‘WWE Breaking Ground’ Season 1, Episode 8 recap: Crossroads
Former NXT Champion Sami Zayn struggles with the frustration of a long and grueling rehabilitation, WWE Hall of Famer Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall drops by the Performance Center to impart some wisdom and one highly touted recruit receives an unexpected wakeup call in the newest edition of WWE Breaking Ground.
Last week, WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent, Triple H, unexpectedly summoned NXT Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks for a meeting. This week, we confirm the news is not only positive, but historic, as The Game reveals the two athletes will compete in the 30-Minute WWE Iron Man main event of a live special on WWE Network. The bout will mark the first time women have headlined a WWE or NXT pay-per-view, as well as the first WWE Iron Man Match fought between women. “Change the business,” Triple H encourages Bayley and a misty-eyed Boss as they gather their thoughts ahead of the big event.
Yet, in the WWE Performance Center — where dozens of athletes are following their own, unique trajectories —everybody’s counting down to one milestone or another. Take Nia Jax, the hard-hitting, former plus-size model who’s eying her upcoming debut on NXT TV. Nia goes over the fine details of her ring gear with NXT’s designer, and approving of the sketch of her gold-and-blue attire that’s in front of her, Nia anticipates a head-turning look that borders on “fashion show status.”
The WWE Performance Center roster lights up with the arrival of Scott Hall. The coaching staff welcomes The Bad Guy with open arms: Norman Smiley asks the onetime Razor Ramon to chime in wherever he sees fit, and Head Coach Matt Bloom is eager for the 6-foot-7 Hall to help teach the 6-foot-8 Baron Corbin how to “protect his brand and protect his size.”
Maybe paramount is Hall’s expertise on the mic. One of the greatest orators in wrestling history, Hall sits in on a promo class and offers critiques. William Regal asks Hall specifically to give feedback to Apollo Crews, who is one of the most polished recruits in Orlando, despite his admitted weakness in giving interviews. After Crews gives an thoughtful, if forced, speech, Hall encourages the blue-chipper to speak more authentically.
While Crews gleans tips from a WWE Hall of Famer, Eva Marie fits in reps in the ring under the watchful eyes of Tyler Breeze and Sami Zayn. As Zayn points out, the similarities between he and Prince Pretty run deep — both are undersized wrestling fans from Canada who turned into two of NXT’s premiere talents. However, unlike Breeze, Zayn is on the sidelines, out with a shoulder injury since May.
The opportunity to coach Eva seems to distract Zayn from the frustrations of his long-term rehabilitation. The popular NXT Superstar remains cautiously optimistic even though a few of his friends seemingly question his ability to return successfully from the injury.
A different frustration rears its head for Tino Sabbatelli. Since learning he will compete in just his second match at a Live Event ever — against Crews, no less, one of NXT’s most advanced Superstars — Sabbatelli excitedly awaits his big moment. In the lead-up to the bout, it becomes clear Sabbatelli looks every bit like the WWE Superstar he hopes to be; having spent several lucrative seasons in the NFL, Sabbatelli — unlike most WWE developmental talent — can afford to drive around in a Maserati and wears custom-tailored suits (which he repeatedly describes as “gangster”).
Once the bell rings, however, Sabbatelli’s weaknesses become glaring. Coach Robbie Brookside and Head Coach Bloom don’t mince their words while watching the match backstage on monitors. They critique his striking and his offensive moves, and near the end of the match, Sabbatelli makes a wrong choice that needlessly risks injury to Crews — the ultimate cardinal sin. As soon as the event ends, Bloom voices his concerns about the performance and — much to Sabbatelli’s surprise and chagrin — tells the former football pro that he’s considering moving him back down to a more introductory class. The news lands hard …
… but not quite as hard as Dana Brooke, in practice, at the hands of Asuka. NXT made headlines with its signing of Asuka, a legend of Japanese women’s wrestling, in the fall. Her international acclaim — never mind her hard kicks and vicious submissions — intimidate some of the less experienced women at the Performance Center. Dana, on the other hand, is inspired by Asuka’s presence, and sees it as a chance to prove herself. But when a hard knockdown from Asuka sends Dana crumbling to the mat at the close of Breaking Ground, the mood changes drastically.
How much will this setback affect Dana? Will Sami Zayn continue his comeback story? Find out next week when WWE Breaking Ground returns to the award-winning WWE Network with a brand-new episode.