Mark: This is the first (and possibly last if Great Balls Of Fire was anything to go by) Stomping Grounds PPV. To say I’m underwhelmed with the build would be an understatement. But you all know that I like to see the brighter side of things, so let’s see if we can do that in this preview! Some new and refreshing matchups sprinkled with some past PPV rematches. The card is good, let’s hope the wrestlers can deliver….
Marc: On Sunday, June 23rd, WWE for the first time presents their Stomping Grounds pay per view. The focus shouldn’t be on the running shoe logo that is being used in the logo of this event, or the rumored poor ticket sales for it. The focus should be on some pretty talented men and women who are coming together to put on the best show possible.
Despite skepticism about the prospects for the matches that have been booked, these are some talented athletes. The WWE championship and United States Championship matches, and the tag match pitting the New Day against Owens and Zayn are the matches that on paper catch the eye the most. So the event does have the potential to be quite exciting. Who will walk away as the winners in these matchups? Here is Pro Wrestling Post’s preview of WWE’s presentation of Stomping Grounds.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Akira Tozawa vs Drew Gulak vs Tony Nese (c)
Mark: Once again the 205 Live guys are being showcased in another multi-man match. This involves three Cruiserweight Classic originals. All three competed in the tournament nearly three years ago. They’ve seen champions come and go and rode the rough seas. Now is their time to shine.
Nese is the current holder, Tozawa is a former champion and Gulak has yet to taste the sweet championship glory. Which is why I think Drew and his PowerPoint slides will walk away victorious in one of the best matches of the night. All three will show that you shouldn’t sleep on 205 Live.
Marc: An interesting way to move towards having a rather unconventional triple threat Cruiserweight championship match. Mark brings up an interesting point in that having Gulak possibly walking away as the new champion a possibility. However, with how much stock seems to be put in Tony Nese’s growth that having him maintain his place atop the division.
The New Day (Xavier Woods/Big E) vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Mark: Owens is a Raw guy. Zayn is a SmackDown Live guy. What happens when you bring in the Wildcard rule? You get the reformation of one of the most polarizing tag teams in the past few years. Add to this Sami’s new gimmick of being brutally honest with everyone, and you have, what feels like to me, a brand new team.
With Big E only just returning from knee surgery, you would think that would leave Woods doing the majority of the work in this match. Could Big E be the weak link? That’s my thinking as I’m calling a Kevin and Sami victory.
Possibly sowing the seeds of the much-rumored New Day breakup too?
Marc: It could be said that this match seemingly came out of nowhere, but don’t forget that Xavier Woods and Big E are still seeking retribution on Kevin Owens. Fans will recall that Owens turned on his interim New Day faction mates shortly after joining the group. Owens may have subsequently lost to Kofi Kingston when he faced him for WWE championship, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have an issue with him.
The inclusion of Sami Zayn indicates that when we rope in Owens we rope in his friends. This tag team matchup could have future title implications. This will be a great challenge for both teams and will also be an appealing matchup, as fans wait to see who amongst them will walk away as the victors.
Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns
Mark: First past PPV rematch here. Well kinda. Drew and Roman haven’t been feuding so to speak. Drew has been a tool used by Shane McMahon in his battles with Reigns. That’s not to say that McIntyre won’t relish getting his hands on The Big Dog (ugh) to avenge his Mania loss.
Roman will be looking through The Scottish Psychopath to lay his paws on Shane. Could that be a mistake? Quite possibly, as Drew will probably not be alone at ringside. Bobby Lashley, Elias, or Shane himself could play a significant part in the outcome of this match. Actually, I think they will. A big tick in the win column for Drew here, as Stone Cold Roman Reigns versus Shane McMahon rivalry, continues.
Marc: This match came about after what recently took place in another country. Reigns was facing Shane McMahon and appeared set to capture the win over him, but McIntyre got involved and caused Reigns to lose. It was most embarrassing since it will go down that McMahon ultimately defeated the Big Dog. These two are no strangers to one another, as they faced each other at WrestleMania, with Reigns coming away victorious.
However, it would be strange if Reigns defeats McIntyre after losing to McMahon a couple of weeks back. Another question is, what would it mean if Reigns did, in fact, lose to McIntyre? What does that do for McIntyre’ future championship title hopes? And does it affect Reigns’ opportunity to challenge for the WWE championship? On Sunday there will be greater clarity after we see who walks as away the winner at Stomping Grounds.
WWE SmackDown Live Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss vs Bayley (c)
Mark: Do you remember when Alexa took the Raw Women’s Championship from Bayley a few years back? Could history repeat itself? It very well could if you listen to popular opinion. But I think this match could bring back a certain Boss to the company.
It seems that Alexa has cast a spell on Nikki Cross over the past few weeks. Befriending her, giving out advice. Alexa may possibly have Nikki in her corner for this contest. I’m kinda hoping it does. As that gives an in for Sasha Banks to come back and help even the odds against one of her greatest foes (especially on social media). Banks will nullify the threat of Cross, help Bayley retain, and then go straight into a program with Bliss. Maybe blur the lines of real-life and wrestling with the feud too? Hmmmm….
Marc: It is unusual to see this match booked, considering how disappointing their feud with one another a couple of years ago was, but here we are now at Stomping Grounds with the two facing one another. However, they seem to want to reinvigorate it here. Fans will recall that that less than spectacular feud included the easily forgettable ‘Bayley, This is your Life’ segment that was even criticized by WWE the following week.
This match came about because Bliss defeated Carmella and Charlotte Flair in a triple threat match to earn the opportunity to face Bayley for the Smackdown Live women’s championship. Bayley this time around carries a greater sense of self-assurance that makes her substantially different from how she was in the past. This time around we could see involvement on the part of Nikki Cross, who could try to secure a win for Bliss.
WWE United States Championship
Ricochet vs Samoa Joe (c)
Mark: Here’s one of those new fresh matchups I was talking about in the intro. This match has me thinking that their contrasting styles could give us a Match Of The Night contender.
Ricochet hasn’t long been on the main roster, but he’s turned heads. His athletic high flying style combined with his daredevil attitude has given him many fans. It’s also made WWE officials heads turn. With the support, he’s got and his death-defying matches, they’ve given him his first WWE title opportunity. It’s just a shame that he’s facing the Samoan Submission Machine!
Samoa Joe seems like he wants to not only elevate his stock but elevate the United States championship at the same time. Joe still strikes fear into almost all of the WWE roster, and with good reason too. The guy can take a pounding, he can throw down with the best of them, and he’s relentless in his pursuit of claiming victories. This attitude reminds me of when Kevin Owens came up from NXT with the Prizefighter mentality.
As much as I want a Ricochet victory (especially for my little wingman who adores him), all signs point to another dominant Samoa Joe win.
Marc: This match came about just this past week when Ricochet defeated Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, The Miz, and Cesaro in a fatal five-way to earn the opportunity at the United States Championship at Stomping Grounds. Ricochet had some help towards the end, as Cesaro and Lashley worked together to hold down Strowman while Ricochet hit his 630. After the match was over, Ricochet was attacked by the United States Champion Samoa Joe, in an effort to ensure he got the advantage for this weekend.
What ultimately happened was that Ricochet was left standing tall while Joe was forced to head for higher ground. This marks Ricochet’s first singles championship opportunity on the main roster. Fans will, of course, recall he held the NXT North American Championship during his time there. It will be an exciting match to be sure, as fans can anticipate tons of spots from Ricochet, not to mention his ability to sell Joe’s offense. This is easily one of the most anticipated matches of the night.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Lacey Evans vs Becky Lynch (c)
Mark: This, to me, is hard to call. Becky is still riding the crest of The Man wave. The whole WWE Universe is behind her. It would be difficult to bet against The Man right now. Except….
Uncle Vince has been building Lacey Evans up for some time now. She’s looked dominant at times. She can talk people into the building. And she’s legit (a former Marine). It would be really difficult to take her seriously if she loses to Becky again.
What I will say is that this will be a much better match than their last contest at Money In The Bank. It will feel like it has higher stakes as it’s just the one belt this time. And for that reason alone…..I think Lacey will sneak a victory here. Build her up as Becky really doesn’t need the title right now. Let them feud a little while longer and involve Lacey into the Alexa/Sasha program (see above) while Becky either takes a break for some R&R or possibly goes to SmackDown Live.
Marc: As part of a feud that has been going on since Money in the Bank, Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans are on a collision course to bring it to the next level at Stomping Grounds. We have seen what Evans’ confidence has done for her, and we have also seen the impact a ‘Women’s Right’ can have on her opponent. In the build to this match, Evans has wanted to ensure that Lynch knows that she was going to be in the ring with more than just a lady.
It was only this past week that it was pointed out that Evans was a Marine, but what fans don’t know is she grew up in an abusive household and came out the other side a better person and has had to fight to achieve the success that has come her way. With a character that is unlike many in WWE, Evans is set to make sure that any doubters give her the respect she so rightly demands.
WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships
Heavy Machinery vs Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c)
Mark: DBry went on record recently and said that Otis and Tucker just aren’t credible enough yet. He has a point. Out of all the teams in the SmackDown Live tag division, Heavy Machinery is probably the most credible. But when the division isn’t all that to start with….?
Bryan and Rowan have been great as champs so far. Very dominant, very vocal about what they want to do with the division.
I’m not saying it will be an easy victory for The Planet’s Champions, but a victory all the same. And as for Otis and Tucker? They’ll take the loss on the chin like men. They’ll learn from it, improve from it. And come back a stronger, meaner, more focused team.
Marc: Mark is certainly onto something with how Heavy Machinery seems to be headed in the direction as top contenders as contenders for the Smackdown Live tag team champions, but will they at Stomping Grounds? The problem some may have is that is there enough behind them as a duo for fans to get behind them as champions. Is Otis’ caterpillar enough for fans to shout from the rooftops that they need to be the new champions?
WWE Universal Championship
Baron Corbin vs Seth Rollins (c)
Special Referee: TBA
Mark: So many different story threads all in one match. Which seems to take away from the fact, does Corbin deserve to be in this spot? I kinda think he does. The heat he’s been garnering has been pretty vociferous for a start. He just has one of those faces and characters that you just want to hit. And he’s improved so much in the ring in the past year.
Rollins is most definitely the standard-bearer of the whole company. The measuring stick that all will be held against. That said, has his reign become stale? Is he only really interesting when he’s chasing not as the champion?
And that’s without the mystery of the special referee.
Even with all these threads, I think it’s safe to say that Corbin just isn’t ready yet. Seth will hold onto the title, even after the threat of a Brock Lesnar cashes in.
Marc: Over the past few weeks, Corbin and Rollins have been jockeying for position to see who truly has the upper hand in their feud with one another in the upcoming match at Stomping Grounds. A couple of weeks ago, Corbin said he would choose a special guest referee for this championship match. However, this past week his first, second and possibly third choices were wiped out by Rollins, who battered Elias, EC3 and Eric Young with a chair in an effort to ensure they would regret accepting Corbin’s offer to be the special guest referee.
Many have questioned the value of having Corbin contend for WWE Universal championship when the likes of Sami Zayn could provide some entertaining competition, were such a match provided enough time. Fans are having a hard time accepting the prospect of Corbin as champion. However, Rollins is at the top of his game right now.
Steel Cage Match
Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston (c)
Mark: I’m hoping it isn’t just me as I like the guy so much, but are you finding it hard to take Dolph Ziggler seriously? I know he was parachuted in as Kofi’s opponent, and as I said, I really like Ziggler’s work. But this whole “it should have been me” shtick just doesn’t wash with me.
Saying that this could be a hellacious match. Two fine workers in a steel cage – YES PLEASE! Give them twenty minutes of hard-hitting, high flying action, and you’ll have a very happy audience.
Let Kofi retain, celebrate with his New Day brethren, then drop a Brock Bomb! Yup, let Brock cash in and destroy each member of The New Day to become the new WWE Champion. And then watch the IWC lose its collective shit and call it a travesty without letting things unfold first 😉
Marc: A longstanding rivalry is rekindled as Kingston and Ziggler face each other once again at Stomping Grounds. They recently faced each other in Saudi Arabia, the result of events that transpired a few weeks before. On an episode of Smackdown Live, after Kingston defeated Sami Zayn, he was preoccupied with whether or not Brock Lesnar was going to cash in his Money in the Bank opportunity.
Instead, something unforeseen happened: former world champion Dolph Ziggler attacked him from behind and laid a beating on him, which included wrapping a chair around his neck and beating him down with it on. Ziggler has asserted that he was more deserving of the opportunity to hold the championship, and because of that assertion, he wants to take away the championship from Kingston. Will Ziggler make good on his promise, or will Kingston ensure that it will continue to be a new day for the championship?
To reach Mark Blake feel free to do so here and to reach me feel free to do so here. For Mark Blake, this is Marc Madison as we are a Commonwealth Connection (he’s the William Regal to my Lance Storm, someone will get that reference) and this was our preview of WWE’s Stomping Grounds.