Tonight was the first ever WWE Stomping Grounds pay-per-view and I can honestly say that I went into this show with very low expectations. I always enjoyed the show known as “Backlash” and I was very disappointed that it was renamed. With recycled matches from the last two months, with no buildup and the reports of low ticket sales I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the show. Before I get into the show itself, here are the results of the inaugural Stomping Grounds pay-per-view:
-Kickoff Show: Drew Gulak defeated Akira Tozawa and Tony Nese to become the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion
-Becky Lynch defeated Lacey Evans to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Xavier Woods and Big E
-Ricochet defeated Samoa Joe to become the new WWE United States Champion
-Daniel Bryan and Rowan defeated Heavy Machinery to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
-Bayley defeated Alexa Bliss to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
-Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre
-Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler inside a Steel Cage to retain the WWE Championship
-Seth Rollins defeated Baron Corbin to retain the WWE Universal Championship
The Kickoff Show match was a barn burner for the Cruiserweight Championship. The competitors of 205 Live once again proved the undervalued, unappreciated and that they should be on the main card of every single show. I was honestly surprised to see Gulak get the title this soon after Tony Nese winning it. It appears Gulak will go into his hometown of Philadelphia on July 14th at Extreme Rules as Cruiserweight Champion. The main card opened up with Becky Lynch defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans. These two have been at each others throats for a while now and it was good to see them go head to head without Charlotte at the center of it. I really like the rise of Lacey Evans, but it’s easy to tell she doesn’t have that big match experience yet. I think she will only get better the more experience she gains. With Becky beating Lacey two times in a row, I am intrigued to see who her next challenger is going into the summer.
One thing WWE often gets criticized for is their lack of tag team wrestling, but tonight The New Day tore the house down with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. I really think Kevin and Sami should be tag team champions due to their long history together, so I hope this win propels them into the tag team title picture. After a fantastic tag team match, Samoa Joe defended his United States Championship against the high flying Ricochet. I absolutely loved the contrast of styles in this match. This was one of those matches that really could have gone either, but in the end it was Ricochet who took all of Samoa Joe’s punishment to become the new United States Champion. I think Ricochet is going to do a lot of things with the United States Championship and hopefully one of the people he does great things with is Cesaro. He and Cesaro had a series of matches that were the best thing on WWE programming for several weeks. I want to see Ricochet versus Cesaro for the Untied States title and have the belt be just as important as the Intercontinental Championship.
Unfortunately for Heavy Machinery, the one place they shouldn’t have gotten a tag team championship match is Tacoma, Washington. It doesn’t matter how much of a heel Daniel Bryan tries to be. His home-state absolutely loves and adores him like no other. There was nothing Daniel Bryan was going to do that was going to get him booed. I’m glad that Heavy Machinery did not win tonight, because that would not been a good celebration for them given the location. This is definitely not the last you’ve heard of Heavy Machinery, which is great considering the Smackdown Tag Team Division is starting to heat up. The Women’s Division has been very interesting on both sides, because for the longest time we are having a pay-per-view without Charlotte at the center of it all. It’s really good to see the other women being put in the spotlight, especially the story of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. When Alexa was paired with Mickie James and Nia Jax, it made sense. This is a unique and fun pairing that I am excited about and curious as to where it goes from here.
One of the biggest criticisms of WWE right now is how Shane McMahon is being used on WWE programming these days. I think the problem with Shane is he was a good guy for so long and it’s not very believable that he can be like Vince use to be. Vince had an aura about him that you can’t replicate or duplicate. As for the match between Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns that was a completely different story. This match was one hundred times better than their match at Wrestlemania. Only thing I don’t like about this feud is that Drew seems like he’s a pawn between Shane and Roman. I hope at some point Drew gets rewarded for his work during his feud. Kofi Kingston has been on a four month tour of being rewarded for his work over the last eleven years and he continued to show he’s one of the best performers on the roster. I also love that Dolph Ziggler came back to prove he can still put on an a clinic with anyone he steps in the ring with. These two have a long history together, but they have continued to evolve their game and bring out the best in each other. I have never seen a Steel Cage Match end in the way it did tonight and it once again showed just how awesome Kofi Kingston is in these situations.
The Main Event was for the WWE Universal Championship between champion Seth Rollins and challenger Baron Corbin. For those who say Corbin doesn’t deserve to be in the main event clearly haven’t been watching. He’s the most hated guy on the roster right now and continues to get himself as much heat as possible. The story going into tonight is who would be the special guest referee for this match. For a few weeks, Corbin has been trying to find a referee but any time someone stepped up then they were attacked by Rollins. The special guest referee end up being Lacey Evans, which was absolutely brilliant considering the relationship between Rollins and Becky Lynch. This match reminded me a lot of WWE Over the Edge 1998, when Vince McMahon was the special guest referee for Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dude Love. This match was a little bit different, but still told a great story of Rollins overcoming stacked odds.
Tonight’s pay-per-view was an absolutely solid effort from the roster. I feel like the animals were let out of their cage and were told to do what they felt was necessary to get the job done. I have to give the show and 8.5 out of 10, because it was a solid show from open to close. It was one of the best shows WWE has put forth in a very long time and they need to continue that momentum going forward. The WWE main roster has so much talent that the sky is the limit. Tonight, we got a glimpse of what could be when their best effort is out there. Tonight, WWE kicked ass and took names, but in three weeks time they go to the extreme.