WWE Stomping Grounds 2019 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
The WWE Universe met the rehashed Stomping Grounds card with apathy leading into Sunday's pay-per-view, but the Superstars of wrestling's most prominent promotion sought to change preconceptions and deliver a show that restored interest in a product that has been anything but compelling.
Headlined by Seth Rollins defending his universal title against Baron Corbin in a match with a special referee not yet announced, the show had the lineup and talent to accomplish its goal and silence the critics.
But did it?
Relive the matches, moments and winners with this recap of the June 23 extravaganza.
Cruiserweight Title Match: Akira Tozawa vs. Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak
Again tasked with setting the tone for the remainder of the show, the cruiserweights kicked off the night's festivities as part of the pre-show festivities.
Tony Nese defended his cruiserweight title against former champion Akira Tozawa and master technician Drew Gulak in a Triple Threat match.
The action started fast and furious before the ground game of Gulak took over. The Philadelphia native and Tozawa paired off before Nese re-entered the fray and the pace quickened.
The champion scored a near-fall on the lone heel in the match, but a leg lariat from Tozawa nearly earned him the victory.
Drama ensued as the number of near-falls picked up. Late, Gulak disposed of Nese on the apron and a dropkick meant for the heel wiped the champ out.
In the ring, Gulak dropped Tozawa with a torture rack neckbreaker, scored the pinfall and his first championship in WWE.
Gulak defeated Nese and Tozawa to win the title
The action here was red-hot, the crowd was biting on several of the near-falls late, and the result was the right one.
There were a few spots where the timing was just a hair off and had there been a few minutes for them to work with, the three Superstars could have delivered a show-stealing performance from the outset.
Gulak has earned a run with the title given his work since arriving in 2016, and a scenario in which a babyface Nese chases the title is one that works better than having The Premier Athlete in the catbird seat.
Raw Women's Championship Match: Becky Lynch vs. Lacey Evans
Becky Lynch outclassed challenger Lacey Evans early in their match Sunday but soon found herself on the receiving end of an assault targeted at her ribs.
Evans downed The Man, trapped her left arm and delivered elbows to her midsection. An attempt to humiliate the champion with a handkerchief bit The Sassy Southern Belle, though, as Lynch grabbed it and shoved it down her gullet.
The Man mounted a comeback, fended off Evans' last-gasp attempt to win the title (including a springboard stunner) and tapped her out with a Disarmer for a successful championship defense.
A frustrated and furious Evans watched as Lynch celebrated her victory.
Lynch defeated Evans
This was a match in which it never felt like the competitors were on the same page. The action was disjointed, the psychology wonky at times and the finish came from out of nowhere.
Lynch winning was the right decision because she is as big a star as WWE has right now and taking the title off of her at this point would be a mistake.
Evans, on the other hand, lost considerable momentum over the last month and could benefit from stepping away from the title picture and refining both her in-ring game and character work before being shoved back into a position she may not be ready for.
New Day vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Looking to exploit what they believed to be the weak link of New Day, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn knocked Big E out of the equation early and focused their assault on Xavier Woods.
KO delivered a senton and Zayn provided a Blue Thunder Bomb, but neither could put the host of Up Up, Down Down away early.
The heels isolated him, knocking Big E off the apron as they focused their attack on the smaller competitor. Frustrated and no longer playing around, Big E tagged in and took the fight to the heels. He drove Zayn into the canvas with a uranage slam that earned him a count of two.
Woods psyched himself up, hoisted Big E on his shoulders and slammed him across Zayn. A legdrop from Woods earned a two count as Owens re-entered the match. The babyfaces dispatched of The Prizefighter, but Zayn fought out of a finish attempt, sent Big E into the corner and tagged KO in.
A Helluva Kick and popup powerbomb combo to Woods only earned a two-count as Big E made one last save.
A late-match spear from Big E to Zayn that sent both to the floor left Owens alone with Woods. The stunner from KO to Woods earned the heels the victory.
Owens and Zayn defeated New Day
So the stunner won Owens the match but a freaking springboard stunner from Lacey Evans couldn't put away Becky Lynch?
That aside, this was a fun match that probably would have served the show better as the opener.
The psychology of the bout, in which the heels isolated Woods as the weak link and then repeatedly fought off Big E worked to perfection and factored in nicely with the finish they had planned.
Owens and Zayn desperately needed the win to maintain credibility, while New Day can recover nicely, as it has numerous times over the years following losses.
The first really good match of the night and hopefully a sign of things to come.
United States Championship Match: Samoa Joe vs. Ricochet
Ricochet sought his first championship in WWE, but he would have to overcome the ferocious onslaught of United States champion Samoa Joe to attain the gold.
The One and Only was pummeled and pounded for the majority of the contest, with The Destroyer focused on driving the air out of his faster, quicker opposition.
He manhandled him with a uranage slam, then grounded him with a rear chinlock as he executed his plan to perfection.
A step-up enzuigiri, a springboard forearm to the face and a springboard moonsault nearly earned Ricochet victory, but a snap powerslam by Joe halted his momentum. It was a momentary disruption in the courageous babyface comeback, though, as Ricochet delivered double knees to the face of his relentless opponent and finished the champion off with a 630 for the win and title.
After the match, Charlotte Flair, Heavy Machinery, Carmella and others applauded Ricochet's victory.
Ricochet defeated Samoa Joe to win the title
It took a while for the match to hit its stride but when it did, it was good. Really good.
It was good enough that one has to wonder what the finished product would have been if it was able to provide just a spark of energy a moment or two earlier.
Despite that one criticism, the match was exactly what it was supposed to be: a coronation of Ricochet as one of the faces of WWE's future. Now the United States champion, he will be trusted to hold down the fort in the midcard, providing in-ring content to back up the more story-heavy main event.
That is something he has been doing since the Superstar Shake-Up sent him to the red brand. Perhaps he and Cesaro can resume their series, this time with higher stakes.
SmackDown Tag Team Title Match: Daniel Bryan and Rowan vs. Heavy Machinery
The fans in his home state of Washington were solidly behind SmackDown tag team champion Daniel Bryan when he and Rowan took to the squared circle for their title defense against Heavy Machinery.
It was not easy, though, as Otis overpowered the home-state hero and tagged in Tucker in hopes of continuing their momentum. But it was not to be as Tucker found himself cut off from his partner and on the receiving end of a concentrated attack by the champions.
A blind charge into the corner by Rowan, though, allowed Tucker to make the hot tag to Otis and the babyface comeback to commence.
Bryan tried to slow it but paid the price. However, he did dodge a Vader Bomb from the big man and unloaded with his trademark "Yes!" kicks. The strikes fired Otis up and he dropped The Beard with an overhead suplex.
The caterpillar elbow followed, but the challengers could not find the victory.
Late, the action broke down, with Otis displaying phenomenal power as he caught Rowan in midflight and dropped him with a powerslam. Tucker wiped Big Red out at ringside with a splash but fell prey to a small package roll-up upon returning to the ring as Bryan and Rowan successfully retained.
Bryan and Rowan defeated Heavy Machinery
Tag team wrestling was straight fire Sunday night, with this second match of the night from the division earning an "A" grade.
Otis was a star here, stunning with his power, wowing with his athleticism and captivating with his in-ring chemistry. He has huge potential to be one of those breakout stars few see coming in the months and years to come.
Not to be outdone, Tucker threw caution to the wind and flew around the squared circle. Both members of Heavy Machinery recognized the opportunity they were presented and made the most of it.
Even in defeat, they were obvious winners.
Kudos to Rowan for bumping for the opponents and to Bryan for holding the whole thing together while feeding off his home-state crowd.
A pleasant surprise in a night full of them to this point.
SmackDown Women's Title Match: Bayley vs. Alexa Bliss (with Nikki Cross)
Newfound aggression by Bayley and Alexa Bliss dominated the opening moments of the SmackDown women's title match before the alert challenger sent The Hugger face-first into the corner and seized control of the bout.
Bayley built some momentum for herself, though, and was in the middle of a babyface comeback when she tried to make sure Nikki Cross was out of the way. The momentary distraction allowed Bliss to send her shoulder-first into the steel post.
Bliss focused on the shoulder until the champion delivered a belly-to-back that created separation. A sunset flip bomb into the corner followed. On the floor, Cross checked on a stunned Bliss, who shoved her "friend" into the path of a flying Bayley.
Back inside, The Goddess looked to finish her opponent off with Twisted Bliss, but an infuriated Cross entered the squared circle and provided another distraction. This one allowed Bayley to get her knees up, blocking Twisted Bliss. A Bayley-to-Belly earned the champion the win.
Bayley defeated Bliss
For Bliss' first high-profile, championship match since last August at SummerSlam, this was really good.
The psychology was solid, but it was the storytelling and the manner in which Cross was weaved into the match that really worked. Bliss repeatedly exploited her "friend" for her own gain, but it was the unhinged side of the Scot that ultimately cost The Goddess her title chance.
Bayley's aggressiveness early and during her comeback are welcome additions to her act and have progressively helped erase the stench of the caricature she had become earlier in her main roster run.
The right outcome, superb storytelling that propels things forward and solid performances by all three women helped this one excel beyond expectations.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
Roman Reigns took the fight to Drew McIntyre prior to the bell and continued to unleash weeks of frustration on The Scottish Psychopath after it. Unfortunately, he fell prey to an attack that sent him shoulder-first into the steel steps and allowed his opponent to seize control of the match.
The imposing heel grounded Reigns and worked over his injured joint, looking to sap the energy out of The Big Dog. It worked momentarily until an exchange of strikes signified the start of a babyface comeback for the former WWE and universal champion.
At ringside, Reigns delivered a big Superman Punch to Shane McMahon but missed a Drive-By to McIntyre, who sent him crashing sternum-first into the announce table with a wheelbarrow slam.
Back inside the squared circle, a superplex from the Scot followed. A Glasgow Kiss headbutt should have ended the contest, but the resilient Reigns fought back and delivered a Superman Punch to a flying McIntyre.
Late in the match, McMahon broke up a pin and assaulted the official. He followed up with a Coast-to-Coast to a prone Reigns.
The Big Dog would not be denied, though. He overcame the odds, as any WWE superhero babyface does, and finished McIntyre off with a spear for the win.
Reigns defeated McIntyre
They just couldn't let Reigns and McIntyre have a brawl here, could they? Instead, the end result was still all about McMahon and his interference in the match.
WWE Creative had the opportunity to spotlight McIntyre as more than just Shane-O-Mac's muscle, and in the end, he ate the pinfall while Reigns vs. McMahon in some sort of extreme rules match at the next pay-per-view almost certainly remains the endgame.
The effort from Reigns and McIntyre certainly was there. It was a tough, hard-hitting, physical match that should have done more to elevate the Scot. Instead, the interference by McMahon was obvious and exactly what the writing team delivered.
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler
Escape teases dominated the early and closing moments of the WWE Championship match between Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler. In between, though, there was some strong storytelling centered around the no disqualification rule and the lack of rope breaks it carried with it.
Midway through the bout, the champion tried for Trouble in Paradise, but Ziggler ducked out of the way. Kingston clearly tweaked his knee, something The Showoff capitalized on immediately. He trapped his rival in a kneebar. Desperate to escape the grasp of his opponent, the New Day member climbed the ropes and used his leverage to break the hold.
Ziggler answered with a superkick that nearly ended in disaster when it knocked Kingston just about the whole way out the cage door. Kingston recovered and tried for another Trouble in Paradise but found himself trapped in an ankle lock instead.
A counter by Kingston into one of his own was broken up when Ziggler dropped him with a Zig-Zag for a near-fall.
Finally, Ziggler inched closer to the door, mere feet from a WWE title reign. Kingston stopped him and The Showoff raked his eyes. He kicked him away to create separation.
Just as it looked like the challenger would escape, Kingston soared through the air, out the door and to the floor as he successfully retained his title in dramatic fashion.
Kingston defeated Ziggler
It took a bit for this one to get going, but it was nonstop drama once it did. From Ziggler taking Kingston's ability to climb the cage away from him to the escape teases, the finishers and the creative finish, this had fans invested late.
Ziggler looked like the sort of resourceful competitor who would have walked out with the title on any other night, but, like others before him, he was unable to overcome Kingston's magic. The champion proved willing to do whatever it took to achieve a successful title defense, risking it all to keep his boyhood dream alive.
A slow-building contest, it was executed by two veteran competitors who waited a long time to be in the position they were in Sunday night.
Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Baron Corbin
WWE hopped into the DeLorean and traveled back to the Attitude Era for inspiration for Sunday's main event as No. 1 contender Baron Corbin stacked the odds against universal champion Seth Rollins, recruiting The Beastslayer's girlfriend's top rival to be the special guest referee.
The revelation of Lacey Evans as the official for the match created a distraction that allowed Corbin to blast the champion with a steel chair prior to the bell and then work him over after.
The former Raw general manager controlled the first-half of the bout, much to the chagrin of an audience that broke out into chants of "Daniel Bryan" and "AE-Dub."
Every time Rollins did get a momentary upper hand, Evans slow-counted. When The Architect put his challenger through a table at ringside, she demanded the match be fought under "no count-out" rules. When Corbin used a chair later, she changed the rules to "no disqualification."
A big frog splash from Rollins was negated by Evans' refusal to count the pin due to a "sore shoulder."
However, a low blow by The Sassy Southern Belle brought the arrival of Becky Lynch. The Raw women's champion beat the hell out of Evans as referee John Cone hit the ring. Moments later, Rollins capitalized on the change of authority, delivered the Stomp and scored the win.
The king and queen of the Raw brand closed out the show to a thunderous ovation as Stomping Grounds came to a close.
Rollins defeated Corbin
This was an outstanding example of the theatricality of professional wrestling and a throwback to an era when storytelling was as integral a part of any given match as the ring work itself.
Corbin and Evans masterfully manipulated the audience, eliciting the reaction they desired and leading to a thunderous ovation when babyfaces Rollins and Lynch got their revenge.
Lynch making the save for the damsel-in-distress Rollins, rather than the other way around, took an age-old trope and updated it to fit the women's revolution, which was a nice touch for what was essentially an Attitude Era-style brawl.
The jeers early in the match attempted to divert attention away from the story unfolding before their eyes, via chants for AEW or Daniel Bryan, but the build and execution by all involved silenced the negativity and popped the crowd at just the right time.
The result? One of the legitimately most fun, entertaining and rewarding bits of storytelling in quite some time.
A hell of a main event with performances by Corbin and Evans that should be applauded, despite the performers being as maligned as they were leading into, and early on, in the match.