WWE Stomping Grounds took place Sunday night at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. Originally titled Backlash, this pay-per-view was created and held on this Sunday in June after the realignment of WWE’s pay-per-view calendar after moving Super Showdown from its original May date to June. The show’s main event was a rematch between Seth Rollins and Baron Corbin with a challenger-picked special guest referee awaiting the Beast-slayer. Elsewhere, Kofi Kingston continued his feud with Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Championship inside a steel cage and Ricochet sought to earn his first main roster championship by taking on United States Champion Samoa Joe.
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Lacey Evans
Becky got a strong reaction from the Tacoma crowd, and Lacey got an equally strong heel reaction, as well. There was a bad miss in the middle in the match when Becky went for a kick while on the turnbuckle but Lacey wasn’t in position, causing a second or two of confusion. Lacey focused on the champion’s ribs through stretching Lynch on the ring post to punching and kicking her square on the left side of her ribcage. I liked the spot where after Lacey rubbed her body sweat onto a handkerchief, Becky shoved it into Lacey’s mouth. This match wasn’t awful, but it didn’t have a great flow to it and it was rather clunky at times, in my opinion. Lacey has a great gimmick, but with a little more in-ring training and character backstory, she can come back as a new, not exactly repackaged, but rejuvenated challenger for the RAW Women’s Championship down the line.
Winner: Becky Lynch Time: 11:30 Rating: 2 Stars
Big E and Xavier Woods vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
This was the typical “henchmen vs. henchmen” match between four guys attached to the main event who won’t appear at ringside during the championship cage match. KO started the match with a fury of super kicks and a monstrous swanton bomb on Xavier Woods. Owens and Zayn just absolutely dominated Woods in the beginning minutes of this match via a Blue Thunder Bomb, a giant frog splash and multiple submission holds. The story told in this match was the tried and true tag team story of the two heels ganging up on the smaller of the two babyfaces, ultimately leading to an explosive hot tag to the rested babyface on the apron in Big E. Shout-out to Woods for essentially reverse-squatting Big E on his shoulders for the latter to fall on Zayn. The match became very chaotic in the end minutes with all four guys knocking each other out one by one with successive big strikes. A very fun match.
Winner: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn Time: 11:05 Rating: 3 Stars
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Ricochet
Joe began the match by slapping and kicking a downed Ricochet to inflict as much humiliation as he could alongside pain. They tried to enact a sort of David v. Goliath story here with Ricochet’s early offense not making much of an impact against the U.S. Champion while Joe could easily knock Ricochet off his feet with an elbow strike or a chop to the chest. The only chance Ricochet would get in an offensive advantage would be by combo moves like multiple kicks and flips using his speed and versatility to his advantage. I really liked the decision to give the belt to Ricochet to not only add some new gusto to RAW’s mid-card, but to also give the relatively recent NXT call-up a bit more gasoline as a babyface. Good match and a good title change, too.
Winner: Ricochet Time: 12:25 Rating: 3 Stars
Daniel Bryan and Rowan (C) vs. Heavy Machinery
I have a question that I’m sure many of you reading this probably have, as well: Why is Bryan wearing a leather tag team belt when the majority of his character earlier this year was to denigrate meat-eaters and –wearers. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense when the literal symbol of Bryan’s WWE Championship reign was a recyclable symbol of his own success and hubris to the WWE Universe.
Anyway, the Aberdeen native received a great ovation from the Tacoma crowd. So much so that the intended babyfaces were the de facto heels here. I didn’t hate this match, but it didn’t live up to the Owens/Zayn—New Day tag match earlier in the night. However, I will say that Heavy Machinery looked as great as they ever have on WWE or NXT television in this match. Otis is always a bundle of joy and a total Hoss in the ring, but Tucker made sure to do his damndest to show-off his in-ring skills via sprinting around the ring and flying through the air on a 6+ foot moonsault. A creative and thought-out ending, but I thought this match was just okay.
Winner: Daniel Bryan and Rowan Time: 14:25 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Bayley (C) vs. Alexa Bliss
I was very skeptical of this match going into Sunday night. Not because of the build-up in the last few weeks (which has been very solid drawing back on the two’s history going back to NXT as well as including the budding friendship between Bliss and Nikki Cross), but due to the last time these two had a championship match at Extreme Rules 2017, it was one of the worst matches I remember from 2017 mostly in terms of character believability and in-match storytelling. To me, if you want to point at one moment being the beginning of the “downfall” for Bayley on the main roster, it was that match/feud with Bliss. But, that being said, two years and a Money in the Bank cash-in later, Bayley has re-cooped a good bit of her lost momentum.
Anyway, this match was a lot better than their aforementioned encounter but it didn’t amaze me. Bayley came right out of the gate throwing right hands at Bliss before the challenger would begin to lead Bayley into the corner and ram her with her shoulder. Bliss focused on Bayley’s right arm for the second half of this match after throwing the Hugger into the ring post. I was a little confused by Cross’ actions in trying to go after Bayley, and by consequence, influenced the ultimate end of the match with Bayley picking up the win with a Bayley-to-Belly after a missed Twisted Bliss. It was almost like Cross wanted to do something more to Bayley but then thought better of it and stopped at the last-second. Regardless, that signals the beginning of a new chapter in the interesting and budding friendship between Cross and Bliss, which has been one of the better storylines on RAW in recent weeks. Not a bad match, but not special or really worthy of a pay-per-view.
Winner: Bayley Time: 10:35 Rating: 2 Stars
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
As I stated in my review of Super Showdown, I am losing more and more interest in any segment that has anything to do with Shane McMahon. However, I will say Shane’s presence at ringside in this match added a whole new level of intrigue and in-ring possibilities that wasn’t available to Reigns and McIntyre during their previous match-up at WrestleMania. Much like their previous encounter, this was a back-and-forth, clash of the titans-esque brawl. But this time, for whatever reason, this encounter kept me engaged throughout the fight. Roman chasing Shane around the WWE Universe, Drew trying to stretch Roman in a submission hold and Drew delivering a slingshot slam to Roman face-first on the announce table. Add in sporadic Shane interferences sprinkled throughout and you have one of my favorite matches of the night. This had me so invested that I really thought either man would walk out of Tacoma with the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns Time: 17:20 Rating: 3 Stars
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler
I like Kofi, and I like Dolph. However, these two have not been able to create any long-standing and memorable matches during their brief feud. On top of that, WWE hasn’t had a truly memorable cage match in quite some time, but this was still a passable match between two veteran performers. In an attempt to beat down the champion to the point of defeat, Ziggler focused heavily on Kofi’s legs. Dolph did his best to scratch and claw and kick at any potential way out of the steel structure, until Kofi was there to hold him back. I was a big fan of the ending they employed here by giving Kofi a logical and exciting last second grasp to retain the title by leaping through the ring ropes inches above Dolph to escape the cage and Stomping Grounds with the WWE Championship in tow. Not a whole lot to say or add other than that.
Winner: Kofi Kingston Time: 20:00 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Baron Corbin
After much speculation, Baron Corbin’s hand-picked special guest referee was revealed to be none other than Lacey Evans. I liked this choice because it was a little outside the box and it signals WWE is turning up the heat on playing up the relationship between Seth and Becky, which at the minimum, should create something new and unique in terms of RAW’s main event picture. This match wasn’t all that different from the two’s match at Super Showdown (which wasn’t that stellar in itself), but Lacey being the referee added a lot more entertainment via the usual trademark heel referee tactics of slow-counts and leniency towards the heel. Coupled with the eventual return of Lynch to enact some surrogate revenge on Evans on the behalf of Rollins, the last few minutes of this match were able to save this main event match-up from being a straight-up dud.
Winner: Seth Rollins Time: 18:25 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Overall Thoughts: When I first heard about this pay-per-view and the first few match announcements, my interest in this show was very low. It was lower than I can remember caring about the WWE product in quite some time. That being said, this pay-per-view surpassed my expectations and delivered a good bit of entertainment over the course of three-and-a-quarter hours. Match of the night honors go out to Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns followed by the Owens/Zayn—New Day tag match. (Shout-out to the Cruiserweight Championship triple threat for putting on a fun pre-show match to get the crowd excited for the main card, as well). My least favorite matches of the night were the two Women’s Championship matches due to clunky-ness and lack of a compelling in-match story.
Final Stomping Grounds Rating: 3 Stars
- Becky Lynch vs Lacey Evans
- New Day vs Owens/Zayn
- Samoa Joe vs Ricochet
- Bryan/Rowan vs Heavy Machinery
- Bayley vs Alexa Bliss
- Roman Reigns vs Drew McIntyre
- Kofi Kingston vs Dolph ZIggler
- Seth Rollins vs Baron Corbin