Previously on Total Divas, Sonya was the King of Pride, Nattie visited Ronda’s farm, and Naomi and Liv Morgan became mermaids.
But enough living in the past, let’s look at the biggest matches in Season 9 Episodes 4 and 5 of Total Divas:
Naomi Versus The IIconics
I said once before that the IIconics should join the cast of this show, but last week’s episode made it pretty clear why that won’t be happening anytime soon. Naomi makes a special effort to invite Peyton Royce and Billie Kay to join her, Liv Morgan, Nia Jax and Charly Caruso on a girls’ weekend at a beach house in Pensacola. Naomi and Liv go all out to make the Aussies feel welcome, even decorating the house with what they think is the Australian flag (it’s the Union Jack).
At first, everything seems great, as Peyton and Billie fire up the barbecue and everybody seems to be having a good time. As the night wears on, however, a rift forms. The IIconics, it turns out, don’t drink alcohol. You’d think this would have been discussed before the trip actually happened, but it seems to be a surprise, and it only makes things awkward.
Drinking and partying are such an important part of the social dynamic on this show, particularly on these recurring beach house episodes, that it’s impossible for Peyton and Billie not to see like total outsiders as they sip ice water and discreetly dispose of the shots that some random guys have sent to the girls’ table.
So many seasons in, I’m trying to remember if this problem has come up before. Rosa Mendes was sober when she was on the show, but she had that twelve-stepper’s proclivity for letting people party around her without it seeming like a big deal. And of course there was Daniel Bryan, but he always held himself above the women on the show anyway, and Brie knew better than to invite him to the beach house.
Eventually Peyton and Billie leave the beach house early, which leaves Naomi feeling like a terrible hostess. It doesn’t help that Liv and Charly invited a bunch of randos to the house, turning it into a raging kegger. By the end of the episode, as these things must go, Naomi accepts that it’s not her fault the IIconics don’t party, and she should relax and let herself have fun anyway.
Winner: Probably everyone. Peyton and Billie go home where they can play with Peyton’s dogs and then go to bed, but Naomi gets over her guilt about this and enjoys the party anyway. Plus, Nia Jax breaks a bunch of stuff, which she seems to enjoy.
Carmella Versus The Eyes (And Ears) Of The World
Last week’s episode was all about how Carmella was afraid to go out in public with Corey Graves, especially in his home town, because a lot of people still believe the story that she broke up his marriage, which she didn’t do. So they’ve been staying in a lot, which isn’t the most exciting way to have a relationship as two young, fashionable, semi-famous people.
Their first attempt to go out together is a bit of a disaster, as some lady starts yelling at them in a parking lot, and they have to avoid the local news. By the way, I saw a lot of people online making fun of the synopsis of this episode with the idea that it doesn’t make sense to try and keep your relationship out of the media when you’re being filmed for a reality TV show. That take, to be direct, is willfully ignorant nonsense. I know everybody likes to get their easy shots in at Total Divas, but it doesn’t take a media degree to understand that being hounded by local news in the moment is nothing like being filmed for a show that won’t air for nine months and has a vested interest in portraying you sympathetically.
Anyway, Carmella and Corey eventually go on a really nice date, and she decides she’s proud to be with him no matter what anybody else things. As resolutions go, it’s maybe a little pat and easy after so much drama, but obviously they couldn’t hide in Corey’s apartment forever.
This week we find that although Carmella has let go of all of her shame and guilt about dating Corey, one thing she’s still not comfortable with is her musical ability. She’s working with R-Truth, of course, and he’s pressuring her to record vocals for a rap song to be used in their WrestleMania entrance. That sort of thing comes pretty naturally to him, and it also comes naturally to Naomi, who at one point Truth recommends should record Mella’s vocals instead of her, which understandably rubs her the wrong way.
Once Naomi gives her a pep talk and promises not to replace her, Carmella goes back into the studio and kills it. As she puts it herself, “With the right confidence, hard work, preparation, and autotune, you can do anything!”
Winner: Carmella. She remembered that autotune exists and she never had anything to worry about. Also, she and Corey aren’t hiding anymore!
Sonya Deville Versus The Pressure To U-Haul
Sonya Deville is madly in love with Arianna, a very pretty blonde who I’m confident must have some sort of personality, even though she’s yet to show it on this show. Arianna also has a very overbearing mother named Deanna, who’s totally comfortable with her daughter dating a woman. So comfortable, in fact, that all she wants is for Sonya to move to Tampa, where they live, so she and Arianna can get a house together and start having babies. Sonya and Arianna have only been together for a few months at this point, but this is Deanna’s big plan, which the inscrutable Arianna seems entirely in favor of.
I’m trying really hard not to form a negative opinion of Arianna, because I really like Sonya and Sonya really does seem to love her. And Arianna seems to love Sonya too, for that matter, she’s just not showing much of herself on this show, and that can make her seem cold. We still have no idea what she does for a living, for one thing. If you told me she was a model or aspiring actress I’d believe you, but they never talk about it at all. Even when Sonya brings up the idea that maybe Arianna could move to Ft. Lauderdale where Sonya lives instead, Arianna says that her friends and her mom are in Tampa. If she has a job there, it goes unsaid.
There’s also the fact that Liv Morgan, who visits Tampa in this episode, doesn’t seem to particularly like Arianna, or vice versa. Liv says that Arianna and Sonya are opposites, because Arianna doesn’t care for burps and rude stuff like that, but it sounds like she’s really saying that herself and Arianna are opposites, with Sonya caught somewhat in the middle.
It’s fortunate that Liv’s there, though, because she provides a counterweight that keeps Sonya from caving into the pressure and moving to Tampa just because it’s the easy choice. She finally tells Arianna that she’s not ready, and Arianna seems to understand. Given Sonya’s travel schedule, it’s not like she’d be there that much more if she lived there anyway.
Winner: Sonya Deville, who manages to keep her girlfriend without rushing into anything or giving up her home. Thank god Liv Morgan was at ringside for this one.
Ronda Rousey Versus Everyone Else
These episodes take place when Ronda Rousey had turned heel on the road to WrestleMania, and was doing her whole “Wrestling is fake and I have no respect for any of you!” thing on both Raw and social media. The Total Divas spin on that angle is that Ronda is then shocked to discover that all the other women in WWE suddenly think this means she has no respect for them or the business they’ve devoted their lives to.
Her only ally in this is Natalya, her closest friend on WWE’s main roster, who seems to view her role in all this as never pushing back against anything Ronda says or does, but trying to discourage all the other women from speaking out against her.
Then there’s Travis Brown, Ronda’s goat farmer husband, whose openly stated attitude is that Ronda doesn’t have to explain herself or be nice to any of the other women in WWE, because Ronda’s great and if they don’t understand that or want to get to know the real her, that’s their loss. Seriously though, Ronda’s marriage seems like by far the most functional and fulfilling relationship she has, and that’s great for her and Travis, but this show doesn’t exactly make you feel like his advice does much good for her attempts to connect with anyone else in the world.
Meanwhile Nattie is showing people the videos where Ronda’s calling wrestling fake, and then discouraging them from giving her any trouble about it. The obnoxious part of all of this is that Ronda’s defense is that she’s not really disrespecting the business or the other women, she’s just trying to be a great heel, which will bring more attention to all their work, but nobody ever brings up the possibility that even if that’s her goal, maybe she’s doing it badly.
You can’t really tell from this show how much of what Ronda was saying at this time comes from her, as opposed to Paul Heyman or Vince or whoever else, but she’s more than willing to take credit for it. And if it is coming from her, I’ll say again as I said at the time, calling wrestling fake is the wrong way to be a heel in wrestling. If everyone else in the women’s division is hurt by those words, I have to side with them.
Ronda comes up with the idea to invite all the other women in WWE to come hang out with her, although the only one we actually see her invite in this episode is the up-for-anything Liv Morgan. She talks about how it will help if they all train together, and I’m not sure exactly what that entails, but considering her last social invitation led to Natalya literally shoveling shit, I’m really curious to see how this plan goes.
Winner: I don’t think we’ll be able to declare a winner until we see how Ronda’s big weekend of togetherness goes.
Nia Jax Versus Wrestling
Nia was the first one to get in Ronda’s face about being disrespectful, although she gives in an apologizes pretty quickly. Over the course of these two episodes, we generally see Nia behaving erratically and more emotionally than usual. Naturally, it’s Natalya who takes it upon herself to figure out what the problem is and help Nia deal with it.
They go to the Performance Center together, where Norman Smiley helps teach Nia to do a splash off the top rope, something she wants to add to her moveset before WrestleMania. The training goes pretty well, although it aggravates Nia’s knees, which were already bothering her.
She and Nattie also have a heart-to-heart about how Nia’s faith in herself as a wrestler has been shaken ever since she accidentally broke Becky Lynch’s face before Survivor Series. Which, fair. The idea seems to be that they’re going to build up Nia’s confidence and her in-ring abilities by WrestleMania, leading to her rebirth as a wrestler.
Except disaster strikes! Nia finally sees a doctor about her knees, and discovers that tendons that are supposed to be in those knees have been completely worn away. The cliffhanger is Nia asking “Will I be able to work WrestleMania?” From where we sit months later we know she did work WrestleMania, in a Fatal Four-Way for the Tag Team Championship, but she hasn’t wrestled a single match since.
Winner: Wrestling, it seems. As far as we know, Nia Jax’s wrestling career isn’t necessarily over, but she hasn’t come back from this yet.
That’s all for now, Total Divas fans, but join me next week for more outside-the-ring drama, when we see who accepts Ronda Rousey’s invitation and what happens next with Nia’s knees.