The announce teams keep telling us that, at WWE’s Stomping Grounds, the performers are out to kick ass and take names. Then why does it feel so lame? This week’s go-home shows finally attempted to give some gravitas to the event with some on-point promos and (gasp!) actual wrestling. Unfortunately, it may have been too late. Ticket sales for Stomping Grounds have been low because the card doesn’t look great on paper. Then again, we could be in for a surprise. Could WWE surprise us, especially in light of the amazingness that was AEW’s Double or Nothing? Main roster watchers are still waiting for WWE to respond to their new competition. There are lots of variables involved! Here’s what fans have on tap at Stomping Grounds this coming Sunday.
Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese (c) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak – The thing people don’t realize about the Cruiserweight division is these performers are better than their hype would indicate. Drew Gulak showed up on NXT to wrestle KUSHIDA for a couple of episodes. Who would have thought a submission match could be exciting? Those two pulled it off, and you can thank Drew Gulak for that. Gulak, one of the better heels in the business, has as much momentum as a 205 Live guy can get. Look for Gulak to win the Cruiserweight Championship at Stomping Grounds.
RAW Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lacey Evans – Lacey Evans has a terrible gimmick. It wasn’t until the past week that Michael Cole started emphasizing her past as a US Marine. That makes Evans a bigger threat than what her character presents, which is a Mean Girl with a seasonally-appropriate clutch. Crowd reaction to The Man is still through the roof, and I don’t think a low-selling show like this is the place for Lynch to become Becky No Belts. I think it is inevitable that Evans winds up with the belt around her waist. Not yet, though. Interference will probably be a factor in this match, but I reluctantly predict that Lynch will retain.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler [Steel Cage Match] – Dolph “It Should Have Been Me” Ziggler has been chewing the scenery with his promos. His scruffy underlit face and maniacal stares at Kingston have been on par with Dr. Giggles. Ziggler is competent in the ring but he hasn’t improved over the last couple of years. Why should he be champion? An inflated sense of entitlement? No way. Not against Kingston, a champion who thrives in stipulation matches. His attempts at avoiding Royal Rumble eliminations have been water cooler conversation for years. Kingston’s recent groundswell of popularity began in the Elimination Chamber, which is nothing more than a glorified cage match. It doesn’t hurt that Kofi is the total embodiment of TV-PG. Kofi will keep the title and, hopefully, Ziggler will go back to stand-up comedy and guest spots on Fox News.
United States Championship: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Ricochet – While Joe and Ric could be perceived as a David v Goliath match-up, I think this has the potential to steal the show. Ricochet instantly got over with the crowds. His aerial ability and winning smile are perfect for television. Yet, Ricochet is still small enough to be the underdog, especially against a man as grief-inducingly large as Samoa Joe. Joe is surprisingly agile for a big guy. His standing switches are lightning fast and he’s a madman with the ropes. Pit Ricochet’s 630 Senton Splash against Samoa Joe’s Coquina Clutch submission finisher and this match could be a nailbiter. My gut says it’s Ricochet’s time. He needs the title. My head, however, tells me Samoa Joe is going to cannonball that kid from Paducah into the mat. I’m one to follow my instincts, though, so chalk this one up for Ricochet.
SmackDown Live Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss – All of a sudden, these women are hotter than ever. Their promos are bitchy and feel real. If the conflict between them is fake, I am unaware of it. Bayley has been a more aggressive competitor over the last few months. It’s been refreshing to see. Alexa Bliss is a great heel, smarmy and manipulative. With my favorite female competitor, Nikki Cross, in Alexa’s corner, things could get twisted really fast. Cross will interfere, but for whom? I’m betting Alexa Bliss grabs that title for the sixth time.
Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin – Will Seth get screwed? That’s the question hovering over this match. Baron Corbin gets to choose a special referee for this match. As of this writing, we have no idea who that will be. Anyone that Corbin has asked to call the match has been smashed in the back with a steel chair by Rollins. It’s a neat bit of mystery, one this feud desperately needs. I don’t see Rollins dropping the title, but again, it depends on who that special referee is. Let’s mark this one tentative for a victory for the Beastslayer.
SmackDown Live Tag Team Championships: Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c) vs. Heavy Machinery – Daniel Bryan worked like hell to put Heavy Machinery over on this past SmackDown Live. Otis Dozovich and Tucker Knight were both amateur champions. They are impressive in both size and power. Bryan did his level best to make Heavy Machinery seem like a viable threat. They’re not. Come on. Rowan could eat these guys for breakfast. Bryan, squirmy little goatman that he is, can run circles around Dozer and Tucky from a technical standpoint. There’s no way Heavy Machinery wins this match. Expect Daniel Bryan and Rowan to keep wearing those championship belts while still protecting the planet.
Xavier Woods and Big E vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn – I am more interested in this match, which will probably be on the kickoff show, than I want to admit. Woods has proven himself to be a game competitor. He’s the one who hits the ring first, then gets thrown into enemy territory, unable to make the tag until the last second. In other words, he’s similar to Sami Zayn, who took a pinfall in the first ten seconds of a match against the same competitors this past Tuesday. These teams are equally matched, right down to how much chemistry they have with each other. There’s one big difference, though. Woods and Big E are part of The New Day, over like Rover with that important 9-to-15 demographic. Owens and Zayn are Canadian heels. Do it for the kids, New Day. Get ready for pelvic thrusts of victory as Woods and Big E win this bout.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre – This one’s going to be a mess. Shane McMahon, still riding the waves of his egregious push, will show up. The Revival might come running out, too. Heck, we might even get a gander at Baron Corbin’s gangly frame lurching down the ramp. This whole daddy-punching, Best in the World, authority heel storyline detracts from the actual match. Think about how great Reigns and McIntyre could be. Two giant, long-haired dudes beating the screeching cat poop out of each other for half an hour. If it were a straight match, this could be a barnburner. Instead, it’s going to turn into a mob scene and McIntyre is going to steal that win. Anything to keep Shane on television, right?
Stomping Grounds will be shown live on the WWE Network from the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington. The kickoff show begins at 6 PM EST, while the main card starts at 7 PM EST.