“Total Divas” returned Sunday night, which was a huge relief for me personally, because “Downton Abbey” doesn’t come back until January, and they’re basically the same show, except that on “Total Divas” childbirth kills your career, not your spouse.
The way we left things last season, things were looking rosy for the Total Divas. Brie had just become Mrs. Daniel Bryan Danielson, Nikki had made up with John Cena (according to her Instagram she wants us to use the hashtag #Nena, but there aren’t enough luftballons in der Fliegerstaffel to get me on that train), Ariane/Cameron had come to terms with her love for her boyfriend, Trinity/Naomi was enjoying life as Mrs. Uso, and Summer Rae was still stinging from being dis-invited (or uninvited? Still unclear) to the Braniel wedding.
Oh, and Eva Marie was there.
But we know there are dark times ahead for our heroines: Daniel Bryan (Danielson) will soon learn the extent of his career-threatening neck injury. The Funkadactyls will break up, as will Summer Rae and Fandango. The Bella feud looms on the horizon.
And at some point, if a recent flurry of Instagram posts are any indication, there will be a group outing to Napa for what Eva Marie will insist on calling “the Red Wedding.”
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the commensurate level of bloodshed. Especially since Rosa Mendes is joining the cast.
As season three begins, however, life is still good for the unsuspecting Divas. We open up with Eva Marie and her husband Jonathan shooting the world’s skankiest “engagement” photos to put on save-the-date cards for their pretend wedding. (They eloped last season, but now they’ve decided to have a “real” wedding. Probably someone told them about presents.)
“Are these so not engagement photos?” Eva asks, sprawled against a wall in black lingerie. The answer to her question, of course, is: No. These are so not engagement photos. Not just because it looks like an FHM shoot, but because you’re already married.
Cut to a Raw taping in Nashville, where Nattie walks into work and encounters Rosa Mendes, who is “so excited to get back in that ring and kick some ass.” It is the first in a string of encounters during which people refer obliquely to Rosa’s sabbatical from the company.
“Honestly, you look great. Your eyes are clear and you look happy,” Nattie says. “But literally, like half your breast is hanging out.”
Matronly Nattie advises Rosa that not only is side boob not “the new cleavage,” as Rosa counters, but that walking around half-exposed is perhaps not the way to score opportunities to participate in, for example, youth literacy events.
“Settle the teakettle,” Nattie scolds.
Backstage, Eva shares proofs from her “engagement” shoot with Ariane and Trinity, who offer an honest assessment of the material — but not quite as honest as Titus O’Neil, who, upon being told the photos are for save-the-dates, simply pronounces: “Oh hell no.”
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Brie and Nikki go to lunch and talk about a hypothetical that John Cena has posed to Nikki: Let’s just say they should get married. Would that be enough? Would she be satisfied being just Dr. and Mrs. Of Thuganomics and not having the opportunity to birth a new Cegeneration?
“It bothers me because he acts like if he’s giving you marriage, he’s giving you the world,” Brie says. As though they were talking about a normal human being and not the greatest living specimen of Cegenics ever brought forth upon this planet.
Then Brie suggests Nikki freeze her eggs in case she ends up “40 and alone.” Which Nikki, of course, decides to do without telling John, because that makes great reality TV and provides an opportunity for cameras to follower her as she sets John loose in the house with an interior decorator (John Cena is very anti-window treatment, by the way, which is weird — like, is he also anti-doorknob?) while she sneaks a nurse in to do a blood draw.
A nurse paying a house call, by the way, is the single least realistic thing that happens in the entire episode.
Backstage at Smackdown in Cincinnati, Mark Carrano of WWE corporate gathers the Divas for a meeting and welcomes back Rosa, giving Brie the opportunity to be next to hint at Rosa’s time away: “Her reputation got very out of control. When you are constantly on the road, sometimes you can lose yourself … I just hope that she can handle the road again.”
(I bet the E! network hopes she can’t. #drama #ratings)
Summer Rae is away shooting “The Marine IV” with The Miz, so it’s necessary to explain her absence. “Is anybody keeping in touch with Summer?” Carrano asks the room. Total silence. Awkward.
When the meeting is over, Carrano holds Nattie back. He needs her to help out with Rosa, room with her, keep her on track. It’s a bit of a flashback to season one, when Nattie, ever the team player, was assigned to be mother duck to Eva Marie and JoJo (remember JoJo? Me either). Nattie agrees because she’s a company woman, but she warns Carrano there’d better be a title match in her future.
“If I wanted to babysit people I would, you know, hang out with Summer,” Nattie says later.
There’s a long, predictable segment about Eva Marie and her family and them wanting a Catholic wedding and her husband not being Catholic, and then it turns out her father has cancer, and then she promises him a Catholic wedding without telling Jonathan. So that will probably turn into a thing. (Spoiler alert: Dozens of Instagrams indicate this “wedding” will not happen in a church, and her father will not miss it, so I’m guessing they come to some sort of understanding.)
Rosa (who, as we all know and as is finally revealed, has been in rehab) has all kinds of insecurity backstage in Toledo; Titus O’Neil tells her she looks “tired as hell,” and then she overhears snickering about her in the locker room. Then she has to go in the ring with Nattie, who obviously destroys her. After the match, she breaks down, and Nattie, ever the mama duck, gives her a pep talk.
Here’s a hint, Nattie: Want to stop getting assigned babysitting jobs? Stop being such a good babysitter.
“I just want to come to work and do my job and beat the s–t out of all of you,” Nattie tells Rosa. As she literally wipes Rosa’s tears.
The episode closes with a cliffhanger: John discovers Nikki’s pre-egg-harvesting injections and asks her what’s going on. DUN-DUN-DUNNNN!
A montage of what’s ahead in the season promises as much drama as there ought to be given what’s to come in-ring and out. Stay tuned for financial tension in the Braniel marriage, the continuing saga of John and Nikki’s one-sided relationship, Funkadactyls heartbreak, marriage troubles for Nattie and Tyson Kidd, and what looks to be an epic frenemy arc with Summer Rae and Rosa, culminating, perhaps, in Nattie pulling Summer out of a car by her hair? Hair-pulling isn’t really Nattie’s style, but then, it’s hard to lock in a Sharpshooter when you’re wearing Louboutins.