Ben: Part two!
And things kick off at Ariane’s hotel room where Vinny arrives marking the first significant amount of time we’ve really spent with these two since the Ray J incident. Not one to disappoint, Ariane immediately refers to herself as the bomb dot com—she knows where her bread’s buttered—then makes weird, bewildering noises.
Jen: These two are such a strange couple. Mostly because Vinny still reminds me of Gru.
Ben: In what could well be the final Divas brunch of this season, as the girls—sans the Bellas—and their men discuss marriage and whatnot, Nattie lets everybody know that Nikki had a secret marriage, thus proving Brie 100% right about her not being able to keep it a secret. Trinity, ever the level-headed Diva—except when it comes to her own physical wellbeing—wonder aloud whether or not Nattie should have mentioned that.
Jen: We all know someone that you don’t tell really personal things too, and clearly that Diva is Nattie! Not cool, yo. Trinity’s reaction made me like her even more. She’s on a reality show but she’s not catty and she knows when not to share details about someone. She never told anyone about Eva Marie’s past, because it wasn’t her information to tell.
Ben: Eva Marie wanders the floor at Axxess en route to her signing at the E!-sponsored booth—they had their own with just Divas, both from the show and not, and it always had lines back to the barrier—with Jonathan, again reflecting on the enormity of her year-long journey—hers was one of the first giant posters you saw upon entering the building—and her nerves. WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, never one to pass up a hug from a Diva, makes Eva feel initially welcome, but a bunch of fans start chanting “You can’t wrestle,” rattling her. I question if that might not have been creatively edited footage of fans chanting at something else, like the NXT matches going on, but unless they had plants in the line, that wouldn’t account for the pretty rude autograph-seekers who also make snide remarks about her lack of skills after having waited to meet her; pretty lacking in social graces there, folks.
Jen: I obviously don’t know the inner workings of the WWE, but from what I understand Eva Marie had pretty much the best luck ever to make it to WrestleMania this year. I really don’t even know if she has made it to the ring. Still pretty rough to have people tell you that you can’t do your job. I actually felt somewhat bad for her and I’d like to see those jerks get to WrestleMania in a year!
Did I just…defend…Eva Marie?
Ben: Jump forward to nighttime and a charity event at a nearby New Orleans museum for a Drew Brees-fronted charity for kids. They never mention the location or details on the air, so how do I know them? Because I was there!
Indeed, the red carpet being shown featured one Ben Morse just off to the side with Marvel camera in hand, conducting interviews and hanging WWE folks a plastic Captain America shield for photo ops. Some producers from Total Divas even came over to us to note we may end up in the background of some of their shots. Alas, as those of you who watched—and know what I look like—know I didn’t make it on the show, but I did get to meet and have a great chat with Nattie, who was awesome; we ran into each again the next day where she signed a Total Divas t-shirt for my wife (I would get Eva Marie and both Funkadactyls over the course of the weekend, but through a friend who works on the show) and was overall just a phenomenal person.
But back to the TV show we’re recapping (until the next time I trail off)!
On the steps of the museum, the Funkadactyls and Vinny have a talk about how Ariane has never said “I love you” to her man—a scene I was watching them film from 10 feet away!!!
Darn it, sorry…
Jen: Look at Ben, getting the inside scoop! Sorry to see that you didn’t make it on camera, but very cool you got to talk with Nattie. She still holds the title as my favorite Diva (well, because of this show. We both like board games! And tend to be the “mommy” of the group. Sigh).
Ben: Elsewhere at the event, Nikki leaves John alone to go do…something, and JJ lets him know what a champ he is for not minding his sister’s previous marriage. As you may recall, Nikki told her family that she told John about the marriage, so JJ thinks John knows, but in fact Nikki did not tells John, so John does not know.
Anyway, in keeping with many wrestling fans’ critiques of him, John completely no-sells the revelation, playing along as if this does not surprise him. Honestly, kudos to him for realizing he had been caught in some family drama and not wanting to potentially make the situation worse before speaking with his girlfriend.
Jen: Did everyone cringe when JJ brought this up like I did? Even if Nikki did tell him, wouldn’t you think it might be a sore subject and maybe he shouldn’t bring it up? John stayed as stoic as ever and kept his cool in front of the cameras. He knew something was up and this clearly explains it.
Ben: Ariane takes her mother and Vinny out for a pre-WrestleMania celebratory dinner, where she lets her mom know she loves her, and her goofy boyfriend (seemingly) innocently makes a little joke about “oh, so you can say those words” or something, leading her to break down in tears. As touched upon before, Ariane had an abusive stepfather, and she explains in a cutaway that her upbringing has made it easy for her to express her appreciation for her mother, but hard to get too close with anybody else; despite not knowing the full depth of this, Vinny feels awful and vows to try and make it better, and I feel really bad for both of them, who have really won me over this season.
Jen: I would have done the same thing as Vinny, clearly he loves Ariane and it has to hurt every time he says it to her and she just tells him that she cares for him very, very much.
Ben: At another dinner, John gives Nikki the silent treatment, leading her to wonder what’s wrong; I understand he wants to give her the chance to fess up herself, but dude, just let loose with what’s bothering you and move on. Though, with WrestleMania the next day, it’s a bit more understandable if he didn’t want to get into it then and there.
Jen: This was Nikki’s opportunity to ‘fess up! John even pointed out that it was the most awkward dinner ever, and it was. It was painful to watch. I bet the cameramen were counting the seconds until it was over, it was that painful.
Ben: Speaking of which: time for WrestleMania! I’m way up in a press box, so I won’t say anything about potentially being on camera for this one.
In a nice callback, we go back to the previous year’s WrestleMania, where we started this thing we call Total Divas with the Bellas and Funkadactyls being bumped off the card because other matches went long. Keep this in mind…
Ben: Summer Rae walks the backstage hallways with Emma, a delightfully quirky Australian Diva who I would certainly love to see more of on the show. Summer and Emma came up through the WWE developmental system together, so it makes sense that they would be buddies. When Summer talks about her woes with the other girls and not being invited to Brie’s wedding, Emma deadpans “Maybe it would help if you stopped being such a bitch,” a one-liner to rival even Bryan taken over the top by her accent! Sign this girl up, E!!
Summer says even though Brie didn’t invite her to the wedding, she got her a gift…but we never find out what it is. In fact, that’s Summer’s last real appearance of the episode, which was odd. Minor cliffhanger for next season? We shall see.
Jen: Glad someone pointed out to Summer that she’s been a bitch all season. And glad that was the last we saw of Summer!
Ben: The Bellas get some bad news from Talent Relations Mark, as their match has been moved from third to second-to-last, the same spot that got them bumped last year. They spread the news and all the girls worry about lightning potentially striking twice.
Ben: We get a nice montage of the Divas watching their respective loved ones in their matches: Trinity as Jon defends the WWE Tag titles with his brother, Brie as Bryan defeats Triple H, Nikki as John beats Bray Wyatt, Nattie as TJ gets rapidly eliminated from a battle royal, Ariane as Vinny sits in the crowd somewhere, Eva as Jonathan finds a shirt with sleeves…I may have made those last two up.
Nikki in particular starts watching the clock as the match set to go before them, Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, begins. She notes that Undertaker going over last year cost them their spot, and if he takes even an extra five minutes this time, they’re screwed. She does not say anything remotely bad about Undertaker, however, as he’s a universally respected veteran despite not having his own reality show (yet).
Jen: I wouldn’t say you made up what Vinny and Jonathan were up to, I think you made a very fair assumption based on previous events.
I don’t know much about wrestling, but I DO know who both the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar are! Also, there was a lot of press about this match…
Ben: The match wraps up with a little time to spare, but with Lesnar winning, snapping Undertaker’s 21-0 undefeated streak, the unthinkable to most fans. They show the shocked crowd reaction—it was silent in the Superdome—including the classic guy in the Daniel Bryan t-shirt going all bug-eyed. The Divas are slightly relieved that they get to go out and wrestle, but rattled both as fans of the Undertaker and more because they have to go face one of the most devastated audiences in WWE history. I remember turning to my friend sitting next to me after realizing the Divas were up next and saying, “Well, they’re getting sent out there to die.”
Jen: The bug-eyed guy in the Daniel Bryan shirt is going to be an internet meme for a very long time.
Ben: Now I had a lot to say about the Divas match at WrestleMania, particularly that most people who reviewed the show—including, yes, the people right here on Place to Be Nation—glossed right over it, a huge disservice given that these ladies were asked to go out and do their best in front of a gigantic crowd that had just had their hearts stepped on and hopefully snap them out of it in time for the main event. Through their hard work, which we get a nice taste of here, they managed to do just that, earning my respect even more than they already had; I wish they got more credit from the critical community than they did.
In particular throughout the match they focus on Eva getting over her nerves and performing, Nattie kicking some ass, the Bellas fighting each other and Trinity putting on a game effort despite her injury. None of our cast wins—Trin taps out to champion AJ, in fact—but they all celebrate a job well-done afterward—as do I!
Jen: Great job Divas! All the hype for Trinity this season, I couldn’t help but be disappointed for her loss, but it looks like she didn’t go down without a fight. And hopefully that eye has fully healed by now.
Ben: No sooner does one big event end than another begins, as we leave New Orleans and WrestleMania for Sedona, Arizona and Brie and Bryan’s wedding. My wife immediately compliments the set-up of the venue, in particular the arrangement of roses they’ve used for the aisle. Sadly, Ariane does not get to appreciate it, as she has food poisoning; thankfully, she gets to convalesce in the spacious and beautiful room at this place, as opposed to whatever barn the more expensive location offered.
Various Bella family members needle John about proposing to Nikki, leaving him looking about as comfortable as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs (thank you, 1990’s X-Men animated series!) but he remains the good soldier.
Jen: This whole experience isn’t uncomfortable for John AT ALL, especially given the information he just inadvertently learned about Nikki.
Ben: Vinny shows up and immediately starts tending to Ariane, who is touched that he has once again come through for her. That’s got to be our season three wedding, right?
Jen: Has to be. Or breakup. Because they haven’t really had one of those yet, not that I wish that on any of them.
Ben: Finally, the Bella drama hits the fan as Brie gets her hair and makeup done, with JJ telling Nikki he talked to John about her other marriage, Nikki flipping out on JJ, and it becoming quickly apparent she didn’t ever tell John, leading Brie to—rightfully—get pissed and banish her siblings to the hall. Nikki and JJ have a very circular argument about who lied to who and who screwed up worse, that Mama Bella puts a stop to, bitching out her kids and telling them to leave all this junk alone because this is Brie’s day, not theirs.
I have never not been a Mama Bella fan, but I have also never been a bigger one than at that moment.
Nikki gives Brie a half-hearted apology, but the bride more or less brushes it aside because she’s gonna go get married, so whatever.
Jen: Go Momma Bella! Growing up, the Bella Kids had to get in some pretty crazy fights so of course Momma Bella is a professional referee/voice of reason by now.
Ben: It’s a gorgeous ceremony, from Brie looking lovely, to the music, to the gentlemen presiding making a joke about being sure this wasn’t really Nikki, to especially the vows, in particular Bryan’s, during which not only did he start crying, but John shed a single Channing Tatum-in-a-rom com-esque tear in the crowd. These two have been the couple to root for since the beginning of the show, and seeing them get such a lovely happy ever after was extremely satisfying; it fit them in every respect.
Interestingly enough, Brie gave an interview recently where she said Bryan didn’t want to do the show because he thought people would find them too “boring and normal,” but I think that’s exactly what makes them so endearing.
Jen: What a beautiful ceremony, even without the Emu-poo! I think that these two are my favorite couple on the show because of their normalness. They are great compliments to each other, and both seem so down to earth it’s hard not to like them. When I saw John shed that tear, I knew he and Nikki were going to be alright. It was like a tear of hope!
Ben: Immediately after Brie says “I do,” Nikki pulls John aside for damage control and he informs her “This is neither the time or place,” putting him right up there with Mama Bella on my list of heroes for this episode.
Ben: In another bit of niceness, Ariane insists Vinny walk her to a view of the mountains, then tells him that she loves him, prompting him to say, “If I had known you’d do that, I would have taken you to see those mountains sooner!” Yep, calling them as being at least engaged if not married by the end of season three.
Jen: Well, I can’t imagine Gru saying that, so maybe it’s time I try and stop picturing a hundred minions running around Vinny’s feet every time he’s on screen.
Ben: After giving a really nice maid of honor speech welcoming Bryan to the family and telling Brie how much she loves her, Nikki finally has a one-on-one conversation with John about her secret marriage. In a moment Nikki may not have been expecting but I think most of us who have been watching saw coming, John tells her that he does not care about her past, as it’s who she is now that he cares about; he didn’t like that everybody else knew about this before him, but he’s willing to move past it. In a nice change of pace, the season does not end on a “Is this the end of Nikki and John?” cliffhanger.
Jen: This was another one of those John and Nikki moments that just proves how well they go together. Nikki summed it up well when she said that she needs to have more confidence in her relationship with John. He likes you just the way you are, Nikki! Just go and be happy.
Ben: Instead, our final moment of season two is Brie talking about how lucky she is to have married the man of her dreams. Awww…
Jen: Awww Congrats Bryan and Brie!
Ben: And with that, not only does this season of Total Divas draw to a close, so does this recap column, at least as we know it.
It has been an absolute blast writing about this show over the past year for Place to Be Nation, but as you guys have seen, the columns have been coming in later and later. Unfortunately, the demands of both my day job and my home life—all good stuff—right now just make turning in a weekly column like this more difficult and stressful than I’d like. Thus, for the time being, this will be my final Total Divas Watching Total Divas; I’m sticking around the site as a member of the Main Event podcast and contributing writer, but I had to let something go, and unfortunately this made the most sense.
I want to thank everybody who runs PTBN.com for allowing the comics guy in his early-30’s to also be the guy recapping the E! reality show as it has been a lot of fun and hopefully made for some entertaining content. Thanks especially to Brad who not only edits this and places all the images and makes sure it goes up every week, has filled in as the third member of the team; also, you know, he runs the site. Thanks also to my patient wife who has put up with me pausing and rewinding what has quickly become one of her favorite shows more than she’d like. Thanks to those of you who read this and enjoyed it, especially those who let me know on Facebook and Twitter, I really appreciated it. And in all seriousness, thanks to the folks at WWE and E! who make Total Divas, both the girls themselves and the incredible crew; I’ve gotten a chance to meet quite a few of them and am blown away by what they do. I genuinely enjoy this show and am thrilled it has done well; bring it on, smart fans!
Most all, thanks to Jen, who put up with a weirdo she had never met e-mailing her every week to talk about women’s wrestling; she’s awesome and it has been an absolute please to work with her; hopefully we’ll be back for the occasional reunion column or podcast and someday I will make the trip to Rhode Island.
Speaking of my tag team partner on this column, I know she has something to say as well…
Jen: Thank you, Ben! It has also been a pleasure to write with you every week. With my serious lack of wrestling knowledge, I would have been very lost without you! I look forward to working with you on other projects in the future, and maybe at some point I’ll get to meet you and the Mrs. In person!
Divas fans, I also have a bit of bad news, this is my last Divas recap for PTBN as well. Like Ben, I’m not leaving Place To Be Nation, but I’m also having a tough time committing to recapping a show every week between work and home commitments. I will continue to contribute individual pieces as well as to We Love the 90’s with Justin, so stay tuned as there is still more to come from me.
With that being said, I would like to thank all of the loyal readers that stuck around with us week after week. I hope you enjoyed our recaps as much as we have enjoyed writing them! Thank you to Brad for filling in when Ben and I were whisked away to far corners of the earth (like each other’s home states) and for editing and posting each week. Farewell fellow Divas!!
Ben: Good luck to the person or people who have to pick up the baton from us; I think I speak for the entire world when I hope it’s Scott Criscuolo and Andrew Riche.
Jen: To the Powers that be, please let it be Scott!
Ben: One last thanks and farewell—never stop being Total Divas!