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 at 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: So something a bit different this week; Jen’s on vacation and thus unable to fulfill her contractually obligated duties to recap this show with me. I’m sure Brad the Boss Man will have stern words with her upon her return, but in the meantime, please welcome Mr. Callum Leslie to pinch hit! Callum, I’m sure our regular readers will be intrigued and excited to get a masculine opinion on this show for once.
Callum: Well, I hopefully won’t disappoint them. Actually, this contribution is a joint effort from me and my better half, who enjoys Total Divas but has moved from wrestling to MMA. She don’t like no fake stuff.
Ben: In both of our previous columns, Jen and I have speculated on the possibility that Total Divas began as a showcase solely for the Bella Twins and then had additional girls added either by WWE or E!, as Nikki and Brie have the most compelling personalities, come across the most natural on camera and just generally have the best storylines, none of which gets hampered by Daniel Bryan and John Cena being along with them more often than not. This week, TD tried to spread the wealth a bit, sidelining Eva Marie and Ariane for the most part with perpetual background players JoJo and Trinity getting the spotlight; Nattie remained in her role as pep-talk giver/exposition provider. The switch in focus provided its share of hits and misses.
Callum: It was nice to see JoJo actually say something for a change, rather than just be a bystander to Eva Marie’s shenanigans.
Ben: But first up, the Bellas still dominate the bulk of the episode, and I don’t mind because these girls entertain the heck out of me. As contrived and scripted as the plots can come off, the twins always do a decent job of making their moments at least seem natural. Nikki also rattles off the best bitchy one-liners or weird sexual observations—she loves to reference her vagina, which she did for the second straight week here—while Brie comes across as the most likable person on the show in my opinion.
While last week we left on the cliffhanger of Daniel Bryan forcing Brie to move with him to his TV-less childhood home where Twilight took place—well, they never actually showed Bryan giving any ultimatums, but Nikki and John Cena assumed he did—apparently that got resolved between episodes, with the duo now days away from relocating to Phoenix to be closer to her dog and family (emphasis on the dog). Brie has not told Nikki, allowing Bryan to get the line of the night when he tries to not sound ridiculous saying “Tell that bitch we’re moving to Phoenix!” My wife believes Daniel Bryan should already be America’s sweetheart.
Callum: This was the most confusing aspect of this episode for me: after last week’s episode being centered around Bryan supposedly forcing Brie to move to Aberdeen, now moving to Phoenix is his fault too? I’m honestly not entirely sure how that conversation would have gone: “Yeah, I know you want to move to Aberdeen, and we’ve got this place in San Diego together, but I need to move to Phoenix because of my dog. No, the dog can’t just move here. Because.” I also really don’t understand how she has managed to keep it a supposed secret for so long when they spend so much goddamn time together. Also, I’m pretty sure both Kelly Kelly and Torrie Wilson took their dogs on the road with them?
Ben: After Brie informs Nikki of the in-a-few-days impending move—she does so while Nikki works out on a Stairmaster all done up because she knew she’d be facing a mirror and wanted to use it “as motivation” because, again, she gets the best lines—her sister does not take it well, blowing up about being abandoned and nonsensically blaming Bryan for the move despite it being to the Bellas’ hometown. Brie then worsens the matter by showing up late for a meeting the twins have with a movie producer and director about the “feature film” they’ve booked which we never get a name or any details on. It all explodes with Nikki hilariously showing up to “help” Brie and Bryan pack with a single cardboard box then lying on their bed for a bit before tearing into them for being selfish and telling them she hates them.
Callum: This feature film sounds like the sketchiest thing ever. It’s probably porn. Whether they know that yet is the real question. Honestly, my favorite weird thing about this episode was the BLURRED DISPLAY ON THE STAIRMASTER.
Ben: Later, Nikki drives somewhere with her boyfriend John Cena—I’m pretty convinced they had “around in circles” in their GPS—who waits a few seconds before busting out a sexual innuendo. For the record, I love the nymphomaniac/wine-drinking John Cena who shows up every week on Total Divas and think he should certainly portray this character regularly on WWE television. Zen Cena tells Nikki to chill out about everything, including the zit she’s getting, and sticks up for Bryan, saying he’s a good dude and she needs to stop blaming him just because she’s going to miss her sister. Nikki heads back over to a pretty clearly staged shot of Brie surveying a pile of packed boxes and the twins reconcile.
Callum: …were you saying something Ben? I was busy staring at your boobs. Either way, I did need to know about sex addict Cena and his weird toes. He may drink a lot of wine and talk about sex a lot, but he’s also kind of wise. Like a nympho alcoholic owl. What we’re realizing here is that the Bellas twin relationship would be absolutely screwed without Cena and Bryan. They are the ones really dating, or they might as well be, given they hold the whole thing together.
Ben: Man, I want to find a way to put “nympho alcoholic owl” on a business card or something.
Moving on, I have found the Funkadactyls’ storylines the most tedious both weeks, but at least Ariane being a reliable train wreck and weird catchphrase generator salvaged things. This week, Ariane’s MIA for most of the episode so we get to explore the relationship between Trinity and her fiancé Jon (aka Jimmy Uso). Long story short, he wants her to prioritize their relationship over her career, but she doesn’t want to; they kind of go around in circles on this.
Callum: Proof, if ever proof was needed, that Divas aren’t sex objects: Trinity has to not wear her wedding ring at work because people won’t find taken girls attractive. If my time in high school was anything to go by, this is definitely not true. At any rate, we all know this is because she is in the market for a bigger star than an Uso.
Ben: Though the Trinity/Jon stuff came across pretty repetitive, it did include such highlights as the bickering couple discussing their issues in front of Bill DeMott, making me instantly want a Bill DeMott: Relationship Counselor spinoff, and Jon throwing a glass against the wall of their apartment and Trinity sweeping up broken glass barefoot, looking like a person who has never cleaned anything in her life.
Callum: Yeah, I have to say that deciding to include noted warmhearted cuddle bunny Bill DeMott in your tiff was not the smartest move, Uso #1.
Ben: Honestly, the thing that hurt this plot most may be that Trinity and Jon have actually come off sympathetic and fairly real for the first couple weeks, so it’s hard to take perverse glee or entertainment in their trials the same way as crazy Ariane and her crazy boyfriend.
Callum: But he broke a glass Ben. Instant heel turn!
Ben: That glass had it coming. Ariane shows back up and contributes an hour’s worth of greatness in 30 seconds by complaining about the tonsillitis that kept her sidelined that may or may not be contagious after giving every other Diva a hug then going on about the UTI and yeast infection she got from antibiotics. Ariane should be used in this manner every episode moving forward; a little of that girl goes a long way.
Callum: I could honestly have done without my second segment of vagina talk this week. We have learned far too much about the women’s vaginas in this show so far, and that’s something I never thought I’d say.
Ben: The Funkadactyls and Tons of Funk end up going against the Bellas and Usos in an eight-person tag that aired on Superstars months ago and made no sense at the time, but now totally does as Trinity and Jon blow off their argument by her giving him a hurricanrana and yelling “Maybe you’ll talk to me now!” which I absolutely loved because that must have seemed super odd when it aired and I love that they were setting up a Total Divas storyline.
Callum: Of all the moves to give your lover, a hurricanrana is the weirdest since he had to sell it, and then act like it wasn’t planned. I also love how Nikki Bella was all over Jon, given that we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about her relationship with John Cena (also known as the upgrade Trinity is truly looking for).
Ben: After the match, Trinity confesses to Ariane that she’s gun shy about commitment because her last boyfriend cheated on her, then explains the same to Jon and they make up by calling each other by various half cute/half bizarre food-related pet names (she’s “filet mignon” as opposed to “cheeseburger,” which would be what it would be like cheating on her, he’s her “big chicken nugget”). Having this chat 50 minutes earlier obviously could have saved a lot of time, but we’ve got a show to put on here.
Callum: “You filet mignon girl!” Once again, I do not need to know about Uso’s big nugget.
Ben: Last and possibly least, newbie Diva JoJo got her first opportunity to be anything other than the girl talking to Eva Marie. First we see the rookies training with the NXT regular girls—who likely hate them for already being on TV—and the first of several Sara Del Ray sightings of the episode. While Bill DeMott talks to Eva Marie about taking a bodyslam—and hopefully counsels her on her relationship woes—JoJo gets knocked in the head somewhat conveniently off-camera and sustains a concussion. I don’t want to question the legitimacy of a serious injury, but with millions of angles WWE shoots this show from, I feel like if the incident in question actually happened, we would have seen it, but c’iest la vie.
Callum: Given that Kurt Angle won the Olympics with a BROKEN FREAKIN’ NECK, JoJo can shake that damn concussion off. Since when has one minor concussion that has been treated with “rest” ended anyone’s career?? Weirdly this heroic battle with injury is never mentioned again. Natalya popped in for a little truth bomb, but I get the impression we’ll see more of her next week.
Ben: JoJo’s injury provides an opening for her boyfriend Sebastian to visit. Amazingly he does not propose—a first for Total Divas—and unlike Ariane and Eva Marie’s guys looks like anything but an aspiring wrestler. They walk on the beach for a bit where we learn that they have been together 11 months then he gets pissed she has to go to training and delivers the ol’ “It’s your job or me” ultimatum. JoJo agonizes for the remainder of the episode and gets a fairly harsh reality check from Nattie about the unlikelihood of her relationship lasting.
Callum: I have to call you on this Ben; he never ACTUALLY issued an ultimatum. All he said was that it was, understandably, hard to be in a relationship over a long distance with no clear end point where they can actually be together. She then flipped out and pushed him to it. I did enjoy JoJo’s dramatic bed flop though.
Ben: If E! tells me he issued an ultimatum, who am I to question that?!
Later on, the rookies watch the aforementioned eight person tag match from the same spot they watch every Raw, and it inspires JoJo to kick “the love of her life” (who she’s known less than a year) to the curb in favor of being a Total Diva. Farewell, Sebastian, we hardly knew you; I didn’t care for your haircut.
This episode unfortunately may have shown why Trinity and JoJo don’t get much screen time, but the Bellas stuff and Ariane’s last minute save more than made up for it for me. You’ve won my heart yet again, Total Divas.
Callum: I do feel JoJo is a bit useless. What does she add? Eva Marie is an enjoyable train wreck, but JoJo hasn’t messed anything up yet, except not being a big baby over a concussion.
Total Divas is easily the best wrestling programming now that the NJPW G1 is over. I could watch three hours of this on a Monday, no question!
Ben: Thanks for helping out this go around, Callum. See you next week if Jen gets canned.