Last week’s episode of “Total Divas” missed review. Well, maybe “missed” isn’t the right word. I got off a flight from Alaska to Washington, D.C., checked into my hotel, and turned it on midway through, landing on a scene in which Natalya was sitting in a restaurant, getting some advice about how to trust her recently-substance-abusing dad, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, from her uncle, Incredibly Important WWE Superstar Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
It was like a very weird Very Special Episode of “Punky Brewster” designed to make classic WWE purists cry into their ice cream.
At any rate, in my jetlagged state I found myself getting a little misty thinking about Nattie turning to her uncles to stand in as father figures in perhaps the absence of a reliable father of her own, and how that made her grow up into someone who tries to be everybody else’s parent, and at that point it was best for me to walk away and come back fresh with this week’s episode: WrestleMania!
Brie Bella, dressed like a Barbie doll I had in the 1980s, is hoping next WrestleMania she’ll be appearing as a pregnant valet. She shares this hope over dinner with her sister and husband.
“Do you guys ever think about me?” Nikki asks. “Like how I feel inside about all the baby talk?”
“It’s your own fault,” Daniel “Bryan” Danielson responds, going on to explain that she knew when she got involved with John Cena that babies were off the table.
He then embarks on a long-winded theory of – I hesitate to say “eugenics,” but there it is. Per Bryan “Daniel” Bryan:
“[Cena] and Jackie Joyner-Kersee should have had babies. For the evolution of our species. We need John to mate with somebody who’s super athletic and super intelligent.”
Nikki, taking offense at the implication that she fits only one of those criteria, announces she had a 3.2 GPA in high school, a claim Brie rebuts (she says it was a 2.8). Also, remember that old wives’ tale about how you get huge points on the SAT just for filling in your name correctly? Turns out it’s true; Nikki reveals Brie bombed her SATs by getting her own name backwards. (“My mom was disgusted with me,” Brie admits.) Master evolutionary theorist Daniel Bryan chokes on his lemon water.
Later, Nikki, trying to “keep our locker room in order,” invites much-maligned sometimes-Diva Eva Marie to talk about the drama that’s been going down over her special WWE-arranged training in California. Nikki explains that “the girls freaked out” about Eva’s Instagram post implying they all play sheep to her lion. Eva lectures Nikki about respect and how she should have used her powers as the Divas champion for good by sticking up for Eva, and Nikki’s conciliatory tone quickly goes out the window.
“You’re 100 percent making yourself a victim, Eva,” Nikki says, rolling her eyes and sighing heavily at Eva’s “planned speech.”
“We don’t even look at you as a wrestler. We don’t,” Nikki continues, expressing a sentiment shared by more or less the entire WWE Universe. “At the end of the day, we’re not worried about you.”
Eva makes a ton of excuses about how she has wanted to train for a long time but it “didn’t work out” at the Performance Center. Nikki is not buying the implication that the company somehow stood in Eva’s way.
“Eva’s been here for two and a half years and has not learned how to wrestle ’til now,” Nikki explains, pointing out that there are countless other wrestling schools if Eva didn’t want to train at NXT. “She didn’t care about being a Diva. She just wants to be famous.”
Nikki, pronouncing herself “done” with Eva, marches straight to Brie’s hotel room and dishes about how Eva has just announced she’s learning wrestling so she can become Divas champ and fix the locker room.
“That’s actually kind of comical,” Brie says. “I guarantee you, in a year she won’t be here.” MARK YOUR CALENDARS, Y’ALL.
Alundra Blayze shows up (managing to work in a “give Divas a chance” reference) to provide Nattie with some new tension: She’s stressed over her speech inducting Alundra into the Hall of Fame. There’s also some stress about Nattie’s dad’s tie, which needs to be pink and special, and then a WWE producer shows up and tells Nattie she has to take an Arn Anderson story out of her speech, which stresses Nattie out because she really thinks the whole speech hinges on the Arn Anderson reference. There are tears, because Nattie is the ultimate company woman, so of course she’s not planning to cross corporate, but Papa Neidhart gives her a pep talk and it’s adorable.
And then, as those of you who watched the Hall of Fame inductions know, Nattie works in Arn Anderson after all. With apparently no fallout. Perhaps there is some advantage to being a WWE legacy after all?
On the day of WrestleMania, Paige and the Bellas spend some time geeking out about how exciting it is to work WrestleMania. Nattie is thrilled with her dominatrix look (her dad asks where the whip is and she promises to find one), Trinity/Naomi is pleased with her in-ring takedown of Nattie, we meet the Uso kids, Paige gets a pep talk from Alundra Blayze, and the rest of the Divas locker room provides backstage color commentary during the Bellas’ tag match with Paige and AJ Lee, after which Paige weeps and then wets herself.
Oh, and it’s WrestleMania, so there are a million backstage Easter eggs for “Divas” fans who are also WWE fans: Randy Orton, Larry Zbysko, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Nikolai Volkoff, Sgt. Slaughter, Paul Heyman, The Miz, Jimmy Hart, even Serious Actor Dwayne Johnson.
Also, in a weird postscript, we learn more than we ever needed to know about the Braniels’ reproductive capabilities. To be clear, this does not happen in a sexy way: There is a fertility clinic and a spreadsheet involved. Turns out they are both incredibly fertile (“super-human fertile,” according to Bryan), so expect baby fever to be a continuing theme this season, with an emphasis on will-they-won’t-they and career decision drama. Will the Braniel babies be genetically engineered by evolutionary science expert Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson? Stay tuned.
Finally: WWE has arranged for Eva Marie to sign with Brad Slater, the agent who represents The Rock and Ronda Rousey. She and Jonathan celebrate her chances of “crossing over” with chicken hearts at a Brazilian steakhouse. Make of that what you will, and buckle up for more catfights when the rest of the locker room finds out.