This week on Total Divas:
- Nikki, Brie and their brother J.J. go to visit their Nana and arrange a meeting with their estranged father to air their grievances since he lives in the same area.
- Nattie's birthday coincides with Raw in her and TJ's hometown of Calgary. Yay! TJ's mom wants to spend time with them and shenanigans ensue. Boo! Somehow this leads to an old friend of Nattie's making a move on her. Uh oh...
- Ariane and Trinity have a schism caused by go-kart racing, among other things. Shenanigans most definitely ensue.
- JoJo and Eva Marie were the subjects of the gratuitous T&A opening teaser this week, as they applied bronzer to each other and were shown working out at the gym. That's all they did besides going go-kart racing with Ariane and Trinity.
Brie and Nikki were discussing their plans to visit their Nana when the subject of their father came up. A recovering drug addict, he abandoned them when they were 15 years old, and Brie decided to go see him to hash things out. Nikki wasn't crazy about the idea, but her boyfriend John Cena, always the voice of reason, told her she needed to go along with Brie for the meeting to get her feelings out there.
We meet the Bellas' brother J.J. (for some reason, the EOnline recap uses periods for J.J. but not for TJ, so I'm deferring to them) when they arrive at their Nana's house in lovely Brawley, Calif. There's some exposition about how the late Pop Pop Bella was their real father figure, and the three siblings go to visit his grave. For once, we get some genuine emotions on the show, and it didn't feel exploitative at all. Basically, all three of them reminisced about how awesome their grandfather was, and it's actually a pretty nice moment.
Time for the meeting with their dad. I have no idea how much of this was the editing, but even when he asks what specifically they would like him to apologize for, it's fairly vague other than that the implication is that he's now sober. The girls express anger, their dad says he has no excuses and fell hard, and everyone makes peace with each other.
This doesn't read as much in a recap, but it was decent TV, and the genuine emotions without too much drama made it a pretty refreshing thread for this show. And then the Bellas later reappeared to ogle their boyfriends during a match.
Nattie and TJ were fooling around in their pool at home when TJ's mom Cheryl called. He went under water in the pool to try to get Nattie to say he wasn't home. Awesome. Anyway, Raw was in their hometown of Calgary the following Monday, and on her birthday no less.
Even though Nattie had already booked their hotel room, Cheryl wanted them to stay with her in her one-bedroom apartment. At this point the wackiness kicks into full gear: Cheryl won't let TJ and Nattie share a bed until they actually get married, even though they've been together for over a decade. Under Cheryl's plan, TJ gets the sofa bed while Nattie must share Cheryl's king size bed. ON HER BIRTHDAY.
At Raw, Nattie teams with Kaitlyn against the Bella Twins and takes the fall after Kaitlyn accidentally spears her. ON HER BIRTHDAY.
Nattie refused to go along with this, and TJ was siding with her. Then his mom called while he settled into his hotel room with Nattie, and being a mama's boy, he took his bags with him to stay with his mom. Nattie curled up alone in bed and made a sad face. ON HER BIRTHDAY.
Presumably the next day, Nattie goes out for lunch with TJ, his mom and his sister. The gist is that Cheryl doesn't want them to rush into anything. Yes, Cheryl doesn't want her son to rush into anything by marrying his girlfriend of 12 years. I'm trying to figure out if it would be funnier if this actually happened or if it was made up for the show.
That night, Nattie goes down to the hotel lobby to meet TJ, only to see he doesn't have his fancy suit on. TJ wonders why he should wear his suit to have dinner at his mother's house. Nattie was aghast that TJ would prefer this to a romantic dinner with her and tells him to go on his own while she watches Nancy Grace. DURING HER BIRTHDAY WEEK!
That's the last we see of TJ for the episode. Nattie goes to see her old friend Jaret, who owns a tanning salon. As Nattie explains it, Jaret was an amateur wrestler who taught her a bunch of moves and without him, she never would have gotten to WWE. Yes, Nattie Neidhart, a third-generation wrestler whose grandfather had a wrestling ring that her cousins all played in and had great family connections, owes her career to some random amateur wrestler.
Anyway, Nattie decides to get a spray tan but realizes she didn't bring a bikini. Jaret coyly suggests that she doesn't need one, but by the time he gets out the airbrush she has a bikini that fits perfectly. Then Jaret starts talking about how great she looks in the bikini. I think you can see where this is going.
Jaret takes Nattie out to the fancy dinner she wanted from TJ. Ruh roh. Yes, he wants to be more than just friends, and the show leaves that plot hanging for next week, which features her bachelorette party in Las Vegas. I think I can visualize how the entire episode goes next week.
Finally, the Funkadactyls! They're in New York for a publicity tour or something of that nature. Trinity is resting in their hotel room when Ariane wants to drag her out shopping. That was the whole scene.
Later, they're in Los Angeles with their boyfriends (Jon and VINCENT!) for some other event. Ariane is in her element posing for all of the photographers, while Trinity would rather be anywhere else. Trinity explains that she's in wrestling for the in-ring performances while Ariane just wants to be glamourous. This is not exactly a surprise to anyone, really.
Back at home in Tampa, the Funkadactyls head to the WWE NXT training center to update their dance numbers. That's one way to use the ring. Trinity wanted to add some cartwheels and other dance moves, while Ariane was trying to come up with wacky facial expressions to "work the camera."
I think the show wants us to understand that they're very different.
Somehow this all climaxes in the Funkadactyls going go-kart racing with JoJo and Eva Marie on their day off. Ariane notes that if she doesn't win, she will have a "boo boo face." I'm really starting to question Vincent's sanity.
Ariane wins, followed by Eva Marie in second, JoJo in third and Trinity dead last. Ariane, being Ariane, makes a big deal out of her victory. When Trinity congratulates her and isn't 100 percent enthusiastic about it, Ariane totally loses her ever-loving mind and projects the perceived slight onto all of their problems. Ariane takes credit for their success and says she's the better talker, while Trinity says she is the one who wins the matches.
Allow me to repeat that: THE ONE WHO WINS THE MATCHES. Even though pro wrestling is not a legitimate competition in the Total Divas reality, this is a point of contention. This ends in Trinity shoving Ariane as the show cuts to a commercial break.
Somewhere at another Raw taping (there was no on-screen graphic identifying the city, and I can't find relevant results), Ariane and Trinity are refusing to work with each other. They get a meeting with Stephanie McMahon, who is angry at Trinity for shoving Ariane at the go-kart place since they always represent WWE when they're in public. It's unclear if it would've been OK in private.
In spite of all this, Stephanie rewards them by giving them singles matches: Trinity as Naomi vs. Alicia Fox and Ariane as Cameron vs. Aksana. We get clips of both matches, which I don't think aired on any of WWE's normal wrestling shows: The entrance set had a "Total Divas" logo (as opposed to Raw/SmackDown/Main Event/Superstars), and the only commentary we heard were generic clips of Jerry Lawler saying things like "Ooh!" or "Wow!"
We only see clips of both matches. Nattie is worried about Trinity's conditioning after something like a minute, and when she overshoots Fox on a flying body press, that's what is blamed (she was so gassed she jumped too far?). As you might expect, Ariane vs. Aksana goes worse; so bad we barely see any of it. Ariane says afterwards that she tried to do way too much. After the matches, they realize they're lost when they're not teaming and make up.
Seriously, that's was it.
- I tried looking at live Raw and SmackDown reports (including the taping with the match where the Bellas ogle their boyfriends, since it was supposed to be the same show), results databases, etcetera, and I could not find any traces of those Funkadactyl singles matches. Anyone know when and where these happened?
- Unfortunately, Vincent didn't get much to do in his brief appearance. From the preview segment, it looks like that changes next week, as he gets extremely drunk in Vegas.
- I honestly didn't know gentiles had Nanas.
It was nice to have something that wasn't the usual ridiculous reality show drama in the form of the Bella Twins' story with their grantparents and dad. It wasn't nearly as engaging as it could have been (in part because of the lack of detail), but it was a good change of pace, especially since the Bellas normally argue every week.
The Nattie/TJ drama continues to be ridiculous without being especially enjoyable. Cheryl's planned living arrangements were amusing, but there wasn't much to it. It honestly comes off as two people in such a stable relationship that their drama has to be even more artificial than anyone else's.
The Funkadactyls were the highlight again, this time because Ariane continues to be spectacularly insane. Even though this was fairly obviously an engineered storyline, I fully believe that she is someone who would react the way she did to winning a go-kart race and not being showered with praise by the people whom she defeated. The retrofitted Jerry Lawler commentary was also an unintentional highlight of the show.
Overall, it was perfectly fine TV, but after the dizzying highs of the breast augmentation consultant and other high comedy from last week, it was a pretty big disappointment.
Final Grade: C+