Here are all the matches and predicted winners ahead of WWE's Stomping Grounds pay-per-view on June 23, 2019. Originally billed under the Backlash title, WWE eventually opted to rebrand their June event after recent widespread backlash of the genuine kind regarding the company's ties with Saudi Arabia. This weekend's card will now be the first ever WWE PPV under the Stomping Grounds title.
Currently in the middle of the traditional slump between Wrestlemania and Summer Slam, many of the bouts planned for Stomping Grounds are either rematches or have been announced without any real story or build but often, PPVs that appear unassuming on paper have a habit of delivering some memorable action in the ring - and there are certainly a smattering of exciting match-ups with the potential to deliver just that.
Seven titles will be on the line during this Sunday's festivities and there are a number of potential surprise appearances that could shake up the entire WWE landscape. Bray Wyatt's Firefly Fun House has unquestionably been the best part of Monday Night Raw over the past month and he is reportedly primed to make an in-ring return, while Aleister Black has been constantly teasing a debut singles feud on the main roster and could be ready to vent his frustration physically this weekend. Of course, there's also 2019's Money In The Bank winner, Brock Lesnar, who could potentially cash in his briefcase on the night, and expect plenty of shenanigans with the 24/7 Championship in between matches. This is what WWE has planned for Stomping Grounds.
The New Day (Big E/Xavier Woods) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
An extension of the singles feud between Owens and New Day member Kofi Kingston, this match perhaps more than any other on the card feels thrown together, with very little at stake for either team. However, with the level of talent involved, this is one match-up that could exceed expectations and go on to become one of the night's highlights. Fans will be thrilled to see the PPV return of Big E after his recent injury lay-off, while Woods, arguably one of the most underrated wrestlers in the company, always has the ability to impress.
The heel team of Sami and Kevin are always entertaining, and have been poking their noses into the New Day's business for some time. However, the duo feel somewhat directionless at present and have both also returned from lengthy spells on the sidelines. This match should bring the hostilities between The New Day and Kevin & Sami to an end, and allow both sides to get their teeth into something fresh.
With nothing on the line, the returning Big E is likely to lead his team to a feel-good victory.
Predicted winner: The New Day
Tony Nese (c) vs. Drew Gulak vs. Akira Tozawa - Cruiserweight Championship Triple Threat Match
WWE's Cruiserweight division is often relegated to the pre-show on PPV nights and even if the purple brand does appear on the event's main card, they aren't usually given much time to shine. With Stomping Grounds featuring a less-than-packed card, however, 205 Live fans will be hoping that this tantalizing Triple Threat is afforded a slot befitting of the three men involved.
After taking the title from Buddy Murphy at this year's Wrestlemania, Tony Nese has enjoyed a solid, if unspectacular, reign with the Cruiserweight Championship. Stomping Grounds presents his toughest title defense yet, as he faces former champ Akira Tozawa and 205 Live original Drew Gulak, fresh from a brief stint over in NXT.
The fact that Gulak has yet to capture the Cruiserweight title is nothing short of criminal, and the submission specialist has been given a new lease of life recently, replacing his politician-style gimmick with a more brutal, no-nonsense approach. It's high time Gulak's service to the Cruiserweight division was recognized.
Predicted winner: Drew Gulak
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
The Big Dog vs. the Scottish Psychopath is the result of WWE's most widely criticized current storyline. While there's no doubting that Shane McMahon's "Best in the World" shtick works, and the stable of Shane, Drew and The Revival has serious long-term potential, the story is currently centered almost exclusively around the boss' son and Shane's antics have become the focal point of both Raw and Smackdown, eating up airtime while the likes of Ember Moon, Robert Roode and the Viking Raiders are lucky to get on TV at all.
Shane has had a problem with Roman ever since the former WWE Universal Champion punched his 73-year-old dad in the face. Despite that quite justified reasoning, the crowd is meant to be on Roman's side after the arrogant Shane stole a victory over him at Super ShowDown and the McMahon has now sent his chief lackey, Drew McIntyre, to finish the Big Dog off.
It seems inevitable that this scenario will ultimately end in Roman vanquishing Shane once and for all at a future PPV, and for that to happen, he'll need to go through McIntyre at Stomping Grounds. Shane will no doubt interfere in an attempt to secure victory for his henchman, but it's hard to imagine Roman losing two big matches on the bounce, even via some heel shenanigans.
Predicted winner: Roman Reigns
Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c) vs. Heavy Machinery - Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
A few weeks ago, the eco-friendly Bryan and Rowan labeled Smackdown's Tag Team division a joke and this sentiment perhaps rang truer than WWE intended. Despite some undoubtedly talented duos on the roster, WWE's current product hasn't taken Tag Team wrestling seriously for a number of years and has largely failed in building up incoming stars. For this reason, the champs' match against Heavy Machinery is perhaps more important than it initially seems.
Otis and Tucker have likable personalities, a unique in-ring style and plenty of potential, so many will be pleased to see them involved in a PPV title match, regardless of the result. However, Heavy Machinery's NXT career was cut short thanks to their main roster call-up and the duo have therefore failed to clock up much-televised mileage. Consequently, this championship match likely comes a little too soon for Heavy Machinery, with their inclusion on the card arguably down to a lack of credible alternatives.
With that said, if Otis and Tucker are able to put on a strong showing against their opponents, their stock on Smackdown will rise considerably and the brand will gain a much-needed major player in its Tag Team division.
Predicted winner: Daniel Bryan and Rowan
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Ricochet - United States Championship Match
"There's no way WWE can mess up Ricochet," fans were saying shortly before the superstar was called up the main roster and immediately made to feel just like any other wrestler. Thankfully, the indie favorite's match against Samoa Joe has the potential for course correction and is unquestionably the most promising match-up on paper. Joe's technical, precise brutality should work well against Ricochet's high-flying acrobatics.
While the U.S. title can sometimes hinder a wrestler's career more than help it, Samoa Joe's reign has restored some prestige back into the belt, which culminated in a well-received 5-way elimination match on the most recent episode of Raw to decide his Stomping Grounds opponent. Ricochet came out on top of that bout (thanks to some help) and he could certainly use a big PPV win to kick-start his stint on WWE's flagship brand.
Joe, meanwhile, has perhaps done all he can as U.S. champ and deserves to move further up the card, meaning a loss here wouldn't necessarily derail his momentum. Should these two deliver the type of match indie followers know they are capable of however, the real winner here will be the audience.
Predicted winner: Ricochet
Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss - Smackdown Women's Championship Match
While both Bayley and Alexa Bliss are talented individuals in their own right, the pair have a somewhat checkered history when it comes to working together, including an ill-advised 'kendo stick on a pole' match and a This Is Your Life segment many consider to be one of WWE's lowest points. Their current feud has been marginally better, though since their dispute revolves around coffee and nasty Tweets, it's hardly a huge improvement.
Strangely, Alexa is competing for Bayley's Smackdown title as a member of the Raw roster - a byproduct of the ridiculous "Wildcard Rule" WWE recently introduced to widespread confusion. Despite the presence of Alexa's latest BFF, Nikki Cross, at ringside on Sunday night, it seems counter-intuitive for Alexa to take the blue belt over to Monday nights, and considering her ongoing injury problems, WWE may be reluctant to put a belt on Alexa for the time being.
This should mean a clean victory for the Hugger at Stomping Grounds and Bayley fans will be desperately hoping the champ's next program offers something more substantial.
Predicted winner: Bayley
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler - WWE Championship Steel Cage Match
A rematch from Kingston and Ziggler's bout at Super Showdown, albeit with the addition of a Steel Cage, this match is perhaps most at risk of underwhelming on Sunday night. Kingston and Ziggler have done battle countless times before, and when the Show Off emerged as Kofi's latest opponent with his new "it should have been me" catchphrase, the fan response was underwhelming.
There's no doubting the physical ability of both competitors and the added stipulation will almost certainly lead to some jaw-defying spots from these two known risk-takers, but WWE has failed to present Ziggler as any kind of credible threat in the run-up to this match and Kingston looks set to retain the top belt once again.
Prior to Kofi's heartwarming win at Wrestlemania, it was predicted that this reign would be fleeting, but the New Day member has held on to the gold longer than anticipated and when the time finally comes for him to hand it over, the recipient is unlikely to be Dolph Zigger, who fans seem largely indifferent towards right now.
Predicted winner: Kofi Kingston
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lacey Evans - Raw Women's Championship Match
Another rematch, this time from Money In The Bank, sees The Man face off once more against newcomer, Lacey Evans. Since arriving from NXT, Evans has rocketed to the top of the card, neatly fitting the mold of an archetypal Vince McMahon female superstar, but her inexperience has made itself apparent on occasion. Nevertheless, Evans clearly has plenty of potential to go far in WWE and is certain to pick up a women's title in the not-too-distant future.
As with Heavy Machinery, however, Stomping Grounds perhaps comes a little too soon for Evans. WWE is still playing up Becky's big Wrestlemania win over Ronda Rousey and after losing her Smackdown title to Charlotte Flair at Money In The Bank, The Man looks set for a lengthy run with the Raw belt. If Becky is booked to retain on Sunday, the match will surely be constructed in such a way as to make Lacey look as strong in defeat as possible.
Predicted winner: Becky Lynch
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Baron Corbin - WWE Universal Championship Match (with Special Referee)
Baron Corbin is about as popular as the flu among WWE fans right now, but that hasn't stopped the company putting him in a high-profile match against Seth Rollins for the Universal title. For reasons still unclear, Corbin is picking a mystery special guest referee to officiate the match, with Brock Lesnar a rumored contender for the role, and this stipulation stacks the odds firmly against the babyface Rollins.
It's easy to feel sorry for Corbin. The man is clearly a very capable wrestler and has done everything WWE have asked of him, even to his own detriment. Corbin was the on-screen scapegoat for WWE's recent poor ratings but has put on some high-quality matches in low key spots and shows remarkable consistency both in the ring and in promo segments.
Despite this, a deeply unpopular top champion is the last thing WWE needs right now, with multiple reports of backstage disarray and new promotion AEW enjoying a swift ascent. As such, Rollins seems like the likely and rightful victor, despite the inevitable efforts of whoever dons the black and white stripes.
Predicted winner: Seth Rollins
WWE Stomping Grounds airs June 23rd on the WWE Network.