Saturday, October 16, 2021

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Total Divas Redux: “Orlando Strong”

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Reality TV isn’t the place to go for sentimental value, but somehow ‘Total Divas’ does that this week. In the episode titled “Orlando Strong”, we witness a touching scenario in which Naomi pays tribute to the fallen members of her hometown. On top of that, Lana reintroduces herself to us as a quirky (and annoying) addition the locker room, whilst the Bellas face some issues on the road to the birth of Birdie Bee!

After a quick reminder of the “Superstars” change, Brie and Nikki Bella’s Birdie Bee storyline and a very brief look at Maryse’s history in WWE, the show begins.

We’re at RAW after Mania and Natalya starts off with the most important question to one of the makeup artists: “Do you follow my cat on Instagram?” – which is followed by a yes, from all of us!

The Queen of Harts then takes to the confessional to tell us about the importance of the RAW after Wrestlemania and how debuts and important storylines take place.

Maryse then shows up outside of the arena to greet some fans, and after being asked about a return, she says “I don’t know.” Subtle. She then heads backstage and after being asked about her day, she says that she’ll be getting a coffee and see them later. This of course annoys Natalya as she is ready to get a push and doesn’t want another lady to take her shine. Her frustration ensues as she talks with Mark Carrano and he refuses to give her any details on the situation. It’s hard not to sympathize with her when all these years we’ve seen her go through the same thing again and again! #GIVENATTIEACHANCE!

Natalya then confronts Maryse, who isn’t budging either, so she storms off in anger.

The infamous match between The Miz and Zack Ryder then follows and we get to see Lana, Naomi and Natalya watch from backstage. The trio witness Maryse’s return to the company and Natalya is far from pleased about it.

In the next scene, Natalya and her dad, Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart are getting ready to play some shot-put – a great past time of Jim’s. However, Lana won’t stop calling Nattie the entire time… This’ll be a long day for the Queen of Harts.

Following this, the Bellas go out to have a little meet-up to talk. Nikki reveals that the pair have booked the cover of Latina Magazine. And though Brie is planning on ovulating on the day of the shoot, she decides to take some time to think. Nikki seems to be shocked by the ovulation plans as the last time she checked in with her sister, kids were being pushed back a little. Nicole tells her sister that she retired from in-ring work, and not work in general. Brie rolls her eyes and the two end up deciding on just going for the photoshoot, and nothing else.

We then check in with Natalya and she’s sat with Naomi and Renee Young at a restaurant. Nattie tells the girls that she’s feeling nervous for her title match that night, and it seems that Lana is still getting in the way of her training. And then speak of the devil… Lana arrives! The topic quickly moves to Lana (no one’s shocked) and she brings up a picture a fan took of her entrance… and a little too much is revealed. Lana then tells us that Naomi is the one that told her to do it, something Naomi denies ever doing. And before the argument can turn into an actual argument, Natalya asks to change the topic. Lana takes it upon herself to talk about… herself! She asks a busy Natalya to help her at the performance center, and Natalya regretfully says that she will.

Flash forward to that same night and Natalya is confronted by Mark about her upcoming match. Mark, in his typical positive and optimistic fashion, enforces the idea that if the match isn’t interesting enough, he’ll be forced to put another woman in the storyline – something Natalya is clearly afraid of.

The match then begins and the ladies backstage immediately pick up on the “flat” crowd. Paige however, is cheering on Natalya the entire time (she is literally me). Things soon get pretty interactive in the arena and the fans are fully behind the Queen of Harts. And although she doesn’t manage to take the title, Natalya is pretty pleased about the outcome.

Unfortunately, as the spirits at high at WWE, Naomi is feeling something different. After hearing the news that 49 people were murdered at a LGBT+ night club in Orlando (Naomi’s hometown), a chord is immediately struck. Once she meets up with her uncle, Naomi expresses how she used to hang out at the club all of the time, and how devastating it is that a club that is so accepting can experience such an awful tragedy. She then announces that she’s come home for the week to mourn the deaths and be with her family. The group discuss how different the lives of the affected families will be, and the emotional levels are intense.

A little while later Naomi and her uncle pay their respects to the Pulse nightclub victims as they read the signs and letters shared outside the building. She is soon overwhelmed in sadness after seeing familiar faces in pictures and expresses how unfair the scenario really is. Naomi seems extremely upset by the situation, and it’s really saddening to see how hurt she is.

We’re then taken to the Bellas where they are shooting for their Latina Magazine cover. Nikki emphasizes that their time is now and tells Brie that the pair need to take advantage of their current opportunity. Brie, whilst in agreement, says that after the photoshoot she will head back home to ovulate. Something tells me that things are going to go south pretty soon…

The next scene takes place in the Performance Center where Lana is attempting to create her own entrance, with Natalya watching. The Ravishing Russian prances down the fake entrance and before we know it, Natalya calls it a day as everything is “gold”. Love it.

The Bellas then meet with a few people to discuss Birdie Bee. They’re asked to attend a red carpet for Latina Pride and Nicole immediately accepts. During the car ride home, Brie tells her sister that she should be with her husband, but Nikki seems negligent to that. The twins then fight over Nicole making decisions for the both of them, and Brie ends up snapping on her sister. The wrestling retiree takes to the confessional to tell us about how Nikki won’t understand as she can’t relate to the child issue. Yikes.

We’re then taken back to Nattie’s house and it looks as though Lana is still hanging with her… You can feel the disappointment in Neidhart already. Nattie is then doing Lana’s makeup – something she clearly doesn’t want to do, again – and then her parents walks in… and practically fall in love with her.

Jim then takes Lana outside to teach her some shot-put and things go wrong, almost immediately. As Lana attempts to learn the sport, she accidentally smashes the window of Nattie’s car. This is most definitely the most typical Natalya story ever, and I love it. An angry Queen of Harts storms out to yell at her father and Lana, leaving her new friend in tears. And though she’s willing to pay for the damages, Natalya is far from forgiving. She then expresses the emotions that she’s been surpressing all day and tells Lana that despite her apologies, she knows she “doesn’t really give a s*** anyway”. Somehow I’m laughing out loud at this point – is that what I’m supposed to feel?

The emotions then take a turn for the worse as Naomi meets up with a friend of hers that was at the Pulse night club when the shooting took place. Her friends tells her that she was in the dressing room for 2 and a half hours as the shooting took place, and soon she gets into a tearful mood. This emotional moment then inspires Naomi to do something for the community, and all respect levels for Naomi intensify even more (as if they could get any higher).

The twins are then at a cafe discussing their fight from their previous meeting. Nikki tells her sister that she just wants to see her being happy (basically her catchphrase for the whole of their spin-off) and Brie reminds her that she is (see above). Brie then comes to the conclusion that she needs to talk to Bryan – I’m not quite sure how we got here – and they… make up?

Natalya is then at ringside for a match against Dana Brooke. Lana is happily watching until she realizes that Dana uses her move – one that they’d planned in the Performance Center together. Once the match is over she quickly takes Natalya aside to explain her issue to her – in tears (?). Natalya then comforts her friend (?) and realizes that this is what a champion does. She needs to take care of herself and the girls around her.

The next day, Naomi prepares for her speech and is a little nervous. However, despite the nerves she hits it out of the park and the entire audience is clapping for her in the end. She then reveals a plaque that was made in memory of the 49 victims, and it’s a beautiful construction.

To end the episode, Brie confronts Bryan about his thoughts on the potential baby. She asks him if he is ready to have a child, and he admits that he does have his concerns. This immediately makes Brie think that her retirement from wrestling now may have come too soon. Yikes. He then admits that he’s concerned about how his depression could take over, but it’s at a point where he will never know if it will ever go. And as he’s come so far yet it’s still around, he doesn’t think there’ll ever be a perfect time to do it, so now is better than ever.

Thoughts: I love the Natalya stuff here. Nattie is the funniest member of the show and it never gets old watching her shenanigans again and again. This week we see her bonding with Lana and this is a great way to make audience members fall in love with the Ravishing Russian. Natalya’s charm and awkward humor is typically  the star of the show. And anyone involved in it tends to bounce off of her hilarious ways. So even if you’re not too keen on the newbie, this story is bound to change your mind.

Despite being a huge fan of the Bellas, I’m unfortunately really bored of their story this week. If you watched a single episode of ‘Total Bellas’, then everything they say here is guaranteed to have been brought up in it. The Bellas are definitely the stars of the show, but if there isn’t enough material to keep them interesting, then maybe they should play supporting roles in certain episodes. They of course have to appear every week – as they are the biggest names – but if their stories are just ‘Total Bellas’ repeats, then supporting others in their unique stories would be the better option… We all saw the spin-off, we don’t need to see it again.

Naomi’s stuff is probably my favourite part of this week’s episode. Everything is so sincere with her and I can’t help but love her even more. Naomi is constantly an intriguing and adorable character. She oozes kindness and honesty, and it’s hard not appreciate her every time we see her.

What is your favourite part of the episode? Who do you want to see more of? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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