Stomping Grounds was the first event of its name on The WWE Network. It featured seven championship matches, and two grudge matches. This show was highly criticized for the lack of ticket sales and creativity for the show. So how did the show do? Here is my report card.
Kickoff Match: Drew Gulak defeated WWE Cruiserweight Champion Tony Nese and Akira Tozawa to win the championship when he pinned Tozawa with The Argentine Cutter in 11:25
Grade: 3.75 stars, (A-). Once again, the 205 Live Cruiserweight Championship Match was regulated to the kickoff show; however, this match was a great opener. There was a lot of action and false finishes to the small crowd’s delight. Gulak winning was a great moment as his character has been a quiet highlight of 205 Live.
Match 1: RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch defeated Lacey Evans by submission to the Disarmher in 11:20
Grade: 2.25 stars, (C). This was a rematch from Money In the Bank in May where Lynch defeated Evans to retain the RAW Title, but Lacey cost Becky The Smackdown Live Women’s Championship to Charlotte Flair later that night. As many challengers tonight, Evans felt like a B+ player, and not ready for a Title Match on a major show. This match was better than their match was at Money in the Bank, but it was still flawed as Becky has lost a little bit of her luster since WrestleMania.
Match 2: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Big E. and Xavier Woods when Owens pinned Woods with The Stunner in 11:10
Grade: 3.25 stars (B). This was a tremendous tag team match that deviated from the traditional WWE formula. Owens and Zayn just dominated Woods at the beginning until he was finally able to tag Big E. This match surprisingly delivered and the fans enjoyed it. It will be interesting to see where Owens and Zayn go moving forward.
Match 3: Ricochet pinned WWE U.S. Champion Samoa Joe with the 630 Splash to win the championship in 12:30
Grade: 3 stars, (B-). Joe lost the title to Rey Mysterio at Money in the Bank; however, Mysterio had to forfeit the title back to Joe due to injury. Ricochet won a Five-Man Elimination Match last Monday on RAW to earn this opportunity. This was another fun match as both men played to their strengths well. The beginning was a little slow to me, but the second half of the match was amazing. They treated the win as a big deal for Ricochet, which was nice to see.
Match 4: Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions Rowan and The New Daniel Bryan defeated Heavy Machinery when Bryan pinned Tucker with a Small Package in 14:25
Grade: 2.75 stars, (C+). The Washington fans still loved Daniel Bryan greeting him with not only the traditional “Yes Chants” but with chants of “Captain Planet”, and “Please Recycle”. Another surprisingly good tag team match here as Heavy Machinery did not seem to be phased by the boos that they were receiving. Their stock really rose in this match, in my opinion.
Match 5: Smackdown Live Women’s Champion Bayley pinned Alexa Bliss with The Bayley to Belly in 10:50
Grade: 2 stars, (C-). Bayley won the Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match last month and cashed in on new Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair to win the title the same night. Despite being on the RAW roster, Alexa Bliss took advantage of the Wild Card rule and won a Triple Threat Match on Smackdown to become the #1 contender. This match was not good. I could not get into the portions where Bliss was in control and the ending seemed a little over complicated. Bayley hit a dive onto Nikki Cross who was on the floor. This allowed Bliss to take control and was about to hit Bayley with Twisted Bliss but Cross got on the apron distracting everybody allowing Bayley to pick up the win.
Match 6: Roman Reigns pinned Drew McIntrye with the Spear in 17:40
Grade: 3 stars, (B-). Shane McMahon would get involved earlier and often, and he actually played the heel manager role great. This was better than their match was at WrestleMania. This match had a much better finishing sequence. It followed the same format as many Roman Reigns matches and you enjoy the formula or you do not at this point. Looking at the bigger picture, it does seem odd that Shane beat Roman at Super Showdown but Drew has not been able to beat Roman as of yet.
Match 7: WWE Champion Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler in a Steel Cage Match by escaping the cage in 20:05
Grade: 3.5 stars, (B). This match received a lot of mixed reviews. I feel if you look at this match in a bubble and not part of the greater story, you will enjoy it more. That being said, this match was not without its flaws, as the cage seemed to hinder both men’s strengths. However, a solid match and a creative finish was enough to warrant the grade I gave it, but it is surely not for everybody.
Match 8: Universal Champion Seth Rollins pinned Baron Corbin with The Stomp in 18:45.
Grade: 1 star, (D-). The big question going into this match was who was going to be the special guest referee. Rollins threatened to destroy anyone who even considered accepting the role. Baron Corbin selected Lacey Evans the rival of Rollins girlfriend Becky Lynch someone who Rollins would not hit with a chair or strike at all. This match was every stereotypical match with a biased referee rolled up into one. Evans was biased to the point where she started physically attacking Rollins causing Lynch to come out and attack Evans causing a regular referee to come out and finish the match. The other big problem with this match was that Corbin just does not have any credibility to be champion and everyone knew Rollins would somehow overcome the odds and retain the championship. The WWE would have been better off using another wrestler to challenge Rollins or have Corbin win the championship and hope the shock factor brings some attention the product.
Overall Show Grade: 2.72, (C). The definition of an average show. A few matches over delivered, The Cage Match and Reigns vs. McIntyre are not for everybody, but I enjoyed them. The main event left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The WWE needs to get out of its holding pattern it has been in since WrestleMania. There are positives and negatives about the WWE right now, but the negatives are greatly outnumbering the positives. I feel this event is a good representation of the WWE product right now, but that is not a good thing.