Breaking Ground Episode 5: Call It A Comeback
Recap by Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike)
Key Takeaway: A really unfocused episode of Breaking Ground, checking in with a lot of NXT personalities just to remind you that they exist, finishes off with three individuals getting raises from WWE executive Canyon Ceman and another getting released in the last scene of the episode.
Show Recap: We quickly check in with a few loose ends from last episode. An absolutely gassed ZZ gets a stern lecture from Jason Albert about his conditioning and the need to push himself past his limits to improve. Meanwhile, Jason Jordan steps up and has a strong performance as he and Chad Gable (who is working with an ankle injury) beat the Hype Bros to move on in the Dusty Rhodes Classic and earn a spot on the upcoming Takeover special.
From there, the episode jumps around a lot.
Cal Bishop gets back into the ring following his third shoulder injury (and second surgery). They even show footage of his shoulder blowing out in the ring in December 2014 (in his first match back from his first surgery). He says been much more keen with his rehab work and paying attention. He's about a week away from getting medically cleared. He has an in-ring workout. It goes well, but he's limited by his arm, and Albert and the rehab trainer express concerns about his ability to lift opponents with confidence.
Next we check in with Nia Jax. She explains her character by declaring “I am the main bitch and nobody's going to mess with me.” She does mention that her cousin is The Rock, and that seeing his match at WrestleMania 28 made her want to become a wrestler. She discusses some concerns she has about her size, but also notes that her unique look, size and background help her stand out in a really crowded NXT womens division. We transition to a segment with Nhooph via the revelation that she and Nia are road buddies, which is a web series that we need to see – the tiny young girl and The Rock's cousin traveling around America wrestling at shows. Anyway, Nhooph gets a ring name – Aaliyah – and has a meeting with William Regal to share her ideas for her character. She wants to emphasize her Middle Eastern background to stand out and Regal encourages her, noting that unless she is thinking and feeling her character and bringing it out through her eyes, fans will see right through her. Tyler Breeze appears, sitting down with the new girls in the ring and going over psychology – what drives their characters, why do they walk the way they do, how do they move or orient themselves – and it seems to blow their minds. (Later on, the coaches praise Breeze's ability to connect with the new talent and his great attitude given his lengthy developmental tenure.) After a video session where the females sit with Sara Amato and go over old WWE promos, Nia has an evaluation with Amato that goes pretty well.
The episode ends with Canyon Ceman arriving and everyone freaking out (since in every episode he's appeared in somebody's gotten cut), culminating with a montage with Apollo Crews, Jason Jordan, Nia Jax and Cal Bishop being summoned to meetings. Crews, Jordan and Jax each get raises, while Bishop is released to end the episode.
There's also a storyline with Tino Sabbatelli getting his brother a try-out that doesn't go anywhere, as his brother blows his knee out on an indie show five days before the try-out and they have to re-schedule.
Final Thoughts: The episode attempted to build towards a dramatic climax where they wanted the audience to wonder which talent would get released. Unfortunately, it felt really hollow, as the three wrestlers that aren't Cal Bishop are all on NXT television right now, so there was absolutely no tension. It was a bit frustrating that they went so far out of their way to sell Bishop as a hard-working guy with terrible luck, while at the same time showing ZZ to be a waste of time and real estate in the Performance Center.