Welcome to The Nerd Hub where we promise not to bait and switch our readers. Our weekly review of Monday Night RAW’s Stomping Grounds go-home show episode details another low blow to the fans. Undeniably, the quality of the performance at LA’s Staples Center improved over recent offerings, but still failed on a lot of fronts. At this point, I don’t fault the fans at Tacoma, Washington, for reportedly sluggish ticket sales for the pay-per-view show. Without further ado, let’s “break it down.”
HEADLINE NEWS: WWE GOES SEINFELD AGAIN
Jerry Seinfeld built a successful TV sitcom based on the concept of it being a show about nothing. Apparently, WWE Monday Night Raw writers want to copy that approach. After weeks of promising and backing out on Brock Lesnar briefcase cash ins, WWE marketed a show in which Baron Corbin would announce his guest referee for his match with Universal Champion Seth Rollins at Stomping Grounds this weekend. You guessed it. Corbin didn’t announce the referee.
To throw salt in that wound, WWE gave us a main event pitting Rollins against SmackDown tag team champ Daniel Bryan. Yes, WWE knows how to kick us when we’re down. Naturally, Rollins and Bryan didn’t get enough time to deliver to us the masterpiece they could make together. Meanwhile, we get sloppy seconds of Super ShowDown at Stomping Grounds this weekend with Corbin and Rollins again. If you consider it’s a match few wanted in the first place, Corbin and Rollins will likely underwhelm.
In addition, WWE built the whole show around the non-announcement. Rollins delivered chair shots to Corbin’s prospective referee candidates throughout the show. He delivered beatings to Elias, EC3 and Eric Young. (Apparently, Monday’s show was brought to us by the letter “E.”) Besides, the gimmick seems like its become more important than Corbin himself in that Stomping Grounds match. Therefore, WWE’s latest bait-and-switch booking seemingly hurts both Corbin and Rollins.
As for the main event, we got a great closing sequence. Rollins delivered a superplex that left both men hurting. The Architect followed up with a buckle bomb. However, Bryan countered with the LeBell Lock. Yet, the Universal Champ survived the submission hold and rallied with The Stomp for the victory.
However, Rollins had little time to celebrate. Corbin set up some Stomping Grounds heat by attacking with a steel chair. He closed the show by planting the Beastslayer with an End of Days.
BEST OF THE REST: NEW DAY TAKES OUT KO, SAMI & CORBIN
My ranking of this match rests solely on the quality of the in-ring content. You could argue this match continued to overexpose the same guys. It did. You could argue this match did nothing to set up Stomping Grounds. It didn’t. You could even argue the booking made little sense considering the card for Stomping Grounds. It didn’t.
However, WWE continues to abuse the “Wild Card” rule to the point that the brand split makes no sense. Therefore, fans would probably be better off if they considered the brand split over. For all intents and purposes, the wild cards killed off the purpose of making different brands in the first place.
That being said, we received quite an entertaining wrestling match. That’s reason to celebrate these days when WWE gives us less and less wrestling on wrestling programs. Xavier Woods struck first for New Day in a best-of-3 falls match with a rollup pin of Sami Zayn in short order.
However, the heels retaliated by going to work on Big E. They took advantage of his recent ring rust from time off due to injury and looked to be gaining the upper hand. Yet, things went sideways when Corbin walloped Sami Zayn with an errant clothesline. As a result, Kevin Owens got into it with the Lone Wolf. Eventually, that led Corbin to fend for himself against WWE Champion Kofi Kingston. Therefore, Corbin ate a Trouble in Paradise to give New Day the 2-falls-to-none victory.
The ring psychology of New Day taking advantage of the heels unraveling on each other worked. On the other hand, it made little sense to make Corbin take the loss. Plenty of fans already questioned his worthiness as a Universal Championship contender. He sure looks weak heading into what will likely be his second pay-per-view loss in June.
BIG WINNER: RICOCHET
The One and Only hit a 630 Splash on The Miz to win a Fatal 5-Way match which also included Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman and Cesaro. As a result, Ricochet earned a match against United States Champion Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds. Needless to say, this instantly became the biggest victory to date for Ricochet in his main roster career. Given the limited opportunities in WWE wild card world, this puts a lot of pressure on Ricochet to deliver this Sunday in Tacoma.
Meanwhile, Samoa Joe also needs to prove his lackluster program with Rey Mysterio hinged more on bad luck with injuries than anything else. Many cheered when the Samoan Submission Machine finally became a champion in WWE. However, he’s joined the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev, R-Truth, Jeff Hardy, Jinder Mahal and Bobby Roode to underwhelm as United States champ so far. In fact, you may have to go back two years for the Chris Jericho-Kevin Owens-AJ Styles feuds for the last time people got really invested in the United States title storyline.
Joe attacked Ricochet after the match, but the former NXT North American Champ fended him off and looked strong. Therefore, it feels like Joe will retain. However, this match will likely stand out on the Stomping Grounds card because its one of the few battles that’s not a rematch. Ricochet represented the best choice to face Joe and their contrasting styles should allow both men to shine at Stomping Grounds.
BIG LOSER: THE VIKING RAIDERS
It’s as if WWE suddenly remembered the former NXT Champions existed. Out of nowhere, Erik and Ivar appeared. Their inclusion on the Stomping Grounds go-home show for Raw felt puzzling, considering they aren’t on the card in Tacoma. However, they turned in this week’s squash match against independent talent. It’s amazing WWE can find time to get so many “local competitors” on TV when so many men and women on the main roster barely get a whiff of screen time.
Hopefully, the appearance of the Viking Raiders means plans are in the works to include them on RAW. However, we’ve come to expect little from excellent NXT tag teams once they hit the main roster. The squash match Monday represented the first time Erik and Ivar made TV since May 6 when they defeated Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in a non-title match at Cincinnati.
So, it’s fair to wonder with such sporadic appearances for the Viking Raiders if they will get a push or if they provided filler. Since The Usos and The Revival are just getting started for their RAW Tag Team championship feud at Stomping Grounds, it looks like The Viking Raiders must wait for their time in the main roster spotlight a little longer.
The IIconics – The WWE Women’s Tag Team Champs made a legit title defense and got involved in superb in-ring storytelling. It’s a refreshing change from the squash match shenanigans in which they’re normally involved. They defeated Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross as a distracted Bliss seemed more interested in her Stomping Grounds opponent – SmackDown Women’s Champ Bayley – who was ringside than helping her partner. Bayley actually cared more about looking after a willing but short-handed Cross in the ring.
Nikki Cross-Alexa Bliss – WWE kept this storyline going swimmingly. Bliss played the self-absorbed, conniving heel hungry for her championship shot at Stomping Grounds. Meanwhile, Cross showed the type of guts and resiliency that fits the development of her character. The involvement of Bayley showing more concern for Cross than her own partner also helped her character. This match proved a big win for all of the women involved.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson – The Good Brothers came up short again with a loss to The Usos in tag team action. However, the most important part of this week’s segment hinted at a reunion with AJ Styles. It’s no secret Gallows and Anderson have languished in the WWE. They had brief prominence with Styles at the start of their WWE run and briefly with Finn Balor. Therefore, they seem to lack the standout quality by themselves but shine with a big name leader. Here’s hoping WWE turns Styles heel and reunites The Club.
Roman Reigns – The Big Dog cut a promo admitting his disappointment over the loss to Shane McMahon at Super ShowDown. As a result, Shane McMahon appeared with Drew McIntyre backstage. They made threats, including McIntyre promising to disfigure Reigns to the point that will terrify his kids when they look at him. The mention of his family triggered The Big Dog. He laid out The Revival and put McIntyre through a table backstage. Then, he rocked McMahon with a massive spear in the ring. He sent the message that he’s out to kick McIntyre’s butt Sunday at Stomping Grounds. This is the Reigns people want to say. Save the long promos, and bring on more heel butt-kicking antics.
Bray Wyatt – Firefly Fun House kicked off with a gardening segment this week. Bray compared our minds to gardens. He said he knows what it feels like to be left out, . so he built the Fun House for us all to be together. Then, images of Wyatt as “The Fiend” flashed on the screen along with other cryptic visuals and the familiar “let him in” message reappeared.
Lacey Evans-Becky Lynch – The fresh feud these two started right after WrestleMania brought promise, heat and sizzle. However, WWE kept that party going now for the better part of the past two months. The Raw Women’s Champ and The Lady of WWE had another confrontation last night. This time, Lynch got the drop on Evans and left her reeling ahead of the rematch of their Money in the Bank match at Stomping Grounds. Yet, this gave us nothing new, nothing we didn’t already see week in and week out since late April. Here’s hoping WWE gives Lynch something fresh after Sunday before they kill most of her buzz.
R-Truth – The 24/7 Champion and Carmella got outed in lame disguises while watching The War Raiders’ squash match from the crowd. As usual, a parade of direct-from-catering mid-carders rushed to the ring to get a shot at Truth. However, he and Carmella booked out of the arena before he lost his precious belt. Sorry, but this whole concept needs a reboot because it’s garbage.
Paul Heyman – The Beast Incarnate’s advocate came out to blather more of his nonsense about the imposing threat of the beast. I know he has his fans, but I want to turn the channel every time I see Heyman these days. We get it. Lesnar still owns the briefcase. He’s coming for Seth. Blah blah blah blah. Don’t threaten us with a good time, Paul.
The Revival – The new Raw Tag Team champs fail to get a match ahead of the Stomping Grounds pay per view. Pardon me if this leaves me scratching my head. WWE wants us to take tag team wrestling seriously, but the only thing the champs do is eat a backstage beatdown from The Big Dog? As usual, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder deserve better.
The Miz – He’s one of the best Superstars in the company. However, he seems like he’s an afterthought lately. He seems to serve one of three purposes. First and foremost, he puts over Shane McMahon at all costs. Secondly, he hosts Miz TV to give us WWE’s tried-and-true formula for a match setup. Finally, he gets lumped in to a contenders match to eat a loss most of the time. Sorry, maybe I’m just a guy who appreciates Miz more than most, but I think he’s way more valuable than how he’s being used right now.
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