Every single thing about this week’s episode of Total Divas is too much, too soon, too close to home.
OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. There is one throwaway plotline about how new girl Mandy, inspired by the videographer Eva Marie and her husband have hired to buff up Eva’s social media presence (what, you thought she was running that YouTube channel herself with an iPhone 6 and a pirated copy of Final Cut Pro?), wastes a bunch of Natalya’s time taking selfies instead of training.
Another story arc is one I might be just a little bit close to, personally, as a pregnant woman; Rosa Mendes, at this point in her second trimester (IRL, as you may know, she gave birth to a baby girl this week), is being honored with a baby shower thrown by… Paige and Alicia Fox.
Sit with that a minute.
Not surprisingly, Paige and Foxy have set out to plan exactly the kind of baby shower you might expect two overgrown teenagers to plan, complete with bounce house and a “spooky,” “haunted” theme. But, you know, with pink, because the baby is a girl.
When Rosa expresses that she’d rather have the baby shower in Los Angeles (where she lives) than fly cross-country to Florida to attend a creepy haunted boozefest of a baby shower (as a reminder, Rosa is sober even when not gestating a human being) that her Vancouver family likely won’t even be able to attend, Fox flips out about how selfish Rosa is being.
I’m not entirely impartial here, and I think it goes without saying I’m Team Rosa in this battle; however, I find it hard to be completely sympathetic. Look at who she is allowing to throw her a baby shower. Anyway, later Foxy apologizes, but Rosa doesn’t, and that’s as it should be, and anyone who disagrees is welcome to come do battle with my hormonal pregnant lady super strength.
Related: For the benefit of readers who may someday wish to reproduce, I’d like to dispel some pregnancy myths perpetrated in this episode. First, contrary to what Rosa might think, when a pregnant woman holds her breath, it does not stop her fetus from being able to breathe. That’s profoundly stupid, and I am now worried that Rosa didn’t receive any prenatal care. Second, there is a scene in this episode during which Rosa passes on coffee and there is some discussion of the need to give up caffeine when pregnant. This is all well and good unless you believe in science, which at this time has not established any risk attached to caffeine consumption of up to 200mg per day, a fact for which my husband is grateful every single morning that he has to live with me. Finally, despite Rosa’s mic drop in her argument with Fox, yelling is not known to be “not good for the baby.” That’s not how fetal development works.
What this episode is really about, though, is Nikki Bella’s spine, and that’s what has me wondering just how much editorial control of Total Divas WWE really has — because while his face never appears in this week’s show, the Ghost of Daniel Bryan’s Career is haunting every minute. If you’re still tearing up at the thought of last week’s RAW, maybe save this one for another time when the wound isn’t still so fresh.
The scene is set as Nikki is preparing to break AJ Lee’s record as the longest-reigning Divas champion (although in this post-Punk, post-retirement world, AJ is never mentioned by name, of course). While visiting Brie in Phoenix, Nikki complains of pain in her shoulders and back and tries a stretching device that Bryan uses (OMINOUS). Mama Bella drops by and, apprised of Nikki’s complaints, starts dropping advice bombs.
“Where you do have to learn from Bryan is you do have to change up your wrestling style” she says (OMINOUS), “’cause the Rack Attack is crazy.” Turns out there’s not a lot of room for the spine to recover when you drop to your knees with a muscle-dense human being compressing your shoulders.
Later, at dinner with John Cena, Nikki has a back spasm so bad that she has to remove her microphone and then leave the restaurant. Then she cuts short a workout with Nattie (and Sheamus, who talks between sets about selling his too-large house and probably never having a family, but really, won’t he someday wake up and realize Becky Lynch has been right there all along?).
(Aside: My husband and I were literally having a discussion just last week about how much better John Cena has been dressing lately — like, his suits actually fit him appropriately and no longer look like hand-me-downs from Ben Grimm. During this dinner scene with Nikki, Cena admits to her that when he “had an opportunity” to get these “nice, more fitted suits,” he ordered FIFTY-FIVE OF THEM. So there’s that.)
Brie takes Nikki to see “Bryan’s miracle doctor” (OH MY GOD OMINOUS), who uses the world’s largest hypodermic needle to shoot Nikki’s muscles up with ozone gas, a procedure that leaves bloody spots all over Nikki’s neck and basically looks like torture.
At this point, watching Brie’s face while she talks to Nikki about taking care of her body, you really realize (especially after watching the Braniels’ appearance on “Good Morning America”) that Brie has spent pretty much all of her time recently watching the people closest to her suffer through career-threatening and/or career-ending injuries (Bryan’s concussion seizures don’t get a mention, but they’re all I’m thinking about as the naturopath shoots up Nikki’s neck), so her impending retirement should come as a surprise to literally no one.
The action culminates in Nikki’s record-breaking night, when, as you may recall, she and Brie pulled the old Twin Magic trick to keep Charlotte from seizing the title. As Total Divas tells it, the use of the Bellas’ old gimmick is Nikki’s way of taking Mama Bella’s advice to change up her moves.
“What’s beautiful about our business is you can win in a lot of different ways, and when you play a bad girl on TV like I do, you can cheat to win,” Nikki explains. “So instead of doing the Rack Attack tonight, we did Twin Magic.”
Afterward, the Divas gather for a “Bella-bration” to toast Nikki. Weirdly, Dolph Ziggler is also there. Apparently mostly only so he can ask Nikki if she’s “broken in the title” (sorry, WordPress doesn’t have a sexual innuendo font), which provides Brie the opportunity to brag about having “broken in” Bryan’s titles when he was the champ. Which should just be a cheeky insider moment but instead is yet another reminder that Daniel Bryan will never hold a title again.
Thanks, E! Network. For a minute there I forgot to be sad about that.
Apparently next week’s episode will be all about Nikki’s fear of death and Rosa trying to get her atheist baby daddy to pretend to be a Christian when he meets her mom. Let’s all hope Titus O’Neil’s suspension doesn’t extend to Total Divas.