Cue the “Kayfabe Is Dead” hot take cannon (never mind that kayfabe was actually killed off in 1989 in order to avoid paying taxes), because on this week’s episode of “Total Bellas,” LANA BREAKS CHARACTER.
You read that right. Lana, the Ravishing Russian. Lana, one of the few WWE Superstars who keeps kayfabe across social media. Lana, who has been gradually “losing” her “Russian accent” as her “English improves.”
This is important for a couple of reasons: First, because it appears to answer a question many of us have had about how the newest “Total Divas” cast member would approach her role on the reality show considering her commitment to her television character. And second, because HOLY SHIT LANA BROKE KAYFABE.
If you read any “Total Bellas” recap that isn’t super hung up on this fact, stop what you’re doing and walk away, because that writer has bizarre priorities (and/or zero actual familiarity with today’s WWE).
No joke, my husband and I both screamed and then had to rewind the scene. Which was a total nothingburger throwaway scene for maybe the average person watching “Total Bellas” (seriously, like maybe 45 seconds about Brie training for her retirement match, just there as a setup to get her in the car alone with her mother) but an Iron Sheik/Hacksaw Jim Duggan moment for those of us who follow WWE.
Incredibly, not only did other things happen on the show this week, they were things that were arguably more important to the advancement of “Total Bellas” plotlines — if not to the bigger question of how Lana and Rusev will balance the very different interests of the E! audience and the WWE Universe.
Back to the show, though.
Last week on “Total Bellas,” during a wine-fueled frank family confab, Brie revealed that she and Bryan have been having a bit of a dry spell, due largely to the fact that he can’t get down with copulation that doesn’t double as performance art.
Brie and Bryan, in case you were wondering (and I know you were not), are really into the Kama Sutra.
Bryan elaborates on this philosophy over lunch with Brie and Nikki, explaining that he wants sex to be a “sensory” experience complete with candles and music. He wants to relax into the moment. He wants to savor the sounds.
The lack of intimacy is creating problems in the Braniel marriage, apparently, that bubble to the surface after Brie asks John Cena to teach her how to drive a stick. Bryan gets offended because he was going to teach Brie, but Nikki points out that John is better qualified since he has done some of his own stunts and had to get some kind of certification (note: Unsure if this is a real thing; Nikki is a decidedly unreliable source when it comes to facts) that makes him better suited to teach someone how to operate a manual transmission.
Bryan retaliates by changing plans he and Brie had had for her to give him swimming lessons, instead asking Bella brother JJ’s sister-in-law Lexie (who is visiting for absolutely no other reason than to serve as a plot device and source of marital tension) to give him lessons. He argues that she is more qualified to teach him since she was on the swim team. (See, because that’s what Nikki and Brie said about John.)
This somehow becomes about Lexie’s breasts, though, because of course that’s what would happen in any normal family.
(Not addressed: Why Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson, a grown man and professional athlete, cannot swim. He grew up in Washington state, home not only to swimming pools but to many naturally occurring bodies of swimmable water. Was he afraid the beard would weigh him down? Does he have rabies? Is he, like Stitch from the Disney movie “Lilo and Stitch,” simply too dense to float? We may never know.)
Later, Brie brings Nikki to the guest house where she and Bryan are staying and starts showing her sister how the Braniels set the scene when they get romantic. She lights candles. She turns on a gigantic salt lamp. She dims the lights.
“Wait, are you going through your sex process with me right now?” Nikki says. “That is not why I came in here, by the way.”
Then she mocks the salt lamp (which, OK, fair game) and makes fun of Brie to the dogs.
“Is Briezy a prude vanilla bitch?” she simpers to one of them (Josie? Winston? IDK, all look same. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Alaska, but seriously, get a real dog or just get a cat). Nikki and John, by the way, think of sex as lovemaking whether it’s a multicourse production like the Branielsons do or a fully-clothed quickie because they just can’t keep their hands off each other.
Later, Brie and Bryan are busted by the cameras after trying a morning quickie, which it turns out neither of them particularly enjoys, perhaps partially because they didn’t use the bed in order to avoid having to re-make it per Cena house rules.
“Bryan probably looked like a bunny rabbit,” Nikki says when Brie tells her about it. Then she insists on announcing the event to the entire family over morning coffee, including the fact that Brie didn’t shower afterward.
(Somewhere in here, John Cena also correctly uses the phrase “ipso facto,” so what woman could possibly be expected to keep her hands off him? Smart is sexy, guys.)
While all this is happening, Nikki is missing John, who she thought was going to be her constant companion in their mutual tenure on the injured list. Instead, John is in rehab all the time, and Nikki is lonely. She acts out by making Brie and Bryan take her places and trying to get them to spray tan her. Brie encourages Nikki to talk to John, which she finally does after she nearly ruins their one date night by eating too many calories (since she can’t exercise with a broken neck, she’s on a strict diet).
“This girl inside is yearning for you, and her stomach’s yearning for food,” Nikki says to an invisible John during her talking head. “So can I just have both, please?”
When John and Nikki finally talk, the face of the company admits he’s been neglectful and promises to make time for his sidelined Diva, even if it can’t be a big dinner out.
“I just love food,” Nikki says wistfully.
Meanwhile, Mama Bella and Johnny Laurinaitis are planning their wedding, although the kids are worried they’ll elope and try to get them to promise to tell everyone beforehand if that’s what they decide to do.
“Part of eloping is not telling anybody,” Johnny says, reasonably.
In the cigar room after formal dinner one night, Johnny tells his future stepson and stepsons-in-law that he’s considering having a prenuptial agreement drafted. This seems perfectly reasonable to John Cena, who compares it to buying a firearm.
“It is like buying a handgun for home defense,” he explains. “It gives you a sense of security, and it gives you a failsafe in case something happens, and those who buy a handgun for self-defense pray — pray — they never have to use it. Without it, it’s a dogfight. With it, it is very easy.”
Which kind of makes you wonder: Who does John Cena think is going to break into his house? The Incredible Hulk? Godzilla, maybe? I’m just trying to wonder who he thinks would require a handgun for it to be “very easy” for him to take them down.
JJ, who was rattled by the end of Mama Bella’s second marriage and is now feeling unsure about the third, naturally, tattles to Brie about the conversation, and on the drive back from the Performance Center (where LANA BROKE KAYFABE), Brie tells Mama, who freaks out — not, as it turns out, because of the prenup (she’s fine with that), but because Johnny talked to the kids about it. He then makes the reasonable point that if this is his family, he should be able to talk to them about what’s going on in his life, and she agrees, but not before an awkward speakerphone call that John Cena ends with an epic — seriously, world class — fake “you’re breaking up” phony failed connection. I’m not kidding, it’s Oscar-worthy.
Oh, and JJ flips like Hogan turning to the NWO, deciding he’s 100 percent in favor of the impending Laurinaitis wedding, prenup or no. Bella family drama is nothing if not easily resolvable within a 42-minute timeframe (not counting commercial breaks).
Due to the earth-shattering popularity of last week’s video reaction, which was watched by literally scores of people (hi Mom!), the feature is back this week. Watch me live on camera as I attempt to absorb Lana’s persona-decimating foray into the Total Reality Empire.