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: With the travel bug having bit Jen once again like a rabid vampire and Brad also otherwise indisposed, I’m flying solo for this historic installment of TDWTD…historic only in the sense that my questions will be directed at nobody and thus unanswered.
Let’s get right to the show!
And we started out the best possible way, at the work station Seamstress Sandra! Trinity and honorary Total Diva Alicia Fox are having Sandra make tweaks to their ring gear when Ariane comes in like a house of fire to go on a tangential tirade about twerking; this would herald things to come this episode, as Ariane must have mainlined about 2500 sugar packets (I’m being TV-PG) over the course of its filming. Ariane and Alicia show off their twerk skills in an effort to get Sandra to join in which, she eventually does half-heartedly as Trin rolls her eyes. If Sandra came out as the third Funkadactyl one week on Raw/SmackDown/Afterburn, I would mark out, just putting it out there.
Nattie has news: She’s getting a feature in Flex Magazine! They show a quick sneak peek and it looks great. I know Robbie and the other folks who run Flex and they’re a blast, very cool folks. Ha! Nobody to curb my namedropping rampage this week! Summer snarks “Isn’t that a men’s magazine?” to Nattie’s lack of amusement. Y’know, there are actually a wealth of mags under the Flex empire, so I’m not sure how it breaks down along gender lines; I know the lovely Mona and Nicole—I CAN’T BE STOPPED—run a female-specific one, but I do believe the Flex flagship is for everybody. Regardless, good for you, Nattie!
Brunch time! If you’re playing the Total Divas drinking game I keep meaning to create, take a shot. Nattie informs the ladies that she’s going to be using a New York City signing for Flex as an opportunity to take a romantic vacation with TJ; as somebody who works in NYC, I guess I’m too “close” to see the romantic appeal, but then again, my wife and I spent our first wedding anniversary there and it was nice, so pot, kettle, black, etc. She’s concerned, however, that her parents are traveling and thus can’t take care of her cats, but Ariane offers to house/cat-sit, despite living across the country, because they have a loop there and she wants to see old friends. Multiple jokes are made about “Nattie’s pussy,” don’t fret.
Bella Twins grocery shopping! Now we’re talking! Seriously, this show has been lacking the Bellas big time recently, hopefully because they’re prepping them for a spin-off. Brie gives Nikki a hard time about being too dressed up for the grocery store, Nikki gives Brie a hard time about wearing a dress so short that if she drops any produce she’ll be committing a felony and all is right with the world. Nikki attempts to purchase chicken and Brie reads her the riot act about factory raised vs. free range as our innocent world of Total Divas heads into SERIOUS ISSUES territory!
Packing for their trip, TJ lets Nattie know that he invited the sister she hates to come to New York with them as a surprise. Nattie doesn’t love this particular bombshell and I don’t know who would blame her. I choose to believe TJ isn’t the dense lunkhead the show portrays him as and that that’s part of the “entertainment” portion of it all, because he seems very level-headed when he gets the chance and I prefer to think the best of him. Nattie bitches her husband out while also being sweet to her cat, saying a cute goodbye and calling him an asshole pretty much simultaneously; it’s I daresay more impressive than a double Sharpshooter.
When they get to New York, TJ further reveals that he got his sister an adjoining room in a sitcom plot gone horrible wrong. Nattie storms off to beat up that guy from the deli on the ground floor of my building who always burns my wraps (I hope).
Ariane lands in Florida where Vinnie is somehow already there to pick her up…and then the magic begins. I have no idea what happened here, if Ariane was having a stroke or was hopped up on something, but she starts screaming, signing, making voices like a little kid and basically running through every possible behavior that would make any sane adult want to pull over and flip their car—it was glorious! Made even more glorious by Vinnie’s confused reactions, repeated stutters of “Babe?” and desire to start drinking immediately. Words cannot do this scene justice and you must find a way to view it yourself if at all possible.
Back in New York, TJ’s sister shows up in a robe, fresh from the spa treatment that he paid for and she’s got more on the way. We are now deep into “Punk’d” territory for Nattie.
Vinnie is both fascinated and terrified by TJ and Nattie’s house, as the massage chair proves to be a spectacle for him while the black cat makes him leap back in audible fear while doing nothing to stop his quest for any sort of alcoholic beverage. Ariane starts going through Nattie’s stuff, claiming “if she didn’t want me to see it, she would have hid it” as she rifles through piles of clothes in drawers and finds things pretty clearly hidden. She dresses up in one of Nattie’s more conservative outfits and gets an admittedly chuckle-worthy shot in at her nose injury before stripping for an oblivious Vinnie who has been lost to the siren call of the massage chair.
Shooting a music video for a hip hop artist I’m not familiar with, the Bellas once again begin arguing chicken when Nikki has some for lunch and Brie objects. Wanting to make her point, Brie shows Nikki some YouTube videos of how chickens are treated in factories and it’s…pretty graphic. Disturbing stuff, really; a bit surprised E! aired it uncut. Nikki is understandably taken way aback, and admittedly so am I.
Later, at a WWE event, Nikki is depressed and starving because she’s terrified to eat anything not knowing how it was treated in life. The head of WWE catering assures her they only use free range chicken, but she’s skeptical. Brie tries to undo some of the damage she’s done to her sister’s psyche with the help of Bryan, who unfortunately doesn’t get any good one-liners during this more serious segment, but it’s no use. Nikki explains what she’s learned to Heath Slater who looks longingly at the piece of chicken on his fork before dropping it back on the plate faster than a 3MB winning streak; extra points to Heath for his forlorn look.
At a dinner date with the sister-in-law she can’t stand, Nattie gets more dismaying news as TJ lent his kin money without consulting his wife first. When Nattie gets annoyed about this transaction, TJ comments, “Are you my accountant?” to which she responds, “I’m your wife, that’s more important,” with is 100% TRUE (I love you, Megan). TJ and his freeloading sister get on Nattie’s case about getting her parents a car and then justify their expenditure as an investment…in a “bouncy castle.” Yes, TJ lent his sister money to get an inflatable plaything for children with the idea she will charge the neighborhood kids cash to use it. This would make at least some sense if she lived near them in Tampa…but she lives in Calgary! Where it is cold and/or covered in snow half the year! I do not blame Nattie in the least when she storms out.
Brie, feeling bad that she has traumatized Nikki, takes her sister to a chicken farm where the animals are raised more humanely, and along the way we get a snippet of a story from when Nikki was kicked by a horse but not nearly enough. This whole storyline takes Total Divas to about as political/social a place as it has ever gone, with Brie and the woman who runs the farm explaining the differences between factory-raised and free range chicken in great detail; we knew this was how Brie and Bryan leaned, but still pretty wild that the historically very conservative WWE went there—kudos for using this platform to disseminate important information. Nikki’s timid attempts and eventual success in catching a chicken make it all worth it.
Nattie does a signing for Flex in NYC and gets a much-needed morale boost from the fans. Having gotten to speak with and observe Nattie during Axxess, I can’t name too many other WWE performers who are more appreciate of and better to” their fans in terms of making time for each of them, even when a publicist may be giving the ol’ “wrap it up” sign; glad we got to see that side of her.
In Tampa, Vinnie and Ariane are throwing a huge part at the Wilson residence, with the booze flowing freely and people literally wandering in from off the street (though it’s hard to be too concerned given the pretty enclosed suburban area we’ve been shown Nattie and TJ live in). We get a whole bunch of shots of NXT alumni Percy Watson, which could mean he’s headed back to WWE or that Justin Gabriel was busy and they needed whatever star power they could pull. Trinity and Jon show up and are immediately awesome, with Trin pulling Ariane aside to tell her what a terrible idea this party is as only she can as the most sobering influence on Total Divas, while Jon slides nicely into the Bryan role of making snarky remarks about Vinnie without him realizing it. However, in the midst of the frivolity, Louis the cat has escaped!
After Jon uses the opportunity to make the obvious (and necessary) “Has anybody seen Nattie’s pussy?” joke, the Funkadactyls and their men take to the streets of suburban Tampa to go cat hunting. Vinnie is tremendous as always, drunkenly slurring his way through a conversation with a nosy neighbor and insisting they could handle this situation better if they would just take some shots.
The damage has been done as said nosy neighbor calls Nattie on her cell and alerts her that there’s a big party going on at her house, leading her to call Ariane who cops to Louis having gone missing. TJ reacts well by telling Nattie that Ariane may have been the worst possible choice to house sit—fair—and stating numerous times he wants to break Vinnie’s neck in a fight that I would love to see (my money is on TJ big-time).
Fortunately, Louis is found under a car and the day is saved, especially for Vinnie who has not had a drink in minutes.
Nattie and TJ engage in some real talk where he admits it was wrong of him to give his sister all this money without consulting his wife, but calls her out for continually doing the same thing, whether buying clothes or getting her folks a car, as mentioned earlier. Nattie realizes she’s guilty of the same stuff she’s been harping on him about and they both vow to do better. I’d make a point about saying thanks to the people who raised you with a car being somewhat different than purchasing a money pit that’s going to sit in the tundras of Canada being slightly different, but the gist of talking to your spouse before making a big purchase is pretty rock solid.
The episode wraps in Tampa, where Ariane admits under duress to Trinity that she is not a great house sitter while Jon sits in not-at-all-silent judgment and continues to rise up the ranks as one of my favorites on this show. Vinnie busts through the door semi-Kool Aid Man-style making another plea for shots and we’re out.
Good episode this week as the Ariane and Vinnie stuff was hilarious, but while I like Nattie, I want to see her get some better storylines. The Bellas stuff was different, but they need something fun as well and I want to see more Brie and Bryan!
See you next week, Divas!