Three years ago, WWE began to break new ground on the future of the business with the rebranding of NXT. Partnering with Full Sail University, the COO Triple H took developmental back to the basics of studio wrestling in the ways of the NWA/WCW and many others of the territory era. This new project would also take the old-school philosophy to another level with their storytelling and character introduction alongside The American Dream Dusty Rhodes. WWE would double down on the future with the announcement of the Performance Center, a state-of-the-art training facility in which talents would be taught the skills needed to become superstars with expert instructors. Under the advisement of Triple H the company would also look towards the independent scene bringing in talents for their Internet buzz and to give is the credibility to the NXT brand truly changing the status quo for talents not seen as “WWE guys” just a decade ago. In reality, Triple H has made an alternative label to the core WWE product which turns off most fans these days. The brand itself has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 18 months. Beginning with the Takeover specials, NXT became the crown jewel of WWE Network subscriptions. Characters like Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, Bayley and many others would come across as real characters that people want to see fight the good fight. This crew of WWE’s young guns could not be held in the Florida area with their new popularity and soon began making strategic regular stops across the country selling out shows. But domestic audiences were not the only ones clamoring for WWE’s independent label. Next month, NXT will be heading to the UK for six shows including a live WWE Network special.

If all this wasn’t enough, WWE announced a reality show this past summer following the lives of talents working their way through WWE’s developmental system. This show would be later titled “Breaking Ground” and be deemed much like HBO’s “Hard Knocks”. For the uninitiated, “Hard Knocks” is a series done by HBO in partnership with the NFL to show usually a Super Bowl winning team in their training for the next season. There was quite a bit of excitement when WWE announced this kind of series of documentaries seem to be the forte of WWE Network. The company would later announce that Emmy award-winning actor William Shatner would be the narrator of the 10 episode first season.

“Breaking Ground”stepped into the ring and debuted its first episode. Overall, I liked the debut. Triple H introducing the first episode and explaining the concept of the series is fitting given this is his baby. We see everything from talent attempting to come back from injury, those trying to find their spot on the roster, dealing with main event success and working with coworkers and much much more. Shatner’s gravitas really gives a grounding to the series from the over-the-top WWE presentation that sometimes stops that audience from connecting to characters and situations. The word is the WWE has shot footage everywhere the promotion has gone. The main focus of the first episode is centered around a live event in Gainesville after NXT Takeover Brooklyn this past August. You see a behind-the-scenes look and what it takes to run the promotion from executives trainers and others. Not since the original seasons of WWE Tough Enough which aired on MTV have we seen such raw emotion and drives.

In fact, this is what I wanted WWE Tough Enough to be on USA Network this season. Unfortunately, NBC Universal went for more of a flashy competition style reality format. What “Breaking Ground” does that Tough Enough didn’t is it feels much more candid. You don’t feel like you’re being performed for. It’s like your a fly on the wall behind the scenes. It’s a great analogy for the difference between the WWE product and what we see on NXT weekly. The production team behind this does a great job. And you really empathize for these talents as they go through their journey.

You will see talents get cut from the roster, get injured and won’t return, talent signing and more in the journey to become a WWE superstar.Hopefully, this will give an insight to younger fans and overly critical smart fans why the decisions are made how they are. I can’t wait to see where Breaking Ground goes in the future. If it’s as good as the first episode I can see this being one of the pillars of WWE Network’s programming block.