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: Hey Divas, how ya been? Thanks to Brad Woodling for filling in for me last installment, as I was getting it done down in New Orleans enjoying WrestleMania XXX. As part of the week, I got to have plenty of Total Divas moments, meeting members of the cast and whatnot. In addition to nice chats with Jon Uso and Daniel Bryan, I got to hear a very cool story from Summer Rae and meet Nattie on not one but two occasions, getting a hug and a Twitter follow, the ultimate sign of friendship! All were great, and obviously this is my way of saying objectivity is completely out the window as far as it goes for me on these reports moving forward as I have gone Hollywood (or Tampa?) and been completely compromised. Apologies to those of you who rely on me as a bastion of journalistic integrity (sorry, mom).
I also want to give a quick shout out to Jackie Palombo, a member of the production team on Total Divas who is awesome and managed to get me signatures from Eva Marie and both Funkadactyls on a rad Total Divas staff t-shirt she supplied me with for my wife—Jackie rules!
Ok, so WrestleMania was great and my interactions with anybody even remotely involved with Total Divas only made me love the show more, but enough about me—for now—let’s recap this past week’s episode! More apologies for the last minute nature of this one—watch the new installment tonight!—and more thanks to the boss man Brad Woodling who is once again filling in, this time for Jen, who is in Monte Carlo or something.
Brad: I’m glad you’re back Ben. I started getting worried you’d assimilate into the Total Divas universe as a production assistant or something once that clearance to appear on the show came across my desk. And hey, to hear more about Ben’s WrestleMania weekend, be sure to check out our recap podcast that I hosted.
Ben: We open with a look back at the last episode, in which my two best buddies Nattie and Summer got into it physically, resulting in the rookie giving the veteran a solid slap across the face at her own house. This breaks my heart—let’s all get along, friends!
Cut to a VINTAGE Total Divas brunch with Nattie, the Bellas and Cameron during which Nat’s nose starts bleeding, which she attributes to Summer’s slap. She notes that stuff has been going on with her nose a lot lately, to which her fellow Divas are varying degrees of supportive, from Brie not saying much to Nikki intimating she might throw up to Cameron audibly threatening to leave the table out of disgust.
Brad: Nattie obviously needs coaching on how to carry tissues with her or, you know, use common courtesy and get up to use the rest room to clean yourself up. She almost had to resort with using the table cloth here.
Ben: Backstage at Raw or another WWE event, the Bellas are in catering with Eva and—I believe making her Total Divas debut—Tamina when Nikki announces she has obtained her license to sell real estate in California and will be embarking on this side career post haste. Great move by Nikki in my opinion, as you always hear the horror stories of wrestlers who have nothing to fall back on once their bodies give out and real estate seems like something right up her alley and lucrative to boot, not to mention something you can do on the side and then transition full-time into down the line. My wife and I have been looking for our first house for months now, and while I am very happy with our realtor, I would switch to Nikki in a heartbeat. This also seems like a move specifically designed to appeal to the HGTV-obsessed demographic of my wife, who audibly applauded at this development.
Brad: I thought it was great that they showed clips of Nikki studying and really putting over the work she put in to get licensed.
Ben: Nattie meets with the demonic lord of talent relations, who I believe I saw or at least felt the icy chill from at Axxess or backstage the day of Mania, and gets the news she will be challenging AJ for the Divas title at TLC. Nattie pumps up TLC as the “Golden Globes to WrestleMania as the Oscars,” which any hardcore wrestling fan knows not to be the case, but given that the audience for this show is far more casual, I don’t see any harm in the little fib in the service of building this up as a major moment. “Serious” fans who watch Total Divas “under duress” need to chill out in my opinion, but that’s a whole other rant. Nattie is excited, but also concerned about her burgeoning nose injury.
Brad: The time warp of Total Divas reared it’s face here again as previous episodes showed clips from the Christmas RAW and now we backtrack to the December PPV. I even thought we had crept into 2014 at one point. I always enjoy trying to explain these continuity issues with my wife and having her completely no-sell my explanation. I also got a chuckle about how important the TLC show was. I mean, the Rumble would be an ok metaphor but TLC?
Ben: Out in California, Nikki is showing an anonymous couple—they actually get the blurred face treatment—a gorgeous beachfront property that makes me wonder why I’m house hunting in suburban New Jersey momentarily until I realize I have no friends, family or job prospects on the west coast—get it together, Ben! Based on my years of watching Property Virgins and Love It or List It in the background of playing Marvel Avengers Alliance on Facebook—available now!—I think she did a pretty great job. Afterwards she’s on the phone with John Cena saying how it went, but more how much she loves this house, at which point my wife said, “He’ll buy it for her before the episode is over.”
Brad: Megan Morse = Total Divas savant
Ben: Now we get the third plot of this episode as Trinity is recording her first music video to go with her first single; I think for a second where music videos even play these days, but then remember I’m writing a column for the Internet—is that what we do, Brad? I’m most impressed by Jon Uso as a background dancer, who’s got moves! I dig his outfit from straight out of a 1980’s Michael Jackson video as well.
I should say that by the time we got an opportunity to interview the Usos at Axxess, we could only get one since there were several press outlets and we were interrupting a signing; without missing a beat, I asked for Jon because he’s on Total Divas and was able to identify him easily because, again, he’s on Total Divas. I’d like to formally apologize to Jey Uso.
Brad: I would like to know what company decided to shell out the money to produce her video. This seems like a break-even proposition at best nowadays. Jon was awesome though, and hey – you can save money when your fiance is one of the backup dancers.
Ben: Nikki and John are chilling at her mom’s house in San Diego, where they currently live when they’re on the west coast—red flag for upcoming plot developments—despite the mother apparently never being home. Like any progressive couple, they’re drinking wine out of Christmas-themed glasses when John gets a call that he insists on taking out of the room, rousing Nikki’s suspicions as he generally shares everything with her. Hmm…
Brad: While Megan had this pegged right way, we thought maybe it was engagement ring-related, which would have been a huge plot twist (and probably spoiled in the news way before this episode aired). Sneaky John Cena really needs to work on his cover though. He couldn’t come up with a family-related ruse?
Ben: Trinity and Jon visit the actual real deal home of none other than seamstress Sandra! No joke, I told my chums when we were at Mania that there was no WWE personality I wanted to meet and get a picture with more than Sandra; alas, she remains my white whale (that’s not an insult, look it up, dummies).
Sandra has been helping Trinity out on the side with outfits for her music video and has finished a glimmering jumpsuit number for the final shoot, but unfortunately only bedazzled the front, whereas the Funkadactyl wanted little fake (?) rhinestones all around, particularly on her moneymaking derriere. Sandra stands fast by her job—atta girl—while Trinity gets pissed and vows to finish on her own and Jon looks more terrified of the woman who makes his ring gear than the one he’s going to marry.
Brad: I’m with Trinity, you have to bedazzle the entire thing – it’s a music video where she dances. Jon is in for a long night though. I felt for him when Trinity insisted she’d stay up and do the work herself.
Ben: Back in San Diego, Nikki is going against every instinct in her soul by trying to find “more conservative” outfits to wear as a real estate agent, i.e. clothes where she’s not showing much skin. She’s trying to get John’s feedback, but he’s in a total trance multitasking on his laptop as well as his phone, leading her suspicions to rise higher than the neckline on the tops she’s trying on. In a classic Nikki ploy, she attempts to get his attention by switching to a number that puts her prime assets on full display, but still nothing more than an empty-glanced “Yep, looks great” from the Doctor of Thuganomics send her paranoia through the roof.
Brad: Again with the poor cover by John. He’s hiding something and has been alone for the entire day and he can’t take five minutes to stop and save face? Come on bro! (Yes, I realize this could be one of those typical “forced” Total Divas scenarios we both like to believe don’t exist).
Ben: Trinity has called on two of her uncles, who seem to be roughly the same age as her, to come and help spend the night sewing rhinestones on her costume, while our boy Jon looks on in bemusement. It takes a solid five minutes and a comedy of errors to affix just one, making it seem like this could be an impossible task; Jon is going to bed.
Brad: I thought those guys were part of her dance troop actually. I have no idea how Jon was able to get out of doing any of this work. The man deserves a trophy.
Ben: TJ escorts Nattie to the doctor, who informs her something is wrong with her nose but never really specifies what—deviated septum? I had one of those—before recommending a surgery that will take her out of wrestling for six months and cause her to miss her TLC title match. Poor Nattie breaks down in tears, as despite being in WWE for quite some time, this show has shown us she’s somebody who still has incredible passion for what she does and knows full well opportunities are few and far between. There is a pretty funny moment where she tells the doctor to send the bill to Summer Rae and he—realistically—has no idea who that is; glad that didn’t end up on the cutting room floor.
Brad: Six months seemed harsh – couldn’t she wear one of those masks like basketball players do? That would be a pretty cool Divas angle actually.
Ben: It’s the day of Trinity’s video shoot, and against all odds she and her uncles were able to—off camera, of course—finish the costume, impressing even an in-attendance Sandra. Unfortunately, that’s the last good news for a bit, as a dance move ends up splitting said outfit beyond even Sandra’s repair capabilities, and not long after, one of Trin’s hair extensions falls out. To really hammer home that this shoot is cursed, the police show up saying the permits have not been filed, and the director says he thinks they’re doomed. Fortunately, it’s leather-clad Jon to the rescue with an Uso pep talk, and once the permit stuff gets sorted, Trinity finds a fitting substitute costume and the show goes on.
Brad: Jon Uso saves the day with a great pep talk at the perfect moment. I’m a Sandra fan also but why exactly was she on the set with them as her wardrobe person if she couldn’t fix that?
Ben: While shooting a No H8 campaign with most of the cast, Nikki talks to Eva—of all people—about her issues with John, and the rookie Diva relates a story from her past where all the warning signs were there that a boyfriend was cheating on her but she ignored them until actually walking in on him and the other woman. Nikki now assumes the worst: John is cheating on her.
Ben: Nattie is getting set for a singles match against, of course, Summer Rae, who has not been seen in this episode thus far. In very vague terms, Nattie asks Summer not to hit her with any direct shots to her face, to which the blond bombshell responds she’s a pro and not to worry about it. A few seconds later, we cut to the match where Summer kicks Nattie in the face before falling victim to the Sharpshooter. Nattie ends up backstage in tears where Nikki and Cameron, the two girls most repulsed by her earlier nose bleed, attempt to comfort her and tell her that her nose looks weird.
Brad: Not my favorite Nattie moment as her holding her nose and being upset in the ring plus coming back stage crying came across super weak. Did AJ not hit her in the face during their TLC match? Despite asking Summer, there’s still a very real chance of contact happening given their occupation.
Ben: Nikki comes home to her mom’s house where John is doing push-ups or more likely a more advanced form of physical activity that is beyond me; she attempts to flirt with him via attempted rear chin lock, but he’s not into it and says he’s heading to the gym, insisting she not come along, which as we’re informed via cut-in interview is very out of character. Nikki calls Brie, who tells her not to trail John to the gym, but then approves an alternative plan in which they go and get coffee and then stop by the gym.
Brad: I like to imagine Nikki walked in on John doing women’s push-ups (his knees were on the ground) but in actuality he was trying to stretch out his back (I’ve seen this in a yoga video – total random but related bit there).
Ben: This leads to the greatest exchange of the night where Nikki gives Brie a hard time over not correctly pronouncing or being able to spell the word “bon bon,” with Brie saying “bom bom” and Nikki saying “bon bon” a good half dozen times apiece, Brie searching for the definition on her phone, and Nikki concluding things with an exasperated “You are so stupid.” THIS WAS INCREDIBLE and, again, I would watch an hour-long Bella twins show eight nights a friggin’ week.
The Bellas eventually make it to the gym, where they do not see John’s extremely identifiable car anywhere. Nikki calls him and he claims he’s still there. When John arrives home, Nikki accuses him of having an affair, to which he has no response and she storms out to go sell some houses.
Brad: I’m beating a lifeless John Cena corpse here but WHY WOULD YOU NOT SAY YOU ARE NO LONGER AT THE GYM, JOHN? I mean, how bad at hide and seek is John Cena? What about other games that involve a dash of deception?
Ben: Nattie has a heart to heart with TJ about how she doesn’t want to get nose surgery and risk missing time and losing her spot. On the one hand, I get TJ saying he had his surgery and was able to come back fine, but on the other, Nattie has a higher profile and more to lose. Ultimately, she decides to forego surgery, the decision I feel most wrestlers would make, right or wrong, and I begin agonizing over whether sitting out my final high school wrestling tournament in 2000 when I was ranked eighth in the state because I had a third degree ankle sprain was a foolish move—you make me think too hard, Total Divas!
Brad: I guess TJ’s message was that they’ll kind of hold your spot? His injury was more serioues but the jury is out on him coming back “fine”. And I don’t blame you for sitting out that tournament Ben, you need that ankle to walk on as part of your commute every day. What would marvel.com be like in an alternate universe where you wrestled in that tournament and sustained further damange? We’ll never know.
Ben: Nikki is readying her dream home to show to another client when in walks John! She’s all set to be mad at him, but of course he reveals that the “other woman” he was speaking to was a realtor and that he bought the house for the two of them. That’s incredibly sweet…but did he just cost Nikki her first sale? Anyhow, John has now bought Nikki a house and they will be spending a lot more time on the west coast, as his palace in Florida starts looking more and more like the mansion in Edward Scissorhands.
And yes, kudos to Megan for predicting this five minutes into the episode, though I’m sure she was not alone.
Brad: I don’t know, they aren’t married so technically she should still get that commission given that he’d have to go through the same realtor. Unless he is seriously going to put her name on the title. Given the proximity to the ocean, he must have dropped around 1.5 million for that, right?
Ben: None other than Brodus Clay returns to Total Divas, and he’s another cool dude who follows me on Twitter and whom I was able to catch up with at WrestleMania…Brad, please stop me, I’m a name-dropping monster.
Brodus digs Trinity’s single and even offers to pass it to Snoop, who he used to bodyguard for. It was very auto-tuned, but so is every song on the radio ever today; I would not turn it off. Somewhere, Sandra is cackling; not sure why, but Sandra always wins.
Brad: I don’t know what this says, but Trinity’s single is certainly better than previous songs put out by Ariane and JoJo (remember her – didn’t she record something?). So there’s that.
Ben: We wrap the show with Nattie having her match against AJ as the rest of the cast cheers her on from backstage. Our girl ends up getting a Sharpshooter reversed and rolled up, but for her, the victory was having the match to begin with. Most of the gang celebrates with Nattie after she comes back through the curtain and this would have been the perfect place for a freeze frame jumping high five.
Brad: This was a pretty good match. Nattie gives a passionate speech about toughness (semi-ironic given her meltdown weeks earlier) and TJ ruins her moment by saying “We Divas need to stick together!”
Ben: Another strong episode this week, plus perhaps the segment of the year with the Bellas and their bon bon argument. Definitely missed Daniel Bryan—that’s right, even on Total Divas we need more Daniel Bryan—as well as more Brie and Eva, but it looks like next week the latter has some sort of pregnancy storyline, once again hammering home the point that if this show only had my wife as their audience, they’d be fine with it.
See you then!