This last episode of the first season of Breaking Ground once again shows why NXT is taking over – literally. Not just with its four live shows per annum but also with its whole concept of taking every male and female wrestler serious and use all of them to their potential. It’s actually a very simple concept. But it works perfectly.
The last episode of Breaking Ground started with William Shatner narrating a very short summary of what we’ve seen for the last nine episodes plus explaining the concept behind the four yearly NXT TakeOver live shows for everyone not familiar with wrestling and / or NXT. So, this episode is all about the live event NXT TakeOver: Respect that held the last three matches of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in honour and respect for the late Dusty Rhodes and, of course, the first ever female main event and first ever female 30-minute Iron (Wo)Man match of NXt Women’s Champion Bayley vs Sasha Banks.
Another focus was on Apollo Crews who, despite some impressive in-ring action, isn’t really confident on the mic and – according to Triple H – needs a new finisher that is impressive and unique enough to make him stand out. William Regal was amused because at this day and age it’s hard to invent anything new. But it wasn’t just about that. I think, Triple H also wanted to see if Apollo Crews can work in something new and important very fast and make it look good, i.e. if Apollo Crews isn’t just coachable but also if he can adapt under pressure. So, as a result, in the actual show he did adapt but I don’t think the new move looks more impressive or unique as his old one. For me, Apollo Crews also misses this little bit of outstanding and exciting to watch persona.
I’m still not sure about the nature of his gimmick. What makes him special? What’s his ambition? What makes him stand out? I said it before: what makes wrestling great to watch for me are the stories and their unique characters. I need to get involved; I need to understand motives and I need to connect with at least one big aspect of the characters and the storylines. I also need variation and surprises. That’s why I like Dean Ambrose. And that’s also why I don’t care about Roman Reigns. At this point, Apollo Crews is just a better wrestler than Reigns for me but I don’t care for his character. He definitely needs to get a huge storyline – or a storyline at all. He needs to get a nemesis. Otherwise he won’t go anywhere.
But Tyler Breeze went somewhere after this NXT TakeOver: Respect show. During a meeting with all NXT wrestlers and officials that wrapped up the live show, Triple H revealed that Tyler Breeze was finally called up to the main roster. That’s also something Bayley strives for. But before that and her great and highly emotional outing with Sasha Banks, she told us all about her doubts and her expectations and fears for the main event match. She’s one of the most popular wrestlers in NXT, and even her biggest fan, Izzy, is already popular. Dana Brooke still isn’t on that level. And her recent injury made her doubt about herself. But despite still being hurt, she put on a good show against Asuka at the pay-per-view and got good reactions backstage.
For the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classics tournament, a special trophy was created, and the two sons of the late superstar, Cody and Dustin, along with their families presented it to the winning tag team of Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe. Cody Rhodes did an emotional speech that did justice to the “American Dream”. And despite for Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe winning, it was actually the team of Jason Jordan & Chad Gable whose star started to rise from their match at this very live event. Since then they grew into one of my favourite tag teams because of wrestling abilities and unique interaction with each other and the audience. After years without real connection and direction, Jason Jordan finally found his real destiny in NXT and probably wrestling. I guess, every guy or gal who starts in wrestling, strives for being a popular singles wrestler. But if you are in a working and popular tag team with someone you like and care about and who makes you better than you’ll ever could be as singles wrestler, then everything is perfectly fine, I think.
Also on this show was Sami Zayn who shared his injury experiences with Triple H. And Tino Sabbatelli shared his arrogant views about wrestling with Baron Corbin. I still can’t entirely work out if that’s their honest opinion (Corbin: I’m dominating NXT – no, you don’t; Sabbatelli: I was so great at NFL, now I have to start at the bottom – well, why didn’t you stay there?) or if they just play heel on camera. But I don’t actually care anyway, especially when it comes to Tino Sabbatelli.
A short look into the future showed the main characters of Breaking Ground once again. And finally, William Shatner closes this first season with a sentence that only him is able to pronounce like that: This is – and remains – the breaking ground.