Total Divas Post Match: Stretching Believability


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Previously on Total Divas, Nattie had a wardrobe malfunction, Lana and Rusev took fake “sex on a beach” photos, and Naomi and Jimmy Uso disagreed about food.

But enough living in the past, let’s look at the biggest matchups on Season 8 Episode 4 of Total Divas:

Natalya Versus Lana

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Wrestling and reality television are a lot alike, which is both a part of what makes Total Divas work and something that often makes it a bit awkward. Both entertainment genres have their own reality, and present that reality as if it’s the objective truth, even though they know that most people watching realize a lot of it is scripted and even “fake.” Those of us who enjoy either form can suspend our disbelief to buy into things we know aren’t strictly “true,” just like we do when watching genres that are more comfortable announcing themselves as fictional.

Despite all that, it can get annoying when our suspension of disbelief is pushed just a little too far. It’s fine that we know not everything is real and happening organically, but it’s less fine when multiple things happen that seem like they’d never happen in real life. For example, that Natalya would decide to throw a last-minute barbecue without even telling her husband until the day it’s happening. Or that she’d be indignant when TJ says she’s a bad hostess, even though we’ve seen (and see again here in flashback) the absolute disasters that occur whenever Natalya has people over.

So we’re already stretching our disbelief about all that, and the fact that Nattie “forgot” to buy enough meat to grill, when Lana comes into the picture. Then we’re expected to believe that Nattie asks Lana (historically not someone she gets along great with) to accompany Nattie’s parents to buy more meat, and that Lana would decide the best thing to do is to take the Anvil and Ellie to a strip-mall Irish bar and get them totally wasted rather than going back to Nattie’s house with the aforementioned meat.

You know what’s believable, though? That Titus O’Neil, having been to Nattie’s parties before, shows up with enough barbecue from a local restaurant to feed all of Nattie’s guests, even though Nattie had led everyone to believe she was providing food. He literally catered her party without being asked (or paid, one assumes), and it saved the day. Of all the male wrestlers who make recurring guest appearances on Total Divas without being married to any of its stars, Titus O’Neil consistently seems like the best dude. In fact, Titus being a great guy is easily the most believable aspect of this episode.

Winner: Natalya, thanks to a last minute run-in from Titus O’Neil.

Paige Versus Nia Jax

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Another thing that stretches believability is the idea that Paige is keeping her new boyfriend a secret from her best friend Nia, to the point that she goes on a date with Nia’s brother and acts gross to scare him off rather than just saying “I can’t date your brother, I’m already seeing someone.”

Nia’s brother seems like a nice enough guy, and Paige’s attempt to gross him out would totally work if Nia didn’t keep pushing them together. You know I love Paige, but imagine being a person who does this. She’s got a boyfriend, but in the name of secrecy (which he seems much less concerned about than she does) she goes on a date with another man and embarrasses herself on purpose, and that man is her best friend’s brother. Don’t get me wrong, given recent events I totally understand why Paige would want to keep her private life private, but declining to tell her best friend she’s in a relationship at the same time that the relationship is being filmed for a reality show is a bit much.

For anyone wondering, this episode totally glosses over Paige’s relationship with Alberto Del Rio, which I think is the right move. In other venues, Paige has made clear she doesn’t really want to talk about that relationship, and that’s her right. Plus any opportunity to avoid giving ADR any attention is one I’m in favor of. So instead, we get flashbacks to her history of bad relationships with heavily tattooed white guys who look a lot like the current one. Honestly, perhaps the most impressive thing Del Rio has ever done is create a world where despite previous seasons of Total Divas, I now see Paige dating a 20-something musician with neck tattoos and think, “Oh good for her.”

Leaving reality aside, the honest truth is that watching Paige do stuff like put her hands in her armpits and then touch her date’s food is pretty entertaining, even if you come out of it feeling bad for Nia’s brother. It makes me wonder whatever happened to Natalya’s sister since Nattie tried to set her up with Big E. Maybe Nattie and Nia should get together on this and try to make a love match that doesn’t involve any wrestlers.

Winner: Paige, by spitting her food out in public and when that doesn’t work, telling the truth.

Brie Bella Versus Daniel Bryan

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I’m spent this recap focusing on things that I find hard to believe are real, but you know what’s all too easy to believe? That Daniel Bryan is the kind of guy who would expound to his wife about the importance of breastfeeding, even as she already feels guilty that she’s no longer producing enough milk for her baby. It’s the dichotomy of Daniel Bryan: Most likable guy ever on wrestling shows, pompous ass on reality TV. Maybe that just comes from being the sort of guy who would totally look down on the entire practice of reality television if his whole family wasn’t actively taking part in it.

There’s a scene in this episode where Bryan literally calls Brie stupid, albeit without actually saying the words, and it’s the worst. She doesn’t even try to defend her intelligence either, she just points out that she has a good immune system (this is in context of the fact that she wasn’t breastfed). I can’t imagine having a relationship with somebody who openly thinks you’re stupid, and that just being okay. Obviously it’s not my place to judge other people’s marriages, but here we are watching reality television, where sometimes that’s hard to avoid.

Brie goes to a breastfeeding support group to talk about weaning, and when she mentions being tired of her husband talking to her about it, the other women cheer her on. What’s missing is anyone suggesting that she should confront her husband about this kind of thing. Fortunately (I guess), when she explains to him that she’s not going to nurse Birdie anymore, Bryan is suddenly nice and understanding about it. And honestly, that’s why I don’t love seeing the Danielson family on Total Divas (and a part of why I stopped watching Total Bellas): Bryan gets let off the hook for being a jerk again and again and again. And as a WWE fan, this is a guy I desperately want to like. It’s just tiring.

Winner: Brie Bella, by accepting that her body knows better than her husband.

That’s all for now, Total Divas fans, but join me next week when Paige is concerned about public humiliation and a car gets destroyed for some reason.

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