KELLER INTERVIEWS ROB VAN DAM FOR FIRST TIME...
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WWE STOMPING GROUNDS 2019 KICKOFF SHOW
JUNE 23, 2019
STREAMED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY MIKE F. MEYERS, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Kickoff Panel: Jonathan Coachman, Charly Caruso, David Otunga, Booker T
The panel conducted a complete match rundown for tonight’s event, and indicated that the Cruiserweight triple threat match would take place on the Kickoff show. They then threw to a Kofi-Ziggler video package.
After the video, Booker and Charly were shown in the ring, inside the lowered steel cage for the Kofi-Ziggler match. It did not appear their audio was being piped through the house PA, so the fans in Tacoma were treated to the two panelists standing and gesturing in silence.
Back at the announce table, Xavier Woods and Big E had joined the panel. Big E was spread eagled with his feet on the table in a posture reminiscent of a gynecological exam. While Woods and Jonathan discussed Kofi’s match, Big E repeatedly poured water over his head and chest areas. The show then cut to a Rollins-Corbin video package.
Corbin was interviewed backstage by Kayla about the special guest referee for his match. He refused to reveal the secret, and said, “I want to keep Seth Rollins on his toes before I put him on his back for his title.” He appropriately described Rollins as sadistic, referring to his steel chair rampage. Back at the panel, Booker talked about Rollins’s new attitude while footage was shown of Rollins low-blowing Lesnar and decimating the roster with the chair. After the panel briefly discussed the possibility of Brock Lesnar showing up tonight to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, we cut to a Bayley-Bliss video package.
Back at the panel, Booker T used the term “catfight” to describe the women’s locker room. Charly said, “I know what it’s like to be a woman in general, and yes, there are many different motives women have, so it’s hard to know who to trust in different situations.”
(Meyers’s Analysis: That’s right, bitches be crazy! Thanks, WWE.)
The panel brought in Ricochet to discuss his match against Samoa Joe. His responses were generic, very sports like – similar to an experienced athlete being interviewed after a game. Eventually Joe appeared on a side-by-side video screen and called for Ricochet’s attention. Joe indicated that Ricochet is not on his level, in spite of being an amazing athlete. “That’s not gonna save you from me. Being amazing has never saved anyone from the beating I put on them.”
We cut backstage to see Daniel Bryan kicking referee Charles Robinson out of a set of hallway doors. Bryan was incensed that Robinson walked into their shot. Bryan said he and Rowan are trying to save the entire tag team division from Heavy Machinery. Bryan was not pleased with Heavy Machinery’s in-ring antics. “Blue collar solid is no match for champions fighting for the greater good.” We were then shown a Reigns-McIntyre video package.
Shane McMahon was shown backstage with Drew McIntyre. McIntyre said Reigns is too emotional for “freaking out” at the mere mentioning of his family. He said, “The truth hurts, but not half as much as what I’m going to do to you tonight,” and stormed off. On the panel, Otunga agreed, and added that when you get emotional you can make bad decisions.
(1) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. DREW GULAK vs. TONY NESE (C) – TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, Aiden English
As Neese entered, he shouted at the camera, “I’m gonna steal the show before the show!” The bell rang and the wrestlers took multiple shots at one another, but Gulak was the first to be out of the action, allowing Tazawa and Neese to go at it. The action spilled outside of the ring: Neese super kicked Gulak, but Tazawa leveled Neese with a spear through the ropes, then got back onto the apron to take out Gulak with a tumbleweed senton against the barrier.
Back in the ring, Tazawa took down Neese with a missile dropkick, but his cover was busted up by Gulak, who was immediately thrown back out of the ring by Tazawa. Tazawa climbed the top ropes again, but was knocked down with a palm strike by Neese. Neese pinned Tazawa but once again Gulak broke up the count.
Neese and Gulak countered one another’s suplexes, then Gulak suplexed an interfering Tazawa into the bent-over Neese. We cut to a split-screen video package of Lynch and Evans while Gulak applied a side headlock to Tazawa. Tazawa hoisted Gulak into a fireman’s carry, but eventually collapsed. Tazawa ran the ropes and latched a head scissors / arm bar submission to the upright Gulak. Neese got back into the ring and disassembled the submission and tossed Tazawa against Gulak, knocking down both men.
Gulak turned Neese inside out with a big clotheslines, then locked a submission on Neese on the canvas. Neese flailed wildly, and Tazawa landed a senton on both opponents from out of nowhere – a replay revealed his attack coming from the top rope. Tazawa tried the fireman’s carry again, this time successfully, as he face planted Gulak. When Tazawa ran at Gulak in the corner, he was lifted and tossed out to ringside. Neese knocked down Gulak with a roundhouse kick and went for the pin, but this time Tazawa broke it up.
Tazawa and Neese exchanged big chops in the middle of the ring. The two maneuvered into a corner, and Neese set up for a superplex but Tazawa defended against the move. Gulak rushed in and executed his own superplex on Tazawa. Neese scrambled back to the top rope and attempted a 450 splash on Gulak, but Gulak rolled out of harm’s way. Tazawa broke up a Neese pin with a shining wizard. With all three men down, the crowd began to heat up.
There was an intense flurry of offense among all three wrestlers, culminating with Neese dead lifting Tazawa and firing him back-first into the bottom turnbuckle. Neese German suplexed Gulak into the turnbuckle, but his follow-up running attack was blocked. Tazawa drop kicked Neese off the ring apron. Gulak then caught Tazawa with the torture rack neckbreaker, and covered for the pin and victory.
WINNER: Drew Gulak by pinfall.
(Meyers’s Analysis: Stunning non-stop action was what everyone should have expected, and these guys delivered. The ten seconds of downtime when all three men were prone allowed the crowd to catch their breath and prepare for the endgame. Gulak wins the belt, but Neese was protected by not taking the loss. Stand by for the rivalry to continue.)