Third season opener of Total Divas welcomes Rosa Mendes

Drama, the obligatory gossip and relationship tensions proved to be the defining feature in the third season opener of Total Divas. Most of it revolved around the newest cast member to the program, Rosa Mendes. Beginning where WrestleMania XXX left off, the newest chapter in the lives of the WWE Divas features the comeback of the aforementioned Mendes. Having returned from a rehab stint, a new physical look complements her emotional recovery. Nattie Niedhart (the first Diva who welcomes back Mendes) quickly notices that Mendes underwent plastic surgery.

Of note, Mendes was not the only diva to show a sexier side. Eva Marie set hearts racing, adorned in black lingerie and white swimwear, engaging in a series of portraits with her husband. Having been invited to the marriage of Brie Bella, she wants to appease her parents with a wedding ceremony, after eloping. The logic behind her sexy photo shoot is to utilize one of them for a Save the Date invitation.

Showing the fellow divas the finished product, several of them are shocked that she would consider using the photos. Employing great bravura, she proceeds by showing said photos to her family. Despite their own shock, her mother and father are ecstatic that she wants to have her own wedding day.

Sadly, Eva Marie’s jubilation would quickly turn to desolation. With her husband refusing to participate in a ceremony in a Catholic church, it is compounded by the sad discovery that her father may be struggling with cancer. Despite such news, her husband refuses to show any empathy and participate in a Catholic ceremony, adding tension to their marriage.

Relationship woes would emerge as a theme in this episode as Nicole Bella faced her own challenges. As tensions over having children with her partner (and multiple WWE champion) John Cena continue to plague their relationship, Nicole undergoes the decision to have her eggs frozen, in the hopes of giving birth at a later time. With the support of her twin sister Brie, whose wisdom and maturity comes across, Nicole begins the first stage of her treatment.

Despite sneaking around to get a blood test with a nurse at her home (while Cena is with an interior decorator is at Cena and Nicole’s home), eventually, Cena discovers some medical supplies. While it was the opening episode’s cliffhanger, it certainly brings into question whether Nicole should consider making a fresh start in order to make her dream of motherhood come true.

Throughout such turmoil, an unlikely working relationship has sprouted. At the request of Mark Carrano, the WWE’s Senior Director of Talent Relations, Nattie has been asked to ensure Rosa Mendes has a smooth transition back to WWE, part of which includes being her roommate on the road. Much to Nattie’s surprise, her first experience on the road was quite the eye opener. Entering a Chicago hotel room, she was surprised to find Mendes in a complete state of undress.

While Mendes stated in the video confessional that she is very comfortable being nude, Nattie did not share such enthusiasm. Although Mendes covered up, such an event clearly establishes them as the new odd couple in the WWE. Taking into account Nattie’s leadership and her reputation as a good worker, she will certainly be engaging in a significant challenge. Mendes certainly has the qualities of a narcissist and her goal of being taken seriously as a wrestler will definitely require the support of Nattie.

Such support was evident in Mendes’ return to the ring as she endured feelings of worthlessness. A pair of Divas was engaging in some backstage gossip about Mendes’ abilities in the ring, stating “Get the popcorn”, a hurtful remark. Wrestling against Nattie in her first match back, it was obvious that there was some ring rust. After the match, Nattie attempted to console Mendes, who could not hold back tears. As Mendes looks to climb back to a position of relevance in the Divas division, her comeback (along with how Nattie can help her) shall certainly be a significant aspect in this new season of Total Divas.

Total Divas mid-season finale leaves fans wanting more

With the WWE reality show Total Divas reaching its mid-season finale, there has been no shortage of drama. A glimpse into the world of women’s professional wrestling brings with it the interest to see more of the goings-on in what is hardly a glamorous career.

Although women have been part of the squared circle since the Great Depression, (Mildred Burke was its biggest star), the recent years have brought with it an element of sex that is not for all wrestling fans. Considering that several female wrestlers had posed fully nude in men’s magazines, there was a time when speculation rose as to whether a newly hired wrestler would follow suit.

These new women of wrestling are about the in-ring work and it shows. Their commitment to training (which is also featured in several episodes) is testament to the effort of bringing true credibility to women’s wrestling. Although visual appeal will always have a factor for both male and female wrestlers, those that have the talent tend to eventually get noticed.

While many women from the 1990’s and the 2000’s were eye candy (overshadowing the female wrestlers that truly had talent), there is a certain legitimacy that has returned to women’s wrestling. Such an element only adds to the excitement of the Total Divas program.

As Nattie Niedhart prepared to tie the knot to fellow wrestler Tyson Kidd in the mid-season finale, themes such as jealousy, betrayal and conflict dominated most of the episode. All three were definitely part of Nattie’s journey towards marriage.

From the outset, her plans for an outdoor ceremony did not come to fruition as the elements played a role, causing her to hold the ceremony indoors. Unbeknowst to her fiancée, her male friend and former training partner from Calgary (known only as Jaret) arrived for the wedding.
The confrontation over the invitation increased tensions. Added to the mix was the fact that best friend Nikki Bella could not attend the ceremony.

Although there was a happy ending, it was a surprise that the wedding still took place.
On the topic of relationships, the reason for Nikki’s absence was attributed to the fact that her boyfriend, WWE superstar John Cena, invited her to the Boston area to visit with his family. A rare side that is hardly seen from Cena, the opportunity to see his family showed a softer side to the bruising grappler.

One of the legacies in pro wrestling (male or female) is the politics and the “push” that some wrestlers get. This played itself out during the episode as tensions over the push (an effort to make a wrestler more popular) ran strongly between WWE newbies Jojo and Eva Marie.

As Eva Marie had the opportunity to appear on Monday Night Raw, Jojo was naturally jealous and resentful. While the two have trained together and even shared a residence, the tension over the push was only natural. From a bikini-clad Eva Marie being featured in Maxim Magazine (which was part of a previous episode), Jojo felt that her colleague was being pushed partly because of her looks.

With due deference to Jojo, she has a difficult path to endure should she wish to become a WWE star. At only 19 years of age, her impatience and frustration is very evident. Due to her small size, she will have to work twice as hard in order to truly make an impact.

While a hospital scare involving Arianne brought back fears of Brian Pillman, Trinity stood by her and displayed why they are such a strong tag team. Having recovered, she was able to attend Nattie’s wedding with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Vincent (which adds a soap opera element).

The biggest event of the episode may have been the bombshell ending. John Cena asks Nikki Bella to move from San Diego to be with him in Tampa. Having suffered a bad divorce, it is a surprise move from Cena that will be played out in the second half of the Total Divas season.

Total Divas provides window into competitive world of women’s wrestling in WWE

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.total_divas_h_2013
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.