Pro wrestling’s appeal comes from the universal desire to support a hero against a villain. One big problem with Total Bellas is that neither of the twins is portrayed as a hero. This episode, for example, portrays Nikki as selfish and shrewish, and Brie as overly ambitious and dismissive of her family. Check out the full recap for the details.
Nikki is at Artem’s place in LA, and he decides to dress up in her clothes. She’s there because she’s been asked to attend Smackdown that evening. He seems a bit too comfortable in her clothes, if you ask me. That may explain why he’s trying way too hard to demonstrate his masculinity when they join Brie later for lunch.
Nikki heads to the brain and spine specialist’s office for a checkup, but they can’t find a brain in there. Actually, she’s hoping they’ll give her good news about her neck, because she’s hoping to come back to WWE – not as a wrestler, thank God, but in a valet or other non-in-ring role.
The doctor tells her that even being around ringside would be a huge risk for her, because even an inadvertent bump could cause her to be paralyzed. She’s obviously disappointed with the news. Unfortunately, he doesn’t warn her against doing this show any longer.
Nattie and Brie are squatting at Artem’s house, and they both comment on how well-decorated it is. Seriously, is everyone clueless about this guy? Brie tells Nattie that Nikki won’t be coming to Smackdown after all, because it would be too depressing for her to be there and not appear on TV. Nattie sympathizes, noting that TJ (her husband, Tyson Kidd) had the same feelings for a while after his in-ring career ended due to injury.
Nattie is a guest on the twins’ podcast, and she gives Nikki some encouraging words about living your life after wrestling, and that’s enough to convince Nikki to go to the show later on.
But first, she has to take Artem shopping to make him a “vision board”, because she thinks he needs to find something to do after losing his job on Dancing With the Stars, and she’s tired of him sponging off of her. He seems to get offended at her suggestion that he needs help, as he feels she’s pitying him.
The next day, the twins do a photo shoot. In a talking head segment, Brie whines about being too busy with her various jobs that her family life is in turmoil.
Afterwards, Nikki is working away at Artem’s vision board, and Brie calls her out for being an overbearing, controlling shrew. Nikki suggest a bunch of stupid ideas for him that cause Brie to roll her eyes repeatedly and make snide comments, which is pretty funny.
Brie and Bryan take Birdie to a park, and Brie tells him that she wants him to take a page out of Artem’s book and be more loving to her in public. He says that he would, but she’s so busy with work commitments that whenever he tries to initiate something, she shuts him down. In a talking head segment, Bryan notes that he’s a bit irked that she wants him to be more affectionate even though she’s also dashed his plans of having more kids. That’s a bit of a logical stretch, but whatever. #BecauseThisShow
Later that day, the four of them are at Artem’s, and Nikki takes the opportunity to show off the vision board she made for Artem. Everyone thinks it’s both weird and obnoxious for her to do so, and they say she’s just pushing her own ideas onto him. He basically tells her that he resents her trying to control his life, and Brie and Bryan back him up.
After that disaster, the girls go shopping again, and while looking for designer pyjamas for Birdie, Brie says that the beds in her hotel are too hard (yeah, Brie, hard life indeed). Nikki senses Brie’s stress, and Brie confessses that she’s too busy with work to want to spend any time with Bryan and Birdie. But if she tells Bryan that, obviously, that won’t be well-received. Brie says that she’s really having difficulties balancing her work and family life, and that she’s afraid her marraige will fall apart.
The girls are at a friend’s store opening where they pimp their wine brand. Over drinks, Nikki brags about having been asked to audition for a WWE Network show. Brie is hurt because she didn’t get asked, and is upset that they wanted Nikki alone, and not the Bella Twins together. Kathy suggests that they assumed Brie would be too busy, because of all her whining about it. Brie says they should have asked her and let her decline the offer instead of simply not asking her. She also admits she’s been bitten by the green-eyed monster of jealousy, and hearing that, Nikki keeps poking the bear, making snide comments about how she is prettier and a better wrestler than Brie, which is ridiculous, because they look the same, and they both sucked in the ring the same amount.
Nikki’s audition goes well enough – well, it’s a pretty low bar, considering the show it was for (WWE Backstage).
Later, Nikki and Artem are back at his place, and he tells her that he’s a realist, and that he doesn’t believe that putting his dreams on a vision board is useful. He tells her to back off and let him manage his own career, and that he just wants her to give him the time to figure out what he wants to do. She says she just wants him to be happy, and is trying to help him. But he can’t help but feel insulted by her apparent lack of confidence in his ability to succeed in life.
In the car, Brie suggests to Bryan that he take Birdie home and she stays in LA for a few days to do her work. He gets upset, noting that they would spend no time at home together before he has to fly to Australia for a tour. He’s also upset by the implication that she thinks her job is more important to her than he is. He questions why she has to do so much in the first place, and that it goes against their once-shared value of having a simple life.
They argue about it, blaming each other for the distance that’s grown between them, each blaming each other for it. In a funny coincidence, as they’re arguing, the E! network watermark logo reads #StrongerTogether.He tells her that she’s over-extended, running three busineses, and that it’s resulting in her neglecting her family. In a talking head segment, she acknowledges that he’s right, but she won’t concede. He calls her out for shuffling him and the kid away, and agrees to go back home and leave her in LA, but he’s very passive-aggressive in doing so.
That night, it’s the premiere of Smackdown on Fox, and the girls walk the blue carpet along with other legends and Hall of Famers. They realize they have fun just being backstage and interacting with everyone there. Well, “fun” for the most part – the tension between Brie and Bryan is palpable, and as Brie gets called away to prepare for her TV spot, he wonders if their marriage will be able to survive much longer.