WWE Stomping Grounds Preview & Predictions

Super Show-Down, but with less blood money!

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WWE Stomping Grounds is upon us this weekend, and my oh my, is the world excited! We’ve got Super Show-Down rematches! We’ve got WrestleMania rematches! We even have a rematch of a feud that tanked one of the participant’s careers a couple years back! And all this on a first-year PPV out of a blatant house show town (with all due respect!) where ticket sales are cratering! And to think, some people would tell you WWE doesn’t know what they’re doing!

But hey, for all the flak, on any given night, WWE could always randomly put on a great show. I mean the roster sure is talented enough, plenty of these matches could theoretically be good. And who knows, maybe that half-full Tacoma Dome will turn out to be hotter than a ring in Saudi! Stranger things have happened… I guess. Let’s get to the card rundown, shall we?

 

Bryan & Rowan vs. Heavy Machinery

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships: Daniel Bryan & Rowan (C) vs. Heavy Machinery 

SmackDown’s tag division has had quite the run of misfortune. The Usos being drafted to Raw was meant to be mitigated by the returning Hardy Boyz. But their annual reunion tour was cut short in a hurry after Jeff got hurt. With Xavier and Big E focused on supporting Kofi Kingston’s WWE title run, they suddenly weren’t left with a ton of options. As a result, the titles were hotshot onto Bryan & Rowan, and Heavy Machinery were hotshot into being challengers.

That’s not the best state of things, especially considering Tucker and Otis will struggle to be cheered against Daniel Bryan in Washington, which is an inauspicious way to make your PPV debut. (No, being in that battle royal at SSD doesn’t count.) Still, the crowd should be decently into this, and it could certainly be entertaining, given everyone involved. Bryan’s one of the best wrestlers in the world of course, but this should more be a showcase for how weirdly fun to watch the big boys here are, particularly Dozovic.

It’s easy to assume that Bryan and Rowan aren’t going to be holding those belts for long, this reign is more just meant to hold down the fort until the division is in a slightly better state. But having Heavy Machinery win in front of a crowd that will presumably be booing them would not be the best idea. Bryan & Rowan to retain, though probably by less-than-decisive means.

 

Nese vs. Tozawa vs. Gulak

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Triple Threat: Tony Nese (C) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak

Ah, the cruiserweights. I love them, and actually I’ve been a big fan of 205 Live for well over a year now. It’s a shame the world still hasn’t given it a second chance, in spite of it improving by leaps and bounds after it’s product shift. But until they give them their own little NXT-sized venues, and let a similar underground uprising occur with it, we’re gonna continue to see dead crowds for their awesome work. It’s sad but true, and we’ll see more of that here for certain.

Make no mistake, these are three very good workers and they’ll all be working their hearts out to put on a show. This should be some great action, no doubt.  It’s also always been one of the easier predictions to say that Drew Gulak will eventually become Cruiserweight champion. It’s not impossible that he takes the title here, perhaps submitting Tozawa to set up a one on one with Nese.

But it’s unlikely, given that they like long reigns and definitive title changes with this championship. Nese’s reign will survive this match.

 

New Day vs. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens

The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) vs. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens

What do you wanna bet that this will be announced at the last minute to be another 2 out of 3 falls match? Just to once again have Owens and Sami lose two straight falls and then once again imply that they want to leave. They’re doing an odd meta-angle here where they want you to think they’re being buried. Presumably in scripted retaliation to Sami’s scripted AEW reference last month.

It’s remarkably Russo-esque, and that’s coming from someone who’s watched a lot of his work. Anyway, this is a stark filler match if ever there was one, but the talent involved are certainly great. And New Day should atleast get a decent reaction in any city, so it could be fun. In going with the ‘angle’ here, New Day will win this handily, laws of reverse momentum be damned. WWE doesn’t do anything subtly, least of which a kayfabe burial.

 

Samoa Joe vs. Ricochet

WWE United States Championship: Samoa Joe (C) vs. Ricochet

Rey gets hurt, so you put in the most readily available expy you can find. In this case, it’s the sensational Ricochet and I gotta say, I appreciate seeing him get an opportunity like this, regardless of the reasons. This is easily the freshest match on the card, so it’s got that going for it. In fact, according to cagematch.net, the two have only ever had one singles match, and it wasn’t televised.

These two are extremely different, but very, very talented. They never got around to having a legit Joe/Mysterio match, so hopefully they learn from that experience and just let these two go full gore. This would be an easy pick for sleeper match of the night, as long as they’re willing to let it be one.

Since we’re talking about Mysterio’s injury, here’s an interesting thing to consider. Joe was not meant to be US champ right now, Rey was. Which means they currently want that title on someone more of his ilk. Sure, Joe may well have just won it right back from him anyway, that’s actually entirely likely. But I feel, in situations like this, Vince likes to try and make the best of it with a sudden change in plans.

What I’m getting at here is that I think Ricochet will score the upset. I could be dead wrong on this, but I think WWE would like there to atleast be some news coming out of this show. They have to put forth some kind of token message that things will change for the better, and what better way than to put a title on an internet darling?

 

Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bayley (C) vs. Alexa Bliss w/ Nikki Cross

Right, so we all probably remember that the last time these two had a PPV program, it more or less ruined Bayley for the next two years, give or take. Alexa didn’t think Bayley had it in her to use a kendo stick and… she was right. Bayley’s credibility is, kinda still recovering from this occurrence. There’s no ignoring that, much as WWE hasn’t really involved it in the story at all. Thankfully, I don’t expect this match to have anything in common with their 2017 bouts.

To be honest, I actually might’ve dredged that up if I were them. Have Alexa taunt her for how she destroyed her before and vow to do it again. On a meta level, it would be WWE acknowledging the mistakes they’d made with Bayley. And from there, you could put forth a strong message that you’re ready to do it right by having her take her down in decisive fashion this time. But oh well.

Odds are good Vince doesn’t even remember any of that anyway, and that might be for the best. Regardless, we’ve got two very good wrestlers and characters alike, so there’s not any particular reason this shouldn’t be good. Y’know, aside from the fact that it’s a B PPV and it’s very, very likely that we’ll be seeing this match again several times later. In which case, they will probably be told to hold back, and be given a flukey finish to work with.

Whatever, Bayley to win this one, because Sasha is still watching you like a hawk, WWE. You’d best treat her girl right.

 

Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans

Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (C) vs. Lacey Evans

A few months ago, Lacey Evans was an NXT prospect with some real promise. Y’know, the kind of promise where people said, ‘Wow, she’ll be really special after two more years in developmental’. To say her callup was rushed would truly be underselling it, and she’s already been soured on a lot of people for her performances thus far. By the time she’s actually good enough for spots like this, she’ll have likely run too thin with the audience to get them. So that’s sad.

But hey, this match could be really solid if the rookie’s on her A game. They obviously had to rush a bit due to circumstance back at Money In The Bank. A more controlled match on a much less busy card should result in a watchable brawl. But we’re left with one question… is Vince gonna go all the way with this moonpush?

Sure, these days, he usually doesn’t. He’ll generally bore of his new toy long before he actually gives them a career-defining victory, but… Lacey Evans is a blonde lady, y’all. I really couldn’t put it past him, but if I had to guess, it might be saved for a SummerSlam crowning. Becky Lynch keeps her title, for now.

 

Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Given the state of this card, there’s a non-zero chance this will end up headlining the show. Yes, in spite of it being a rematch from a Mania bout that was fairly luckluster, and yes, in spite of it having no stakes and merely being the middle-match between Roman’s next bout with Shane McMahon. That’s just where we’re at right now. Frankly, the only reason not to do this would be because having Roman headline over both world titles in any situation would invite backlash in the very worst way.

In fairness to these two, their WrestleMania match was Roman’s first major singles outing since his leukemia went into remission. He was still building himself back up physically, with his return somewhat rushed to get him back in time for the Show of Shows. His more fragile state was also an extremely good reason for Drew to go easy on him. But considering the appeal of putting these two together is to see a high octane slugfest, it wasn’t the best of scenarios.

In theory, this match is much better positioned to be that kind of knock-down drag out affair. It may even benefit some from having lowered expectations as I could easily see them surprising people. Odds are that Shane McMahon will end up having way too big of an impact on this match to let it reach it’s full potential though. Either way, Roman will reign.

 

Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler

WWE Championship Steel Cage Match: Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler

In theory this story is honestly pretty good. Kofi and Ziggler had fairly similar career paths full of ups and downs, hot streaks and runs of obscurity. It’s not hard to imagine Ziggler seeing Kofi’s staggering, unexpected success and getting extremely jealous. His constant screaming that it should’ve been him, his entitled nature in contrast to Kofi’s constant humility, he’s really a good antithesis to Kofi’s character.

The problem is just how little of a point he has. Which, sure, the heel being wrong is fine, but having atleast a sliver of an argument tends to help. At the time the program started, Ziggler had been out of the game entirely for five months. Before that, he was in the same holding pattern his career has been in for the majority of the past several years.

Ziggler was never meant to be in this spot, plain and simple.

Bryan’s brief injury scare and Owens’ refusal to go to Jeddah thrust him here. Good on him for coming off the bench when needed I suppose, but… to put it bluntly, among the people that could potentially be WWE Champion in 2019, Dolph Ziggler probably doesn’t make the Top 30. Kofi’s here because he got on a hot streak, Ziggler’s here because their second choice had to be replaced. But hey, to be fair to him, he’s certainly been booked a lot stronger than Baron Corbin. And atleast his angle is actually pretty logical.

Well, okay, him coming back from his stand-up comedy tour to tell the New Day how much he hates comedy is maybe a little silly. But then, a lot of people hate comedy in wrestling. And I’m sure they can still find other things to laugh at, so hey.

Anyway, these are talented guys, but the lack of threat here isn’t the only hurdle they have to overcome in trying to put on a worthy world title bout. They’re also in a Steel Cage, WWE’s most over-saturated big stip match. Not to say that good Steel Cage matches haven’t happened at all in modern times, but they’re rare. One could carefully hinge the match on well-built cage spots or ignore the steel entirely and just go for an intense, straight-up match where the cage is simply atmosphere. But instead WWE tends to veer in the middle, and in the process excite nobody. Which, is basically their booking philosophy in a nutshell.

Anyway, Kofi Kingston will retain, but you knew that already.

 

Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin

WWE Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (C) vs. Baron Corbin (Special Guest Referee: TBD)

And here we have our much-maligned (probable) main event, featuring our most maligned main eventer as the challenger. From the outset, Baron seemed like an extremely weak opponent for Rollins. And uh, well, they’ve done quite a lot to confirm that ever since. They’ve made it clear with their booking that Corbin desperately needs the odds to be stacked in his favor to beat Seth. I think you could interpret his character as being a genuine heel underdog, which is… something.

Being a long-time NXT fan, I remember a day when Baron Corbin was a guy with an unmistakable aura. A star quality, if you will. He was built on sheer presence and it was so effective that many were convinced he’d be a big hit on the main roster. To think that he’s now set up as one of the least convincing challenges to a world champion in history, both in-story and out, is nothing short of amazing.

The story of the match is based all around Baron picking a guest referee to help him screw over Rollins. This past week, Rollins decided he was done with that noise and took a chair to everyone who even contemplated reffing this match. His goal was clear: to make sure that nobody wanted to dare help out Baron here. As a result, for what may be the fourth consecutive week, the hook they used to get people to tune into Raw – the ref being revealed in this case – ended up not panning out at all.

Given that recent track record, I’m going to make a bold declaration here.

Many have speculated as to who the referee will end up being. Knowing WWE, odds are good they haven’t figured it out themselves yet at the time of this writing. But my prediction… is that it will turn out to be absolutely nobody. Rollins’ intimidation towards the heel locker room will have succeeded. Baron will end up not being able to find anybody, and the match will proceed with a regular referee.

I say this knowing I’m very likely to end up looking silly, but I think it’s a very real possibility. The conditioning now is to assume anything WWE promises won’t pay off for one reason or another, so that’s my prediction. And as much as Baron Corbin is the Universal Champion that this show deserves, Seth Rollins will retain regardless. If this actually is a completely fair match, he may well beat him in about two minutes at that.

WWE Stomping Grounds will be streamed live on the WWE Network on Sunday, June 23rd.

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