Let’s not sugar coat this, the PPV name and card were pretty off putting. WWE seems to have an affinity for old songs and rematches. However, the show was surprisingly good. There were some really strong matches on this show despite the rushed nature and lacklustre marketing. That being said this was by no means a perfect show. There is a lot to discuss here as there’s stupid matches, good matches, title changes and some good old-fashioned Shane McMahon shenanigans. Let’s get into it.
No Fly Zone
Despite being relegated to the pre-show once again, the cruiserweights borderline stole the show with this hectic three-way bout. All three men brought their A game and Gulak walked away with the belt after Tozawa took out Nese and Gulak was able to hit Tozawa with the Torture Rack Neck Breaker. All three men shone, Tozawa went flying, Nese was the strong man and Gulak was cunningly picking his spots and savaging his opponents when he got the chance. It was a nice mix of styles that highlighted the diversity of the cruiserweight division. This deserved to be on the main card for the Suplex spots alone. There need to be more PPVs where the cruiserweights get main card places as they shouldn’t be as overshadowed as they are.
Start the Night Right
It was a good decision to start the show with Becky vs Lacey. It may not be the most interesting match on the card but it was certainly an enjoyable spectacle to see. Lynch was much more submission and striking focused, showing more aggression and even breaking out the Mandible Claw to shove Lacey Evans’ handkerchief down her throat. Lacey received a lot of hate from the crowd but she is definitely showing more confidence on the main roster and in ring. It wasn’t a flawless match by any means but considering it was a rematch from Money in the Bank, it was a decent match to start the show and hopefully put an end to this feud.
Third Time’s the Charm
Finally, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have had success as a tag team. They took the beatings from earlier and the week and used them as fuel to start a Superkick Party and demolish Xavier. They worked in tandem to keep Big E out of the match for as long as possible and withstand the beatings the New Day gave them. Even if I wasn’t such a fan of Owens and Zayn, I’d be celebrating anyway as this was an amazing tag bout despite there being no titles on the line in it. The match started with the average tag match formula but instead of just having the faces come back, we got a somewhat shocking finish giving how badly KO and Zayn have been booked by having KO pick up the win with a Stunner to Xavier. Let’s also celebrate the fact that Big E is back to nearly killing himself by spearing people through the ropes.
One and Only US Champ
Poor Samoa Joe, he only just got his belt back and he’s gone and lost it again. But, it’s to someone incredibly deserving of the belt, Ricochet. The high flyer went through hell as Joe brutalised him throughout the match. Speed saved Ricochet and the 630 Senton was the bullet that put the destroyer down for good. It was vicious, flippy and intense, which is exactly what you’d want from these two. It’s a shame Joe couldn’t keep the title but it’ll be interesting to see what they do with Ricochet as champion.
WWE has too many titles, this we can all agree on but there were three titles missing from this show, The RAW tag titles, The Women’s Tag titles and the IC Title. Now tag wrestling on the whole seems like a bottom tier priority to WWE but the IC title not being there, especially since it’s on fan favourite Finn Balor, is a seriously odd scenario. I’m fine with them not adding more matches to the card if there’s no point in them but this was a card of rematches so one more would have been at home here. Well that and the fact I want another Andrade/Finn Balor match.
This hurts to type as I love Drew McIntyre and have grown to enjoy Roman Reigns but this match was bad. Not through any actions of the wrestlers but because of Shane McMahon. Had this just been the brutal, vicious brawl that it was then this would have been an exciting fight between two powerhouses. Instead it had stooge McIntyre being saved by a guy who struggled to get out of a jacket and still failing to win the match. Roman returned to invincible mode and Drew, despite looking so strong during the match, ended it on his back. The Shane story is claiming casualties as it made Drew McIntyre boring, which should have been impossible. This was a predictable, by the numbers match in terms of interference which certainly hurt the viewing experience as you could count down to a ref pull or cheap shot. These two could have had one hell of a frantic match had it not been so marred by McMahon sweat.
WWE Title Snooze
It’s a shame about Kofi’s title reign. Everyone was so happy for him at Wrestlemania but now it’s become a limp feud against Dolph Ziggler, a man no one cares about anymore. Their steel cage match was a drag and it’s a real shame. Kofi seemed to be so full of promise but he has been given so little to work with. “It should have been me!” No Dolph it really shouldn’t have been. The match dragged on way too long but hey at least the finish was fun as Kofi jumped over Ziggler to escape through the cage door at the very last second. Shame the rest of the match was mostly dull and forgettable.
THAT Main Event
So…. I didn’t hate this. It was silly beyond belief, a waste of a main event and yet another disservice to Baron Corbin but there was at least some fun to it. The downside is it was another long, heel dominated match that you could predict. The second Lacey Evans was announced as the special guest referee, you knew what was going to happen. The whole match was rooted in the fact that Becky Lynch is Seth Rollins girlfriend and Evans hates her, especially since she lost to her earlier in the show. It also doesn’t look good that Corbin still couldn’t win despite all the advantages he had. No one really won here and it felt like one big joke to end a show no one cared about.
That SmackDown Tag Match
I don’t know how to feel about this match. It was fun but it wasn’t exactly good. Heavy Machinery are the best tag team the SmackDown division has right now so it makes sense to build them as competitors but to have their first match in enemy territory just felt weird. The crowd were never behind them and continuously cheered for their hometown heel, Daniel Bryan. That being said the match was pretty enjoyable so hopefully we get a round two that plays out nicer with a bit more build and more fun. Plus let’s face it, we could all use a bit more Otis in our lives. If they can make Heavy Machinery into more believable competition then SmackDown may have a hope of expanding its tag division and making it feel relevant again.
Also, just to continue the SmackDown Champion troubles, why was a RAW star challenging for the title? Again, there were decent moments in the match but the story was too obvious and Bliss was never believable as a victorious challenger. Why did we not have Ember Moon or any other SmackDown woman in this match instead.
Those Sales Figures
Oddly enough, this was one of the emptiest PPV arenas in recent memory yet the crowd still seemed more alive than larger audiences. The card was not particularly enticing and it was impossible not to see how many empty seats there were. That being said, this wasn’t a negative, just weird. Was this some “Backlash” from the Saudi Show or if the crowd just didn’t want a rematch fest of a card. That’s all there really is to say, not a lot of people there but there was a fairly decent, if piss taking atmosphere present the whole time.
So, there you have it, Stomping Grounds reviewed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means but it certainly won’t win any show of the year awards. I’m glad that it took a lacklustre card and made some absolutely awesome matches and shock title changes. It wasn’t the most outrageous PPV but I can guarantee the only things people will talk about are Ricochet and Becky Lynch bailing out Seth Rollins. There’s some hope that there will be some new stories and build now we’re past this hump of rapid-fire shows. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.