Tag Archives: William Shatner

WWE Breaking Ground – Episode 4: Tag Team Turmoil

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by Frank Lucci

Timed to get hyped because episode four of Breaking Ground is all about the tag teams. Prepare to bathe in their charisma as the episode showcases some of the biggest personalities in NXT.

Narrator William Shatner has a rare misstep in the opening montage by introducing the episode with “This time on Breaking Ground.” “This time” sounds really awkward when Shatner could have just said “today” instead.

The first proper segment introduces us to Jason Jordan. He reveals that he’s gone through a lot of struggles in his life. Jordan is one of four brothers, two are incarcerated (with one in jail for life). After seeing his family members hit rock bottom he works hard to fulfill his dream of making it to the WWE (I already like Jordan 1000% more after watching this show for two and a half minutes). After this heartwarming backstory, Jordan and his coaches talk about how lack of character held him back until he started teaming with Chad Gable.

Switching to Gable, he quickly puts over his wrestling background (including his trip to the 2012 London Olympics) and instant chemistry with Jordan. They continue to talk about how their similar backgrounds helped bring out Jordan’s confidence in the ring while the two shoot hoops in a suspiciously empty park. Despite dedicating several minutes to how well they’ve bonded as a team the two have a very wooden conversation after their game. It’s almost as if they set the whole game up for the show.

ZZ lives in a bus that he hopes to one day bring groupies to. (just throwing that out there). The Tough Enough gator wrangler also apparently had to learn how to wash his clothes and dishes for the first time (I fear for ZZ living alone). He admitted he can’t even tie shoelaces together and only wears leather boots and “flippy flops.”

Someone please help this poor boy.

Mojo Rawley blasts into the episode by showing off his newly bought house. After throwing the “for sale” sign around and yelling a bunch (good way to make an impression on the neighbors) we get a much more low key Rawley talking about loving the WWE as a child and his attempts at a NFL career. He shows off his love of partying by flipping onto a beanbag chair as who we assume to be his mother looks concerned. Matt Bloom and the other coaches sandbag the party by talking about his lack of in-ring ability to the point that Bloom says if he continues to not listen to their advice, he just won’t be booked on shows (ouch).

Zack Ryder gets introduced as a way to set up the formation of the Hype Bros. While both had reservations about teaming up, they both recognized the potential benefits (Ryder getting a career resurgence, Rawley a better shot of getting called up).  The Hype Bros and Jordan and Gable will compete in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, with the two teams facing off for a chance to be in the semifinals match at the NXT Takeover: Respect special. With both members of the Hype Bros acting like their union is a business strategy it’s hard to get attached to the team in the same way as the more organic Jordan and Gable. Gable wants to be bff’s with Jordan, who refuses because he’s apparently too cool for that.

Shame on you Jordan, the man just wants to be loved.

After all the tag team focus we see Cal Bishop for the first time. A rookie with lots of potential despite being born with a clubbed foot. Nonetheless, he’s struggled with injuries during his NXT career. Bishop seems universally beloved by both the coaches and wrestlers and undoubtedly shows charisma and mic skills during his introduction. In comparison to the hard working underdog Bishop, ZZ continues to struggle with cardio work and work ethic in general. Keeping with the downward spiral of depressing news, Gable hurts his ankle at a live event. Lots of fun times during this portion of the episode.

Despite coming off like a giant hyperactive toddler at times, Rawley gets huge points for going all out to try and be a role model for kids like John Cena. He hangs out with fans after every show and goes out of his way to connect with fans knowing that they’re the ones who make it possible for him to follow his dream. He even grabs a young fan and announces to the crowd that he got straight A’s so they cheer the kid. Every women I know who saw this developed crushes on Rawley after thinking he was a doofus before. Hell, now I’ve got a small crush on this magnificent bastard.

After Rawley melts some hearts we get updates on different NXT superstars. Gable’s ankle gets better, but ZZ has coaches worried due to his inability to basically do anything. Insult to injury comes from Ebola Steak Josh who laps ZZ during a drill. While the coaches doubt ZZ’s work ethic, he does get choked up a bit when talking about his desire to make it. Given time and a good workout plan I have a feeling ZZ will be able to become a halfway decent wrestler, and the dude just needs time to adjust (and learn to tie a shoelace).

Bishop is back trying to get back on track career wise. After spending much of his two years at the Performance Center hurt he hangs his hat on being a model student and hard worker. He tears up while talking about his depression after hurting his shoulder for the first time after just making it to TV. All the feels for Bishop.

On the way to a live show Rawley drives with Dana Brooke, who proceed to bounce around like crazy people (FOCUS ON THE ROAD!). Ryder again sandbags the Hype Bros, literally saying he reaction to being paired up with Rawley was “Holy shit” (not really selling me on this team here, guys). Meanwhile, Brooke sees a women with “a nice rack” as she puts it and convinces Rawley to try and get her number while they’re on the highway (between this and helmetless Baron Corbin I am NOT ok with NXT’s traffic safety standards). Brooke also texts while driving, though I’m giving that a pass due to the fact that her super cylon vision probably helps her. Believe it or not, Rawley gets the girl’s number on the back of a Brooke picture and celebrates like he won the Super Bowl. Rawley is super positive about his relationship with Ryder, but realizes that always being apart hurts their chemistry.

This episode is full of bromance problems.

Back to ZZ who quits during a drill. However, nothing much is made of this as we switch to the big tag team match at the live show. Episode four ends before we find out who wins (dramatic tension!).

Lots of new elements are at play during this episode as ZZ is the only person focused on that we’ve seen before. Comparing the Hype Bros and Jordan and Gable ultimately hurts the Hype Bros, and we can plainly see there is some big problems with the Bros relationship. That being said, Rawley wins the episode with his dedication to the fans, and Bishop deserves an honorable mention for his struggles trying to get back into the ring.  

WWE Breaking Ground: Episode 1

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by Frank Lucci

WWE Breaking Ground offers a glimpse (through the WWE’s filter) of what it’s like to be a professional wrestler in their developmental system.

One of the better original programs on the WWE Network, the show focuses on many different talents at various stages of their training, from NXT top dogs like Sami Zayn and Tyler Breeze to newbies like Tino Sabbatelli and Nhooph.

Some quick general notes on the series as a whole: the music is decent (especially the opening theme) until Shinedown kicks in. William Shatner does a commendable job of narrating, as he is able to convey emotion well without getting bombastic. The biggest gripe with the show is some segments that are clearly there to put over WWE policies or really contrived segments to get people’s characters over (save that for NXT). Also the WWE plays fast and loose with the timeline of the show. For example, two wrestlers are let go on the same day in real life, but on the show they look like they happened weeks apart.

Episode one opens up with a Triple H monologue (shocker) about how difficult the journey to the WWE is and how special the NXT performance center is. It’s a good way to open the show for people unfamiliar with the WWE, especially with Breaking Ground being the good gateway to NXT and wrestling in general for new fans.

Next up is Bailey, who gets in her car and does nothing else for the whole episode (at least we see that she drives a modest looking vehicle). Then we get Tough Enough winner Josh Bredl showing up to sign his contract and begin his first day. After a montage of Wrestlemania footage, we see NXT trainees doing drills while coaches yell at them.

Do not anger Matt Bloom.

We then meet TIno Sabbatelli, a former NFL safety recovering from a concussion after his second match ever. Here we see the WWE put over their concussion protocal pretty hard. While concussions are no joke, it’s easy to see why the WWE included this due to their ongoing concussions lawsuits. Sabbatelli comes off as a bro but does not really strike people as someone to get invested in.

Baron Corbin is introduced next in a very in-character way. They put over his football and boxing backgrounds as well as his lone wolfness. He also rides a motorcycle, but without a helmet. Seriously, how counter productive is it to ride a motorcycle without any sort of protection when your job depends 100 percent on you staying healthy?

Switching over to the ladies we get a brief introduction to trainer Sara Amato and Nhooph, the youngest NXT Diva at age 19. Nhooph discusses stealthily getting wrestling training at age 16 and wanting to have her first televised NXT match. This is immediately followed by her struggling to take a hip toss. Devin Taylor also struggles to pick up wrestling after being a backstage interviewer for most of her two years at the performance center. During Taylor’s training we get a Nia Jax cameo. Taylor has had a history of injuries and there is plenty of foreshadowing here for what happens later.

Bloom reveals that Corbin gets huffy when other people get opportunities ahead of him (you’ve only been in the business three years, calm down). In a related note, Corbin burned his face trying to do a standing moonsault (???!!!). Apollo Crews (who can actually do that) is briefly seen in footage showing his background that was recycled from NXT. Sabbatelli shows up once again to put over the concussion protocol. Besides being a bro, the dude does not have much of a personality. He does have a nice vertical leap though, so there is that.

William Regal shows up and immediately steals the show. He’s seen coaching interviews and character stuff, showing exactly why he is the best man for the job. Even his talking head segments are amazing. Regal gives several memorable lines about teaching the fine points of being a character before we see pretty much every single embarrassing thing WWE had him do over his career. We then get a quick montage of people working on interviews, with Mojo Rawley giving the best performance. His “knock you out with a pair of flip flops” line is great.

Corbin and coach Norman Smiley are besties and travel to a live event together. This needs to be a spinoff show asap.

The roster sets up the ring for the live show and Bailey is bringing in chairs (good to see even the champs pitch in). Rawley bothers Corbin while he eats a salad, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. Corbin is also annoyed that the rundown of the card takes awhile to show his lone wolfness again. Nhooph isn’t on the card, which makes her a sad panda. Izzy the Bailey superfan gets a cameo and the show puts over Bailey being a hard worker and still being blown away that she is champ.

We finally see some in-ring action from a live show. However, the next day Nhooph finds out her match at another live show got cut. This is pretty terrible, but considering she recently made her NXT TV debut it looks like she will be just fine.  Coach Bloom and Amato talk about Taylor and if they honestly think she can handle being a wrestler.

Cue the evil villain music it’s Canyon Ceman. The WWE executive is in the house to make some roster cuts. Breaking Ground makes it seem like Taylor, Nhooph, and Sabbatelli are on the chopping block and the episode ends on a cliffhanger over who is going to get the axe.

Overall, the first episode is decent, but suffers a bit due to having to introduce all the various personnel involved and the fact that Corbin is the only guy on TV (besides Bailey and Crews who have maybe two minutes of combined airtime on Breaking Ground) that is focused on during the episode. The cliffhanger at the end is obvious to anyone who follows NXT, as (spoiler) Devin Taylor was released less than two weeks before the episode premiered. Regardless, the episode one is a good watch that sets up Breaking Ground well.