Breaking Ground Episode 9: Countdown
By Ryan Pike
Key Takeaway: TakeOver: Respect draws near as we follow several NXT personalities as they prepare for the big event. The focus on TakeOver adds some much-needed urgency to the show.
Recap: As with the past few episodes, this edition of Breaking Ground wasn't focused on one or two competitors, but the episode's focus on the road to TakeOver: Respect helped make up for it.
Bayley visits Natalya at "Night of Champions" and picks her brain a bit about the upcoming Iron Man match. Natalya reassures her that she's the right person to lead the way for the young NXT female locker room as champion. Later, Bayley shoots promos for the match and gets a bit choked up as she discusses the importance and historical nature of the bout, which they emphasize is the first time females have main-evented a live WWE special. When she arrives at Full Sail for the event, Bayley seems a bit relieved that the day has arrived – she mentions how she's been constantly running around preparing and promoting the event (and while she does this in voice-over, she is constantly shaking hands with different people at the arena backstage who greet her) that she's a bit wired at this point. In a cool moment in this episode, Bayley gets a chance to play with her own action figure as Mattel comes to do facial scans of other NXT stars.
Nia Jax is getting ready for her TV debut (which was taped after TakeOver, but appears in this episode because of narratives). Her mom has flown in and helps her prepare. Nia has no idea what to do for her entrance. Her mom advises her not to over-analyze her entrance and just enjoy the moment when she walks out there. Her mom mentions what she has already overcome, and Nia tells the story of getting in an accident with a drunk driver in August 2014 (with The Rock's mom with her in the car). In a funny moment, Rhyno and Baron Corbin joke around with her about being nervous about her debut, sharing horror stories of their past debuts. (Rhyno came out during the commercial break because he thought the generic rock music was his entrance music, advising her to “remember her music.”) She likes her new gear. Her debut happens, the crowd reacts well to her. She tears up discussing how much it all meant to her having her mom there. (Weirdly, she has a talk with her mom outside the venue wearing her more recent gear with the cool shoulder-pads.)
Sami Zayn begins doing conditioning in-ring with Tye Dillinger. He goes through a series of holds while a trainer assesses him. He notes afterwards it's unclear if he's going up to the main roster or not, as it wasn't clear to him if his Montreal match with John Cena was a full call-up or a one-off.
In a strange quirk, last week's cliffhanger with Dana Brooke getting injured is not really followed up on. They establish that she was hurt and injured some muscle in-between her pectoral and her shoulder, but she decided to work through it as the trainers felt whatever damage had been done wouldn't get worse. She does get choked up a bit chatting with Jason Jordan prior to Takeover, but she gets to make her TakeOver debut with Asuka regardless.
In lesser news: Tino Sabbatelli gets video feedback from Adam Pearce and Matt Bloom, and does extra work in the ring at the Performance Center with the hopes of working his way back up from the beginners class to the touring roster. Tyler Breeze and his girlfriend adopt a stray dog that followed him to the Performance Center. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable order custom track suits for their TakeOver match, but they don't arrive in time.
And the beginning of "TakeOver: Respect" is this episode's big cliffhanger, as we'll follow up on that event in next week's season finale.
Final Thoughts: A fairly strong episode of Breaking Ground, if only because of the focus on TakeOver and the time it spent with personalities like Bayley, Nia Jax and Sami Zayn who the show has spent time with and given reasons for viewers to care about.