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   April 16, 2014



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In reality, Total Divas a pretty fun show
By BOB KAPUR -- SLAM! Wrestling


On Raw and Smackdown, the WWE Divas are lucky to even get a single TV segment. But on Total Divas, WWE’s new Diva-centric reality show that kicked off tonight on the E! Network, it’s all Divas all the time. And, at least for the debut, the formula worked surprisingly well.

Total Divas showcases a handful of the womens’ roster, namely: the Bella Twins, the Funkadactyls, Nattie Neidhart, and two girls from the developmental roster, Eva Marie and JoJo. The show covers all aspects of their lives, from their career ups and downs to their personal relationships, between each other and with their respective boyfriends, several of which are WWE superstars. Seeing the wrestlers outside of the normal setting is pretty interesting, and the related dramas help make this a pretty compelling reality show.

Based on the first episode, one would think the show is designed to be a star-making vehicle for the Bellas – they are given the most screen time, and many of the out-of-ring stories are based around their relationships. But based on the previews of upcoming weeks, and based on other spoilers floating around the net, the spotlight will be shared more equally as the season goes forward.

Given the nature of the show, with numerous cuts between scenes, and multiple storylines going on at once, doing a scene-by-scene recap wouldn’t make sense. So instead, the recap will go through the main story for each character.

Context

This week’s show takes place in the couple of weeks leading up to WrestleMania, soon after the Bella Twins returned to WWE after nearly a year absence.

Nikki and Brie Bella

Nikki and Brie are gearing up for their match at Mania, which will see them in a tag match that will also feature the Funkadactyls. They call themselves the veterans of the Divas locker room and it seems as if they feel entitled to have a match on the big show. They feel threatened by the youth and beauty of the new Divas coming in, particularly Eva Marie who they feel looks too much like they do, and so they push for her to change her hair colour to blonde. They also start to haze the “newbies” at a pre-Mania reception, sending them on champagne runs and interfering in their interactions with fans. Brie is dating Daniel Bryan and it’s going well enough that they are planning on shopping for rings. Nikki is dating John Cena who buys her a Range Rover (“she deserves it”, says Brie -- but doesn’t say why – my guess: because she got a boob job). Nikki and John are clearly and cheesily in love with each other, but Nikki is afraid that because of his recent divorce, he may be reluctant to get married again. She confronts him about it, and while he doesn’t agree to marry her, he says he wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. The Bellas' Mania match gets cancelled, and they’re upset about it.

The Funkadactyls

For some reason, on this show, they use the names Trinity and Ariane, not their on-screen names of Naomi and Cameron – presumably this is because this is “reality”, but it seems unnecessarily confusing. That being said, I don’t know which one is Naomi and which one is Cameron, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. They’re excited about their Mania match, but during rehearsals – yes, the show actually acknowledges the scripted nature of the show and the fact that they run through the matches beforehand – Brodus Clay yells at Ariane (offscreen), and this upsets her. Vincent, Ariane’s boyfriend, some non-wrestling doofus that looks like a jacked-up Tony “ECW Baldie” Devito, gets mad about that, and backstage starts an alpha-male tough guy rant about how he would beat up Brodus for making his woman cry. Trinity’s fiancée, Jon (a.k.a. Jimmy Uso) talks to Trinity, telling her that Ariane needs to get Vincent under control, as jackassery like that could get both girls in trouble. Trinity voices her concerns to Ariane who gets mad. The tension continues until they make up. With time ticking down to their Mania match, the Funkadactyls are worried because their costumes are still with the seamstresses. They finally get them, but it’s all a moot point when their match gets cancelled. Trinity is very upset by the news, openly crying in the dressing room until Ariane and Layla go comfort her, and then she says that she wants to have a few drinks (ironically, she’s not the one that got busted for DUI a few months back).

Nattie Neidhart

Nattie is the most sympathetic character on the show, and basically gets treated horribly by the company throughout. First, they call her the most experienced Diva and go through her strong pedigree, complete with a shot of her father Jim “the Anvil” coaching her along with Bill DeMott. Then, in the next scene, Nattie gets a call to meet with the company’s SVP of Talent Relations, Jane Geddes, who drops the bad news that Nattie won’t have a Mania match. “I’m devastated,” says Nattie. What’s worse is that the Bellas just strolled back into the company onto the show – even more frustrating is that Nattie was the one who trained them. Adding insult to injury, Nattie is tasked with chaperoning and mentoring the two new Divas. Then, in front of Nattie, Geddes tells the hot one that she can’t look like a Bella so she must change her hair to blonde instead. So to Nattie, it looks like she’s got to train her eventual replacement. The disrespect continues when Nattie has to miss the Hall of Fame ceremony to do a signing, and then is tasked with interviewing the superstars on the red carpet at a pre-Mania convention – including the Bellas! Seriously, Nattie is like the Charlie Brown of Total Divas.

Eva Marie and JoJo

First let me say that Eva Marie is hot. Like, ridiculously, stunningly hot. JoJo is pretty too, but she’s 19 and looks like she’s about 15, so that’s just creepy. Eva Marie is told by Geddes that she has to go get her hair blonded, which she’s not happy about. At the hair stylist, she calls the audible and makes the decision to go “Rihanna” red (or Crimson Glow, for all you My So-Called Life fans. She ends up being even more hot, which I didn’t think was possible. Damn, as Ron Simmons would say. Geddes isn’t thrilled, but likes the colour and gives Eva Marie the pass this time. But she warns the newest Diva that this is WWE and you’ve got to do what you’re told, because the company knows best.

Overall, as far as reality shows go, Total Divas works. It’s not unlike the Kardashians’ show in that it focuses on both the personal and professional lives of the subjects (yeah, I know, the Kardashians don’t really have professional careers, but it’s probably closer to this than anything else). For wrestling fans, it offers a unique look at the backstage workings of the company – including the politics – which is pretty compelling. It told some interesting relationship stories that will continue and build in future weeks. And was interesting enough that I’ll keep on watching – so check SLAM! Wrestling weekly for these recaps.

Bob Kapur once married a Kardashian, but it got cut from the show and is only available as a DVD extra. E-mail him your tales of heartbreak at bobkapur@hotmail.com.