The Silicon Sheik reporting live for tonight’s premiere of WWE's Total Divas.
Just a few thoughts before the start of the show.
Without the star power of WWE Divas Champion A.J Lee and powerhouse Kaitlyn it will be interesting to see how well this show does with the WWE demographic. I believe the Bella Twins will be able to draw a decent crowd and the Tons of Funk cheerleaders, (Cameron and Naomi) will be worth their weight in televised gold but the rest of the division still seems to be playing second fiddle in the WWE Divas division. Let’s hope this show will give these girls a solid push and needed credibility to rise in the pecking order of the Diva Division – which is what this episode seems to be about; solidifying who is who in the Diva Division.
I think this show needs to do something edgy to break the monotony of the typical reality show to become a hit on E!. The reality market is saturated but Total Divas has the benefit of professional wrestling’s plethora of energetic fans. Monday Night RAW averaged roughly 3 to 4 million viewers throughout the duration of last Monday night’s show. Total Divas, in my opinion, would be a success if it hit half of that mark. There is also the opportunity to expand the fan base to viewers of E! (Or anyone channel flipping and catching a glimpse of a pretty WWE starlet) who are not hip to WWE programming.
I've scoured social media for a couple hours leading up to this broadcast and the reception for the show is already mixed.
The show starts with an in-depth glance of career of the Bella Twins and how hard they have worked to perfect their image in ring personas. This segues into a segment showing how the seeds of jealousy have already been planted between the Funkadactyls and the Bella Twins. The Bellas had been gone from wrestling for 11 months and now they are back to regain their rightfully owned spotlight. However the Funkadactyls definitely have something to say about that as they have made a name for themselves in and out of the ring working with the tag team of Tons of Funk.
The next segment introduces us to Natalya (Nattie for short on the show) I think it’s a great idea to tie Nattie into the prestige and history of the Hart foundation. She is the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.
The scene cuts to inform us that WrestleMania is fast approaching.
The Bellas talk about how wrestling is a tiring sport and requires a lot of dedication. This is a pretty neat look at how the girls prepare for WrestleMania. In between the headlocks and Flair chops there is a lot of development work from professional trainers like Bill Demott.
Bill Demott is shown teaching the girls a thing or two about the ins and outs of the wrestling world as they work to showcase their skills at WrestleMania. Everything has to be perfect on wrestling’s big stage. A very valid point is made by Natalya that there is only one girl’s matchup at WrestleMania. I believe this is foreshadowing how important it is to be a top tiered Diva. The room for error in the Diva league is nil. As Bill Demott says it’s not just about the perfecting the moves. It’s also about looking good in the ring.
Now the show translates to romance. Nikki is dating John Cena. I think we’re going to hear a lot about this relationship as it develops as this relationship could grow to be as big as Miss Elizabeth and the Macho Man Randy Savage if the relationship ever moves on camera.
And in contrast Brie is dating Daniel Bryan and the camera crew contrasts the differences between Brie and Nikki’s relationships. Nikki’s is still in the infatuation stage. John and Nikki are shown courting each other next to a river with general romantic horse-play. Brie and Nikki live differing lifestyles out of the ring.
John bought Nikki a car! Brie took the words right out of my mouth when she stated this was a serious purchase. John Cena was recently divorced. Will Nikki simply be shown as a rebound relationship or will their relationship blossom into the longevity of Daniel and Brie’s relationship.
Next we get a behind the scenes montage at the production behind WrestleMania. There is a lot of work that goes into the 4 hour primo wrestling event of the year. This also holds true to the characters on the card.
Nattie has just been told that she will not be on the WrestleMania card. This is a pretty tough pill to swallow for Nattie as this is the Super Bowl of wrestling and Nattie is a veteran of the sport. Nattie is now being thrown a bone and has been asked to guide developmental talent. And thus we will soon be introduced to Eva Marie and Jo-Jo Offerman.
Segment 2: Newbies on the way!
The newbies enter the picture. There girls are young and hungry. Jo-Jo Offerman is 19 and only a month into the business. I see big things in her future. She has the face and moves of a WWE Diva. The Rock smells Jo-Jo and Eva Marie being hazed by the Bella Twins shortly.
There is an awkward encounter between Nattie and Brie Bella. Nattie congrats Brie on the mixed tag matchup forthcoming at WrestleMania. It will be remain to be seen if any animosity boils over throughout the show.
Eva Marie has been asked by the WWE to tweak her image and become a blonde. The girls finally meet Nattie. She seems like a good chaperone for the sport. She is really down to Earth and seems legitimately interested in helping the girls break into the business.
The girls, with the exception of the Bella Twins, have to be different. Upper management is requesting Eva Marie to acquire a new image and a unique look.
Ariane gives us a look at her relationship with Vincent. Vincent is outside of the business so we may get an outsiders glimpse of what it is like to date a WWE Diva. The previously introduced boyfriends, (John and Daniel) are established wrestlers so they already know what it’s like to battle the demons of the wrestling life.
The next segment segues into a growing conflict in Tons of Funk due to the stress of WrestleMania. Vincent consoles Ariane in her moment of need and threatens to stand up to Brodus Clay for telling her that she sucks and disrespecting her as they prepare for their match-up at WrestleMania. Trinity is worried that Vincent is going to tarnish the group’s working relationship with the WWE over petty backstage politics. Nattie comes in to be the voice of reason and cools Vincent down. It’s too bad. I would like to have seen Vincent and Brodus come to blows over this squabble. Tension is a major part of the business when people are working this close together so often throughout the year it is going to boil over. Keeping the peace and knowing when to walk away is all a part of being a WWE Superstar.
Segment 3: The pecking order of the WWE Diva and Eva's Hair
The Bella Twins are going to confront Jo-Jo Offerman and Eva Marie. Nikki is upset because of the resemblance of herself with Eva Marie. Nikki calls Eva Marie “hot”. Now there is a potential angle blossoming. Eva Marie tells the Bellas that she will be changing her hair and poses the argument that she will not be a threat to the Bella Twins. Jo-Jo and Eva Marie show the Bella Twins and play into their freshman expected role in the WWE.
Trinity decides to confront Ariane about the hypothetical confrontation between Vincent and Brodus. The question is posed as to what is more important: keeping task to job roles or looking like a punk? The Funkadactyls definitely do not agree on this measure and the tension between them grows.
We are now privileged enough to see Eva Marie dye her hair. This is probably a pretty big deal for a woman growing up blonde. This is just one of the trials of giving up your life to be a WWE Superstar.
Segment 4: Relationship woes
Eva Marie decides that there is no way she can go blonde. So she decides to juke the upper management of the WWE and dye her hair red. She is very confident of the results of the dye job. Now we will just have to see if the WWE management approves.
Eva Marie heads down to see Jane and garner her approval. Jane is initially standoffish and Eva Marie tries to explain her position on the matter. This is subordination but it looks so damn good! Jane has to tell Eva Marie in the future that she must walk the line of respect and listen to the orders of the WWE.
The Bellas run into the newbies and compliment Eva Marie on her fiery red hair.
Nattie is shown practicing promos for WrestleMania. We see her slip up a few times and that gives us a glimpse of how hard mic work actually is in the WWE.
The Bells are now out at a club jockeying for position to keep their prestige in the WWE. And we’re back to the infamous pecking order. It is requested of Eva Marie to go get the Bella’s champagne. She is none too happy about the request but knows her place in the business, does not create waves, and complies. I can’t see this compliance lasting for too many episodes and this tension will almost certainly boil over into future incidents.
Now we get a bit more intimate with the Bellas and discuss Brie and her ring shopping. Details of Nikki and John’s relationship are discussed. Is John Cena in it for the long haul? Can he see her? Brie tries to console Nikki as Nikki gets upset at the uncertainty of her relationship. It looks as if the leaks were accurate and Nikki will confront John on their relationship.
Segment 5: Relationship obstacles and bad news for the Funkadactyls?
It is one day until WrestleMania and the Funkadactyls are still at each other’s throats. The girls verbally joust back and forth over the backstage theatrics we have been privy to thus far. Ariane promises to talk to Vincent about the disrespect he has shown Trinity by almost causing a commotion backstage with Brodus. This business is all about respect. Somewhere, I bet Mick Foley is jostling around on his sofa while watching this segment. How will they deal with this animosity and still put on a captivating and thrilling show at WrestleMania.
The proverbially last supper has finally arrived for John Cena as we are shown John and Nikki walking to their table. Is marriage in the future for this couple? Is John ready for such a commitment after coming out of a divorce? This seems like a pretty monumental question for Nikki to ask of John Cena; probably more of an immovable mountain; more of a weight on his shoulders than Mark Henry. John seems pretty reasonable about the prospects of marriage. He blesses Nikki with thoughts of love and reassures her that she is the only woman for him and to let the future play out on its own course. Patience is a virtue!
Fans are screaming outside of WrestleMania and I am screaming at my television set watching the Bella Twins get dressed for their match. 80,000 fans are about to watch the Bellas and the Funkadactyls take female wrestling to the next level. Jo-Jo, Eva Marie and Nattie are backstage waiting in the wings to provide their support to such an endeavor.
Clips of WrestleMania are shown. Brie is proud of her boyfriend and tag team champion – Daniel Bryan. Its two minutes until show time and the Funkadactyls are not ready to make an entrance. There has been a problem with their wardrobe and this might be worse than Janet Jackson at Super Bowl 38. Will Ariane and Trinity make it to WrestleMania? Most of us already know the answer because we watched it months ago... but stay tuned as we break for commercial!
Segment 6: The Premiere's conclusion
The costumes still are not ready. The seamstress battles until the last moment… and the girls are ready to go! A thrilling montage of the Undertaker keeping up his streak is shown.
The Bellas walk to the stage. John Cena pumps up the crowd. Wait? What’s going on here! John is blocking the progress of Bella Twins and the entire female division. The Bella Twins have officially been cut from WrestleMania and this devastates the entire Divas roster. I wonder if there will be conflict between Nikki and John over this matter even though the decision was totally out of his hands.
Brie and Nikki are devastated about being cut from WrestleMania. Again this is a part of the business and all the work put into the show was for naught. I think this impacts the Funkadactyls more than the Bella Twins as Ariane and Trinity really had the momentum from the WWE universe going into this match. The Bellas were just coming back from a layoff but Tons of Funk was really a crowd favorite at this team. I remember seeing RAW in Columbus, Ohio after WrestleMania and they were still a big pop but they were peddling around the mid-card with Tons of Funk still awaiting a push. Both Ariane and Trinity are phenomenal wrestlers and I do not think they have reached their full potential yet. The couple share an embracing moment where they come back together and talk of their desires and dreams for after wrestling. This business and fame won’t last forever. Trinity states she will soon be 30 and she eventually wants to have kids… will she still be waiting to be in WrestleMania by that time?
The next episode of Total Divas looks to be even more risqué than the premiere. The girls have more fun. The careers of Jo-Jo Offerman and Eva Marie begin to progress. John asks Nikki to meet his parents and more!
This was an important show for WWE Total Divas. This episode will not make or break the series but was the foundation for us to really care about any of the WWE Divas and develop a personal connection with their character. It honestly was not as awful as everyone anticipated – judging from the responses on Twitter and Reddit’s r/squaredcircle. The pacing of the show seemed chaotic. I think this will happen in a show with 7 main characters – especially in the opening episode when it is essential to introduce the characters. As I referenced before, about the show finding a niche in the reality market, I think dealing with more behind the scenes wrestling action is the key to increasing the audience. I think there is a time and a place for drama in the show but for this show to succeed with the WWE universe I believe it is essential for there to be a modest balance between the two ideas. I was more impressed with the antics of Jo-Jo and Eva Marie than the Bella Twins or Ariane and Trinity. I hope further episodes are more centered on one or two main characters at a time instead of multiple segments with 7 different girls. Stay tuned next week as I recap this week’s reception, viewing stats and anything else which might pop up before the next episode of Total Divas on E! at 10PM EST.