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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Total Divas 1x1 - "Welcome to the WWE"

The most surprising thing about Total Divas is that  it wasn't nearly as godawful as I thought it was going to be. Oh sure, it had the reality show manipulation, editing, commercial breaks to juice "tension" and "revelations", and everyone came off as some level of bitchy (except Brie Bella, actually, she came off all right and I guess Jojo since she was mostly a non-factor.) But I really did expect, and dread, much much worse. The backstage stuff, manipulatively edited as it was, still was interesting because I find WWE backstage stuff inherently interesting. Total Divas is actually a slick, occasionally illuminating production about the rarely spotlighted female side of WWE.

Nikki Bella is the top heel on the show, that's clear. Everything negative you can paint a woman to be she pretty much gleefully inhabits: jealous, petty, vindictive, egotistical - yet, all she really truly wants in life is for her perfect man, John Cena, to pop the question. (Cena is recently divorced - it may not even have been finalized as of the filming - and is naturally not eager to leap into another marriage. He's John Cena, not Ric Flair.) Cena was pretty funny with his "I can't even talk to you with your lips and your boobs out there" line, whether or not that was him trying to be funny for the camera crew there for their intimate, private dinner. Brie on the other hand seems to be a part time heel and full time perfectly happy woman in her two-plus-year committed relationship to (Daniel) Bryan Danielson. Bryan was great: every time you saw him, he had a giant grin on his face.

I thought Trinity (Naomi) came off well overall, "married" to Ariane (Cameron) in the Funkadactyls. Trinity is engaged to Jon (Jey Uso) and is the level-headed professional of her team. Ariane is a shrill drama queen and I'm not entirely sure what she brings to the table besides being the other Funkadactyl who can also dance. Brodus Clay apparently reamed Ariane out at their WrestleMania match dress rehearsal for some unspecified screw up the show did not depict, which set Ariane's goombah boyfriend Vincent off. The guy wanted to fight Brodus, completely not understanding pro wrestling locker room etiquette. Or maybe it was all for show for the cameras, who knows?

The show painted Natalya as a whiner and complainer, bitter, always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Some of that was just how she was edited, but then again, she did say the things she said and I thought she came off horrendously.  Does she have a point in that she's the most talented in-ring performer in the Divas locker room? Sure. But they made her into a complainer. Or maybe Nattie really is a complainer and the show just captured that and ran with it. Maybe that's why her last best push was the farting gimmick. Plus the whole thing with the blonde hair - as if she has a lock on being the only blonde woman in the company? Nattie Neidhart came off terribly to me. (Jim "The Anvil" got a cameo, though. That was cool.) 

Meanwhile, there are the other two "newbie" Divas no one had ever heard of before this show came into our lives: Eva Marie and Jojo. Eva Marie's storyline is about the company ordering her to go blonde and she instead rebelled rebelliously like the rebel she is and died her hair crayon red. And she got away with it, but with a stern "toe the line" order to go along with it. Otherwise, Nattie had to babysit these two noobs, while Brie and Nikki made a show of "hazing" them by making them get them champagne, not unlike when Wade Barrett asked Nikki's boyfriend to go get him a glass of water when they were in The Nexus. I believe it was Nikki who did have the zinger to the noobs: "You don't need to be taking pictures, nobody knows who you are."

All of this leads to WrestleMania and the untold story of why The Bellas and Team Rhodes Scholars (completely absent from the show, perhaps Damien Sandow wisely opted against signing the E! release forms?) vs. Tons of Funk and The Funkadactyls was cut from WrestleMania 29. The show made it seem like it was because the elderly African American seamstresses backstage were unable to sew the Funkadactyls' sequined bottoms up in time, but no, after manipulative commercial breaks, we learn it was simply because "the match before them" (Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar) went long.

This was a tragedy. No, I'm not being facetious, I remember being pissed because I did want to see that match.

And thus Total Divas ended in crushing disappointment for the Bellas and the Funkadactyls. But there's a whole season of redemption to go...

TOTAL DIVAS REVELATION: Up until the filming of episode one of Total Divas, it seems John Cena had never seen The Notebook.