from the start, each man played their role extremely well, and the match went off without a hitch. To top it off, the right man won. When wrestlers are able to be free and without restraint, you get poetry. This was that. ***3/4
Becky Lynch (C) def. Lacey Evans – Raw Women’s Championship
I believe Lacey Evans has great potential in terms of her character, but she has to polish her in-ring work a bit more. I think this was solid, but at times it really felt like Becky Lynch was wrestling herself. However, Becky Lynch wrestling herself can be entertaining at times.
The story was basic, and at best, I’d say this match was inoffensive. Becky Lynch should be going up against someone that forces her to up her game, and while I don’t think Lacey Evans is that person, she can eventually become that. This would probably pass for a Raw main event. **3/4
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn def. Xavier Woods and Big E
This is about as great a tag team match with no story would get. Sometimes, you just put four talented sports entertainers in the ring and let them do their stuff.
Overall, this was a very rock solid tag team match that upped the intensity from the opening bell. The pacing was also very NXT like. I did like how Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn tried to end things early and how Xavier Woods had to fight his way through that for the entire match.
I wasn’t confident Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn would win, but miracles happen I suppose. Very good match here with some NXT-like pacing. ***3/4
Ricochet def. Samoa Joe (C) – United States Championship
Thankfully, this resembled the match that I wanted. Ricochet, the smaller guy, having his mobility limited by the bigger Samoa Joe.
This match was entertaining for the time given and highlighted both men’s strengths very well. Ricochet relies on nearly killing himself with high flying moves and Samoa Joe had to take care of that.
Fortunately, Ricochet took care of positioning and escape Joe’s clutches. Sometimes, all you need is a simple story with great storytellers. Another quality outing here.
Surprised they gave the title to Ricochet so soon, but he’s probably a better option at this point anyway. ***3/4
Daniel Bryan (C) and Rowan (C) def. Heavy Machinery – SmackDown Tag Team Championships
Another quality tag team match. While it did not have the craziness that the other one did, this one had the dynamic of masterful character work.
Daniel Bryan got the hero’s welcome in his home state, and while Heavy Machinary weren’t the heels, they might as well have been.
The interactions between Otis and Daniel were especially good, and Tucker did a great job of picking up the pace whenever he got in the match. Also, the finish was brilliant as it came out of nowhere, and Mr. Small Package never fails for Daniel. Quality outing in a number of these tonight. ***1/4
Bayley (C) def. Alexa Bliss – SmackDown Women’s Championship
The key behind this match was going to be what Nikki Cross was going to do, seeing as how she is nothing more than instrument to be used at Bliss’ leisure. She ended up only costing Alexa the match at the very end, and she didn’t really play as integral a part in the match as I thought.
Overall, I thought that the match was fine but nothing to write home about. I thought the psychology with Bayley’s arm was okay, but Alexa Bliss got a little too overzealous with it, and she didn’t really have the offense to keep hurting it.
Bayley played her role pretty good as well, although I still don’t think she has the best of chemistry with Alexa Bliss. It also didn’t help that one of the competitions isn’t even on the SmackDown LIVE brand, so the finish was already obvious anyway. It wasn’t bad though. **1/2
Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre
I want to get into their matches badly, but with Shane McMahon’s antics, I just couldn’t. Was the match bad? No it was not. But was it long and overbooked? Yes.
I am really starting to get physically ill at seeing so much Shane McMahon. Seriously, he adds nothing here and has no business getting anything physically over on Roman. All his presence did was needlessly elongate the match for no reason.
Now, honestly, even if Shane wasn’t involved, the match was dragging quite a bit and didn’t get going until the end. I don’t know what it is, but these two have yet to click like I wanted. **
Kofi Kingston (C) def. Dolph Ziggler – WWE Championship (Steel Cage Match)
Call this one painfully average. Now, I for one hate WWE’s modern day version of a steel cage match. It’s just a regular match with a cage happening to be just outside. The action is typically slow, it’s hard to get a rhythm, and the camera angles, oh the CAMERA ANGLES.
The actual ring work was okay, but the pacing was just too off putting for me. The cage didn’t really add anything to this match or this feud because it served as a prop as opposed to an important element. And once again, the winner was predictable.
Fine for a first watch, and the escape portions were very good, but it was dull for many portions. **3/4
Seth Rollins (C) def. Baron Corbin – Universals Championship
Ironic that Seth Rollins tweets out that WWE is home to the best pro wrestling on the planet, only to have his match, the main event, get hijacked by the fans 2 minutes in. And rightfully so. Call it stupid, call it boring, call it whatever you’d like. Odds are you’re not wrong.
I get why Lacey Evans was chosen. She’s in a feud with Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins is Becky Lynch’s (just in case the announce team hasn’t reminded you enough times already). So emotionally manipulating Seth Rollins is at least good in theory. The problem is that Lacey Evans is not ready to be thrust in this kind of position.
First, she’s bad at being a sucky referee. If her job is to clearly screw over Rollins, why was she doing normal pinfall counts like a regular referee? Then, when she decides to do the bad referee of pretending she’s hurt, she couldn’t have sold it any worse. It was all painfully telegraphed from the start. She just added nothing here.
Also, I do not get what WWE sees in Baron Corbin, but we need to move on from him. As a regular heel, he’s fine. But he should not be in main event matches. When he dictates the pacing and the offense, the quality of the match quickly goes south. He is just so damn boring.
And another thing. The moment the match was made No DQ, we knew how this was going to end. Becky Lynch was going to defend her boyfriend and an actual official would end the match quickly. If WWE’s heels had, you know, a brain, Baron Corbin would have made the match NO DQ for himself only.
Well, I guess this at least sets up tomorrow’s mixed tag team main event. Overall, an overbooked, boring and lazy match with a painfully telegraphed finish. This wasn’t good. 1/2*
WWE Stomping Grounds is a tale of two shows. The first half of the show had some quality performances, high-paced action, title changes and intense crowd interaction. The second half of the show, or the main events, were painfully dull, overbooked, long or just plain bad.
I’d like to give the Tacoma crowd some props for showing out despite over half of the arena needing to be tapered off because interest in this show was low. After the SmackDown Tag Title match, I was convinced WWE was motivated by the low ticket sales to put on a great show. Then I remembered it’s not about how you start, but how you finish, and this finish was pretty bad.
There is definitely quality to be had in this PPV in the form of the the tag team matches, the Cruiserweight match and the United States Championship match. However, we hit a major roadblock with all of the bigger matches. It’s the typical main event tropes of overbooking and running long, and it hurt the PPV’s finish.
I would say thumbs in the middle for WWE Stomping Grounds because while there is bad on the show, I won’t ignore the good. And the good is really good. The bad is more dull and boring than it is terrible. Except that main event. Yikes.