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411's Total Divas Report 03.23.14
Posted by Ryan Byers on 03.24.2014





Do you like Ryan's exasperated ranting about Total Divas? If so, check out his exasperated ranting about numerous other wrestling-related topics on Twitter.

LAST WEEK ON TOTAL DIVAS: We ended with a cliffhanger, as John Cena called Nikki Bella to meet with him for dinner, presumably to discuss their strained relationship. Our closing shot was Cena standing on a pier while holding a bottle of wine and some glasses, all while acting . . .



Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention last week that, if you watched closely, as they cut between shots of John, the wine turned into a dozen roses at one point and I think even back again.

Anyway, on with the new content!

We're back on the pier. Nikki is wearing a fur coat with no sleeves that frankly looks like a rejected John Nord ring jacket. For those keeping score at home, Cena now has the flowers instead of the wine, so we're in that take. John says that he's thinking about the last time that he and Nikki "hung out," which is so totally not what you call it when you're living with your significant other. He admits that he's in love with her, which loses a lot of its emotional oomph when you realize that Bray Wyatt spoiled the fate of their relationship with his "plastic girlfriend" comment this past Monday night on Raw. Cena promises to find more time to work on their relationship and to discuss more important issues further on down the line. He closes with, "I'll be with you, if you'll have me."

Well, so much for that proposal she was looking for.

Confessional Nikki says that even Cena making this statement is a "huge step." So, basically, her whole issue was that he would never marry or impregnate her, and he has done absolutely nothing to establish that he's leaning more towards doing that, yet she goes back to him anyway. Could we make Nikki look like a bigger maroon?

We're now back at Raw, and Eva Marie and Cameron are hanging out, now claiming to be best friends even though Eva was basically a heel to all of the girls last season. They have, according to Eva, bonded over the fact that they never wrestled on the indies, which causes the other girls to look down on them. Yes, because we all know that the Bella Twins were part of the tournament to crown the first ever Ring of Honor Tag Team Champions back in 2002.

Speaking of the Bellas, they are also backstage, and Nikki takes Brie aboard John Cena's tour bus. Needless to say, it's nicer than my house and nicer than the houses of 90% of the people reading this. Brie acknowledges this as well. Despite having enough money to afford a bus of this magnitude, Cena apparently isn't buying Nikki decent clothing; because it appears she's wearing an outfit made out of cheesecloth. Brie gives some consideration to talking Bryan into getting a bus of his own, and then Nikki shows her the mirror above the bed, stating fairly explicitly what the mirror is there for. Brie acts disgusted, as though envisioning her sister having sex is somehow radically different than envisioning herself having sex.

Hey, it's a random seleciton of cast members getting together for brunch! This type of scene was a staple of the show last season, and I was a bit disappointed when we didn't see it in the S1 opener last week. Anyway, it's the Bellas, Naomi/Trinity, Nattie, and Eva Marie around the big table. They discuss staying in shape, which turns to the bus, which leads to a flashback of Brie attempting to convince D-Bry to obtain the bus. True to his hippie roots, he is initially hesitant because of the gas mileage, but Brie convinces him to do it by turning it into a mass transit bus. Yes, she invites all of the other women to join them on the ride. Nattie is hesitant because Summer Rae is going to be invited as well, and there's some odd unspecified "tension" between them. Speaking of Summer, she appears and pulls Eva away from the table even though they haven't gotten their meal yet. Nattie treats this like it's the height of rudeness even though Summer made it very clear that she was getting some urgent calls and needed to leave with Eva immediately.

Eva and Summer are riding down the street together, and Eva busts out Nattie by recounting the entire conversation from brunch, including Nattie (verbally) slamming Summer. They make fun of Nattie for dressing like an old woman. I haven't noticed that on the show yet, but, as I have documented in previous reviews, she certainly talks like an old woman.



We're at another arena now, with Eva and Cameron taking pictures of each other until Nattie arrives. Eva says that she has some exciting news . . . "I'm going to Afghanistan!"

Pretty sure that is the first time in over a decade that anybody has ever said that sentence excitedly.

Believe it or not, Cameron and Nattie are actually JEALOUS that they do not get to travel to a WAR ZONE, and Cameron in particular complains about the fact that Eva was rubbing in her opportunity to make the trip. So much for their anti-indy alliance.

We get clips of the Bellas and Nattie facing off against AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, and I believe Alicia Fox. It really doesn't matter. This is the match from several months back in which it looked like Tamina kicked Nikki's head off her shoulders as she was hoisting AJ up for the Shock Treatment. As an aside, am I the only one who cringes every time that Nikki does that move, fearing for a split second that she might be attempting a Burning Hammer?

They show the kick of doom and all of the girls are watching in the back to react to it. We head to a commercial break with the entire cast voicing their concern, which would be a pretty decent hook if not for the fact that they decided to show a slow motion replay of the kick from the angle that makes it look as fake as possible. You had a GREAT camera angle - i.e. the one that originally aired on the live broadcast - so why would you use an alternate take that looks worse, especially when the kick really did connect?

When we return from the break, Nikki has made it to the back and she does in fact have a tooth missing. She is greeted by WWE doctor Chris Amann, who is a dead ringer for John Laurinaits. He lacks the Super Dave Osborne voice, though. Nikki, who always has her priorities straight, immediately starts worrying that John Cena will reject her if he sees her without her tooth. So essentially she's assuming that her long-term, live-in boyfriend is the shallowest human being walking the face of the earth. If that's her concern, she just needs to look into a mirror and it should fade right away. (Perhaps the sex mirror on the tour bus will do.) Also, we're talking about a tooth near the back of her mouth, so it wouldn't even be readily apparent it was missing unless Cena was to feel the gap with his tongue.

Because she is now a hideous, deformed, Snitsky-esque freak, Nikki decides that she wants to ride on BrieBry's bus as opposed to hanging out with John Cena. Essentially the entire cast and their boyfriends are along for the ride, and Nikki informs them that she's going to have to get "an implant" to fill in the missing tooth. Well, at least that's a type of procedure that she's used to having.

The crew starts drinking and playing "Truth or Dare," which features Nattie asking Summer if she's ever slept with a coworker and Summer asking TJ Wilson if he's ever had better sex than Nattie. I think they're trying to paint Nattie has the babyface here and Summer as the heel, but Ms. Neidhart appears to be the one who always starts shit between the two in addition to being the one who overreacted during their brunch encounter, so Summer is far more sympathetic. I guess they try to make her a bit of a heel by implying that the allegations that she's sleeping around with the roster are true, but I don't understand how promiscuity necessarily makes somebody a heel. If it did, Val Venis would be up there with Mr. McMahon as one of the greatest wrestling villains in history.

After a commercial break, Cameron says that she's going to be on the cover of Rolling Out magazine. Everybody reacts exactly how I reacted, namely by saying, "What the hell is Rolling Out magazine?" Eva immediately one-ups her by saying that she'll be in the Maxim "Hot 100," and Cameron does not appreciate that.

The cast slowly starts going to bed one-by-one, leaving Cameron and Nattie to complain about the egos of the rookies Eva and Summer. This leads to the revelation that Eva Marie has some "scandalous" photographs floating around on the internet. She shows them off to Nikki and Nattie, but the stuff that makes air is so tame that it makes Disney's Frozen look like something produced by Brazzers.

Because she's a mature, rational human being, Cameron takes the pictures backstage at the next television taping and shows them off to anybody who will look. Summer Rae meets up with TJ and Fandango, who show her the pictures and finger Cameron as the individual who started circulating them to the entire locker room. Summer says that she's going to have to bring this to Eva Marie's attention, because they're friends. Again, I'm pretty sure the show wants her to be the heel, but I don't understand how the character who is standing up for her best friend and trying to shut down a rumor mill is supposed to be the BAD GUY. Have the people who put together the storylines on this show ever had a relationship with another human being?

After the commercial, we've got a Smackdown match between Tamina and Nikki coming off of the kick heard round the world. AJ Lee is on commentary and says that, if we watch the kick closely, we can see the exact moment where Nikki "forgot math." We haven't seen any evidence of Nikki's mathematical abilities on this show, but, if it is anything like her vocabulary and her knowledge of historical figures demonstrated last season, there wasn't much knowledge there to forget.

After the match, Brie tries to convince Nikki that she should talk to Cena about the tooth situation, attempting to convince her that her boyfriend will love her regardless of her looks and that she's being a "prissy little girl." Of course, Brie is right, but Nikki doesn't accept it until Brie plays the trump card, the one thing that she knows will get Nikki to do the job . . . she mentions that, if she can't see John, she can't have sex with John. Brie then takes Nikki down and puts her into a shoot headscissors (no, seriously), cranking on it until she agrees to have the conversation with her man. Nikki taps out and agrees to speak with Cena, popping up and complaining about how Brie "hit her in the vagina" before unleashing some girly slaps. Sin Cara's music is playing in the background while this is all going down, which gives it a very surreal element. I will never be able to see that man enter the ring again without hearing Nikki Bella say "vagina" in the whiniest of her whiny voices.

Then again, given how his career is going, I'll probably never see Sin Cara enter the ring again period, soooo . . .

We're back on the BrieBry bus, where Summer Rae decides to tell Eva that Cameron has been circulating the photographs from her past. Eva Marie, in a completely mature and calm manner, walks up to Cameron and tells her that she doesn't appreciate those things being spread around. She is totally, 110% in the right here. Despite this, Cameron acts like Eva is the one with the problem, claiming that her actions were justified because she needed to do something to get Eva's ego in check. Okay, so the next time that somebody poses in a more popular magazine than the one that I've posed in, an appropriate response is to dig up skeletons from their closet and tell everybody that I can find about them. I'll keep that lesson in my back pocket.

You hear that, Ari Berenstein?! If you EVER think about getting a photo shoot that is higher profile than my recent centerfold spread in the UK's Power Slam magazine, everybody is going to know about that awkward situation involving you, Dana Dameson, and the electric mixer.

Anyway, the fight lasts through the commercial break, and Eva tries to explain that she was at a very different point in her life when those pictures were taken and that she doesn't appreciate them being brought back up. Again: Calm, rational response. Cameron gives a fake apology, leaving Eva to cry on Trinity's shoulder when they arrive at their destination. Eva goes a step further by indicating that she was having substance abuse issues at the time those pictures were taken, making Cameron into an even bigger bitch than she was before. Despite the fact that she's Cameron's tag team partner, Trinity actually gives us some real talk and sides with Eva, comforting her and saying that, absolutely, she can understand why she would not want her past dragged back up. In other words, Trinity continues her run as the most consistently likeable, believable, and relatable female character on this show.

After a commercial break, Eva Marie explains photogate to her husband Jonathan over the phone. Summer Rae pops in, and Jonathan gives us his nickname for the duo: Red and Gold. My god, I just had a vision of Eva and Summer acting as dual valets for Hulk Hogan. Think of the marketing possibilities.

The next day at TV, Trinity pulls Cameron aside and explains why her actions were not appropriate. In the greatest exchange of dialogue on this show ever, Cameron starts to say, "It wasn't like I did it maliciously," at which point Trinity immediately calls her out on her bullshit and says, "Yes, you did." BAM. Trinity continues to raise some damn good points by busting out the mug shots from Cameron's real-life DUI arrest a couple of years ago and noting that she wouldn't be too happy if those got circulated. However, Cameron still doesn't buy it until Trinity reports that Eva Marie was crying last night. At this point, Cameron turns it around. Oh, sure. Your actions can have all of the negative repercussions in the world, but, until tears fall, there's no way of knowing that you've taken it too far.

Elsewhere backstage, Fandango walks up to Eva Marie and, in as creepy a manner as possible, tells her that he's seen the photographs recently. He doesn't say this, but his tone and body language make it very clear that he didn't just *look* at the pictures, if you get my drift. This makes Eva angry, and she storms off to do . . . something unspecified.

There's another commercial, after which Summer Rae walks up to Nattie and makes small talk, at one point noting that she and Fandango will be opening the evening's show. Nattie overreacts and takes that as bragging, complaining to a nearby Trinity. I hope that Trin eventually puts her in her place as well.

Elsewhere backstage, Ariane walks up to Eva Marie and tells her that Trinity has shown her the error of her ways. She gives a legitimate apology, but Eva refuses to accept it, instead taking the opportunity to further explain that, not only were Cameron's actions inappropriate, but they were even more inappropriate and highly unprofessional given that this all took place in the context of her work environment. She is absolutely correct.

That's the end of the show.

Overall: Never let it be said that I don't give credit where credit is due, because, per the standards established for Total Divas, this show . . . actually wasn't that bad.

Don't get me wrong, it still is not what I would call good television or good storytelling, and it's not something that I would watch if left to my own devices without this writing assignment. However, many of the key problems that I have with the standard episode of Total Divas were either not present or significantly downplayed here.

My two biggest complaints coming out of most episodes are: 1) the characters acting in a manner that no human being would possibly act in; 2) the breakneck pacing of the show that crams too much in and prevents any of the storylines from making an impact; and 3) storylines not being told in a standard structure with a beginning, middle, and end or conflicts being blown off too quickly and easily or just dropped altogether.

Here, there was a significant improvement in the pacing of the show. There were some small bits and pieces of other characters interacting here and there, but we really had two main storylines for the episode: the outing of Eva Marie's "scandalous" photos and Nikki Bella's oral fixation. Everything else that was covered on the show felt like it was done in a way that naturally flowed either into or from one of those two storylines. It allowed everything to progress much better and to feel natural as opposed to the constant jump cuts between three or even four plots that require significant mental effort in order to keep everything straight. Plus, from the teasers for next week's show, it seems that storylines are not being dropped prematurely or otherwise forgotten about, as we're most likely going to get some continuation of the Eva/Cameron and Nattie/Summer conflicts, with an additional face-off between Brie Bella and Summer Rae that grows out of the Nattie/Summer drama. Yes, I think Total Divas may really be setting up some legitimate, long term angles. Hopefully it can pay them off.

The only one of my standard complaints that is really applicable to this episode is Nikki Bella going on and on about her boyfriend's potentially negative reaction to her tooth. We've seen these two together for over a year now, and their relationship has gotten serious enough to the point that Nikki is thinking about marriage and John has invited her to live in his palatial estate. Does anybody REALLY think that a minor, temporary physical change like that would cause a significant other on that level to disown them? No. It's not only unbelievable; it's unbelievable to the point that it kills your suspension of disbelief for the show.

So, that's one relatively decent episode of Total Divas for the season. Can they actually establish a streak of these? We'll see next week . . .

Do you like Ryan's exasperated ranting about Total Divas? If so, check out his exasperated ranting about numerous other wrestling-related topics on Twitter.





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