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, Jen, hello, audience, hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, as a I certainly did. I know given the shooting schedule we never have any real shots at getting timely Total Divas holiday specials, but I definitely would have loved to have seen the entire cast at Cena Manor, carving up a turkey and reminiscing about that girl JoJo they used to know.
Jen: I think it’s safe to say that JoJo is no longer appearing on Total Divas. Maybe she didn’t want to be on the show anymore, or maybe she pissed someone off? Cough cough Eva Marie cough cough
Ben: Speaking of holiday specials, Total Divas tore my wife away from her DVRed Kardashian Khristmas, so I’m proud of both her and E! for upping the quality of their taste.
In the prologue this week, Seamstress Sandra returns! As usual, she’s taking no guff, in this case from Trinity, who complains that while her “cookie” has been appropriately concealed by her bottoms, the top Sandra made her could potentially expose her “potatoes.” Maybe that counts as a Thanksgiving tie-in?
Jen: I love Seamstress Sandra and all her sassiness. I also love that Trinity calls her “cookie’ her “cookie.” I guess “potatoes” makes sense. But she also could have stuck with the sweets theme and gone with “mounds.”
Ben: Freshly moved into Castle Cena, Nikki notes that her new home has no photos or candles or…anything. Pretty much white walls and spotless floors as far as the eye can see. She muses about giving it a more personal touch and John reacts like a malfunctioning robot and then goes back to trying to fix his fireplace. Nikki seems dubious. I reflect back to every scene from thriller movies I’ve ever seen where they show the serial killer’s lair.
Jen: Something is definitely off here, it does make John Cena a little creepy doesn’t it? Or maybe he’s just got some serious OCD?
Ben: Cross country in Cali, Ariane wraps recording her first single, which I can confirm has since dropped. They’ve never mentioned anything about Ariane singing before, but I assume all of the Divas have a bunch of little side projects, knowing their shelf life can’t extend forever. She and Vinny celebrate in the studio with a series of wrestling maneuvers, including a pretty sweet flying headscissors on both their parts while her producer grinds his teeth.
Jen: Wasn’t singing JoJo’s thing? I think that this sort of proves JoJo is no longer a Diva, don’t you? How is the song? I am afraid to listen. Her producer looked annoyed and slightly petrified. I’m sure he didn’t want either of them to get hurt but he was probably mostly afraid of getting a foot to the head.
Ben: Once Ariane and Vinny get in the car, talk turns to his career, which I can’t recall if we’ve ever heard about or not. He’s in security, but has dreams of opening a hookah shop. Ariane, however, decides Vinny should become a WWE Superstar, which he reacts to with…less enthusiasm than I expected. Honestly, given Vinny’s build and persona and who he’s dating, I’ve kind of been assuming since the very first episode he had designs on this being an in to WWE, but he seems extremely skeptical of the whole endeavor. Undaunted, Ariane calls the WWE Performance Center to arrange a tryout.
Jen: I don’t think that they’ve explained what Vinny does for work before this episode. I actually questioned previously, because he has a really nice car and always seems to be around doesn’t he? I actually felt bad for Vinny at this moment, he really did not look like this would be something that he was going to be into.
Ben: Switching Funkadactyls, we go to Trinity and Jon in their car, and my wife notes that Mr. Uso has become one of her favorites, as she enjoys the way he pretty much plays off all the drama and seems to be having fun; I echo her sentiments. Trin gets a call from her musician father that he’ll be in town soon and she invites him to stay with them at their tiny apartment. He traveled a lot as she grew up, so she barely saw him but clearly has a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. Jon makes a joke about something and Trinity full-on lays into him with some wicked fists and forearms! Seriously, she assaulted him.
Jen: Their apartment is very small, I can see having an extra person in there being quite the inconvenience. Did you notice that she went ahead and told him it was okay without actually discussing it with Jon? Probably not the best idea, Trinity.
Ben: Back to the Cenas, where Nikki comes back from a workout and puts her dirty clothes in the normal hamper rather than the sweaty one. John goes glassy-eyed until she realizes something’s amiss, then he moves her outfit from one receptacle to the other, while doing over-the-top voices for both as a way of explaining the difference to her as one would to a child. On the one hand, I’m a bit terrified that any second John’s going to pop his head through the wall with a chainsaw yelling “Heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!” but on the other OCD Bill Cosby John Cena makes for great comedy.
Ariane and Vinny arrive at the Performance Center; not shown, just off camera, would be the horde of furious independent wrestlers who want to murder this guy walking off the street with no experience or apparent enthusiasm to steal the dream they’ve slaved years for because he’s in a relationship with a reality TV star.
Jen: I’ve never aspired to be a wrestler myself, but I imagine this would piss off many people who have been trying to break into this business for years. It seems pretty unfair.
Ben: Bill DeMott, the head trainer for WWE’s developmental talent, greets Ariane, and at this point I feel a tangent might be necessary. Before becoming a Funkadactyl, Ariane competed on another WWE reality show called Tough Enough, where “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and other judges attempted to train a group of hopefuls, with one winner making it to WWE. Ariane got eliminated the very first week because she could not wrestle and showed little knowledge of or passion for the business. One of those judges? Bill DeMott. So it’s somewhat interesting for me on a larger level both to see these two interact and also for her to basically ask him to do for her boyfriend what he refused to do for her years ago and give him a free pass into WWE. Food for thought.
I should note that about this point in the episode I realized that Brie had not appeared at all, save for one brief spot at the beginning segueing into Nikki’s deal, and that I missed her and Bryan’s presence a lot. They can really make or break an episode.
Trinity’s dad has moved in, much to Jon Uso’s dismay. Mr. Trinity seems nice enough, but also comes off as pretty clueless when it comes to personal boundaries and taking more than a little advantage of his daughter’s excitement over seeing him. Jon and Trinity end up on the couch/floor of the living room while Papa Trin takes the bedroom; he also makes giant sandwiches and asks not once, but twice, if he has interrupted them “doing the nasty.”
Jen: Mr. Trinity seems to not understand any social boundaries at all. I love that he gets up and makes these huge sandwiches without asking. Although, at the same time I’m wondering what time it really is because the film crew is all still there.
Ben: At the Performance Center, Vinny looks exhausted and about to puke after seemingly like 10 minutes of light training, and Bill DeMott looks ready to kill everything in sight, but keeps his cool, possibly because he sees the cameras rolling and wants to transition from the angry drill sergeant he came off as on Tough Enough to a sort of warm father figure to the next generation of WWE stars; I kinda miss old school Bill.
Jen: I guess Vinny isn’t a fan of cardio. He looked like someone who never worked out a day in their life. With Vinny’s build, I would have thought he would have had to sneak some cardio in somewhere, but I guess not. Bill DeMott looks extremely angry that Ariane wasted his time. Did he somehow owe her a big favor? He let Vinny off too easily if you ask me.
Ben: Bill calls it an early day, and Vinny heads out to the parking lot, very upset. The clips made it seem like he blamed Ariane for making him look dumb, but it plays out more like he feels awful about letting her down because she wanted this for him. For all his flaws, Vinny has stepped up to the plate in particular these last few episodes in regards for how much he cares for Ariane—albeit in his clumsy way—and I felt really terribly for him here.
Jen: It felt a little strange to be feeling bad for Vinny here. Usually we’re wondering how Ariane is putting up with this crazy antics. It’s obvious he just wants to make her happy, but it doesn’t seem like Vinny is a lazy bum living off Ariane. He’s apparently got a full-time job, and he’s trying to open his own business. I guess that’s not good enough for Ariane? He needs his own brand? I think he’s pretty happy the way things are, especially once his hookah bar opens.
Ben: In a weird aside, backstage at Raw, Eva Marie finds out she’ll be getting scanned for her first action figure and reacts to the news the same way she reacts to everything, with a vacant smile and immediately rubbing it in the face of whoever’s nearby, in this case, Sandra. She notes, “I’m doing a lot of firsts.” Nattie comes in as Eva asks the toy guys if they want to scan her breasts and calls her mean names in the voiceover. After last week’s fluke of Eva Marie being the rational one, the balance of the universe has been restored.
Jen: Did anyone else think it would be completely appropriate for Nattie to pretend to gag herself and say “Ugh, gag me with a spoon” during this scene with Eva Marie? No? Just me? Okay.
Ben: John comes home from somewhere and Nikki has made him dinner rather than ordering out; he reacts to this act of kindness as if somebody has shot his dog. He calmly but deliberately freaks out about food getting on his marble counters and eats as quickly as he can so he can skip straight to the clean-up process. At this point, my fear for John Cena’s sanity has moved from bemusement to somewhat serious, particularly for after his active wrestling career wraps up and he has to transition to a normal life. Nikki, by the way, has had enough, and lays into her man for being a weirdo.
Jen: This reaction was so not normal. Nikki is just trying to do something nice for him and make their house their home. She had every right to get into it with him about it. After all the drama of the cohabitation agreement, you’d think he’d want to do a little bit more to show he wants her there.
Ben: His WWE aspirations having been crushed, Vinny gets taken out for dinner—the universal Total Divas apology!—by a regretful Ariane where he lays out his plans to open a hookah shop…like he did at the beginning of the episode, but she acts like she’s never heard this before. All’s well that ends well, I suppose.
Back at Raw, Trinity lets Jon know that her dad has not left, and he says she’s gotta kick the old man to the curb, because he needs his space and wants to be with her. She says they’re together all the time on the road and she never sees her dad, but I’m firmly with Jon, one of the more rational case-makers of Total Divas, on this one.
Jen: I’m totally with level-headed Jon Uso on this one too. It would be one thing if they had a house with a guest room so they still had their own space, but Jon is sleeping on the floor. I’m sure that got old really quick. Given their living situation, it really wouldn’t be odd that he stayed at a hotel.
Ben: John visits his best friend’s gym where they sit down for a game of chess and basically go through the male version of a Bella-to-Bella pep talk, with his buddy pointing out he’s acting like an insane control freak and needs to let Nikki open up his life a bit. The visual of these two muscle heads sitting at a tiny table playing chess with unused gym equipment all around them will not soon be topped, I don’t think.
Jen: I hope the next time these two crazy guys get together, they do something out of the gym. Like go get frozen yogurt! Or maybe a visit to the zoo? That’d be adorable. Nice to see that even John Cena needs to talk out his troubles with someone like Nikki does. Especially since he’s the more rational of the two. I guess he’s just not more rational about his marble counters.
Ben: Jon and Nattie go with Trinity to her dad’s gig, and he’s actually pretty good; I’d maybe get his CD if CDs still exist! Trin goes onstage for a bit, and then invites her father and his band back to the apartment for an after party, despite Jon mentioning numerous times that he needs to get up early the next day. So many people crowd into the place it sees like they came out of a friggin’ clown car, until Jon finally has had enough and informs his lady that he’s finding somewhere else to sleep and she’s got to get rid of pops if she wants him to keep living with her.
Jen: Yup, I totally side with Jon on this one. He was a little bit more subdued than I would have been, but her dad is there and so were the cameras.
Ben: The John/Nikki plot resolves sweetly as he welcomes her home to a table with flowers, some candles, and some empty picture frames accompanied by a speech about how he needs to be more open to change. I’m still more than a little concerned about this situation, but on the plus side, I would gladly add John Cena: Interior Decorator to our list of potential spin-offs to send to E!
Jen: I thought the gesture was pretty sweet. Babysteps, babysteps.
Ben: The episode wraps with Trinity taking her dad on a walk down a Florida pier, where I initially suspected she might push him off, solving the problem once and for all, but instead she just tells him he’s got to go, throwing Jon a bit more under the bus than I thought he deserved given his patience, but at least it got done.
I’ll be honest: Not my favorite episode. Definitely missing out on Brie and Bryan and even the newbies, plus Nikki’s story creeped me out a bit and the Funkadactyls can be hit or miss. Seems like we’ve got the full crew back next week, so hopefully it will pick right back up.
Jen: I too missed Brie and Bryan this week, looking forward to seeing them again next week. This week’s episode kind of felt like filler, didn’t it? Maybe they are leading up to something really good! Like, JoJo will be back! Okay, probably not that.