Recapping and Grading WWE Total Divas for Aug. 4: "A Tango with Fandango"

David Bixenspan@davidbixFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2013

Total Divas cast (Photo by E!/WWE)
Total Divas cast (Photo by E!/WWE)

It's baaaaaaack!

This week on Total Divas:

  • Eva Marie is scheming to try to become Fandango's permanent dancer.
  • The Bellas do a "life swap" where Brie and Bryan join Nikki and John Cena at his house in Tampa, and then Nikki and Cena go to his childhood home in Aberdeen, Wash.
  • Ariane wants new costumes for her and Trinity and goes about ordering them in the dumbest way possible.

We'll start with Eva Marie, whose plot (in both senses of the word) got the most attention this week: She thought becoming Fandango's permanent dancer is her ticket to the main roster.  I think Summer Rae was already in that role when this was shot (raw footage places it as early May), but I guess we have to ignore that.

Fandango (that's what everybody called him, and he always had the gimmicked hair) was cool with giving her a tryout.  It looked like this was because he wanted to get in her pants, as he was flirting from the first moment he saw her.  Somehow they needed to go on a date to talk about this.

In the meantime, her boyfriend Jonathan showed up on the road at her hotel room door with doughnuts. They asked JoJo to leave them alone (cue porn music), and in the midst of the doughnut eating, he proposed. Umm, OK?

I think this was supposed to be like when Jim proposed to Pam on The Office in that he had to do it RIGHT NOW, but it didn't really work.  After he left, she took off the ring to go on the date with Fandango, where nothing happened, both from sexing and overall plot standpoints.

When Eva Marie went out with Fandango, and lack of ballroom-specific dancing experience aside, she looked like she never danced before in her life.  The reaction shots of everyone cringing were fantastic. Mark said he's not a dancer, but he knows that's awful.  

She was sent to what a sign called the "TV Office" (the GM office set used on Raw), where Stephanie McMahon came to dress her down.

McMahon gave a "WWE hates liars" speech smiliar to the one The Boogeyman got when he lied about his age to try to get on Tough Enough.  If Eva Marie ever did anything like this again, she'd be fired.  Eva Marie cried, and I couldn't muster myself to care.

Here's the problem with Eva Marie's storylines on this show: I don't mind that Total Divas is ridiculous.  I expected it to be ridiculous and full of scenes that don't seem very real, and I revel in its ridiculousness. Where it loses me is that Eva Marie has not come off as a real person at any point in the show as of yet.

Everyone else (well, maybe not Nattie yet, since she's mostly been given exposition) has had some kind of unguarded moment, and their real personalities shine through.  So far, Eva Marie exists only as a pretty girl for the writers to throw a bunch of scheming plots at.

The other two stories this week were pure, unadulterated wackyness, and I loved them.

Bryan and Brie visited Cena's lavish mansion in Tampa, where Nikki now lives.  This goes along with what I was just saying about Eva Marie, as Bryan's reactions to everything were clearly genuine, and they were hilarious.

His mouth was agape as they toured the place, though he couldn't help but point out that amenities like an elevator (yup) from the master bedroom to the "dressing room"/giant walk-in closet were fairly superfluous.  

Of course when they got to the guest house, Bryan and Brie talked about how it's bigger than his house. After they settled in, everyone had a grand old time in the pool, as we got a montage of them jumping off a waterfall (again: yup) into the pool and generally hanging out like real people who enjoy each other's company.

From there, the four travelled to beautiful Aberdeen, Wash., by private plane to stay at Bryan's house, which is also the house he grew up in.  I'm not sure if we're supposed to ignore that Bryan was clearly living with Brie in San Diego last week and that his Twitter account says he lives in San Diego, but that was their story.

Anyway, John and Nikki came off fairly unlikable in their horrified reactions to the idea that Bryan and Brie want to raise their kids in a normal house in Washington when they retire as opposed to blowing money on an overly extravagant mansion.  Brie had some reservations, but she was clearly into the idea outside of the show's storyline complications, although she had a heart-to-heart with Nikki in a field covered in goose droppings first.

Then came the highlight (well, mostly) of this adventure: they decided to have a BATTLE OF THE SEXES WOOD CHOPPING CONTEST that featured the following:

  • Cena and Bryan, clad only in jeans, chopped wood as Brie mooned over Bryan and talked about how she loved that her man looked like a lumberjack.
  • The Bellas tried to chop wood in bikini tops, short shorts and high heels, leading to a mishap with the axe handle that Nikki summed up with, and I quote: "I just hit myself in my vagina."
  • Nikki posed all sexily to try to distract Cena.  He said, "I already have wood, so it's not going to do anything," and it was more than just an awful double entendre because they zoomed in on his crotch to make it look like he had a...yeah.  I did not need to see that.
  • Bryan went so slowly that "time expired," and the girls won.

Aside from Cena's state of arousal, this is exactly the type of sheer ridiculousness I want for Total Divas. Absolutely tremendous segment.

Finally, the Funkadactyls.  Ariane wanted to have someone new design and make their gear instead of having Sandra, the WWE seamstress, do it, so they had to do it in SECRET.  Trinity immediately knew this wouldn't go well and decided to stay out of it when it all went horribly wrong, so Ariane would get the heat.  I'm sensing a theme with their relationship.

We visited Ariane on the phone with a costume shop while riding in a car, and VINCENT IS BACK! YES! Vincent didn't really do anything this week, but he was still more interesting than Jonathan.  

Anyway, she needed assurance from Mike, the costume guy, that the new gear was "the bomb dot com." Ariane in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen.  When she picked it up, she was happy to report that her new outfit was, in fact, the bomb dot com.

The highlight of the episode came when she called Trinity to tell her about the gear.  When they got off the phone, Trinity (hanging out in her apartment with Jon/Jimmy Uso and JoJo) realized Ariane didn't have her measurements.

She was concerned that there was an impending disaster since she has a rather ample bust and butt while Ariane, well, doesn't.  Jon proceeded to take the phone and do an impression of Ariane that I cannot possibly do justice.  With how Ariane and Trinity's relationship is, I would guess he's had practice, but it was absolutely hilarious.

At Raw, Ariane gave Trinity the new gear, and her fears were warranted.  "All my cookie is hanging out," she noted as she walked around with her crotch blurred.  Ariane suggested they go to Sandra to fix it. Yes, the same Sandra who they said Ariane was doing an end-run around by going to someone else to get their gear.

Sandra, who is awesome, absolutely refused to fix it, especially once Ariane gave the most insincere apology possible, so the Funkadactyls had to wear their old gear.  Ariane was horrified, but Trinity didn't really care, and that was it.

Random observations:

In Cena's guest house, there was a moment that made it seem like Bryan had no idea how this was being edited/presented, as Brie told Bryan that Cena's guest house was "bigger than your house" and Bryan, confused, asked "Bigger than our apartment?"

I thought that most of the wrestlers get their gear from outside designers anyway, like K & H Wrestling Wear or Highspots or EZ Tights, though it's probably less likely for the women who weren't wrestlers before being hired.

With, "You're all up in my Kool-Aid," "The bomb dot com," and "All my cookie is hanging out," the Funkadactyls are the most quotable people on the show.  Nikki came close with, "I just hit myself in my vagina," though.

Overall thoughts and grade:

With WrestleMania and the exposition out of the way, I guess this was our first taste of what a regular episode of Total Divas is like.  There were no cliffhangers or week-to-week ongoing stories in general like you might see on other reality shows.

The structure is weird, as the Bellas disappeared while the other plots still had plenty of time left. Also, it seems like one of the long-term goals is to use the show to establish Eva Marie as a heel on WWE shows.

Two of the three plots were incredibly entertaining.  The other made me want to cry, and it also had the most time devoted to it.  The Bellas' and Funkadactyls' plots are what this show should ideally be with reasonable expectations of what an E! "reality show" with the WWE Divas would feature, while Eva Marie's plot was everyone's worst fear of what this show would be.

Also, keep in mind that I have to grade these E! reality shows on an expectations/enjoyability-based curve as opposed to actual quality like you would with something striving to be good.  There's good ridiculous and bad ridiculous, and so far, most of the show is good ridiculous.

Grade: It almost seems unfair to grade the show as a whole this week.  Eva Marie's plot was a D-.  I'd give it an F if not for JoJo's reaction shots.  The rest was, by the expected standards of this show, fairly awesome, and I'd give it an A-.  

I guess that unscientifically averages out to...a C?


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