Call it naiveté, call it optimism… but even though we’ve had several weeks of an absolute creative botch of the Bella Twins’ TV feud, I was genuinely surprised and disappointed this past Monday on Raw when – in their first official match opposing each other since Nikki turned on Brie at SummerSlam, and they teased starting their tag match against each other – not one person in the crowd could give a single solitary crap at the prospect of seeing Brie and Nikki wrestle. There was no ripple of anticipation. There was nothing. I’m pretty sure a guy in row 38 dropped a pin though. They haven’t even had a singles match yet, and this angle is already dead in the water. Sigh.
Look, for what it’s worth, I was amongst the people who commended Brie Bella for her efforts to get better in the ring this year. In WWE terms, her wrestling ability now is night and day to the Brie Bella of a couple of years ago… and the sentimentalist that I sometimes am, I heavily endorsed the idea of WrestleMania this year closing out with WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and WWE Divas Champion Brie Bella in the ring together. Heck, I was enough of a fan of their relationship that even though I swore off watching Total Divas after the first season, I went back and watched the double-part Season 2 finale just to see their wedding. The reason I’m recounting all this is to point out that I actually had an emotional investment and some genuine hopes for Brie… and indeed, to be fair on both sides, Nikki (perhaps inspired by her sister) was also making some strides in the actual in-ring aspect of the business. Both Bellas genuinely had something to offer in the Divas division this year…
And then somebody had the bright idea to have them feud with each other.
Unfortunately for the Bellas (and everybody who has watched the last few weeks of TV), we’re treading far more into Matt vs Jeff Hardy territory than Bret vs Owen Hart. While the Hart brothers feud in ’94 might be the high water mark for sibling rivalries in wrestling, when WWE went to the Hardy brothers feud back in 2009, nobody wanted to see it – just as nobody seems to want to see Brie vs Nikki. And frankly, why would anybody given the TV we’ve been forced to watch these last few weeks?
The wretched “Growing Up Bella” segments from Sept 1st are the most egregious example of where this rivalry has been completely mishandled. We saw Nikki recount stories which paint Brie as a horrible sister… from stealing Nikki’s prom boyfriend to stealing Nikki’s car and licence and lying to police that she was Nikki when she had an accident… and we never got a rebuttal from Brie. So… are we viewers supposed to believe that Nikki was telling the truth? If so, Brie’s coming off as a pretty shitty sister. If not, and we’re supposed to believe that Nikki has made the stories up to smear her sister’s name, why did Brie not openly say that? Why did Michael Cole on commentary not openly question Nikki’s legitimacy and reassure the viewers that Nikki was being the liar and Brie is whiter than white? I mean… it’s not difficult. Even when poor old Jerry Springer was wheeled out two weeks ago to try and broker peace between the sisters, he started his segment with a number of video clips from Total Divas – *all* of which were specifically picked to show Brie putting her sister down. Again, ZERO mention was made on commentary or by Brie that the clips they showed painted only half of the picture. Instead, we’re seemingly meant to think that hey… maybe Nikki has a point.
The key here is that without a strong babyface presence from Brie, this angle is dying a death… and therein lies part of the problem. As noted, I found Brie to be an oasis of likeability on the awful Total Divas show, and as noted, her in-ring is perfectly good per WWE standards – but her promo ability is sorely lacking. Pushed to the fore in a speaking role during her feud with Stephanie McMahon in the run-up to SummerSlam, Brie was found very much wanting… and while comparing her unfavourably to Stephanie (one of the best promos in the entire company this year) is hardly a big criticism, the fact is, Brie wasn’t able to translate that likeability to her promos. She was wooden. Unsympathetic. People like her due to her connection to Daniel Bryan, and when she does the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants, but once it’s just her and a microphone, it’s just not clicking. Sure, everybody got into the slaps and the angle where Stephanie got arrested, but this was the Steph Show, and everybody knew it.
So from a place where she was already losing steam, to not even having her beat Stephanie at SummerSlam, to then transfer her into a feud with her sister which nobody wants to see where she’s painted in a most unflattering way? Brie’s push hasn’t just hit the skids, it’s completely stopped. And hey… not only that, but this feud looks set to continue, because here we are, on the weekend of Night of Champions on the WWE Network, and Brie’s not even in a match. Sure, Brie may get involved in Nikki’s Triple Threat Championship match (which won’t do much for her sympathy if she costs her sister the title), but it means that the big one-on-one Bellas megashow blow-off… assuming there is one… is likely to be at Hell In A Cell in a further five weeks. Do we need FIVE MORE WEEKS of the Bellas feuding?
The Bellas storyline is endemic of a general creative rut that the company has been in ever since SummerSlam, and while Brie and Nikki can and should take criticism for their own performances, the major issue does lie with the fabled “writers”, who seem to have absolutely no clue about how to play this angle. The major losers, of course, are us loyal fans who keep watching and keep hoping for the best.
That’ll be the naiveté and optimism again, eh? I’m gonna have to do something about that.
Any thoughts, comments or disagreements with the above opinion? Sound off in the comments box below or on social media.