WWE Blows Chance to Properly Hype Stomping Grounds and More Raw FalloutJune 18, 2019
WWE Blows Chance to Properly Hype Stomping Grounds and More Raw Fallout
The Wild Card Rule continues to dominate WWE. The June 17 edition of Monday Night Raw was as much about SmackDown Live stars as Raw stars. With WWE Stomping Grounds days away, this go-home show gave fans a preview of Sunday's action.
Baron Corbin promised to reveal the special guest referee for his match on Sunday by the end of the night, but Seth Rollins repeatedly thwarted his efforts by attacking anyone who considered the offer. It all amounted to nothing by the end of the night.
In a packed Fatal 5-Way match, Ricochet emerged victorious with the biggest win of his WWE career. Now set to face Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds, The One and Only has something to prove as the spotlight focuses on him.
The New Day made a surprise appearance on Raw to take another shot at their major rivals in Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The trio intentionally made a mockery of the Wild Card Rule, narrowing the lines between brands even more.
AJ Styles didn't officially return to action, but he did make an impact by pushing Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. As he slowly returns to action, he may just be the key to The Good Brothers finding success again.
These moments defined a night attempting to building up Sunday's big show, but they seemed more focused on an uncertain future for the brand.
A Night of Build for Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin Leads to Nothing
Elias opened the show to announce he would be The Lone Wolf's referee before getting attacked by The Architect with a steel chair. Rollins promised to attack anyone who accepted the offer. He delivered with assaults on EC3 and Eric Young, but he got laid out by Corbin at the end of the night.
The storytelling this week with Rollins and Corbin missed the entire point of the set up. The challenger is supposed to be the unlikable heel that no one wants to help. The champion is the symbol of excellence for the entire brand.
He should not be the one cutting down wrestlers who just want an opportunity. However, if this was the way WWE wanted to play up this angle, the writers should have committed and announced the referee at the end of the night.
It would have been a huge moment for someone to step up to The Beastslayer and help Corbin lay out Rollins. This might have been enough to actually get fans invested in what could happen on Sunday. Instead, it was all for naught.
In fact, the entire night felt like it was building to moments that never came. Nothing really sold fans on why they should watch Stomping Grounds. It hardly feels like there is a main event for Stomping Grounds.
While the stories behind Rollins vs. Corbin, Kofi vs. Dolph Ziggler, Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans and Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre have build, none have genuine intrigue. It feels too obvious who is winning, and none have recently been defined by memorable moments.
Ricochet's Match with Samoa Joe Is Make or Break
In a Fatal 5-Way elimination match to decide the No. 1 contender to the US title, Braun Strowman eliminated Cesaro and Bobby Lashley, who retaliated to set up The One and Only to pin The Monster Among Men. Ricochet then won by hitting a 630 splash on The Miz.
In many ways, it feels like a natural fit for the US champion to go from feuding with Rey Mysterio to Ricochet. Both babyfaces are smaller cruiserweights with so much athleticism and speed that they have managed to escape the stereotypes that come with their stature.
However, The One and Only has a long way to go to be able to match up to the legacy of The Master of the 619. This will be his first real test on the main roster. No one doubts what he can do in the ring, but he has to be able to take a step up with unique challenges.
Joe and Ricochet sound like a great pairing, and their contest will be the rare first-time clash on a night packed with rematches. If these two have the chemistry one would expect, even a loss might launch The One and Only straight to the top.
He needs to deliver here though because spots on limited in this new Wild Card Rule era. He could easily fall into the same disappointing spot that has left Ali off SmackDown Live for weeks.
WWE Has Given Up Playing By the Wild Card Rule
Despite not being one of the four sanctioned Wild Card Rule wrestlers, The New Day appeared to challenge Corbin, KO and Zayn to a six-man tag match. Kofi's justification was more or less that he could do whatever he wanted because he is WWE champion.
It was entirely unnecessary for New Day to be on Raw this week. Their six-man tag match could have happened on SmackDown instead, but the point here was to poke more holes in the Wild Card Rule.
It would be a wonder if casual fans have any idea who is on which brand at this point. Roman Reigns and Zayn have been working both brands basically every week. No one seems to realize Dolph Ziggler is actually a Raw Superstar, and Shane McMahon has become the de facto authority figure for both brands.
It's a wonder WWE has even kept up the ruse as long as they have. While the product continues to suffer from overexposure of a few choice stars and WWE cancels more SmackDown house shows, the brand split disappears more clearly.
AJ Styles Can Bring Back the Relevance of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson
Gallows and Anderson met Styles backstage, who was close to being cleared for action. The Phenomenal One challenged The Good Brothers to step up and execute like he knows they can. Overconfident to the end, Styles' friends fell short to a pair of superkicks from The Usos.
The tag team division has not been great to most stars over the years, but The Good Brothers have suffered more than most. Brought in with more hype than any tag team in recent memory, Gallows and Anderson have fallen well short of expectations.
It is not entirely their fault as they barely get television time. Despite being a strong pairing for any team, the two just cannot seem to catch a break, but they may get there with the help of a former WWE champion.
Much like their early pairing with Styles kept them relevant and a short-lived alliance with Finn Balor gave them focus, the two big men have shined brightest with a third man at the head of their group. They just cannot seem to sustain their own spotlight.
Styles can work just fine without The Club, but it might help all three take a step forward particularly with a full heel turn.