(CBS San Francisco/CBS Local) — WWE returns to pay-per-view with Stomping Grounds, just two weeks removed from Super ShowDown. No less than seven titles will be on the line. In many regards the show is tough sledding for the company given the lack of time to build storylines and abundance of rematches. Yet, there is still enough on the card to pique the interest of wrestling fans, including finding out the identity of the mystery guest referee in the main event.
The show is headlined by Universal Champion Seth Rollins, who is putting the title on the line against Baron Corbin, with the identity of the challenger’s hand-selected ref still shrouded in mystery.
Some fans have become frustrated by a recent series of broken promises by WWE. On a weekly basis, for nearly a month, the company teased that Brock Lesnar would cash in his Money In The Bank contract in hopes that ratings would increase by dangling that carrot, which they did. Of course, Lesnar never cashed in on television and saw his attempt to do so at Super ShowDown stifled by Rollins.
Now WWE has been dangling the same carrot with the identity of the guest referee for the Stomping Grounds main event. The difference here is that the broken promises have an old-school feel to them, in that you have to actually buy the pay-per-view to get a payoff. That’s the heart of the wrestling business, folks. Giving away everything for free each week on TV strips away the need to subscribe to WWE Network and subsequently chips away at the company’s bottom line. The idea is to get fans invested in the storyline to the point where the feel like they must see it through to the end. In this case, the company has played it right despite any frustrations that may have mounted.
In the other main event, Kofi Kingston aims to continue his dream run as WWE Champion, as he puts his title on the line against Dolph Ziggler in another rematch from Super ShowDown. However, this time the two will be squaring off inside of a steel cage.
Elsewhere, RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch looks to avoid becoming “Becky No Belts” as she faces the Sassy Southern Belle, Lacey Evans, in a rematch from last month’s Money In The Bank pay-per-view. The Man smacked the sass out of Evans in their first encounter, but the debutante has been relentless in her continued pursuit of the title.
On the SmackDown side of things, Alexa Bliss continues her comeback and could walk out as Women’s Champion of the blue brand if she’s able to defeat Bayley.
On paper, Seth Rollins is the headliner. But the real main event for the crowd in Tacoma, Washington will be the SmackDown Tag Team Title match between incumbent champions Daniel Bryan and Rowan and Heavy Machinery in Bryan’s home state.
Here is a look at the full card for WWE Stomping Grounds and how things should shake out.
Universal Championship – Mystery Guest Referee
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin
The intrigue of this match centers on the identity of the special guest referee. Baron Corbin’s attempts to pick the zebra have been thwarted repeatedly by a chair-wielding Seth Rollins. Meanwhile, Paul Heyman continues to remind the champion that the threat of Brock Lesnar cashing in his guaranteed title shot at any time is still hanging over his head. But will we actually see Lesnar here? My gut says no and they’ll be saving that for closer to SummerSlam. As for who the referee could be? Some have even speculated that it could be Lesnar, but that wouldn’t make sense for many reasons. Chiefly, why would Corbin want another guy in the ring who is gunning for the same championship? Pick: Seth Rollins
WWE Championship – Steel Cage Match
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler
It’s hard for an underdog to keep the momentum going following an emotional title win on the biggest stage of all. So, although the card may say Kofi Kingston vs. Dolph Ziggler, that is the true opponent for the incumbent champion. If there is to be a major title to change hands on this show, my guess would be that this is the match to do it, despite the long odds. Ziggler has proven himself as a worthy champion in the past, and there’s nothing saying that the feud couldn’t continue for a while longer, as the leader of The New Day fights to reclaim the championship that alluded him for so long. Pick: Dolph Ziggler
RAW Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lacey Evans
It’s hard to envision The Man losing to the still relatively new Lacey Evans, whom she’s already defeated. Evans’ stock is rising from just being in a storyline with the woman who is arguably the most popular wrestler on the entire roster. And that was the goal of putting her in this position in the first place. But the quintessential southern woman with a wicked right needs a little more polish before she’s the legitimate contender the company believes she will be. Could we see Sasha Banks here? That’s a wildcard to keep an eye on. Pick: Becky Lynch
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss
It is really good to see Alexa Bliss back in action. The former champ has provided a shot in the arm to the women’s division since her return and freshened things up a bit. What’s interesting here is the Nikki Cross factor. Since getting chummy with Bliss, she’s become conflicted and shown hints that a heel turn is coming. Of course all of this is being orchestrated by Bliss, who is manipulating Cross to benefit herself. I suspect that Cross will cost Bayley the win here and that likely means the full-blown heel turn isn’t far behind. Eventually Cross will see that Bliss has been using her, and that will lead to them squaring off in the next title match. Pick: Alexa Bliss
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
This feud is ready to be put to bed. It almost feels like a placeholder at this point, and the smart play would be for this to serve as the blowoff match between the two. The only way for that to happen though is if Roman gets the win. But unlike their match at WrestleMania, there’s a high likelihood this one won’t end cleanly, since Shane McMahon is pretty much a lock to get involved. That could spell a win for The Scottish Psychopath and another match between the two down the line. Pick: Drew McIntyre
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Daniel Bryan & Rowan (c) vs. Heavy Machinery
Before we get to the pick, let’s just take a second to acknowledge the masterful performance of Daniel Bryan on the mic. His promo and commentary during Heavy Machinery’s match on SmackDown was brilliant. It actually made the audience care about a match that had seemingly just been thrown together. Plus, it was just flat out entertaining. There’s more for Bryan and Rowan to do as The Planet’s Champions, namely the aforementioned feud with The Viking Raiders. We could see Otis and Tucker wearing gold in the future, but Stomping Grounds won’t be the night it happens. Plus, the show is in Daniel Bryan’s backyard, and the crowd is going to be behind him no matter how much he tries to run them down. Pick: Daniel Bryan & Rowan
United States Championship
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Ricochet
If you’re a wrestling nerd, you know that this matchup is all sorts of interesting, given the stark contrast in their styles. Samoa Joe is a big bruising brawler, not necessarily known for high risk moves. Ricochet, on the other hand, lives and dies with high dives and acrobatics. What the two pull together should be very interesting. Styles aside, Samoa Joe needs to keep the title until Rey Mysterio is ready to return from injury, which reportedly will be in the near future. With that feud just paused until then, this match is a stop gap, and you don’t have to be psychic to read these tea leaves. Pick: Samoa Joe
Big E & Xavier Woods vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
It could be a long night for The New Day, as Big E and Xavier Woods are no shoo-ins here. To me, it makes sense for Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to go over, to keep kicking this feud down the road. One could also make the argument that a win for The New Day would set the stage for them to challenge Daniel Bryan & Rowan for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles. But a brief staredown between the champs and The Viking Raiders on Tuesday hinted that a clash between the veterans and recent NXT call-ups could be on the horizon. That’s another reason to feel confident about the heels from Canada. Pick: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
WWE Cruiserweight Championship – Triple Threat Match
Tony Nese (c) vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak
This should be a fun match. Hopefully it stays on the main card and isn’t relegated to the Kickoff Show, which has become customary for the gang from 205 Live. For the sake of continuity, I’m going with the incumbent to win and a feud with Mike and Maria Kanellis to follow in the coming weeks. Pick: Tony Nese
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: Kickoff Show at 6 p.m. ET, main card at 7 p.m. ET
Location: Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.