WWE Stomping Grounds 2019
June 23, 2019
Watch: WWE Network
Meet our previewers
Suit Williams: Despite my lack of interest in the current WWE product, I couldn’t pass up a chance to preview the FIRST EVER Stomping Grounds event, the logo of which had to be inspired by the…interests of Tony Atlas. You can follow me on Twitter @SuitWilliams, and keep up with NXT with the Black and Gold Binge on this very website.
Barry Hess: He managed to stay awake for the duration of Monday’s episode of RAW for just the third time since WrestleMania…so he’s got that going for him. Follow him @BFHess171
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Tony Nese © vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak
Suit: Tozawa and Gulak pinned each other in an excellent four way on the 6/12 205 Live, which led to this three way title match. Gulak and Nese are fine with a capital F, but I want Stamina Monster Tozawa to win. I wonder if he got that nickname because he bangs for a long time. Seriously though, Tozawa has had some bangers this year, both on 205 Live and on PPV preshows, and he’s one of the few guys left on 205 that consistently get the crowd interested. He’s earned a real run with the belt.
Prediction: Akira Tozawa
Barry: Drew Gulak is a Northeast Philly guy, just like me, so I have to root for him by law, but his talent makes it easy to like him. I do not follow 205 Live so I have no background on the story that got us to this match. I’ve been underwhelmed by Tony Nese since I first saw him in the Cruiserweight Classic. Conversely, I’ve quite enjoyed what I’ve seen from Akira Tozawa, limited though that may be. This should be a fun little match.
Prediction: Drew Gulak
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Daniel Bryan & Rowan © vs. Heavy Machinery
Suit: My hope is that Daniel Bryan kicks Otis so hard that he turns into Taz, instead of the Chris Farley impersonator he is now. Both tag divisions are ankle deep in talent, so hopefully we see Heavy Machinery in a way that allows for people to take them a little more seriously. Or, you know, Otis can do the worm again.
Prediction: Bryan and Rowan
Barry: Daniel Bryan wants to invigorate WWE’s tag team division and boy does he have his work cut out for him. When I saw The Revival walking around with the RAW tag team titles this past week I genuinely had no idea how or when they came to be champions ( I still don’t because I didn’t even care enough to look it up). Things aren’t much better on the SmackDown Live side of things, proven by the inconsequential manner this very match came to be. I expect this to be a good match, but I have no faith it will mean anything at all by the time all four men return to the locker room. When WWE starts to put more than 30 seconds of thought into its tag team divisions, so will I.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan & Erik Rowan
The New Day vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Suit: I pretend to act like I don’t know what’s going on with WWE storylines, but I genuinely don’t know the cause for this match. It’s two good teams having a match on PPV. I hope they get some time, because this can be good if creative stays out of the way. But this is WWE, and creative never stays out of the way. Owens pins Xavier, and hopefully gets back in the World Title picture.
Prediction: Owens & Zayn
Barry: For my money Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn remain two of the most compelling characters on WWE television no matter what they’re doing, who they are working with or how bad the material they are given may be. They truly are WWE-proof. I’ve enjoyed Owens’ feud with New Day and this match should be a fun way to keep the story going. Big E’s sporadic appearances of late has freshened up the act after an extended period of overexposure. Xavier Woods remains one of the most underrated in-ring performers on WWE’s roster, which is shocking to me considering how long he’s been performing on the main roster at this point. New Day got the better of Owens and Zayn on television this week so I’m assuming this match will go the other way as the story continues to unfold.
Prediction:Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
WWE United States Championship
Samoa Joe © vs. Ricochet
Suit: This match has the potential to be the best on the show. However, I felt the same way for Samoa Joe’s feud with Rey Mysterio, and both of their matches went less than three minutes. Can this match avoid the same pitfall? We can only hope. As far as who wins, I’ll say Joe retains. It’s fair to assume that this wasn’t the original plan, as Rey got hurt at Money In The Bank. Combine that with Ricochet already getting stuck in the slurry that is the WWE midcard, and I’ll comfortably say that Joe retains.
Prediction: Samoa Joe
Barry: Are we all still upset about the sound effects added to Ricochet’s entrance music? In an era where WWE provides such a plethora of things to get legitimately upset about, I have to say that might be the dumbest thing I listened or read people complain about in a long time. Nevertheless, it doesn’t really feel like there’s much of a high level plan for Ricochet right now and that might be the best thing he has going for him. He comes out every week, wrestles a match, leaves a positive impression and then he’s gone before something negatively impacts my opinion of him. The best-of-three television series he had with the somewhat repackaged Cesaro was enjoyable, as was the multi-man match to crown a No. 1 contender to Samoa Joe’s United States Championship. Joe remains the best promo currently employed by WWE, a fact that has really saved the US title after Rey Mysterio’s injury forced the creative to take a hard right turn. It’s tempting to identify this match as the potential match of the night, but I’m thinking this may prove to be more of a story advancement match more than anything else. Maybe Cesaro gets involved or maybe Joe steals a win using underhanded tactics; something to build this relatively cold program into something more meaningful. There’s more than enough talent between these two veteran performers to make something like that compelling so I’m fine with that.
Prediction: Samoa Joe
WWE Championship – Steel Cage Match
Kofi Kingston © vs. Dolph Ziggler
Suit: Dolph Ziggler got pulled from his “stand-up comedy” ambitions to fill in for Kevin Owens because Owens didn’t want to go to Saudi Arabia. Now I do enjoy Dolph’s whining that he should have gotten that groundswell of support, as there is a bit of truth there. He should’ve been an upper level guy by now, but never truly got that chance. But that doesn’t change the fact that if Kevin Owens gets on that flight, Dolph would be in Stand Up Scottsdale (shout out Bar Rescue) making Daniel Tosh-esque jokes. While I thought Kofi would have lost the title by this point, I’m sure as hell not picking against him here.
Prediction: Kofi Kingston
Barry: It’s difficult for me to justify my negative attitude towards Kofi Kingston’s reign as WWE Champion. There is not one shred of evidence, not one fact I can cite that proves it was an ill-advised move from either a business or creative point of view. Creatively, Vince McMahon chose to do something he’s proven unwilling to do for almost two decades, he listened to his audience, recognized an audible was needed at the top of his card and tailored a new story around a star the fans organically came to love. All of that is incredibly positive. Businesswise, WWE would likely be doing exactly as it is today had Daniel Bryan retained the title at WrestleMania 35, a fact that has absolutely nothing to do with Bryan or Kingston, so at worst it’s a push. Since winning the championship Kingston has been booked pretty well in terms of a babyface champion.Nothing otherworldly, but a babyface champion that actually wins matches and doesn’t look like an incompetent fool is somewhat rare in WWE lately.
Having said all that, I really dislike Kingston as champion. I didn’t care about him during the build to WrestleMania 35 and I care even less about him now. I’m just going to say it, he doesn’t have the chops to perform as a main event act in my opinion. I feel bad saying that because I know so many are enjoying this run, but there really isn’t one aspect of the character that I’ve enjoyed since the angle began. I simply don’t believe him as the WWE Champion, which is really saying something in the year 2019. Becoming WWE Champion was a lifelong dream for Kingston, a dream he never gave up on, even after all those years stuck in the mud, right up until his glorious Meadowlands victory. I know this because Xavier Woods and Big E told me. I believed them when they said it. I don’t believe Kingston when he says it. Nothing about Kingston’s demeanor or delivery as champion gives me the impression that he’s willing to die to maintain the title he dreamed of winning for so long. Nothing about him makes me want to invest in him. He’s not a fiery babyface. He’s not an underdog babyface. He’s not a tactical babyface. He’s just a babyface who happens to be champion. A babyface that is routinely overshadowed by the other two personalities in New Day. A babyface who hasn’t grown or developed in any meaningful way since winning the title almost three months ago.
As far as Dolph Ziggler goes, his ‘it should have been me’ routine is, well it’s not great. As understated as Kingston has been is how over the top and silly Ziggler comes off. The concept is fine and it could have been a decent story under other circumstances, but this was never meant to be anything other than a brief stop-gap type story and it shows. The in-ring will be decent enough and if we get a fun match out of it then I’ll take it as a win.
Prediction: Kofi Kingston
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Bayley © vs. Alexa Bliss
Bayley: Oh god, I’m having flashbacks to that godawful Kendo Stick on a Pole match these two had some years back. Bliss has been making Nikki Cross think that Bayley is ACTUALLY BAD, so I’m guessing she’ll play a role here. Bayley has been booked well as a champion for the first time since NXT, but it’s Bayley so it can’t last long. I will pick Bliss to become a…SIX TIME champion? She’s been a champ five times? When did that happen?
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Barry: So Alexa Bliss had coffee spilled on her and that transcendent event was the catalyst for a babyface turn. Now we’re just replaying the Alexa/Nia Jax story from 2018 with Nikki Cross in the role of the unsuspecting friend being taken advantage of. Awesome. Meanwhile Bayley’s character continues to float around the ether of WWE’s universe like the lava in a lava lamp. Will Sasha Banks make her triumphant return? If she does can she just turn on Bayley from the jump and go back to being the heel she’s supposed to be?
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
Suit: Roman Reigns will beat Drew McIntyre, after soundly losing to a 50-year-old non-wrestler just a few weeks ago. I wonder why Drew can’t get over?
Prediction: Roman Reigns
Barry: I’ve seen Roman Reigns beat Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 35. I’ve seen Reigns beat McIntyre on television in singles matches and in tags. I can’t really fathom why I need to see it again. The overarching Shane McMahon storyline is what’s really confusing though. As someone who generally enjoys Shane angles and matches, this post-WrestleMania turn of events has been really bad. Nothing about this story is compelling in any way, shape or form. And again, if ever there was a pro-McMahon voice here at Voices of Wrestling, it would be me. This needs to die a quick death, but we’re probably getting some iteration of this angle all the way through Summer Slam. Ugh.
Prediction: Drew McIntyre
WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch © vs. Lacey Evans
Suit: Lacey Evans is awesome at everything that isn’t wrestling. Her Twitter is fun, her coming out with MONEY GUNS at the last show was great, and her music is really catchy (but really bad). I wish she was in NXT still so I could hype her up while she got her reps in, but she’s not, so I can’t. No, what we get is an incomplete product going up against the hottest woman in the company. Hottest as in crowd reaction, I mean. Well, Becky is really hot though. Nevermind. Becky wins.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
Barry: This feud got off on the right food prior to Money in the Bank. The television angles had real intensity to them and this cold program turned into something I wanted to see. But the match at Money in the Bank lacked much of that intensity, however, and each week since more of that original intensity has evaporated. Lacey Evans hasn’t been done any favors with her promo material or stage direction (if she’s even given any) and Becky Lynch is a shell of her former self. As a side note, why do I need to know that Lynch is dating Seth Rollins? It doesn’t enhance her character (or Rollins’ character) in any way. They aren’t actively using the information to advance storylines. And yet it’s being brought up almost every week with no value added. Stop it.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
WWE Universal Championship
Seth Rollins © vs. Baron Corbin
Suit: Baron Corbin is to 2019 WWE as Jeff Jarrett was to 2000 WCW. Guys who could be good in a certain context pushed way beyond their ability (in Corbin’s case) or their crowd momentum (in Jarrett’s case). People will look back on WWE in 15-20 years and wonder what people saw in this schlubby tall guy. Unless they’re contrarian types, then they’ll say he should’ve been World Champion. The intrigue here is the guest referee, who Corbin never named on Raw despite them advertising it. Theoretically it has to be someone important, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was just another guy on the roster. Whoever it is, Rollins will overcome the odds and retain here, because god help us if Vince McMahon thinks the solution to his plummeting ratings is Baron fucking Corbin.
Prediction: Seth Rollins
Barry: About six months ago I made the comment that I could see Baron Corbin inheriting Kane’s placeholder role that was the first to feud with a new champion after WrestleMania every year. I was only half serious, but that appears to be exactly where Corbin finds himself these days. The thing about Corbin is that he’s actually turned out to be a serviceable heel, but he’s been so woefully overexposed that it doesn’t matter. I’ve really enjoyed the edgier Seth Rollins we’ve gotten the last few weeks and am hoping it continues. If your slogan is ‘burn it down’ then actually act like someone who wants to burn it down. Don’t tell me how edgy and aggressive you are, show me. Brock Lesnar’s tangential involvement in the Universal Championship storyline has been hit and miss. I suppose either he or Paul Heyman could be the special referee to tease the Money in the Bank cash-in, but ultimately I don’t think we’re getting the WrestleMania rematch until Summer Slam. Part of me feels like the groundwork for a Rollins vs. Kingston match to unify the two top championships ahead of the FOX deal has been in the works since the night after WrestleMania. They teased the match the night after WrestleMania 35 and the two have had multiple interactions since then that at least planted the seed in my mind. But this is WWE we’re talking about and that amount of pre-planning and long term storytelling is a benefit of the doubt I’m not remotely ready to explore at this point in time.
Prediction: Seth Rollins