By Jake Barnett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@barnettjake)
WWE Smackdown Live on USA Network
Aired live from Ontario, California at Citizens Business Banks Arena
The New Day made their entrance to open the show. Big E threw some pancakes while Woods and Big E gyrated. They all grabbed microphones, and Kofi welcomed everyone to Smackdown. Woods said everyone was well aware that at Stomping Grounds on Sunday, Kofi would defend his WWE Championship against Dolph Ziggler inside a steel cage. Woods said that’s only if Ziggler makes it through him later tonight.
Woods said they like to keep things fresh, and Big E said that reminded him of a pitch he has for the second hour of Smackdown called the freaky hour. He said it involves a slip and slide…and Dolph Ziggler interrupted him. Dolph said that it was just like Big E to distract everyone from the fact that Kofi doesn’t deserve to be WWE Champion. He then said he’d be nothing without New Day, and on Sunday in a steel cage they wouldn’t be able to have his back.
Dolph said Kofi would have to go back to Ghana on an apology tour and tell all those kids, his family, and the fans that when he had to defend the title all by himself, he failed. He said at Stomping Grounds, it would be him slamming and grinding his face into the steel, it would be him kicking ass and taking names, and most importantly it would be him.
Kofi replied that Dolph was talking to him about cages like he didn’t know, when his run at the title began at Elimination Chamber. He said it was good with him, and whether he climbed or the top, or hit him so hard with Trouble in Paradise that he Milly Rocked his way out the door, he would remain WWE Champion. He then told Dolph he had better be prepared for tonight, because his boy Xavier Woods is ready to pop him in the mouth just like he did at Super Showdown.
Ziggler said he hadn’t forgotten about Woods, and after tonight, he would never be able to help him again. But on Sunday, everything he’s pretending to be will come crumbling down when he’s locked in a steel cage with him. Dolph said at Stomping Grounds, he would no longer be WWE Champion, because it should have been him all along, and on Sunday it will be him.
The announce team plugged Bayley as a guest on Moment of Bliss later. Woods vs. Ziggler starts next…[c]
My Take: Both guys are trying hard to make this feud work, but they put Kofi in a compromising position by having his friend help him retain his championship, and used it to continue to feed this Dolph “It should have been me” shtick that dies 1000 deaths on the microphone every time he’s out there. Both of these guys are crazy talented, and they have delivered their lines well, but the premise for this feud is pretty weak overall. I also wanted to hear out Big E’s freaky hour idea. Seems like a missed opportunity.
1. Dolph Ziggler vs. Xavier Woods: Woods got the advantage early on, and hit a seated dropkick for a two count. Ziggler fired back with a neckbreaker for a two count of his own. Woods dropped Ziggler with a kick and climbed to the top, but Owens and Zayn ran down to ringside and took out Kofi and Big E. Woods dove to ringside and took out both men, but this allowed Ziggler to take advantage and hit a DDT for a near fall as he got back in the ring…[c]
Ziggler dominated the commercial break. The rest of New Day, and Owens and Zayn were banned from ringside. Woods broke free of Ziggler and hit a big punch. He then hit a dropkick through the ropes, followed by a Gorilla Press into a gutbuster for a near fall. Ziggler hit a superkick on the apron that sent Woods crashing to the floor. Back in the ring, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag, but didn’t pin him right away. He picked him back up and tied up his arms in the ropes. He then hit a superkick to his jaw and covered him for the three count.
Dolph Ziggler defeated Xavier Woods in 11:56
Woods was motionless in the ring, and Ziggler celebrated on his way to the back. The announce team then threw to some footage of Seth Rollins warning people on Raw not to side with Baron Corbin. It then showed Seth beating down numerous people with a chair since Super Showdown. Finally Baron Corbin beating down Seth with a chair was shown to end the video package.
Backstage, B-Team and Shelton Benjamin was shown interviewing various Superstars for the job of referee on Sunday. Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, and The B-Team were shown. B-Team thought it could be a great opportunity, but Shelton said he was simply using the person he chose. Elsewhere, Nikki Cross was shown speaking to Bayley, who is up next with A Moment of Bliss…[c]
My Take: That was a victory that Dolph needed. Woods made him look strong and showed off some flash offense in the process. He would be a good candidate for a singles career down the line, just like Big E. The match was much better after all the nonsense got out of the way at the beginning, as you would expect.
Alexa Bliss walked out with Nikki Cross, who was also announced to be in Alexa’s corner at Stomping Grounds. Alexa did her coffee gimmick, and Bayley walked out with her own in a sparkly cup. Bayley started off wanting to apologize, but Alexa snapper at her and asked she she wanted to apologize to her or Nikki for costing her a Woman’s Tag Team Championship shot.
Bayley said she knows Alexa has been talking behind her back, and challenged her to say what she wants to say to her face. Alexa said she’s not afraid. She said Bayley is not a hugger, she’s a liar, and she’s not who she portrays herself as. She told a story about how she came to WWE and nobody liked her, so she tried to be the nice girl that Bayley pretended to be, and even Bayley rejected her.
Bayley said she was inventing scenarios that never happened, and that she never lied to her. She said Alexa was doing to Nikki Cross what she had done before to Mickie James and Nia Jax. She only said what Alexa didn’t want to hear, and that is that she’s a princess who feels entitled that doesn’t deserve anything. Alexa fired back and said Bayley was just jealous because she doesn’t go out to the ring and emulate her heroes, and that she has a natural gift.
She said Bayley peaked in NXT, and she’s upset that Alexa is having the career she was supposed to have. Alexa called her a placeholder, and said the person she wanted to be would take her Championship on Sunday. A brawl ensued, and Nikki Cross pulled Bayley off Alexa, only for Alexa to take out Bayley from behind. Nikki looked confused.
Backstage, Apollo Crews tried to get information about Zelina Vega about where Andrade was, but he showed up behind him to give him a beat down. Chad Gabe was shown observing…[c]
My Take: A solid promo that lifted an otherwise uninteresting feud. Alexa spoke a little too quickly, and Bayley was monotone, but this was the most interesting promo content either one has seen in ages. Nikki Cross had some quality facial expressions coming out of the brawl.
2. B-Team vs. Heavy Machinery: Bryan and Rowan were on commentary. B-Team got an early advantage on Tucker, but he broke free and tagged in Otis. He cleared house and hit a big slam on Dallas. He then hit a big corner splash on both B-Team Members. After a Caterpillar, they hit the compactor for the win.
Heavy Machinery defeated the B-Team at 3:34
After the match, Seth Rollins showed up and beat down B-Team with chairs for interviewing with Corbin. He apparently only attacks wrestlers who don’t matter to any other storyline. Outside, Shane McMahon was shown arriving at the building. Owens and Zayn approached Shane and told him about Seth Rollins, and demanded they do something about him. They called Seth Rollins and Kofi bad people, and Shane’s answer was to book them in a two out of three falls match against Kofi and Seth later on.
My Take: Bryan called Heavy Machinery a joke on commentary who didn’t take themselves seriously enough, which was maybe a bit too accurate for title challengers. That said, Bryan is great on commentary. Owens and Zayn getting pasted in yet another TV Main Event feels like I’m watching a rerun.
Backstage, Aleister Black said he gets it why no one has knocked on the door to pick a fight with him. Black said he’s heard the whispers of people talking about how he’d never amount to anything, and how he was destined for failure. But he knows the future will bring someone to pick that fight, and when it happens, he will change the essence of that man. In the arena, Shane McMahon made his entrance. Elias eventually walked out, along with Drew McIntyre.
Shane talked about Roman ambushing their private function last night. He said in 5 days, Drew McIntyre would take care of his Roman Reigns problem. Drew grabbed the mic and said that Roman sucker punched them last night, and Shane wanted him to end Roman’s career tonight, but he decided they were better than him. He told him he wanted the best version of Roman Reigns at Stomping Grounds because he wanted no excuses when he put him down.
The Miz interrupted, and introduced footage of Roman taking out Shane and his cronies on Monday Night. Shane asked him if he thought it was funny, and Miz said it wasn’t funny compared to this…and he showed another video of Shane running from Roman and getting beat down in slow motion. Miz threatened to introduce more footage, but Shane threatened to fire everyone in the production truck.
Miz said Shane was the guy who starts the game because his Dad is the coach. He told Drew that he’d have a video package for him next week when Roman knocks him out. Miz then said that Shane came to Smackdown and made it the land of opportunity, but now the only opportunity on both shows goes to him and his friends. He sucks up all the airtime, and he and everyone else are sick of it. He called Shane his responsibility, and said it started with the World Cup, and now Shane’s ego is out of control after he became “Best in the World”.
Miz said Shane getting out of control was his doing, and he would take him out himself. Shane laughed and told Miz that he didn’t do anything for him, because he had no power to begin with. He said he would give him an opportunity to fight Elias and Drew in a tag team match, but he had to find a partner in the next 10 seconds. Miz spotted R-Truth sneaking out from under the ring, and said he was his partner, and Awesome Truth would be back on Ontario…[c]
My Take: Another entertaining promo segment, but Miz doing Roman’s promo work with video packages included felt a little odd. I know Drew needs a tune up to get his heat back from yesterday, but couldn’t he do that against Roman?
Backstage, the Iconics were shown backstage, and they ran into the Kabuki Warriors. They made a joke about them plundering their gold, and Paige said they’d fight them anytime. They said they were very busy travelling, so it wouldn’t really work right now. Paige said they had gotten them a match next week in Tokyo, and if they win, they’d get a Women’s Tag Team Championship match.
3. Awesome Truth vs. Drew McIntyre and Elias in an Elimination Tag Match: Miz started with Elias, but made a quick tag to Truth. Elias missed a clothesline, and Truth capitalized with a flurry of kicks and a flying forearm. Elias avoided an axe kick and made a tag to Drew. He entered the match and immediately took out Truth with forearms and chops, and backed him into the heel corner. Elias took advantage of the ref tending to Miz and took some cheap shots. Elias then tagged back in and Truth went after his taped ribs.
Truth dumped Elias to the floor, but McIntyre tossed him back in. Truth tried to make a tag, but Shane pulled Miz from the apron. Elias splashed Truth in the corner and hit a high knee and got the pin. Truth was eliminated at 4:48. A bunch of 24/7 all stars ran down, and Shelton Benjamin grabbed the belt and ran. A ref grabbed the title and said they had to pin Truth, and grabbed it back. Truth took the belt from the ref and took off. The other wrestlers gave chase as Miz was left alone with the heel squad…[c]
McIntyre and Elias toyed with The Miz during the break, using holds to wear him down. Elias tossed Miz to the floor, and Shane took a cheap shot. McIntyre charged at Miz, who sent him into the timekeepers area. Elias tossed Miz back in the ring, and then climbed to the top rope. Miz caught him with a kick to the chest on the way down. He then hit double knees in the corner to his taped ribs, and hit a DDT for a near fall.
Elias sent into the ropes, and McIntyre hit him with a Glasgow kiss from the outside. Elias tagged in McIntyre, who hit a Claymore for the win.
Drew McIntyre defeated Awesome Truth at 9:53
After the match, Shane picked up Miz and tossed him into another Claymore. They then set up and hit a third. Shane and McIntyre then celebrated their work. The announce team then went over the Stomping Grounds card. Backstage, Ember Moon ran into Carmella, who was chasing Truth around. She told Ember to tell Mandy and Sonya that they had unfinished business.
She found them, and they were eating donuts. They said they wouldn’t apologize for breaking her video game, and said they were just trying to give her a better way to occupy her time. She said she’s been dealing with people like them her entire life, and Mandy told her to calm down. Sonya told her to feel free to keep frying her brain, and then Ember attacked. Referees eventually had to separate them. Seth Rollins and Kofi were shown backstage getting ready for their match. Firefly Funhouse is next…[c]
My Take: I feel like we’re going to see this Shane program drag out until at least Extreme Rules. Here’s hoping it doesn’t go until Summerslam. The show needs fresh programs in the worst way. McIntyre looked great as usual, but he’s got to start winning bigtime matches to feel like a real threat.
We got a rerun of last night’s Firefly FunHouse. Outside the building, Drake Maverick surprised R-Truth by dressing as Carmella, and pinned him for the 24/7 Championship. Drake then jumped into the referees car, and drove off, saying he win the Championship and he was getting married. Truth remarked that Carmella never told him that she was getting married, and he wondered why he wasn’t invited…[c]
Kofi Kingston made his entrance, followed by Seth Rollins. They were followed by Owens and Zayn.
4. Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston vs. Owens and Zayn in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match: Kofi hit trouble in paradise immediately on Sami Zayn and got the first fall…[c]
Owens and Zayn controlled Seth Rollins during the break, and made frequent tags to isolate him as the show returned. Zayn placed Rollins on the top rope for a Superplex, but he avoided it and headbutted Zayn back into the ring. Owens tagged in and traded blows with Rollins while he was still on the rope. Rollins got the better of the exchange and hit a blockbuster, which allowed him to tag in Kofi.
Zayn tagged in and Kofi landed a kick. He then hit a splash out of the corner for a near fall. Sami fired back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall of his own. Owens tagged in, but Kofi hit him with a dropkick. Rollins tagged in and splashed both Owens and Zayn on the floor. Rollins then hit a springboard lariat, and fired up the crowd for the stomp. Kofi prevented Sami Zayn’s interference, and Rollins hit Owens with a superkick.
Rollins went for a buckle bomb, but Owens avoided it. Rollins reversed out of a back body drop and hit a stomp for the win.
Kofi Kingston and Seth Rollins defeated Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn at 10:33 after sweeping both falls.
My Take: Both champs look like a million bucks, and Sami and Kevin continue to be the WWE’s resident punching bags for TV Main Events. This was an action packed show, maybe even too packed, as very few segments had any chance to breathe. Maybe Alexa Bliss had to hurry her promo earlier in the show because she had a total of 4 minutes to get out all of her dialogue. Despite WWE’s efforts this week, Stomping Grounds feels like it has very little going for it in terms of big matches. Super Showdown certainly didn’t help matters any, but it’s not like the TV had been inspiring stuff at any point since WrestleMania. Hopefully we get some feuds ending here, as fresh heels are desperately needed at this point.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...