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: This week the Total Divas hit Las Vegas for Divas Las Vegas, giving them to use variations of the phrase “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” about a dozen times and my wife a chance to point out she grew up there just as frequently.
Jen: This episode reminded me that it’s been a few years since I’ve been to Vegas, and I really need to go back. Don’t worry Mandalay Bay, I’ll see you again soon.
Ben: It’s actually a different kind of Total Divas episode, as we usually split off and follow the various girls on their adventures scattered across the country, but this week, for the most part, they all remain together, first for JoJo and Eva Marie’s housewarming, then for Nattie’s bachelorette party in Vegas. It didn’t make for a bad episode—nothing could make for a bad episode of Total Divas—but I must say I think I prefer the traditional format. I’ve never had any illusions that like most E! “Reality shows” this show likely does not have an overwhelming deal of actually reality involved, but having all these disparate girls playing best friends at major life events shatters that agreement I feel like we have with the producers to at least pretend. I like when the Bellas stay off in their corner being bitchy and the Funkadactyls stay off in their corner being ridiculous, and they interact at the shows but otherwise keep to their worlds; here, the idea that Nattie has these two newbies she’s only known a couple months at her bachelorette party and not any friends from high school or anything like that takes things a step beyond plausibility; though my next thought may explain that…
Jen: This week’s episode was so unrealistic. Based on the amount of time that these girls spent together in previous episodes, I find it highly unlikely that they would be the only guests at Nattie’s bachelorette party. And why would they even invite JoJo!? It just seems like a cruel joke, she can’t do anything there! I’d be surprised if she was even allowed at the pool.
Ben: I feel bad for Nattie again. She went from being the overlooked veteran—her best role to date in my mind—to be being the whiny fiancée and now she feels like the nerdy friend the popular girls put up with and give advice to. If you’ve seen Bachelorette, she’s Rebel Wilson; if you’re my age, she’s Brittany Murphy from Clueless before she becomes cool. Picking up on last week’s cliffhanger, creepy Jaret the tanning guy has been texting her the flirtiest stuff imaginable, which she shows to Nikki acting all “I’m not sure how to handle this” while she has a big grin on her face, clearly loving the extra attention. Nikki tells her she needs to cut it out because she’s getting married and being unfair to TJ; to reiterate, Nikki Bella plays the moral voice of reason here. I get that TJ can be a bit of a dud when it comes to romance—he gives a toast to the love of his life that has all the poetry of the Classified section—but Nattie still owes it to him and their relationship to come clean about this Jaret nonsense, rather than acting like a teenage girl who just got told she’s pretty; she doesn’t come out of this episode looking great.
Jen: I am really starting to hate that I feel bad for Nattie every single episode. I get it; she doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the girls, but she’s the veteran here and I’d rather they focus on that then portray her in such a lame light. Jaret is creepy, and he’s a slime ball for outright pursuing Nattie when he clearly knows she’s marrying TJ. Guess what? When you are with someone for a long time, sometimes they take you for granted and sometimes they might not be all that romantic. A lot of people go through this, and luckily for them it’s not caught on camera. The fact that Nikki Bella gave her advice proves Nattie is acting crazy to even entertain the idea of Jaret. Ugh and he’s just so creepy!
Ben: The best fallout of Nattie’s relationship woes comes from pre-marriage counselor Nikki going shopping for a bachelorette gift at the purse store with Total Divas’ sage oracle of wisdom, John Cena. Nikki talks about how Nattie and TJ have only ever kissed one another, John per usual rolls his eyes and gives another great “Whatever makes them happy makes them happy, dear” speech, prompting his lady to muse about how many guys she has kissed/done more with then stop short of giving an actual number. Cena continues to be gold the rest of the scene, as he has been throughout the show, noting “as long as it’s between 1 and 1,000, I’m good” and other pearls; again, I implore WWE to air the Total Divas clips featuring John Cena on as many of their shows as possible as I feel it can only help boost his popularity.
Jen: John Cena really needs to be on this show more. He’s just not there enough. He goes PURSE SHOPPING??!!! Is there anything John Cena doesn’t do? Again, he’s the wise voice in Nikki’s head. And the number conversation really cracked me up. It makes me wonder if it really was the first time that they have had this conversation. I don’t know a single guy that would be okay if that number was 1,000…then again this IS John Cena and he’s clearly awesome in every way; and like he said, if Nattie is happy only ever kissing TJ then let her be. She didn’t have to go through the torture of dating to find the man she’s going to marry because she found him nice and early.
Ben: Running through the entire episode, we also had 19-year-old JoJo getting her biggest storyline to date, developing a crush on 32-year-old South African WWE star Justin Gabriel, whom everybody—mainly Eva Marie—warns her may be too old for her. We get a welcome cameo from future WWE Hall of Famer Chris Jericho, who looked genuinely thrilled to be making his Total Divas debut to taunt JoJo about her crush as though they had just come in from recess. JoJo and Eva Marie have a bash to celebrate getting a new place together in Florida that looks like Patrick Bateman’s place but with less furniture and features classy box wine in plastic glasses because neither of them drink and have no idea how to throw a party. The entire Total Divas cast attends along with Trinity’s boyfriend Jon Uso, Justin Gabriel, and an unnamed bald guy who wanders around in the background and never gets his own little intro graphic. JoJo and Justin end up making out on the balcony while everybody else talks about how it’s a terrible idea but do nothing to stop it. The next day, JoJo and Justin get lunch where he orders wine and it’s once again hammered home that she can’t legally drink; she shows him pictures of her pet rabbit and thinks the date went well as he looks like he’s plotting an escape route.
Also of note, JoJo refers to poor, discarded Sebastian, the dude who she went out with for a couple months and then dumped in the third episode or so, as the love of her life. This could be a problem.
Jen: I think that we all saw that this relationship with Justin Gabriel and JoJo was a bad idea. I don’t know the time line we are dealing with here, but JoJo called Sebastian “The love of her life” during the episode. She’s only 19; she should be having a good time right now and not being a serial monogamist. I knew this was doomed from the moment she told him about the rabbit during their date. You could actually see him thinking about the best way to end this right then and there…and then they were sent to Vegas together. Yeah, that seemed like a great idea! Let’s send this underage girl to Vegas with a guy that she just started hanging out with after she just broke up with the love of her life.
Ben: Everybody treks out to Vegas for the big bachelorette bash weekend, including all the ladies, Jon, “welcome back” Bryan, Justin, TJ and for about 30 seconds Curt Hawkins, a WWE superstar who made a cameo earlier losing to Justin on TV and literally disappears following the introductory shot of him. Ariane banned her goofball boyfriend Vincent from coming along because she did not want to be embarrassed in front of people she works with.
Jen: It’s always a good sign when you don’t want your boyfriend to hang out with your co-workers because you are afraid that he will embarrass you in front of them. I have a feeling that this won’t end well either. Vincent is another creepy guy…do these Divas only attract creepsters?
Ben: Nikki made a big deal of the fact that Brie would be drinking with them once the guys split off, noting how Bryan doesn’t like when she goes into “Brie mode,” her state of inebriation that would be hyped for the next few segments.
The girls go and see a Chippendales show, where Nattie gets roped onstage and groped by the dancers and the other Divas act really excited to see muscular guys in a state of undress, because they’re different muscular guys than the ones they see in a state of undress daily, I suppose. After a few rounds, Brie does go into the much-anticipated “Brie mode,” which seems to consist mostly of dancing at first, and in fact Nikki makes the scene by doing a full tumble off the bench she’s getting busy on then springing to her feet with a smile. The editing team at E! worked overtime for this episode, as we get lots of blurred shots due to the ladies dancing on tables and other elevated points in their extremely short dresses.
Jen: I don’t know what it is about muscled guys dancing on stage, but it seems like most girls do go crazy over it. Even Nikki Bella! Her boyfriend is John Cena! I guess maybe he doesn’t put on costumes and dance for her…but he’s John Cena so something tells me that he probably does. Magic Mike wasn’t a success because it was a good movie. It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life, but Channing Tatum was dancing in it so I’ll watch it again. Brie in “Brie mode” was great, even if it was a bit tamer than I expected. She was sober enough to give Nattie advice, but she was pretty drunk and I found it hilarious after she spent that episode giving Nikki a hard time about drinking during their juice detox.
Ben: Meanwhile, outside the club because JoJo can’t gain legal admittance and Eva Marie doesn’t drink “for personal reasons”—which they teased way too ominously for it not to come back up later in the season—the newbies spot Justin flirting with some girl he met by the pool and then leaving in a cab with her. Predictably, this doesn’t please JoJo, who definitely reacts like an underage girl who at least snuck a few from the wet bar in her room.
Jen: At no point did we see Justin Gabriel call JoJo his girlfriend, and well, he IS in Vegas. I can’t blame him for wanting to run far away from JoJo. I would say that I can’t wait for them to explain why Eva Marie doesn’t drink, but based on the way they don’t complete the storylines I don’t see that happening. JoJo whines and cries with the air of a girl that’s had a few samples from the mini bar and is “done” with Justin Gabriel by the end of the segment.
Ben: LAS VEGAS FUN FACT: My wife says the Palms, where the bulk of this episode takes place, actually sits just off the actual Las Vegas Strip and has a rep as the ugly duckling of the Vegas hotel scene.
Jen: The Palms is totally the ugly duckling of Vegas! It is off the Strip, so you can’t walk there and their drinks are way overpriced. I bought two coronas and two shots at Ghostbar last time I was there and before tip it came to FIFTY DOLLARS. I don’t even like coronas; they just don’t carry any good beer.
Ben: Back at Nattie’s suite, we get to really see “Brie mode” in action, as Brie takes her shot at counseling the bride-to-be on the Jaret situation with a tremendous slurred pep talk about how it’s nice to be looked at by guys who don’t see them every day and then circles for a bit before not really arriving at a point.
Jen: I think Brie meant to give good advice to Nattie, and she was getting there but “Brie mode” definitely hindered her ability to get to the point. Basically, it feels great to be liked by someone new, but remember what you have with TJ and don’t mess that up for some creepy tanning salon guy.
Ben: Brie then heads back to Bryan’s room where she notes she needs to be careful not to wake him as he hates “Brie mode” and it’s 4:30 in the morning, but lost her key so she bangs loudly on the door until our bearded buddy answers. Brie then proceeds to trip over a sleeping Bryan and try to use pink handcuffs from the party on him; groggy Bryan gets one of the lines of the night with “Get those [expletive] pink handcuffs off me right now.” The next morning, Brie wakes up hung over and “confesses” she got wasted to Bryan, who responds with a resounding “Duh” then proves to be even more awesome by putting her head in a claw hold and shaking it to “help” her headache before performing a splash onto her while she’s under the covers. A theme of Total Divas to date seems to be the Bellas building up what a horrible reaction Bryan will have to stuff look Brie not wanting to move to Washington or getting drunk, and him then being totally chill and laid back about it.
Jen: Bryan again proved he was America’s Sweetheart. Yeah, he doesn’t like when she goes into Brie mode, but he loves her anyways and he knows it’s just because she’s in Vegas and it’s not going to happen all the time. It should be noted that your significant other and your best friend will always know when you get that drunk, no matter how hard you try to hide it. It’s really hard to tell when my best friend is drunk, but I know when she is the second it happens. There’s no way Brie could have hidden that from Bryan.
Ben: In what feels like a “bonus” scene, Brie discovers Nikki’s vibrator back in the latter’s room, where for some reason she has two queen beds and no roommate. Nikki immediately trumps Bryan’s previous line of the night with “You’re sitting in my orgasm.”
Jen: I guess John Cena couldn’t make Vegas, so Nikki had to make due on her own. I really would have loved to have seen Cena out in Vegas with everyone.
Ben: I would have loved to see John Cena handle the next twist, because…
…the party truly gets started as Ariane’s man Vinnie shows up uninvited and apparently decided he has not yet made enough of a spectacle of himself in previous appearances picking fights with Brodus Clay or rubbing his sweaty head on fake breast implants, so it’s time to turn the volume up to 11! Immediately, Vincent acts like a 12-year-old on a sugar high in Ariane’s room, throwing his stuff everywhere and jumping in the hot tub by himself, leading Trinity to take her leave of the situation and his girlfriend to douse him with body spray, noting that he stinks. At Nattie and TJ’s fancy dinner—you can tell it’s fancy because Bryan combs over his crazy hair to one side—Vinnie grabs the fake penis on Nattie’s cake, tries to hypnotize Ariane with a strand of cotton candy, and spills a drink all over himself.
Jen: Vinnie is the train wreck this episode. We can see now why Ariane didn’t want him there to begin with. I have to wonder how long this relationship is going to last. He clearly embarrasses her and she feels awkward with him around her friends.
Ben: Oh, by the way, in case you had been worrying, Ariane does call her room “the bomb dot com” seconds after I proclaimed she hadn’t said it yet this episode.
Wrapping up one element of the episode, JoJo confronts Justin over his actions and he confesses that he likes her but thinks the 13-year age difference will be too much to overcome. JoJo protests it being “a stupid reason,” but my wife points out it’s not even so much the years, as it’s her being under 21 and thus not being able to go with him on most social outings, as this episode demonstrated time and again.
Jen: I’m glad that they actually circled back to the JoJo and Justin situation, even though we all saw this coming. I agree, she can’t go out with him socially and she acts like she’s 19. Even if Justin is just out for a good time, how much fun can he even have with her if she can’t go anywhere he wants to go? And if he’s not just out for a good time, they are in two completely different places in their lives. They hit the nail on the head with the issues with their relationship on this episode. And JoJo calling it a stupid reason just shows how young and immature she is. In 13 years, she won’t want to date a 19 year old either!
Ben: For the big finish, everybody hits up one last party where Nattie seems to finally put the Jaret stuff behind her and Vincent decides it’s time to go for broke and try to get his own E! show, getting trashed beyond belief, spilling drinks left and right, telling Jon Uso he’d have his back in a fight—which Jon seemed thrilled over—and giving Nattie and TJ his all-important seal of approval. Even usual human train wreck Ariane knows when she’s been outdone and drags her boyfriend out of the party to the lobby, where he goes on to attempt to head butt the elevator doors open, putting a nice bow on this lovely trip to Vegas.
Jen: I give her props for getting him out of there when she did. For once, I’m on Ariane’s side! If I were Trinity, I would have left too. She definitely knew what was about to happen and took his arrival as her chance to run the hell away.
Ben: Like I said, the change in format proved a bit jarring at first and sometimes it felt like the girls couldn’t really act like themselves as we’ve gotten to know them, but the second half of this episode picked up huge between “Brie mode,” Vincent’s rampage, and Nikki and Bryan’s penchant for one-liners. I dug it.
I didn’t see the full “Next Week On” due to my DVR cutting out, but I saw enough to know Eva Marie is getting her first spotlight episode since the Fandango incident. We’ll see where that goes.
Jen: I wasn’t a huge fan of the format of this week’s episode either. Hopefully next week contains more Nikki and Bryan one liners and John Cena. It is most definitely going to feature more Eva Marie, and more of JoJo’s immaturity. Should be a good one!