wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Total Divas Report 8.05.15

August 5, 2015 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Do you like Ryan’s exasperated ranting about Total Divas? If so, check out his exasperated ranting about numerous other wrestling-related topics on Twitter.

It took a month, but we are finally caught up!

Backstage at a WWE taping, Paige attacks a giant inflatable elephant and wrestles him to the ground. The elephant begins yelling at her, and everybody laughs. There is zero explanation or context given for what just happened. I only understand it because I also happen to watch the WWE Network’s Swerved, a.k.a. the best professional wrestling television show currently on the air. For those of you who may be interested, the “elephant” was actually R-Truth, and he was wearing the suit to perform jump scares on unsuspecting members of the roster for the hidden camera prank show. However, Paige was on to him and pranked the prankster.

We are . . . somewhere . . . for a television taping, and Nattie tells the crew about her new cat and shows a cell phone video of him humping her head. Given that TJ Wilson’s low libido has been highlighted on prior episodes of his series, that may be the most action that Nattie has gotten in a while. Trinity interrupts the scene with a listing of how the talent will be split up for the upcoming European tour, as they’re running two different crews. Immediately there is DRAMA, as Alicia Fox and Wade Barrett are on the same tour, and she’s still in love with him after having dated him eons ago, as mentioned in the close of last week’s episode. Oh, by the way, he has a different girlfriend now.

Paige notes that she’s excited to return to her home country on the big tour, though she’s a bit hesitant about having to hang out with Nikki, who is “fancy” all of the time. Nikki proves just how fancy she is by yelling at Brie for looking at her boobs. That is truly the height of class.

Elsewhere backstage, we get the return of ROSA MENDES~! as she walks backstage with Fox. They run into a random NBA player, and Alicia throws herself at him. This fellow is a low-talker, so I can understand virtually nothing of what he’s saying. Summer Rae pops up out of nowhere and takes a shot at Nattie, who has her hair in tin foil. This scene served no purpose other than reminding us that Rosa Mendes is, in fact, a person who exists.

For the first time in a couple of episodes, we travel to Los Angeles and Brian Kendrick’s hole-in-the-wall dojo for some training with Eva Marie. I’m immediately distracted by the fact that we get a brief shot of Kendrick’s wife and season one Tough Enough cast member and former ARSION gaijin Taylor Kendrick (nee Matheny), who I have to admit to having a bit of a crush on circa 2000. Glad to see that she and Kendrick are still together.

All of the girls gather at the airport to fly to Europe, with Brie noting that she and Bryan Danielson are going to be on separate tours and therefore separated during their first wedding anniversary. I wonder if they were really on separate tours or whether that’s a gimmick invented for Total Divas to mask the fact that Danielson was sent home from Europe early this year due to the injuries that still have him sidelined.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, we go to a live event in Dublin, where Fox continues to freak out about Barrett. Emma, essentially throwing gasoline on a horny fire, tells Alicia that there is some sort of problem between Wade and his current girlfriend. Wow, that’s some pretty suspect activity . . . Emma was essentially acting as the Australian equivalent of Just Joe and stirring up shit.

Eva Marie and her husband Jonathan were left in the United States while everybody else is on tour, and she’s doing a photo shoot for her website. She is going to be wearing body paint for the majority of the shoot because she’s covered in bruises from her training with Kendrick, but the photographer wants to get some shots of the injuries so that Eva’s hard work can be chronicled. These bruises are MASSIVE by the way, and they’re shown as mostly being on her forearms, which is not a spot I’m used to seeing wrestling trainees bruise at. (In my experience, it’s typically the back and shoulders.)

In Glasgow, the Bella Twins and Paige meet up in a hotel room. The Bellas say that they would like to take Paige out for “tea time” and present her with ridiculous frou frou hats. Paige attempts to explain that nobody in the United Kingdom actually does this and that they will find true British culture in a dive bar.

Over in Dublin, Nattie, Rosa, and Fox pop into a bakery, and Alicia professes her continued love for Barrett to Mother Hen Natalya. Nattie’s advice is that Fox needs to be honest about her feelings for the man. Mendes says the exact opposite, i.e. she should let Wade do his own thing with his current girlfriend. This is a complete and total role reversal, as, throughout the history of the show, Nattie has bene portrayed as the more mature and conservative character, while Rosa has essentially been an impulsive force of chaos. I’m not sure why they did the switcheroo here . . . perhaps the ladies got their scripts mixed up.

Eva and Jonathan are driving down the streets of Los Angeles, and Eva is checking her Instagram feed. She threw up one of the photos of her training bruises, and people in the comment section are claiming that Jonathan must be beating her. Jonathan has the rational reaction, saying that, if a couple of people are being morons in an internet comment section, she should let them be morons. Hey, that’s what I do on a weekly basi . . . umm . . . I mean, hey, I love all of you guys down there in Disqus-land!

In the United Kingdom, now it’s time for the Bellas’ tea with Paige. Nikki is so excited that she even brought over “gloves that her Great Aunt Betty used to wear.” I don’t know why, but part of me wants to see “Great Aunt Betty” become a regular character on the series. After a few minutes of tea, Paige can’t take it anymore and points out that this sort of pageantry is for the Royals and not for normal human beings. She decides to take off and do her own thing. Brie’s reaction is, “She’s from here, so she may not understand the excitement of tea time.” Nikki says that she just must not understand the full experience. Yes, Bellas, the British person is the one that does not understand what goes on in Britain.

Oh yeah, in order to get to her chip shop, Paige hops into the car that brought her and the Bellas to the tea venue. So, when Nikki and Brie wrap up their nosh, they’ve got no way to get back to the hotel.

Later that evening, Paige and Trinity are hanging out at a pub with Lana, who is making her Total Divas debut. There is not much to the scene, though it does demonstrate another odd example of Total Divas straddling the line between WWE’s kayfabe canon and being set in a separate worked shoot reality, as Lana pretty much keeps her accent and some of her Russian slang, even though she is, in fact, an American woman with zero accent.

Stateside, Eva and Jonathan head out for date night and eat a ridiculous amount of food. Ultimately, the lady has to go to the head in order to make more room, and her Total Divas microphone just happens to pick up her conversation with the woman washing her hands next to her. The stranger in question sees Eva’s bruises and, once again, she is mistaken for a victim of domestic violence, telling her that “there are options” if she needs help. Eva feels awkward, so the couple leaves the restaurant. So, wait a minute . . . she left her microphone on in the bathroom? If that’s really the case, are we meant to believe that somewhere in the WWE and/or Bunim Murray archives, there is audio of Eva Marie dropping a deuce? I think that there are some websites that would pay a pretty penny for that sort of thing.

Backstage at our next WWE show, Nikki asks Paige about her stealing the car earlier in the day. Paige explains that the high tea was, in her opinion, “pretentious.” Nikki doesn’t understand why Paige wouldn’t appreciate her efforts to experience Paige’s culture. Were you even listening to her, rocket scientist? The entire reason that she didn’t appreciate your efforts is because, as she’s explained several times now, THAT IS NOT ACTUALLY HER CULTURE. It’s what you’re projecting on her as her culture. It’s the equivalent of walking up to a Chinese citizen and offering him a plate of crab rangoon because it’s what you’ve seen on the menu of American Chinese restaurants.

After a commercial break, Eva and Jonathan are in their car and still talking about Eva’s bathroom situation. Jonathan explains to her that she should not be embarrassed by what occurred, because she is an athlete who is doing what she needs to do in order to hone her craft. Eva agrees, and that’s pretty much the end of the storyline. This was a weird one, because Eva started speaking in her confessional like she’d had a huge revelation based on Jonathan’s advice, but we never really saw her embarrassment having any consequences aside from her leaving a restaurant. It would be one thing if it actually made her consider leaving wrestling or toning it down in the ring, but it didn’t. The whole arc just felt week because there were no real stakes.

In Sheffield, Nattie is still trying to convince Fox to confront Wade Barrett. In fact, she’s gone a step further than that and has actually told Barrett that Alicia wants to talk to her. Don’t you have your own business to worry about, Natalya? Why don’t you call your parents to see how they’re doing with the twenty cats you foisted upon them before leaving the continent? You know, the cats that you’ve not mentioned once since they were introduced.

This somehow breaks down into Ariane trying to explain contemporary slang to Nattie, particularly the current usage of the word “shade.” Nattie just doesn’t get it. It’s good to see that there are still some vestiges of her confused old woman character carrying over into this season, even if it’s been obscured somewhat by her earlier role reversal with Rosa.

The crew ultimately goes to find Wade’s hotel room in the middle of the night, because that’s what rational human beings do.

With the crew from the other tour, John Cena and Nikki Bella take Brie out for dinner because of her separation from Danielson. Because the Total Divas cameras are rolling, they just have to talk about Paige, because I’m sure there’s no topic that the biggest star in all of professional wrestling would rather tackle right now. Cena mansplains that Nikki shouldn’t care if Paige thinks she’s a phony, because Nikki knows that she herself is genuine, and that’s all that matters. Then, he tells the waiter that he’s going to eat her out later in the evening. I am in no way, shape, or form making that up.

Nattie, Fox, and Ariane wind up in Wade Barrett’s hotel and ask the front desk to tell them what room “Wade Barrett” is staying in. If you ever question whether this show is a work or not, there’s a pretty glaring indication, because the dude’s name isn’t Wade Barrett and I sincerely doubt that he would be registered at his hotel as such. We fade out to a commercial break while on a shot of Alicia knocking on what we are told is Bad News’ hotel room door. When we come back, she runs away before anybody can answer and hides in a bathroom stall.

The next morning in Birmingham, Paige is still wearing her ridiculous tea hat and walking with Brie Bella. Paige says that she’s upset about the possibility of having made Nikki upset by calling herself a fake. Brie explains that’s truly who her sister is. Paige accepts it. I yawn. Repeatedly.

In Nottingham, Nattie, Emma, Rosa, and Alicia go sightseeing. Fox tells Rosa about the door knocking last night, and Mendes is critical, asserting that doing these things while Barrett is on tour and away from his girlfriend could be construed as a “home wrecking situation.” Nattie and Alicia immediately blow up on her and label her a drama queen, because clearly they didn’t mean anything by paying Wade a visit after hours while they were drunk. The tension between Fox and Mendes does not actually lead anywhere, though it does make me feel bad for Emma, whose entire gimmick on this show is apparently that she stands around and looks like a sad child while other people have fights.

We’re in the last five minutes of the show, so that means it’s time for the two separate touring companies to reunite in London for a TV taping. Alicia is casually hanging out with Maria Menounos when, all of a sudden, she sees “Rachel,” Wade Barrett’s current girlfriend. Foxy decides it would be a good idea to go up and introduce herself. Barrett walks by a couple of times and looks confused. You know, Barrett has been a character on the last two episodes of this show and I have a feeling he may not even have known about it, because he’s done nothing aside from being in the general vicinity of the Total Divas cameras (which is not difficult if you’re backstage at a WWE show) and has really said nothing to advance the storyline.

Out of nowhere, Fox pops up in a confessional and says that she needs to mature and get over Wade. Uhhh, so what actually changed in order to cause her to have that little arc? She said hi to the girlfriend?

Elsewhere backstage, Paige apologizes to Nikki Bella for acting like a spoiled brat. They acknowledge that they have different tastes but can still be friends. The only thing missing is the sappy Full House “dramatic talk” music playing in the background.

After the show, Emma, Rosa, and Alicia meet up at a bar, and Fox says she’s there to pick herself up some men. Grandma Natalya suggests that, to find her a man, they should “hook her up on that fish network.” Ohhhh, Nattie.

Then, a fat man walks up to the group and Neidhart kisses him. That’s the moment the episode goes out on. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the producers have completely forgotten how to wrap up a show over these last several episodes. They’ve all gone out on a very flat note.

Overall: This was a bad show with a lot of the hallmarks of a craptastic Total Divas outing.

I found the Eva Marie storyline to be the most problematic and bizarre. I already mentioned in the body of the review the fact that there were really no stakes and, as a result, barely any tension to be resolved. Plus, there were points at which the show seemed to be taking the concept of domestic violence and playing it for mild laughs or at the very least appropriating it to create an angle on a fluff television show, and portraying that subject matter in such a way will almost always make me a bit uncomfortable.

The Alicia Fox/Wade Barrett/Rachel triangle was a perfect example of the show making grown women act in ways that grown women would never act, unless they have some form of brain damage. Fox was essentially playing the role of a lovesick twelve year old, and it was even more confounding when several of her coworkers – particularly the usually conservative Natalya – told her to act on her impulses despite the fact that it made her look like a total creeper.

Probably the least offensive of the bunch was the Paige/Nikki storyline, as it had a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end and resulted in the Paige character learning something about herself. However, it feels like the 7,000th time that this show has gone to the well to bring back a plot in which two of the characters are at a social gathering and one says something mildly insulting about the other, leading to at least an hour (if not two) of people avoiding each other and talking about each other behind their backs before everything is wrapped up in a nice package in the last five minutes of the show. It’s becoming trite, and you would think that if it keeps happening that these characters would eventually learn a lesson and not make similar comments in the future.

When does this season end, anyway?

Do you like Ryan’s exasperated ranting about Total Divas? If so, check out his exasperated ranting about numerous other wrestling-related topics on Twitter.

article topics :

Total Divas, WWE, Ryan Byers