Matthew Roberts takes a look at the latest release from WWE Home Video, Stomping Grounds 2019.
What’s in a name? Is there anyone out there who isn’t an irritating “I hate the WWE and am going to make sure the whole world knows about” type of fan who still insists in 2019 on calling Finn Balor “Prince Devitt”, or still bangs on about Kevin Steen? On a similar note whilst “Stomping Grounds” is hardly the greatest PPV name ever was it really as bad as some out there would have had you believe? And was it so bad that “there’s no way I’m watching a show with a name as lame as that” was in any way a valid position to take? Of course not.
And as the name led to one of the greatest video introductions we’ve had in years we really need to re-evaluate the name. It’s a stroke of genius. Maybe. Anyway, the use of “These Boots Are Made For Walking” as a theme was inspired. And there was something very alluring about Lacey Evans’ “start walking”. But that’s probably a different article entirely.
Things opened up with the Raw Women’s title match between said challenger Lacey Evans and “The Man” Becky Lynch. Of course, this match-up highlighted more online hypocrisy. Seems like fans want new challengers to be allowed to step up…just as long as they are the challengers they want to see.
Evans is far from the finished article, I wouldn’t argue the opposite, but this was a good match that served its purpose well. Evans has the look and the moves, and just needs to learn how to put a match together (in the same way Hall of Famer Lita was at the height of her popularity) and with Lynch being a great talent and being super-over this was enough to give an entertaining opener. And with Evans tapping out so quickly the “she doesn’t deserve a title shot” brigade should have been sated.
After an Ali video package and a backstage segment with Paul Heyman and then Baron Corbin we got Big E and Xavier taking on Kevin OWENS and Sami Zayn. Whilst this only lasted around 11 minutes it was a fun and exciting run through what all four men could deliver. Lashings of entertainment could almost make you look past the largely inconsequential nature of the match as a whole in terms of storylines, but if everything on Smackdown every week was as good as this there would be no complaints.
After the usual interaction backstage between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross we got another match that had high expectations; Samoa Joe defending his United States title against Ricochet. Getting a similar amount of time to the previous match this was another very good effort. Joe played the bullying heel to perfection and Ricochet matched it with the resilient babyface who pulled out all the high-impact moves he could to try and claim the gold.
That he did so made for a memorable conclusion to a great match. The good action continued with the Smackdown Tag Team Championship match where Heavy Machinery challenged Daniel Bryan and Rowan. Even if the result was a formality (even more so after the “upset” wins in the previous match) this was a fun run through the tag team formula. Again, it won’t win any Match of the Year awards but if every match on Smackdown was as good as this…well you get the gist.
Bayley successfully defended her Smackdown Women’s Title against Alexa Bliss, despite the presence of Nikki Cross at ringside in what was a decent match that was hurt by the fact that it always came across as a step along with the Bayley/Bliss/Cross storyline. Still, at least that kept the finish up for grabs all the way through. On the other hand, it was no surprise that Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre in the next match. Some will complain about that; I won’t. Only to say that it really should have been Reigns gaining revenge for a loss against Drew by defeating Shane McMahon, not the other way around. It was a decent enough match but went on too long at nearly 18 minutes. Shave off five, ramp up the pace and these two could have had a much more memorable match. Jettisoning Shane’s involvement would have helped as well but I concede that for storyline purposes it was necessary.
Similarly, I have no idea why Dolph “I’m a Stand-up Comedian you know” Ziggler is challenging for a World Title on PPV. I’ve never seen him as someone who could be “the guy” but even allowing for his in-ring talents surely in 2019 he’s passé at the top level. As such, there was no real drama in his Steel Cage match against WWE Champion Kofi Kingston. At twenty minutes it was another that was too long and for large parts was devoid of much to write home about. A cool finish for Kofi’s win aside this was very flat indeed. Of course, it was too much to expect that Baron Corbin in a PPV main event could pick the crowd up after that; not that I am in the “Corbin is awful” club at all. Is he the future of the business? Probably not. Is he as bad/dull as some would have you believe? Probably not, again. With Lacey Evans as Special Guest Referee there were some fun moments and to moan that they were derivate of the format (heel referee gets “injured” when trying to count a pin for the face…heel referee suddenly makes the match a no DQ etc…) would show a lack of understanding as to what exactly “WWE Wrestling” is. Not the greatest Main Event you’ll ever see, but I kinda liked the story it was trying to tell.
So amongst all the furore over the name of the show, Stomping Grounds actually was a very decent show indeed. Although many of the “new” names didn’t pick up the wins, they still got showcased and it would be churlish to complain about the WWE mixing things up a little. The only real problem was that all the best stuff generally came in the first half of the show so it felt a little anti-climactic at the end. Still, an enjoyable night of WWE action.
Format Reviewed; DVD
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of Stomping Grounds which is out Monday 12 August on DVD. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk by clicking here.
You can find me on Twitter @IWFICON.