Here’s what I like to think happened at the E! Network this week. Some executives were sitting around talking and they said, “Hey, you know what? WWE fans have had a rough, weird week. Let’s give them the best episode of “Total Divas” anyone could possibly imagine.”
That seems like a scenario that could have been responsible for this week’s episode of “Total Divas,” which, if you are a WWE fan and naysayer who refuses to watch the show at all ever, is the one episode for which you should make an exception.
There are a few plotlines weaving throughout this episode, and functionally they don’t really matter (for reasons I’ll explain in a moment), but here’s a general overview:
- Nikki Bella is getting fed up with her brother-in-law, Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson, constantly teasing her and calling her materialistic and making fun of the fact that she’s bad at math and doing things like hiding all her Louis Vuitton shoes in his “barn” (which is really just a large backyard shed).
- Paige is planning to move in with Alicia Fox, but then she decides to move in with her new boyfriend instead, and Foxy makes them both mad when she gets drunk and talks at length about how Paige’s new boyfriend (Kevin, maybe?) is a carbon copy of her last boyfriend (Bradley, probably?), which, to be fair, is a totally legitimate observation even if it’s emotionally motivated and poorly executed. Kevin could easily have been subbed right in for Bradley with no mention or even a name change, and 95 percent of viewers never would have noticed.
- Natalya and Tyson “TJ” Kidd agree to take on some rescue cats, and it turns out the local cat rescue brings them not one, not twelve, but EIGHTEEN cats to house in their screened-in backyard. It’s OK, though, because they’re down one right away as a crafty cat escapes into the swamp behind the house. “Once that cat’s out there, they’re gone,” observes Nattie’s dad, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. “You’re never gonna find a cat in a swamp like that. There are real snakes and alligators out there.” Nattie’s mom suggests they just buy another cat in the same color.
None of this really matters, though, because all these events are really just excuses to build up to the real treasure of this episode: A Sartre-esque four-camera montage of separate carloads of WWE Superstars and Divas driving to Indianapolis that is a masterpiece of reality TV editing.
Four cars, a dozen wrestlers, scores of laugh-out-loud moments. The recap won’t do it justice, but here are the highlights:
- In Car #1, Nikki and Brie Bella argue about why Bryan is mean to Nikki. The exchange culminates in a phone call to Bryan, who reasonably points out that he can love Nikki even if he sometimes doesn’t like her very much. Then the twins eat something unidentifiable out of a large container with their fingers while Brie tells a nice story about the time Bryan sent Nikki flowers on Valentine’s Day.
- In Car #2, Foxy, Paige and Emma start out with a lighthearted girls’ trip (Paige tells Emma she’s glowing; Emma jokes that she’s pregnant and then quickly clarifies that she’s not, adding “You have to have sex to get pregnant”) that quickly erupts into a throwdown between still-snubbed Foxy and still-not-moving-in Paige, who finally gets on the phone to Trinity “Naomi” Fatu and insists that she come get Paige in the parking lot of a roadside gas station.
- In Car #3, Trinity and Jon Fatu/Jimmy Uso spend most of the trip arguing about whether “I love you all the way to this stop sign” is an appropriate response to “I love you all the way to the moon” until they are interrupted by the need to pull over and collect Paige. “Fox and Paige are about to kill each other. Poor Emma looks terrified,” Trinity explains when they arrive on the scene. “And I look over, and Jon’s videotaping the whole fight.”
- In Car #4, Nattie and TJ are joined by Adam Rose, Heath Slater and “Total Divas” all-star cameo favorite Titus O’Neil. The latter three are along for the ride after some car trouble (and some begging for a lift from Nattie, who, as the cat rescue situation has been orchestrated to demonstrate, can’t say no).
While each car has its moments (the edit for the Fatus is particularly great, and Emma is used to her full potential for once, which is nice considering WWE certainly doesn’t make that happen for her in the ring), Car #4 is obviously the highlight of the episode, and I’d watch a whole show that was just about these five in a car together. A sampling of moments:
- Titus starts the drive by marching to the car chanting “Field trip! Field trip! Everybody field trip!”
- Titus farts. A lot.
- Nattie starts a game of “Would You Rather” but stumbles on an alternative after posing the question “Would you rather have a child with Layla, or have a child with…” Crammed into the backseat next to her, Adam Rose stops chewing his gum long enough to suggest, “Maybe you should prep your questions.”
- There is in-depth discussion of Nattie and TJ’s sex history.
Car #4’s journey takes a detour when Heath Slater says he has a friend who owns a restaurant that’s on the way. It’s late, but the group agrees to stop. And then they pull up in front of…
“The name of the restaurant is called ‘Girls’?” Adam Rose asks.
Kind of. It’s not exactly so much a restaurant as it is a mostly-deserted strip club. TJ goes off to pout in the car.
“I really thought he would enjoy this,” Heath says. Because TJ has demonstrated nothing on “Total Divas” so much as that he’s a really fun guy who enjoys hijinks?
TJ sulks in the car while Titus and the boys get Nattie up on stage (fully clothed), after which she shakes all the strippers’ hands.
“I thought they were nice girls,” she says.
Other things we learn in this episode:
- You’re not allowed to shout across catering. This seems especially important to Paige after she springs the news about her move-in change on Foxy.
- Trinity knows who Marshawn Lynch is, but when she sits down with her co-workers and announces “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” it’s clear no one else does.
- Alicia Fox is still super in love with Bad News Barrett. This will apparently become important again later in the season and is also credited with being the reason she’s being crazy with Paige.
- Related: Wade Barrett apparently walks around backstage with the IC Title slung over his shoulder (wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt, so it’s not like he just came from the ring).
- Big Show is trying to lose weight, but his problem is that he turns around and finds it. Not being mean; that’s a real joke he makes.
- Adam Rose for real also sucks on a lollipop backstage.