Debuting on July 28, 2013, E! Television offers fans of World Wrestling Entertainment an opportunity into the world of its Divas Division with the new reality series Total Divas. Featuring seven Divas, ranging from veteran performers to several rookies, the pecking order is highly evident.
Airing right after the popular E! series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it struggled to retain the lead-in audience of 2.8 million viewers who viewed the drama with the Kardashians. While Total Divas featured 885,000 viewers, it still made for the most watched premiere on the network in almost one year.
With the Bella Twins featured in several promotions for the series, there is no denying that they are the true attraction of the show. Along with Natalya (Nattie) Niedhart, they comprise the veterans of the reality series. Cameron and Naomi are members of The Funkadactyls, dancers who help introduce Brodus Clay into the ring. The rookies feature Eva Marie and 19 year-old Jo-Jo Offerman.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the episode “Welcome to the WWE” is the personal lives of the Bellas. Brie is involved with former champion Daniel Bryan, while Nikki is in a relationship with current WWE champion John Cena (who is divorced from Elizabeth Huberdeau). One scene in the episode shows Nikki in San Diego with a Range Rover that Cena supposedly bought for her.
As the main storyline of the program was the controversy regarding the Bellas getting a match at WrestleMania 29, one cannot help but wonder if their personal relationships with Bryan and Cena did not open doors for the highly desired wrestling spot. With Nattie Niedhart denied her opportunity to wrestle in the biggest event of the year, she cannot help but spout frustration over the fact that the Bellas were gone for a year.
The sad irony is that this marks the second time that a member of the world-famous Hart wrestling family was betrayed on TV. Bret Hart’s documentary Wrestling With Shadows was an unlikely witness to the infamous Montreal Screwjob, which was a blackeye in wrestling.
As the niece of Bret, the anguish and attempt to hold back tears with a brave face is all too evident. This milder screwjob features a meeting with Jane Geddes, the Vice-President of WWE Talent Relations. Featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Where Are They Now? special issue in 2013, the former LPGA golfer discussed her same-sex relationship.
With due deference to Geddes, while it is encouraging and empowering to see a woman as Vice-President in such a male-dominated field as pro wrestling, her position is one that should only be handled by a former wrestler (whether it be male or female), due to the sensitivity of the politics. While she has served as a Senior VP for Tournament Operations and Player Services in the LPGA, she just seems like an odd fit for the job. Having never wrestled, she comes across as cold and distant.
Truly adding insult to injury is the fact that Geddes asks Niedhart to be a chaperone for new arrivals Eva-Marie (whom Geddes asks to dye her hair blonde) and Jo-Jo. While Jo-Jo is a very humble individual who looks like she is willing to learn, Eva-Marie is highly ambitious and is not shy about expressing her desire to climb to the top of the ranks. Her ambitions are to be seen in greater detail in the second episode.
Although Eva Marie’s ambition and the Bella Twins visions of grandeur makes the 1980s rivalry between Cindy Lauper, Wendy Richter and the Fabulous Moolah look pretty tame, there is no question that the claws are out.
With the world of pro wrestling as one that is scripted, there is no telling how much of the content in this reality show truly is real. For now, it is an intriguing insight into a division of the WWE’s wrestling roster that hardly gets enough exposure.