Friday, April 19, 2024

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Total Bellas Redux: “Who’s The Boss?”

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This week things get a little deeper in the world of the Bellas. As Daniel Bryan faces difficulties with his mental health, Brie Bella begins to have doubts about the ending of her career. Meanwhile, JJ Garcia is considering becoming a WWE Superstar. So it’s pretty clear just how hectic this episode gets…

Total Bellas starts off with a short recap of the previous two episodes, with a larger focus on Bryan’s retirement. So already we’re pretty aware of where this episode is headed.

Afterwards, a confessional scene between Brie and Nikki Bella takes place in which the pair explain how different they are to the King of Beards. Nikki says that herself and Brie are “firecrackers” whilst Bryan is a “dud.” Somehow this made sense to her, but it didn’t to her twin – or us. Brie then takes charge and explains that what they really mean is that Bryan is “calm” and “laid back”. There we go.

We’re then taken to a scene in which Daniel discusses the big elephant in the room – the fish tank. He believes that the fish need to be in a “bigger” environment, and not stuck in a tank inside somebody’s home. John Cena, the buyer of the tank, assures him that the fish are perfectly fine as there is an entire room behind the tank to aid the filtering of it. How thoughtful! Nikki, then sensing the tension in the room, brings up the fact that both men are wearing the exact same t-shirt. And as bad as her save seems to be, it actually works! Kathy Colace (my new favourite member of the family) chimes in and insists that Bryan and Cena look a little like Arnold and Danny Devito. I’m not entirely sure how she got to that conclusion, but I’m just going to blame it on trying to change topics.

Onto the next one.

Brie and Bryan are having fun in their pool with (their child) Josie as they attempt to teach her how to swim. But what happens is that the pair sit down and hope for the best… and Josie ends up attempting to swim her way out of the pool! As this scene takes a confessional with Brie discussing her career and life is shown. Bella expresses how hectic her life is as she has to deal with preparing for her final match in WWE and being away from her husband simultaneously. By the end of the scene we end up seeing Josie swim around enthusiastically and the couple discussing how much better life is when it’s just the three of them. This may be the truth for them, but definitely not for us.

A scene of Nikki telling her mother and Bryan about her hectic schedule with John soon follows. And afterwards, the question of whether or not Bryan will be involved in Wrestlemania is brought to question. Unfortunately, the Man of Many Yes’ answer is no.

Soon after Nikki, Bryan and Kathy are watching Brie’s final match on RAW in which she’s wearing her sister’s shorts and her husband’s kickpads. Nikki then boasts about how her twin managed to get her entrance on television – am I the only one to find this a really upsetting statement? As the match moves forward, Nikki tells us of how sad she is to not be by her tag partner’s side during her final days. Bryan is then questioned about how he feels and says that although he does feel lonely without Brie, it’s less serious when he’s with his family.

The next day Kathy complains (in good fun!) about JJ making her an incomplete cup of coffee. As Nikki enters the scene JJ brings up how his mother treats him like the “Executive Assistant” to her company JBN (JJ, Brianna, Nicole) which he also works at as the Director of Business. The group then head outside and Nikki says how her and Brie were up late texting until 3:30am. Bryan says that Brie didn’t tell her that she was at the hotel last night, something she usually does. But Nikki is there to assure him it’s most likely because she was distracting her the whole time. As the topic moves to Brie’s match, Nikki suggests that Bryan could become a trainer at the NXT Performance Center. A reluctant Bryan states that wrestling is his only real passion, and he has never had a back-up plan, so things are pretty awkward for him right now.

So with all of this in mind, Bryan, Nikki and JJ head to the Performance Center to test out the waters. During the car ride, Bryan takes to the confessional to say how he feels lonely without Brie. And whilst he has people that love him in the general sense, there’s no one that can give him the same kind of affection as his wife. No I’m not crying, you are! Brie shows up on the phone and asks him if he actually wants to go to NXT, and whilst he doesn’t, he reports that Nikki is forcing him to go. Before the scene comes to a close Nikki awkwardly attempts to pronounce the word “chaffing” but somehow thinks the letter “s” is there instead of a “c”. It’s an easy to mistake to make, we get it, Nicole… Kinda.

The trio then arrive at the Performance Center and after a quick tour for JJ they run into Sami Zayn! Sami discusses Nikki’s neck injury and before we know it, Bryan is jumping around the place showing off some moves he came up with. Seriously! Nikki and JJ can’t help but watch in awe as they see their brother-in-law have so much fun teaching his friend/co-worker some moves (that he planned to use in a match against Brock Lesnar), and it solidifies it even more in Nikki’s mind that training is what he needs to do. As Nikki brings up the topic of Bryan being a good trainer, Sami says that in Bryan’s book he believes otherwise. Daniel then confirms that the reason is because he may know good moves, but he finds it difficult to explain it to somebody else. He also says that although he has other passions, nothing will come close to wrestling and the fact that he can’t wrestle makes him really sad.

As the three-pack head off, Nikki apologises to her brother-in-law for making him feel sad. Bryan quickly forgives her and explains how as much as he appreciates the effort, he still needs to grieve the loss of his career. Which makes sense, as he explained last week that he feels like it’s almost the same as losing a loved one, except toned down a notch.

We’re then taken back to the house and fresh from his trip to the Performance Center – and on edge from his mother’s demands – JJ confronts John about a potential opportunity. The Bella brother asks John – with heaps of difficulty – if he could put in a good word at NXT to allow him to get a tryout. John, in his ever so “confused” state, keeps asking him: “what do you mean by that?” knowing full well he knows exactly what he meant.  After a short while of playing with JJ, John says that the most he will ever do for someone is get their foot in the door, which, thanks to the earlier trip, already happened. John doesn’t believe in giving people opportunities through his hard work and wants his (unofficial) brother-in-law to do it himself. Cut to JJ in the confessional wetting his pants in embarrassment!

Nikki, Kathy and Bryan quickly join the pair and the trip to the Performance Center is still the hot topic. As they all discuss how much fun Bryan had, Nikki suggests that because of his charm, another potential option would be to be a host for a sports show. Bryan immediately shuts down this idea and then Bryan, with Josie in arms, discusses the conversation in a confessional. He says how he feels like he is being “interrogated” and isn’t driven by success like others are, and is more concerned with personal satisfaction. Daniel laughs it off a little and tells us about the time when he had a personality test with WWE and scored between the lowest 1% – ever – in terms of ambition. Yikes.

On the porch, JJ, Kathy and Nikki are then sitting together and then Kathy – being Kathy – gets under JJ’s skin. After being asked about faxing a letter for his mother, JJ flips out and tells her to do it herself as it’s not his job. And with Nikki watching on, we see a visual representation of us awkwardly watching the fight. Still love it though.

Following the awkward fight, Nikki takes Bryan to have high tea with her as the two want to bond some more. So, as the foodies and tea drinkers they are, high tea is the perfect choice, surely. Bryan is a little bewildered before going in as he isn’t sure if it’s up his alley, but as the pair have their food and tea, he ends up having quite a bit of fun. The topics of conversation revolve around Bryan’s wishes to be a parent and spending more time with Brie post Mania. At the end of the meal, Nikki basks in how happy Bryan seems and shares the same excitement because of it.

Later in the night, Brie returns home to Bryan and Josie. Brie discusses how she feels exhausted over working, helping her sister and taking care of Josie. As she feels at home with her dog and husband, she contemplates (on the confessional, not around Bryan!) about retiring sooner and not going forward with Wrestlemania.

The next morning, John Laurinaitis, JJ and Brie are hitting golf balls into the pond to pass the time. As they then sit down for some relaxation, JJ tells them how he wants to leave his mother’s company and become a wrestler. He informs them of how he was shut down by Cena, so asks his father-in-law to give him a good word instead. However, to his disappointment, Brie and Johnny also shut him down. JJ quickly defends himself by saying that he simply wants a change in scenery – cue Brie’s off-screen eye roll – and is tired of being bossed around by his mother. And though his sister reminds him that Kathy wants to give the company over to him, he tells her that it’s not necessarily his dream. Johnny also chimes in and says that there’s not going to be a lot of hope for JJ as he’ll have to train for years upon years for the slight potential of making it one day, and he’s already approaching 30.

A scene showing Nikki and Brie in a spa shortly follows and Bryan is on both of their minds. Brie reveals that her husband suffers from anxiety and depression. In a confessional she states how he deals with it really roughly, and has been doing so since he was 25. And though it only lasts 2 days, she still finds it to be a difficult hurdle.

The next scene consists of the entire Bella fam at a boutique hotel to have brunch. As the entire family is present, Brie sees this as a good time to bring up JJ’s work issue. But for JJ, this seems like the completely wrong time to do so. As does Cena, so he gets up and leaves for a quick bathroom escape.

JJ explains to his mother that he is unhappy with the way she treats him. Things continue to go south as Kathy immediately flips out and insists that if he is unhappy enough, that JJ should give his two week notice immediately. Once Cena returns he explains that JJ may just be trying to take care of his life as he is approaching the milestone of 30 years. He also makes sure to remind Brie that she should have faith in JJ, as clearly she doesn’t.

Brie, JJ, Kathy and Josie soon end up going for a walk to discuss things further. JJ admits that he wants to take on more serious responsibility as well as feel more important to the company. He expresses how he hates feeling like he works for his mother, and wants the situation to feel a lot more like work.

At dinner that same evening, Kathy shows that she’s taken the situation on board and announces that her son now owns 20% of JBN. And immediately following this, a round of applause is heard all around. Happy days!

Thoughts: It’s really great that Total Bellas is tackling the topic of depression by using a successful masculine man as the subject. The idea of depression is unfortunately linked with the idea of weakness and consistent sadness, whereas with Bryan he definitely doesn’t perceive either of those characteristics on the outlook. Bryan seems like a happy soul and it’s refreshing to see Brie really express just how sad he can really get. It’s not news that he has been upset due to his retirement, but the length that Total Bellas goes in to explain it is really eye-opening.

Nikki’s relationship with Bryan has also been presented in a lovely format. The pair are around each other a lot, and to see Nikki care for someone (to this extent) that she isn’t in love with or blood related to is really nice to witness. Looking back, it’s really great how we’ve gone from seeing their relationship grow from the days where Bryan used to pick on her, to now where she is trying to piece his life together and keep him sane. Nikki and Bryan are definitely adorable, and this is only going to make their fight next week that much more dramatic.

I also really appreciate seeing Brie being such a loving wife, sister and daughter. Throughout this episode she goes in depth about her husband’s mental health, aims to protect her mother’s dreams and aids Nikki through her recovery. We’re all aware that Brie Bella is the Mother Theresa of WWE, but to see it occur with her real life relationships like this is really a treat. What makes me love this show so much is how sincere everything comes across, and to see Brie show how much she cares for her family makes me adore it even more.

Although, her pushing JJ under the bus may contradict this… But we’ll ignore that.

And finally, JJ. He’s always kind of been one of the most irrelevant members of the family – even Kathy outranked him on Total Divas and she was hardly in it! But now he feels a lot more entertaining to watch. And this week, he actually feels pretty important. What JJ’s story does is remind us that he has feelings too. As well as Nikki and Brie being the huge stars they are, living the luxurious lives they do, JJ also has a career and feelings that are affected by his sisters.

I’m not sure why but it never really clicked that JJ would want to become a Superstar. With Cena, Bryan, Laurinaitis and the Bellas being so closely linked to the business and JJ, there should really be no doubt that he would have strong feelings about the industry. So Total Bellas exploring this makes total sense and, fake or not, fits perfectly with the narrative as the family’s WWE careers are such a hot topic right now, that the potential of joining himself isn’t too far fetched of a concept.

Overall, Total Bellas continues to entertain. What is so good about this show is that it’s a lot different from other reality shows. Though this may very well keep non reality fans from tuning in, it has a very modest, genuine and enticing atmosphere to it. We see drama, and we see the characters live luxurious lives, but it doesn’t feel so staged. There’s no doubt that the JJ issue is completely fictional, but on here it doesn’t feel as faux as it may have on Total Divas. This may have to do with the fact that these people are actually related and have a reason to be around each other 24/7.

Now before you move on to giving your 2 cents, check out the promo for next week’s show!

What are your thoughts on this episode? How do you feel about Bryan’s scenario? Are you a fan of JJ? Are you excited for Bryan and Nikki’s argument? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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