Ah, yes, the midseason finale… the time when E! tries to leave us hanging from this cliff, while simultaneously constantly doing interviews with the cast who are clearly fine and well right now. They’re amping up the seriousness of the draft, which bizarrely I realize has been our only uniting storyline for all of the women this season. The draft is the New York to their Sex and the City, a character in and of itself! How charming!
The wedding of Lana and Rusev hasn’t been a valid storyline so much as a fly buzzing annoyingly and inconsistently around all of our head’s (especially Nattie, poor Nattie). Finally… finally we can all be done. Still intent on having a circus or carnival or maybe American themed wedding Lana begins this episode determined to buy Rusev an elephant. This is one of so many things that fails to make Lana even a little bit likeable for a show forcing us to spend so much time with her but it does make Maryse pretty impressive. I don’t know if she cares about human life at all, but homegirl has seen Dumbo, and is hella passionate about not supporting animal cruelty. Dana Brookes makes a cameo after the ensuing blow out and, ready to heel irl I guess, tells Lana to get the elephant.
It was time for another small dose of John Cena. Total Divas comes close to taking Nikki’s neck seriously, letting her talk about it for three solid minutes, reminiscing on how she was terrified she’d never leave the brace, and now here she was, ready to see if her bones had fused, if she could be cleared to get back in the ring. John Cena continues his role as boyfriend or brother or maybe even father you never had by being supportive in his docile Cena tones. My heartbroke when Nikki said, “I want a come back story.”
Spoilers: The WWE isn’t giving her one.
We see Nikki get cleared, at an appointment all by herself (where was every single Bella that day? C’mon, guys), we see her celebrate with Nattie, and we see her get back in the ring. She meets up with Bryan Duncan, one of the top athletic trainers for NXT. The way they filmed Nikki training, pushing herself, exhausted, sore, was phenomenal. And all too brief. I want to see, and I think the world should see, more of what “in ring shape” is… Professional wrestling is an athletic endeavor unlike anything. Nikki really and truly is fearless and at least somewhere reality TV show fans are appreciating her dedication to this business, even as the WWE fandom refuses to.
This episode finally gives us the Renee and Dean Ambrose content we all deserve. I could not have written the fan fiction better myself… it’s Renee’s birthday so they rent a beautiful home in Toronto to share with her family who heretofore has only seen Dean at shows, in which he is being his hot trash unhinged gimmicky WWE self. Renee is worried that this impression will overshadow any actual real thing about Dean and so without malice she tries to micromanage his entire personality and also his hair, which was clearly unwashed, Dean. Do not lie to us. We know how it floofs when it’s clean. Renee begins and remains in quite a tizzy, “My mom will say, ‘who let this hobo into this beautiful home?”
Renee’s mommy and Dean hit it off, and Renee’s mother is an absolute hero. She’s silly, she makes fun of her gross broken ankle and swollen foot, and I feel confident she could’ve drank Dean under the table. She doesn’t balk when Dean tries to murder a drunk guy who snags Renee’s hat (“It was so noble… you could never ask for a better guy than that”), she tells Renee she’s being a little mean when she realizes what’s going on. This was the highlight of the episode for me. Renee and her mother had a little bit of real talk in a store, which left Dean alone outside on some strange chairs that I guess grow in Canada? “High quality stool,” he says to passers by as he falls off of one, “made of plywood.” Whoever decided to edit in footage of a bored Dean talking to himself and shadow boxing while the ladies had their talk time is a true hero.
Everything is resolved, of course, because Renee, Dean, and her entire family are a bunch of gems, as pure as pure can be. Renee apologizes, Dean asks her to stop, and they celebrate her birthday, closing the story with the image of Renee in a leather jacket, bright pink blinking party hat, wielding nunchucks. Thank you, Total Divas.
We return to the overwhelming weight of Lana’s wedding, in which she uses her baby voice and whines a lot because Rusev got a Lamborghini but did not buy her a flower arch (spoilers: he does, he just doesn’t pre deliver it to their house or tell her because romance). I really don’t know if Lana and Rusev like each other, but if he’s willing to hear her use that voice and be passive aggressive instead of actually using her words for the rest of their life, God bless ‘im. I’m really praying that it’s just this show’s editing that makes their relationship look this boring and/or irritating. I was so excited for this wedding to be over that I didn’t even mind closing my eyes in fear because WHO HAS A CIRCUS THEMED WEDDING? Clowns are not okay.
Maryse comes back around, like a ghost from a morality play, and mails a bunch of silver decorative elephants to Lana on her wedding day, which makes Lana upset about the flower arch again.
They get married, the arch is there, it’s awkward… um… so that’s done…
The episode ends reminding us of the draft and how dramatic it is. It’s some of the best cinematography of the show, but the only way they have to give it weight is Naomi worrying that her relationship will be over if she is not constantly directly beside her husband. They remind us that Eva Marie is technically considered a wrestler and that Paige is alive. Even in these few moments Paige’s behavior creeps me out. It looks like it’ll be doing plenty of that when we return from midseason hiatus. A+ preview package.
Best Moment of Wedding Celebrations: Bryan revealing how basic he is by being way upset that Lana and Rusev weren’t splitting for the night before the wedding Elephants:
Safe Quote of the Week: “Half my job description is jumping off things… and crashing.” – Dean Ambrose
Next Episode: Paige is Britney circa 2008
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