The SmarK Rant for WWE Stomping Grounds 2019–06.23.19

The SmarK Rant for WWE Stomping Grounds 2019 -06.23.19

Live from Tacoma, WA in the “cavernous” Tacomadome. It would be less cavernous if they had a full crowd, I bet.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and his merry band of idiots, who were REALLY annoying tonight.  Corey Graves just needs to learn when to SHUT UP already.

OK, so since I busted out the HPUTA rating system for Super Showdown, it’s only fair that I also carry on with the snark on this show of rematches from that abomination. But this time, let’s resurrect the Shane McMahon Unconditional Refund Formula, or SMURF rating system. For those who haven’t heard the story a zillion times, when I was attending Backlash 2004 and the RAW the night after, I had been given tickets by writer Ed Koskey and was sitting by the hard camera behind Shane McMahon, Nidia and Chuck Palumbo. Which was pretty cool. For the RAW show in Calgary, however, I had a bunch of extra tickets so my friend Zen invited his super casual RASSLIN’ FAN redneck friend Dave, who was expecting pyro and blood and apparently thought it was 1997 or something. I know, drunken rednecks in Calgary, surely you jest? So during the show he would loudly complain like Larry the Cable Guy during commercial breaks about the lack of action, and complain there was no pyro at the beginning of the show, and complained that the matches sucked, etc. Finally, after an hour and a half of this, Shane McMahon himself turns around, pulls out a $100 bill, and gives it to Dave so compensate him for his ticket and tells him to kindly shut up about it. And so the SMURF system was born, wherein in addition to star ratings, I will rate matches and segments based on how much money from Shane McMahon it would take to make poor rasslin’ fan Dave shut the fuck up already. The greater the amount needed, the shittier the match was.

And hey, maybe it’ll be a good show and I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

I should point out that the opening video uses “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, which only 70 year old Vince McMahon would consider to be hip and cool in 2019. Shane needs to pony up $10 for that one.

RAW Women’s title: Becky Lynch v. Lacey Evans

Why the fuck do we need Becky to be linked with Seth Rollins as his girlfriend in storyline? Does it serve ANY purpose if they’re not gonna get heat by having Brock Lesnar give her an F5 or something? I continue to be mystified as to what exactly Lacey Evans’ character is supposed to be. Thankfully the crowd is hot for this to start. Becky takes her down with a leglock and Lacey immediately gets the ropes and bails to the floor to escape. Back in, Becky blocks a kick and runs her into multiple turnbuckles. And then she loudly calls a back elbow spot on camera and they manage to completely fuck that up as Lacey can’t get in position in time. Becky with a backslide for two but suddenly starts selling the ribs for no adequately explored reason and Lacey wraps her around the post to take over. Those spontaneous rib injuries are the WORST. Maybe it’s just heartburn? SOMEONE GET HER A ROLAID! Lacey goes to a really bad armbar on the mat and pounds away in the corner, then goes to an armbar and hangs onto that for a while. Lacey with a shoulderblock for two, but Becky bridges out and manages to roll her into a cross armbreaker, which Cole calls the Disarm-her, because he’s a moron. Lacey makes the ropes and gets some kind of broncobuster in the corner, which Cole notes is “RIGHT IN THE CORE!” What? The “core” isn’t, like, a body part. Lacey tries to use the HANKIE OF DOOM but Becky makes a comeback while trying to remember which side of her ribs she was selling previously, and the Bexploder gets two. Becky goes up and misses a legdrop, but then Lacey misses a slingshot elbow by a mile and they stumble around trying to figure out the spot, leading to Lacey getting a stunner and a kick for two. You’re supposed to do the kick FIRST. That’s how it works! And then Becky just gets the Disarm-her out of nowhere with no build and Lacey taps instantly at 11:35. I HATE when they do that finish. And what was the point of Becky selling her “core” for 10 minutes? Was it supposed to be leading to something? It was like back when Test was booked to sell injuries, where he’d walk around grabbing his leg for a minute and then continue working the match the same way he usually did. This was…not good. The crowd was hot but the match was incredibly simple at best and downright embarrassing at points. ** This warrants $20 from Shane.

Meanwhile, Ali is apparently getting repackaged as a street level Marvel superhero in Hell’s Kitchen. Sure, why not? Is he Makin’ a Difference, perhaps?

Meanwhile, Paul Heyman is here and continues to tease the idea of Brock cashing in the briefcase. As if Brock is coming to Tacoma. That’s $10 from Shane for false advertising yet again if he doesn’t show. Also, Baron Corbin has chosen his special referee, but he’s not revealing it yet. Given they’ve refused to reveal it thus far and always go for the most disappointing answer, it’s probably just Shane.

Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens v. The New Day

KO takes out Big E before they can even do their spiel, and hits Xavier with a bunch of superkicks out of nowhere and goes up with a swanton for two right away. Another superkick into the Blue Thunder Bomb gets two for Zayn. Kevin with the frog splash for two. Sami slugs away while E recovers, and Owens gets the cannonball for two. If they had done that opening attack as the surprise finish right away, that would have been cool and different, actually. Instead Woods sells and sells and the crowd dies off right away as Sami gets a crossface. Finally Xavier comes back with an enzuigiri, but KO takes out Big E again. Finally it’s hot tag Big E and he suplexes Zayn all over and gets a splash for two. Sami slugs away in the corner but E gets an STO, and then Xavier splashes E onto Sami and that gets two. Midnight Hour is broken up somehow by Sami and the powerbomb from KO gets two. Everyone throws kicks and it’s a double down. Big E gets his suicide spear on Zayn outside and Woods goes up, but Owens brings him down like a geek and finishes with the stunner at 11:06. This was a fine TV match with a really boring beginning and a good finish, nothing more and nothing less. ***

Meanwhile, Alexa chats with Nikki Cross and Nikki decides to be in Alexa’s corner tonight.

US title: Samoa Joe v. Ricochet

Cole notes that Ricochet is going for his first singles title in WWE, so I guess the NXT North American title doesn’t count. Joe throws some kicks and then sucker-punches him, then sends him to the floor and runs him into the apron. Back in, Ricochet walks into the uranage and that gets two. Ricochet fights back and Joe elbows him down for two. Enzuigiri in the corner gets two. Joe with a chinlock, but Ricochet escapes with a jawbreaker and then Joe slugs him down again. Powerbomb gets two. Joe goes back to the chinlock but Ricochet makes the comeback with his own enzuigiri and he’s BUILDING MOMENTUM and CREATING SEPARATION. Joe bails and Ricochet follows with a dive and back in with a missile dropkick and quebrada for two. Ricochet goes up, but walks into a powerslam for two. They slug it out and Joe blocks a handspring with a back elbow into a german suplex and lariat for two. Joe tries the choke and Ricochet bails to the ropes to escape, and then goes up and misses the 630. He rolls through into double knees and goes up again, hits it this time, and wins the US title at 12:20. This was a huge disappointment, where they over-thought it and had them do a dull WWE-style “little guy makes a comeback from 10 minutes of selling” match instead of just letting them do their thing. **1/2 “We know the passion this young man has for the sports entertainment industry!” notes Cole. Yeah, don’t oversell it or anything, Michael. Also, this was a title that was literally given away by Rey Mysterio and awarded to Joe, so the prestige level is not exactly off the charts.

Meanwhile, Ricochet heads backstage and gets congratulated by such luminaries as Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, and Carmella! Oh, and these guys…

Smackdown tag team title: Daniel Bryan & Erick Rowan v. Heavy Machinery

Heavy Machinery are just Otis and Tucker now, because Vince is weird. This probably happened a while ago but they’re never on PPV so I wouldn’t know. The crowd is 100% behind Daniel Bryan so the challengers are probably dead in the water as babyfaces here. Bryan throws kicks on Otis but gets overpowered and the crowd is having none of that. Bryan throws more kicks but walks into a gorilla press and the BIZARROWORLD crowd gets more annoyed. Tucker with a delayed suplex for two and a lariat gets two. Over to Rowan, who hits Tucker with a crossbody and slugs away in the corner and an Erik Watts-like dropkick to the leg for two. Bryan comes in and goes to work on the leg, and Rowan gets a splash for two. Tucker is so clearly the weak link of this match so of course he’s taking the beating. The crowd is on point with their chants, however, going with “We recycle” and “Drive a Prius” among others. “Hot” tag Otis and the crowd is shitting all over it. This is so absolutely the wrong place and wrong time to try to get these guys over at this level. Bryan gets running knees in the corner, but Otis gets a powerbomb for two and the crowd boos it out of the building. Otis misses a pump splash in the corner and Bryan goes to town with the Yes Kicks but Otis makes the comeback with an exploder suplex and the crowd is like NOPE. This match is bombing like this show on PPV. Otis with the Caterpillar and the crowd won’t even buy that, but Rowan breaks up the pin. Tucker with a back suplex and he goes up and misses a moonsault, but smashes into Bryan with his legs on the way down. Thankfully Bryan survives that botch and brings Rowan back in as we’re way past the point where they needed to just wrap this disaster up. Otis and Rowan do some collisions and Bryan does a blind tag and takes Tucker out, then hits a flying knee on Otis. Instead of trying for the pin, he tries a dive on Tucker and gets caught. But then Tucker decides to do his own dive onto Rowan instead of capitalizing, and then Bryan recovers with a cradle and pins Tucker to retain at 14:21. What a completely tone-deaf disaster this turned into. They missed by the peak of the match by 5:00 and kept going, and the finish sucked, with everyone looking like idiots. I demand $50 from Shane McMahon to silence my complaints! *1/2

Next month: It’s EXTREME REMATCHES! Because we need to milk this shit for another round of matches until we get Brock Lesnar back again.

Smackdown Women’s title: Bayley v. Alexa Bliss

Alexa attacks in the corner, but Bayley puts her down with a knee and the crowd is already DEAD. Well that didn’t take long. Bayley runs her into the turnbuckles a few times, but Alexa gets her own turnbuckle shot to take over and gets two. And the crowd starts cheering for Alexa, who promptly goes to a chinlock. Corey goes on a rant about how “record books don’t come with asterisks and caveats”. Really? Is he new to wrestling? Does “Rio De Janeiro” ring any bells? That’s $10 from Shane for being willfully ignorant. Bliss chokes away and gets two and this one is already living up to their previous encounters. Bayley with a bodypress for two but Alexa beats her down again until Bayley comes back with a clothesline out of the corner for two. Alexa cuts her off with a punch and they do an awkward sequence that leads to Bayley getting a high knee to put Alexa on the floor. She follows her out, but Alexa goes after the arm, and back in for two. It’s too bad they couldn’t get woman on Super Showdown because this would have fit right in with the rest of that show. Bliss continues to work the arm as this drags on, but Bayley gets a back suplex for two. Bliss bails and Bayley follows with a dive, but Alexa sacrifices Nikki to save herself. Back in, Alexa goes up to finish, but Nikki comes in to break it up for some reason and Bayley gets the belly to belly to retain at 10:38. I don’t really understand what they were going for with that finish. Did Cross miss her cue or something? This was pretty fucking awful, as expected. ½* That’s an easy $30 from Shane. WE WANT RONDA *CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP*

Meanwhile, this show is apparently sponsored by Gold Bond powder, which is good because it’s about as enjoyable as jock itch thus far.

Meanwhile, Drake Maverick wins the 24/7 title from R-Truth by stealing a car, and then Truth regains it on YouTube at Drake’s wedding. And then poor Drake gets served with divorce papers on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Good Brothers photobomb Ricochet’s US title shoot, leading to AJ Styles promising to “see him tomorrow night”. I’d ask if the Bullet Club suddenly getting back together had any storyline build, but I think I know the answer already.

Roman Reigns v. Drew McIntyre

God this show feels like we’re four hours in already and there’s still two World title matches left after this. I can’t believe they’ve managed to get Roman booed again after beating cancer. That takes real dedication to overexposing someone and fucking up the simplest booking. They fight in the aisle and slug it out in the ring, before Roman clotheslines him to the floor again. Roman follows with an Undertaker dive and nearly overshoots Drew, then chases Shane around ringside before diving onto a punch from McIntyre like a doofus. Back in, Drew beats on Roman in the corner and gets a belly to belly for two. Shane chokes from out from the floor and Drew gets two. Shane is already sweating buckets and turning red, by the way. Drew gets an elbow for two and stomps away here at STOMPING GROUNDS. Michael notes that Drew’s goal is put the locker room on notice here in this match. Shane interferes again and Drew gets a spinebuster for two. Suplex gets two. Drew works the arm and Roman fights out, but Drew gets a clothesline for two. And now Drew goes to a surfboard as Shane offers to ring the bell for the ref. And then we get more HOLDS as Drew switches to an STF. He’s the SCOTTISH PSYCHOPATH who does holds on the mat. Reigns comes back with a samoan drop as Renee calls him an Uso. That’s kind of racist, isn’t it? The BIG DOG makes the BIG COMEBACK with BIG CLOTHESLINES and he beats on Drew like Drew is cancer and Roman is whatever the cure for cancer is. Shane gets involved again and Roman punches him off the apron, but misses a drive by and Drew whiplashes him into the table. Back in, a spinning slam gets two. I really wish they wouldn’t do crazy shit like that whiplash spot if it’s not even the finish. They head up and slug it out on top, and Drew gets a superplex for two. Drew sets up for his big kick, but Roman gets a backslide for two. Drew headbutts him and goes up, but lands on a superman punch and that gets two. Look, this thing is third from the top, we don’t need a million twists and turns and near-falls. They slug it out and Roman spears him for two, but Shane pulls out the ref and hits the coast to coast dropkick because he’s literally an unbeatable supervillain and Drew can’t win without his help. That gets two. Roman comes back with a superman punch and another spear for the pin at 17:17. They went way overboard with this with Shane-terference and a ref bump and a table bump, when it should have been a simple 10 minute match. Turned out alright, but we did not need MOAR SHANE. *** The announcers are like “This was the definitive finish to their epic feud!” Tomorrow night: “Roman Reigns takes on Shane and Drew in a handicap match at Extreme Rules!” Or maybe I’m just a cynic.

Earlier tonight, Drew Gulak wins the Cruiserweight title on the pre-game show. OK then.

WWE Title, cage match: Kofi Kingston v. Dolph Ziggler

In the stupidest announcer discussion of the evening thus far, Corey is horrified that Kofi has given Dolph another path to win the title, because you can also ESCAPE THE CAGE and win the title! But…so can Kofi. So I’m not really following why this is such a threat. Dolph immediately runs for the cage but gets pulled down, and then dropkicks Kofi and goes for the door, but gets rolled up for two. Kofi gets his own dropkick for two, but misses a charge and Dolph takes over. Neckbreaker and Dolph runs him into the cage and goes to a DANGEROUS CHINLOCK here in the steel cage. Back into the cage and we get another HOLD on the mat here in this vicious cage match. Dolph charges and misses an elbow and Kofi comes back with a springboard dropkick, but Dolph runs him into the cage again and gets two. Dolph goes all Taylor Swift on Kofi in the corner, yelling LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO, but thankfully doesn’t bust out any dubstep. Kofi runs Dolph into the cage and rolls him up for two. Kofi climbs up in the corner, but Dolph follows and Kofi puts him down with a shot to the cage. Kofi opts for a bodypress instead of climbing out, and that gets two. Dolph gets the climb this time and they fight on top of the cage, but they both tumble into the ring again as the camera completely misses the shot. Really earning your money there, Dunn. They slug it out and Kofi gets the SOS for two. Dolph escapes Trouble in Paradise and starts working the knee to really crank up the excitement. We get yet another hold on the mat with a kneebar, but Kofi fights up and Dolph superkicks him. This causes Kofi to nearly fall out of the door, which would have been an OK finish, but Dolph grabs another kneebar to pull him back in. Kofi tries Trouble in Paradise, but Dolph counters him into an anklelock and Kofi reverses to his own. Dolph escapes with a Zig Zag for two. Who the fuck booked a cage match where they’re laying around on the mat trying for anklelocks for fucking 5:00? Kofi blocks a superkick and gets a facelock, but Dolph positions himself at the door and tries to get his feet on the floor. Dolph escapes a suplex and dives for the door again, but Kofi pulls him back in. Dolph thumbs him in the eye and goes for the door again, but Kofi dives over him and wins at 20:00. This took FOREVER and never really got going. The match was all over the place, sometimes being about escaping the cage and then suddenly having a whole storyline with Kofi’s leg injury for a while and then they just forgot that and tried for the door again. **1/2 $10 from Shane for giving us the most boring cage match possible.

Meanwhile, Shane announces that tomorrow night, it’s him and Drew against Roman in a handicap match! HA! I FUCKING CALLED THAT SHIT! This company never fails to disappoint.

Universal title: Seth Rollins v. Baron Corbin

Yes, this is actually the main event that people presumably had to pay money to see. And we get promo time from Baron just to drag this show out even longer, and the guest referee is Lacey Evans. Seriously? Two weeks of buildup for THAT payoff? There’s $100 from Shane right there. Baron uses Seth’s own chair against him before the bell, and gets a slam for two. So once again, we get the heel referee who is there specifically to screw the babyface over, but still counts normally. The crowd chants “This is stupid” at this storyline twist. Shane better pay them all off as well, but on the bright side that’ll only cost him a few thousand. Corbin slugs away on Seth and gets a DDT and the crowd completely turns on the match, with good reason. Seth bumps around the ring while the announcers do their stupid bickering routine. The crowd chants “boring” and the announcers are like “OH THE CROWD IS ALL OVER BARON CORBIN HA HA HA!” Seth tries a comeback and gets punched, and the announcers are horrified that Seth is UNABLE TO BUILD MOMENTUM, which is the worst thing that can happen to a sports entertainment practitioner in the WWE Universe. Corbin does the sliding punch but walks into an enzuigiri. Rollins makes a comeback with the sling blade and a blockbuster. Springboard knee and Lacey does the slow count gimmick for two. Corbin tries a chokeslam on the apron, but Seth powerbombs him through the table, and SHOCKINGLY Lacey won’t count him out. And then she declares it a no-countout match. Jesus, this stupid gimmick was driven into the ground by Vince Russo 20 years ago already. Back in, Rollins tries the stomp, but Corbin chokeslams him on the apron for two. And again Lacey just counts normally and allows Rollins to kick out. Corbin misses a charge and Seth superkicks him and follows with the frog splash, but Lacey again does the gimmick where she won’t count. And then Baron grabs a chair and beats on Seth because I guess it’s no-DQ now. So Seth promptly hits a falcon arrow on the chair, and SURPRISE, Lacey won’t count. This is fucking awful. Lacey finally slaps Rollins for some reason and then goes low on him, which sets up the End of Days, but Becky Lynch runs down and beats up Lacey as the camera zooms in and out madly. She really needed to wait 18 minutes before she decided this was a good idea? So now there’s a bevy of officials, and Rollins gets the stomp and pins him at 18:24 to win. Fucking finally. Looking forward to the mixed tag team match next month. Quite possibly the worst Seth Rollins match ever. Actually, I don’t think there’s any “possibly” about it. ½* Afterwards, Rollins and Lynch have a celebration together with about as much heat and passion as David Flair and Torrie Wilson from 1999 WCW, so that’s $1999 from Shane McMahon.

Come to think of it, a lot of this show reminded me of a WCW PPV.

Also, after Heyman’s cameo earlier in the show, he never appeared again and no one ever brought it up again.

While this wasn’t an epic trainwreck on the scale of Super Showdown, it was a completely forgettable waste of four hours, featuring rematches we didn’t want, leading to nothing anyone cares about, with a bunch of people who aren’t over.

On the scale of Burn It / Avoid It / Skim It / Watch It / Binge It, this is a solid AVOID IT. This doesn’t even have clown car appeal to make it worth a skim.