Eyebrows deep in recycled, tiresome angles and matches, the WWE is placing their bets on a real-life love connection to capture the imagination of fans.
The WWE’s power couple of Universal Champion Seth Rollins and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch is not only being recognized by the federation itself but they became the main focus of the Stomping Grounds pay-per-view despite being so very visibly awkward on camera like two people sitting around patiently waiting and waiting for their photo to be taken by a methodical photographer. All told, it was about as romantic as being a chaperone on a date between two members of the Right to Censor. Miss Elizabeth and Macho Man this couple ain’t, at least on WWE TV.
When Lacey Evans was revealed as Baron Corbin’s pick to be the special guest referee in his Universal Championship match against Seth Rollins, it was Becky Lynch who evened the odds.
As Corbin made his way to the ring, the cameras cut the crowd with some of the fans in attendance flipping him off. Seth Rollins arrived carrying his trusty friend: a steel chair. Corbin wisely left the ring.
Corbin grabbed a microphone but before he could say anything at all, Rollins cut him off.
“If they come down with the intention of taking my title they will get the same as everyone else,” said Rollins about the special guest referee while hefting the steel chair.
“Before I was rudely interrupted, after much deliberation I have chosen as my referee the Sassy Southern Belle, Lacey Evans!” announced Corbin.
Stepping into the ring, Evans, who lost her bid to wrestle the Raw Women’s Championship from Becky Lynch earlier in the evening, flaunted her power immediately.
“I am the referee!” she declared reaching for Rollins’ steel chair.
As Evans and Rollins tussled, Corbin attacked from behind smacking Rollins across with the back with a steel chair.
Evans refrained from starting the match.
Once Corbin had whacked Rollins with the chair a million times or two, he politely handed the chair over to Evans. Evans motioned for the bell to be rung.
Corbin took Rollins outside driving him spine-first into the ringside barrier over and over.
Evans refrained from starting a 10 count.
Corey covered for Evans calling her “inexperienced” as a referee.
“This is stupid!” the fans yelled.
“AEW! AEW!” they chanted moments later while Corbin drilled Rollins with knees to the stomach and punches to the head. Rollins battled back with some chops. A DDT ended that burst of offence.
The crowd loudly ripped the match with CM Punk!, Daniel Bryan! and Boring! chants.
“The WWE fans are all over Baron Corbin,” sputtered a Michael Cole transparently trying to deflect the criticism from the fans in attendance.
Rollins backed Corbin into the ropes with punches and chops.
A Slingblade, a Blockbuster and a splash from Rollins has Corbin stunned.
Evans slapped a very, very, very slow count as Rollins went for the pinfall.
The crowd voiced their displeasure.
Rollins slammed Corbin through the announce table. Rollins slid back into the ring demanding Evan start a 10 count. She did but…very slowly.
“Get up, Baron!” she shouted to him outside the ring slowing down her count even more.
Evans motioned to the announcer. She informed him that she was waving the count-out rule in this match.
Since when did referees decide the stipulations of a match? WWE making no sense at all as per usual and they wonder why people cannot stick with their confusing product.
Corbin caught Rollins in a dive through the ropes and proceeded to slam him on the ring apron. He chokeslammed Rollins back inside the ring for a quick two count.
Rollins surged ahead with a super kick and a frog splash from the top rope. Evan counted to two but she couldn’t continue. Her arm hurts from her match with Becky Lynch.
“Get up!” she whispered to Corbin.
An exasperated Rollins stares down Evans.
“I am the referee. You listen to me,” she told him.
Corbin tees off on Rollins with another steel chair. Evans makes no move to disqualify Corbin.
“Come on, now. You cannot hit him with a steel chair,” she admonishes Corbin.
Evans called over the announcer again. Not only are there no count-outs in this match, there are also no disqualifications.
The crowd demanded Becky Lynch make an appearance.
Rollins has Corbin beat after a Falcon Arrow on a steel chair.
Evans flat out refused to count.
“This an absolute farce!” screamed Michael Cole.
Rollins got in Evans face. They argue. Evans slapped him twice. Rollins just shook his head and smiled.
“Get out of my face!” yelled Evans slapping and low-blowing him.
Lacey Evans puts a hurting on Rollins. Photo: WWE.
Corbin laid Rollins out with End of Days, however, there is no official to count as Becky Lynch is on the scene. She hurled and then Bexploder Suplexed Evans into the ringside barrier. Officials swarm Lynch prying her off Evans.
Corbin gets the attention of one of the officials. It is John Cone, the same referee Corbin had a dispute with at Super ShowDown.
Rollins spins out of an End of Days. He super kicks and Stomps Corbin to retain the Universal Championship.
Lynch holds up Rollins’ arm as they hug. The camera lingers on them. It seems they don’t know what to do so they smile at each other stiffly like department store mannequins.
Lynch pats Rollins on the butt for a job well done and holds the ropes open for him.
They sit on the ring apron and we are treated with more clumsily smiles and hugs like they are teenagers on their first date or something. It is enough to make you want to vomit.
Speaking of vomit, the rest of the Stomping Grounds card exemplified what is turning the WWE into another Hindenburg: prosaic feuds and the same small group of characters hording all of the television time. The fans made that abundantly clear when they jeered as Shane McMahon announced that he and Drew McIntyre would be facing Roman Reigns in a handicap match tomorrow night on Raw, continuing a feud that nobody wants.
The matches at Stomping Ground were above average for the most part though despite the dull feuds.
The steel cage match for the WWE Championship between Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler was disappointing as despite them using the cage as cheese grater neither superstar bled a milliliter of blood.
Even more lame was the opening match between Becky Lynch and Lacey Evans for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship. With botched moves, banal action and Lynch audibly calling out spots throughout the match, the bout brought back memories of The Bushwhackers versus The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff at Heroes of Wrestling.
Gulak is finally a champion. Photo: WWE.
Tony Nese (c) versus Akira Tozawa versus Drew Gulak – match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Tozawa drop kicks Nese off the apron. Nese collides with the ringside barrier. Gulak ducks a roundhouse kick by Tozawa hitting the Torture Rack Neckbreaker to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Perhaps now the champ can figure out a cool name for his finisher.
Winner: …and new WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Drew Gulak at 11:18.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
Lacey Evans taps. Photo: WWE.
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lacey Evans – match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch comes out first? What’s the deal with that? Evans is peppered with boos. Evans’ entrance entire makes her look like she just stepped off an old river boat in the south. Becky backs Evans into a corner talking trash to her. The fans cheer…Let’s go Becky! Evans bails from the ring. Becky hits her from behind with a double axe handle. Becky bounces Evans’ head off three turnbuckles. Becky botches a kick off the ropes and has to repeat it.
You can very clearly hear Lynch audibly calling out moves throughout the bout. This becomes irritating and distracting. Whatever happened to professionalism in the ring?
Evans smashes Lynch off the announce table and wraps her around the steel post. Once she sees the champ’s core is injured she begins focusing her attacks on Lynch’s ribs.
The confused crowd starts chanting…You can’t wrestle!…to Lacey Evans?!?!? Evans breaks a Dis-arm-her by draping her legs over the ropes. Evans wipes the sweat off her body with a handkerchief, throwing it on her prone body. Lynch retaliates by shoving the handkerchief down Evans’ throat. Evans kicks out of a Bexploder Suplex. Evans rolls out of the way of a flying leg drop. Lynch put her knees up to block Evans springboard elbow smash from the apron? It looks like another botch by Lynch or a miscommunication between the two wrestlers.
Evans only gets a two count after a stunner and big boot off the ropes. Lynch yanks Evans off the top rope. Evans falls on her face. Lynch makes Evans tap out to the Dis-arm-her in a nano second. This was a really sloppy, awful match.
Winner: …and still WWE Raw Women’s Championship, Becky Lynch at 11:30.
Match Rating: 3 / 10.
This fan gives Zayn and Owens a thumbs up.
The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Owens starts the match on fire with a super kick knocking Big E off the apron. Owens then super kicks Woods twice almost pinning him with the kicks and a frog splash off the top rope. Woods crawls on the canvass while the crowd cheers for the New Day.
Owens and Zayn cut off the ring dealing out punishment to Woods for almost four minutes. Big E is reprimanded by the official every time he attempts to enter the ring. Zayn cranks down on Woods with a crossface. Wood screams in pain, rolls over Zayn and comes close to pinning him.
Owens mocks Big E further infuriating him. Zayn tags in, runs across the ring clobbering Big E off the apron so Woods has no one to tag in. Owens misses a senton. Big E gets back on the apron huffing and puffing.
Big E hot tags in battering both Zayn and Owens. Woods lifts Big E on his shoulders so Big E can splash Zayn. Owens is tossed out of the ring. Zayn pushes Big E into a steel post. Helluva Kick, pop-up powerbomb on Woods. Big E saves the match for New Day. The over-exuberant crowd chants…This is awesome!…for what is a decent but not an amazing match.
Big E spears Zayn off the apron to the floor. Owens crotches Woods on the top rope. A Stunner pins Woods.
Winners: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at 11:05.
Match Rating: 7 / 10.
Ricochet captures WWE main roster gold. Photo: WWE.
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Ricochet – match for the WWE United States Championship
The crowd chants for Joe even though he is the baddie. I will never understand that. He is the heel, people. The heel. You shouldn’t be chanting his name. A flurry of moves by Ricochet has Joe heading for the hills early on. Joe catches Ricochet outside the ring though by ramming Ricochet into the apron. Joe almost snaps Ricochet in half with a Ura Nage. The theme of the match quickly becomes Joe’s strength is more than a match for Ricochet’s acrobatics and agility nullifying a lot of Ricochet’s offence. A haymaker sends Ricochet flying across the ring. The fans are cheering Joe’s name once again. Ricochet puts together a series of moves. Joe is dazed stumbling around the ring. Joe comes close to retaining flipping Ricochet head over heels with a clothesline. Joe catches Ricochet’s leg hurling him end over end in the air. Ricochet lands on his feet, ducking a clothesline, giving Joe a Code Breaker. One 630 splash and Ricochet is your new champion. In the backstage area, Seth Rollins, Charlotte, Carmella, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder and Heavy Machinery congratulate Ricochet as does…Triple H!
Winner: …and new United States Champion, Ricochet at 12:18.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
Daniel Bryan gets a little help from the steel post. Photo: WWE.
Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c) vs. Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) – match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Bryan is in his hometown so the fans are supporting him even though he is the heel and booing Heavy Machinery. Rowan even tags out so that Bryan can start the match. The crowd lets out a Yes! chant. Corey: “Daniel Bryan spends his time trying to save the planet. Otis spends his time looking like it.” The crowd starts chanting…Please, recyle…making it clear they approve of the WWE’s current product. The bout devolves into a singles match between Otis and Bryan. Otis interupts Bryan’s corner kicks with a powerbomb. Bryan kicks out. A confused Otis looks to the crowd as he unleashes a Vader Bomb. Bryan rolls out of the ring. Where are Rowan and Tucker while all of this is going on? Who the heck knows? Does it even matter? Otis absorbs and bounces back from Bryan’s Yes Kicks. Rowan stomps Otis out of the ring. Tucker blows a moonsault from the top rope. Otis and Rowan face off as they tag in. Bryan blind tags. Heavy Machinery go for the Compactor. Bryan pulls the ropes down on Tucker. He rearranges Otis’ dental work with a flying knee smash off the top rope.
Winners: …and still WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions, Daniel Bryan and Rowan at 15:32.
Match Rating: 7 / 10.
Cross has some explaining to do to Bliss. Photo: WWE.
Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss – match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Is it just me or is Alexa Bliss’ shorts getting smaller and smaller? Nikki Cross accompanies Bliss to the ring. Bliss plugs her ears while the fans shout Bayley’s name. A shoving match and punches start things off. Bliss lays in some shoulder tackles. The official warns her of the count. “I KNOW!!” shouts Bliss. Bliss chokes Bayley over the ropes. The crowd seems divided. Corey and Saxton start arguing and arguing over Alex Bliss’ past reigns detracting from the action. Bliss is cheered after slapping Bayley in the face? What is up with this crowd? Several knee strikes force Bliss to roll out of the ring. Bliss pulls Bayley into the steel post hurting her arm. Bliss directs her attacks towards that arm. Bayley sunset flips Bliss into a corner. Bliss falls through the ropes to the floor. Cross checks on Bliss. As Bayley dives through the ropes, Cross jumps in the way taking the blow for her friend. An angry Cross runs into the ring to get some revenge on Bliss. Bayley’s knees block Twisted Bliss. Bayley retains with a Bayley-To-Belly. Bayley shoves Cross a few times as Cross comforts and hugs Bliss.
Winner: …and still WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion, Bayley at 10:37.
Match Rating: 7 / 10.
McMahon cheers on his pal. Photo: WWE.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
McIntyre meets Reigns on the entrance way before the bell even rings. Reigns throws McIntyre into the ringside barrier. Shane McMahon is at ringside. Reigns leaps over the top rope flattening McIntyre. Reigns chases McMahon around the arena. McIntyre gets the drop on Reigns pitching him shoulder-first into the steel ring steps.
“This is awful!” shouts the crowd. Michael Cole plays it off like the crowd is angry at McMahon not the bookers.
McMahon slams Reigns on the top rope. McIntyre comes close to a three count. McIntyre continues to torture and punish Reigns. The dippy Rene adds nothing of value to the broadcast as she always does. Can we replace her with Beth Phoenix already and send Rene to Main Event? McMahon eats two Superman Punches. Reigns misses a Drive-By. McIntyre slams Reigns on the announce table. Michael Cole wonders for the millionth time tonight if someone will “capitalize” on things. Get a thesaurus, Cole. A battle on the top rope ends with McIntyre Superplexing Reigns for another two count. McIntyre leaps off the top rope getting a Superman Punch in the face for his efforts. Two count for Reigns. McMahon drags the official out of the ring stopping Reigns from pinning McIntyre. McMahon goes Coast-To-Coast on Reigns. Reigns still kicks out. The fans chant Roman’s name. Superman Punch to McIntyre. Reigns hurls McMahon out of the ring. A spear wins the match for Reigns. McMahon sits against the ringside barrier looking dismayed.
Winner: Roman Reigns at 17:18.
Match Rating: 8 / 10.
A.J. Styles, Gallows and Anderson clap Ricochet on the shoulder for a job well done. Styles says he will see Ricochet on Raw tomorrow.
Kofi flies out of the cage. Photo: WWE.
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler – Steel cage match for the WWE Championship
Ziggler climbs the cage. Kofi pulls him back in. Ziggler also comes close to walking right out through the door. A monkey flip sends Kofi into the cage. He attempts to escape by climbing out as well to no avail. Ziggler rakes Kofi’s face against the cage and rams his head into it. No blood. There are competing chants for Dolph and Kofi. For the third time Kofi is sent into the cage. Still no blood. Ziggler shoves Kofi face-first into the cage as he bounced off the ropes. Still no blood. Ziggler slaps Kofi’s face in the corner saying…Look what you made me do? Kofi heaves Ziggler three times into the cage, Ziggler collides with the support structure. No blood. Kofi and Ziggler battle on the top rope. Heads hit the cage. No blood. Kofi and Ziggler straddle the top of the cage. Ziggler cannot wiggle his way out of a headlock. Both men fall back into the ring. SOS doesn’t pin Ziggler. Kofi lands awkardly injuring his knee. Ziggler slaps a leg bar on Kofi. Kofi grabs the bottom rope but the official reminds him there is no rope breaks in a steel cage match. Kofi climbs up the side of a cage while still in the leg lock. Ziggler super kicks Kofi. Kofi is grabbed by Ziggler before he falls through the door. Ziggler has his legs outside the door. He doesn’t reach the floor even though he is pulling on the door and the ring stairs. Ziggler rakes the eyes, kicks Kofi in the face and asks for the door to be opened. Kofi leaps through the ropes, over Ziggler, falling on the floor to win. The New Day arrive to celebrate with Kofi. Still no blood.
Winner: …and still WWE Champion, Kofi Kingston at 19:55.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10.
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin – match for the WWE Universal Championship
Winner: …and still WWE Universal Champion, Seth Rollins at 18:25.
Match Rating: 6 / 10.
Overall Event Rating: 7 / 10