When Place to Be Nation sought out a correspondent to watch and write about the new WWE/E! reality show Total Divas each week, they initially wanted a “female voice.” Unfortunately for them, lifelong wrestling fan Ben Morse also happens to count Melrose Place among his all-time favorite shows and already has every other E! show on in the background via his lovely wife Megan, so he whined until they let him do it.
Jen Engle doesn’t watch wrestling or E!, but the Powers that PTB roped her into this anyway.
Find out what happens when one overly enthusiastic dude and a lady who has no idea what’s going on talk about a weekly “reality” show focusing on the female side of WWE.
Ben: Hello Diva devotees and welcome to the penultimate season two-ish edition of Total Divas Watching Total Divas! Apologies for the lateness, but I have been swamped hanging out with international pop music sensation One Direction while Jen has ensconced herself in her Divas dojo to prepare for this weekend’s finale. Fortunately, I’ve got with me for this go-around the best interim co-columnist that no money can buy, Place to Be Nation head honcho and TDWTD caption writer Brad Woodling!
Brad: Great to be back and I’m glad you dropped that line that, yes, I am indeed the person you can send complaints to for occasionally making snarky captions.
Ben: Let’s jump right into things, as Nikki Bella and John Cena get the pre-credits bumper as he continues to convalesce at the home he added a few candles and empty photo frames to for her comfort last week, but I see them nowhere! Nonetheless, John has himself hooked up to one of those rehab gadgets that emits electrical pulses into your injured area because science. I had to use one back when I tear my shoulder ligaments wrestling in high school and I have no idea what it did. John convinces Nikki to hook it up to his pec to see what happens then feigns a heart attack because—say it with me—there’s no better John Cena than Total Divas John Cena.
Brad: There is no better John Cena than Total Divas John Cena (I said it with you)! Hilarious stuff.
Ben: No theme song this week, which means JoJo’s chances of making an appearance just went from nil to nil-ler. We join Bryan and Brie at their CrossFit facility which sends me into fetal convulsions over the two hours of my life I spent doing CrossFit and how sore I remained for weeks afterward because I have not even a miniscule fraction of the toughness Brie Bella possesses. They’re getting set for Night of Champions where Bryan’s in the main event once more—they remain purposely ambiguous about the nature of said main event since in the Total Divas Universe, Daniel Bryan never lost the WWE title to Randy Orton, who doesn’t exist in this world except as a person whose hometown Eva Marie didn’t know—and Brie will be competing for the Divas title. Brie’s excited and nervous about her turn in the spotlight, but also starts throwing shade on her sister, who has been out for months now, setting the tone for one of the episode’s major plotlines.
Ben: Speaking of foreshadowing events to come, Nattie and TJ play with their cat, Gismo, and she talks about how much she loves the feline. I’m not a pet person, so if you have a cat, dog or gazelle, you may need to add some gravitas to this one, Brad. Anyhow, she dresses him up in Christmas clothes; TJ says it’s July, though Night of Champions took place in September, so either scenes have been shot out of sequence or there’s trickery afoot in the land of Total Divas!
Brad: The space-time continuum in the Total Divas universe is grand. As a comic book guy, Ben, I’m guessing you see this stuff all the time. I would by lying if I said we didn’t dress up the dogs for Halloween, or have them wear reindeer antlers around Christmas (which they dislike and take off immediately).
Ben: I apologize, as I usually take notes on these but did not last week, so my memory’s a bit spotty, but the next thing of note I recall would be Trinity breaking the news to the gals at her salon that she’ll be appearing in Jet Magazine as my man Jon Uso looks on with his eternal combo grimace/grin. I’ve come to like these two together almost as much as the Bellas and their fellas as they complement one another very nicely and have the kind of fun chemistry that makes you want to hang out with them (or at least watch their lives voyeuristically through television). Trin asks the lady cutting her hair if they have any copies of Jet lying around, to really rub it in, while Jon attempts to convince her that she should go with a one piece for the shoot over a bikini. Jon, brother, you’re a cool cat, but you’ve been around the game long enough to know there’s a better chance of Divas Champion JoJo than your request being even entertained here, dude.
Brad: We’re big fans of Jon and Trinity also although I can’t see how, as her fiancé, he wouldn’t support her to wear whatever she wants. They have a limited window to get as much exposure and make as much money as possible. Jet is a big deal!
Ben: So here’s where the disconnect becomes rough for me as Nattie learns that Gismo’s health has taken a turn for the worse and the kidney disease that has been afflicting him may have become too much. On the one hand, never having had a serious pet, I can’t totally comprehend how she and TJ feel; on the other, they’re so genuinely upset and have come off as decent—if quirky—people so I feel terrible for them. No jokes on this one.
Brad: Terribly sad situation for Nattie and TJ. As pet owners, my wife requested we fast forward through these segments but the gist is not lost on anyone that watches.
Ben: After a break, we come back to the Bellas shopping for something—shoes? It’s never made entirely clear—and as always the scenes of pure Nikki and Brie make for the best ones, and I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but while I’ve come to enjoy Trinity and Ariane in small doses—Nattie and Eva Marie I can take or leave; I can’t recall if the show has any other cast members—I would still gladly watch a Bellas-only show. I’m not sure how the conversation gets there, but we land on Nikki giving Brie a hard time for trying to pass off a fart in bed as her feet smelling to Bryan. That should be a main event storyline; I’m not sure how, but make it work. Brie half laughs it off, then pokes Nikki back by saying her injury has been taking forever to heal and she’s sick of her sister having “a vacation” while she reps the Bella brand solo. Nikki…does not take this well.
Brad: I’ve never played off my feet smelling for an innocuous fart. I usually blame the dogs (they’re cool with it, I swear). I also agree, having to slog through Eva Marie and Nattie stuff makes the Bellas-only segments that much better. I guess the show has a longer shelf life without having to only follow the twins, but I’d definitely be down for their own show.
Ben: Backstage at Raw, Nattie talks to the vet, and it seems like Gismo’s time has just about run out. That’s all I got.
Ben: The Funkadactyls get pulled into a meeting with the Talent Relations mafia, who inform Trinity they’re thinking of involving her in a love interest storyline of some sort. They don’t specify who the other part of this angle would be—knowing how WWE works, I’d say there would be equal odds on Fandango or Hornswoggle—but just let her know to start wrapping her head around it. Not sure why they needed Ariane there, but to her credit, she seems psyched that her partner will be featured more as it can only mean good things for them both, which she reiterates in video form.
Brad: I was thinking maybe Brodus or Tensai but, heck, a divas storyline that doesn’t involve the Divas title is something nowadays. Pretty rare happening.
Ben: Nattie watches from backstage as TJ makes his return to the ring against NXT’s Bo Dallas. Since I can’t recall this match ever happening on TV and them making a big deal on Raw a little while back when TJ and Nattie tagged against Fandango and Summer Rae, presumably this took place as a dark match despite it being billed here as his big comeback. TJ seems like he has not missed a beat, though his spray tan looks awful, as pointed out by my wife. She also looked up his injury—a torn knee meniscus—and scoffed at his recovery time, saying she would have come back way sooner, much in the same way Kurt Angle claimed he tears his quads daily when mocking Triple H back in 2002.
Brad: I don’t recall a Smackdown match with Bo Dallas either but I definitely remember how jarring his tan-job was when he returned.
Ben: Trinity hits the Jet shoot and brings along the world’s most dangerous seamstress, Sandra, with her. They have a selection of bikinis and a single ugly one-piece to humor Jon Uso that they quickly discard following feedback from one of the magazine’s muckity-mucks. Jon shows up and complains, leading Trin to roll her eyes and Sandra to give him the stink eye; I’d be terrified if I were him and beg my twin to switch places with me for a week.
Ben: Nattie and TJ go to the vet to put Gismo down. Really, there’s no commentary to offer here other than that it’s probably the most difficult-to-watch segment on the show to date, including John Cena’s elbow surgery and JoJo making out with Justin Gabriel.
Ben: Speaking of JoJo, holy crap, she shows up in the next scene! Not speaking, mind you, but she gets to sit at the table during another classic Divas brunch. Nattie arrives late and tries to unburden her emotions about putting Gismo down; Nikki asks Brie if she would stuff and mount her corpse, then they once again start bickering about Nikki’s time off. I love the Bellas, but…screw it, I still love the Bellas. I feel for you, Nattie, but I’m sorry to admit I chuckled at your open-mouthed expression after being cut off.
Brad: This seems like a good spot to interject our conversation with Jen as we had to assure her that JoJo indeed was still around, noting that she actually wrestled at the Survivor Series PPV in November. She, as we all were, was amazed.
Ben: We arrive at Night of Champions, and the focus first falls on Trinity, who learns from the Talent Relations cabal that her romantic storyline may be squashed because Jon complained about it. With nowhere else to turn, Trin does what I’ve been waiting for since this show began: Consults the oracle known as “Funkasaurus” Brodus Clay! The lord of the funk listens patiently like a Mohawk and tattoo-covered oracle from on high, then dispenses the wisdom that Trinity better get her man in line before he costs Brodus money. More of this, please!
Brad: Brodus is spot-on – shame on Jon for costing her this storyline.
Ben: Brie gets ready for the four-way title match she has against champ AJ as well as Nattie and Trinity. Nikki has Eva Marie take a pic of her in her Rainbow Brite gear to send to the still-convalescing John. Call it 80’s nostalgia, call it color blindness, but I dug the Bella Brite look.
Brad: The worst part of Bella Brite was them having to shoe-horn Eva Marie into the gimmick. She is the worst.
Ben: Trinity gets into it with Jon, who’s got his war paint on and looks kind of terrifying. He lobs out some protests that he doesn’t want to see her kissing another dude, but she shuts him down by reminding him they’re actors, they do this for a living, and she’d never do this to him. Again, love me some Jon, but it’s tough not to side with the Funkadactyl on this one.
Ben: It’s time for the match, and they mostly show highlights of Brie, as it ties into the matter of her trying to improve in the ring to make up for the absence of her sister—and she has gotten better, Scott Criscuolo!—while Nikki frets she may get left behind, which seems silly, but it’s a high pressure business. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s interesting to me to think about the Bellas in a professional capacity, since their whole careers have relied on looking and acting exactly like one another, but Nikki changed the game there with her breast augmentation, and I credit Brie for working hard in the wake of that to up her in-ring abilities. Honestly, I think between the steps they’ve taken and the amount this show has spotlighted their contrasting personas, the Bellas could survive a split, but obviously they still enjoy being together for now.
Brad: Since I regularly watch and blog the PPVs for Place to Be Nation, I can absolutely attest to your thoughts on Brie. I think she’s one of the most improved workers of 2013. Osmosis from Daniel Bryan perhaps, but they’ve shown her really put the work in too.
Ben: In a follow-up to my little diatribe there, Nikki gets over her insecurity and tells Brie after the match that she’s been doing a great job. Brie seems pretty genuinely happy, as the validation from her sister seemed to be what she needed, not her sister actually coming back from injury too soon. Also, level-headed Mama Bella has once again come to watch her girls, a nice touch until Nikki outs her mother as having also had her girls done as part of yet another jab at Brie’s unenhanced chest. Awwww…
Ben: After the show, Trinity tells Jon to leave her alone, she’s riding with somebody else, but he breaks down and admits he’s insecure and think she’s too good for him, hence why he tried to shut down the love interest deal. She forgives him, and I’m happy these two worked it out. Trin makes him carry all four of their bags to the car as he cracks jokes and I wonder who she had planned to ride with had this reconciliation not occurred.
Brad: Whew, Jon comes to his senses here and admits he was afraid she would fall for the other guy in her storyline, hence his insecurity. Trinity was certainly in the right to drop the “I’m riding with someone else” bomb, but I’m glad everything is good with those two.
Ben: The episode wraps with TJ getting Nattie a new cat, who she names “Louis,” or “King Louis,” immediately putting kitty clothes on him.
Brad: TJ and Nattie have big hearts and genuinely care for their pets so we were really glad to see them get another kitten to fill the hole in their family. Not a terrible episode, although the huge focus on the loss of Gizmo led to a bit of fast-forwarding here. The finale should be jam-packed! What do you think Ben?
Ben: A nice return to form for Total Divas as they head into the finale. I forgot we only got six episodes in this abbreviated season 1.5, so that news did not go over well in the Morse household. Hopefully Bryan’s proposal to Brie, Nikki and John’s baby drama and Eva Marie’s crazy father will carry us until season two begins. Also, we’ll see next week if JoJo can make a two-minute cameo and thus equal the time she’s appeared on Raw during this run.