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Total Bellas Season 3 Episode 7 Recap, Photos, Videos, Previews

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Season 3 of Total Bellas has been largely a story of expectations vs. reality for Nikki Bella. She walked away from a relationship when she saw it wasn’t going where she wanted, then got back into it when she felt she’d undergone enough personal growth to get her life where she wanted it to be. But there’s nothing to take away your empowerment quite as ruthlessly as wedding planning, and this week’s episode keeps chipping away at her in the same way the last one did.

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To Nikki, putting the ceremony together is like staring the rest of her life in the face, which is very daunting considering she wasn’t even sure she still wanted this life only a few weeks ago. She’s also doing this without John Cena (he’s away for work and unseen this week), which bums her out because she always thought she’d be planning her wedding with her husband. Brie Bella is still suspicious that Nikki’s harboring some hesitation about the wedding that she’s keeping to herself, but she’s a constant supportive presence in solving the episode’s central problem — Nikki has generously if overzealously invited all of her girlfriends to be bridesmaids — and trying to guide her sister through the existential thicket so she can get to the altar in one piece. (The wedding dress shopping is a big pick-me-up, and the prep’s only unmitigated success.) Brie inevitably takes a firmer hand, but she realizes her role here is a supporting one, and her interaction with Nikki is a nice reminder of how well the Bellas work together in times of need.

It’s also a reminder that Brie can’t help but yearn for the finer things in life the way Nikki often does. Much like Nikki is trying to navigate a life that didn’t quite turn out how she expected, Brie finds herself wistful for her days as a New York art patron and amateur painter. Feeling like she’s strayed too far from that path, Brie decides to splurge on some antiques and artwork, culminating in a sizable purchase from a local painter that leaves Daniel Bryan gob-smacked. He’d prefer she make something herself or at least spend a little more wisely, and Brie can’t argue too heavily with that.

Speaking of Bryan, the episode touches on his own expectation-vs.-reality struggles, as he’s very close to getting cleared to get back in the ring, though it’s only briefly mentioned. But his main action this week is a delightful side jaunt with mother-in-law Kathy. Mama Bella’s anxiety is starting to make car rides with son JJ and husband John Laurinaitis somewhat insufferable, which they respond to by installing a driver’s-ed style brake in the passenger side that they slam on constantly to try to convey the sensation of having her in the car. Bryan, who’s a bit more sympathetic, divulges his own struggles with anxiety to Kathy, and they take on a mutually shared fear of heights by going to an indoor skydiving class.

The whole take-the-leap metaphor might be a little on-the-nose given what’s going on with Nikki, but the car is an oddly apt one. She still feels like she’s along for the ride as the wedding approaches, and it takes a nudge from Brie to help her get control: After asking Nikki to tell her exactly what she wants from her wedding, Brie somewhat indelicately forces a conversation between Nikki and her friends where The Fearless One reveals she won’t be having bridesmaids. The ladies are all fine with it, but they’re wondering why she didn’t just come out and say that in the first place.

Of course, it isn’t quite that easy for Nikki. Having felt like a passenger for so long, she is clearly still coming to terms with the idea of being in control of her own destiny. For all her growth and confidence, she hasn’t quite realized the implications of her independence. She could turn the car wherever she so chooses. She could even stop it altogether.

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Total Bellas Season 3 Episode 6 Recap, Photos, Video

Nikki and Brie Bella are famous athletes, entrepreneurial businesswomen and, in the case of the former, one-half of a marquee celebrity couple. It’s a blessed life they lead, but on this week’s Total Bellas, they’re forced to once again reckon with the question of who exactly they’re living it for.

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As parents, Brie and Daniel Bryan have already made that choice, but they’re quickly reminded that hiring a nanny for some alone time doesn’t absolve them of outside influence on their lives. A gaggle of well-meaning if insistent fans follows them on their picnic; the animals at a “goat yoga” session clamber all over them and, of course, there’s E!’s Total Bellas cameras themselves, whose presence ensures they really will never get a minute to themselves. In a true Season-9-of-“The Office”-moment, Bryan and Brie ask the cameramen to take a hike so they can enjoy the botanical gardens; the producers, tellingly, get the shot they’re looking for from afar anyway.

That said, at least Brie and Bryan have found a way to give themselves some semblance of happiness in their lives, despite having long ago given up complete control of them. Nikki hasn’t. After she split with John Cena, The Fearless One had a reawakening that was so profound that she was able to re-set the terms of her relationship. Now that they’re back together, however, she finds she’s forced to surrender to outside influences once again when it comes to planning the wedding — particularly when it comes to deciding who will walk her down the aisle. The Bellas’ father, Kathy, JJ, and Brie, who Cena touts as the obvious choice, are all floated as options, and Nikki bristles at the notion that she will have to do what someone else wants on a day that should be all about her. A crisis seems to approach when she inadvertently gives John Laurinaitis the greenlight to walk her down the aisle, not in the least because she has to field more advice from well-meaning family members who urge her to rescind the offer as soon as possible.

It’s the story of Nikki Bella’s life in Season 3, compiled into one single decision. She wants to live a life that fulfills her, but she keeps having to make room for someone else. It’s doubly jarring because her personal growth always occurs in a vacuum — she reiterates this week that Cena is often away working, which makes their processes very different from Bryan and Brie’s — and she finds that the person she’s becoming doesn’t always match her situation. So, she lashes out. Her attempts to reclaim the narrative range from the slightly indelicate (she vocally sets a timeline for her pregnancy at a family dinner) to the snippy (she shuts down Nana Bella during the aisle debate at one point) to the exhausted (she openly admits she wishes she wasn’t getting married sometimes).

However, her response lands somewhere in the realm of defiance. Whereas Brie and Bryan, and even JJ and Lauren (who discover they’re expecting another daughter, despite his desire for a boy), can balance expectations and reality with ease and good humor, Nikki finds the idea of further compromise almost unbearable. So, she follows the same blueprint she has of late and takes matters into her own hands, opting to walk herself down the aisle. Brie’s spider-sense starts tingling, but no objections are raised, at least not in the moment. If nothing else, Nikki Bella has made it clear that she has no problem bending the situation to fit her. What she might not yet realize is that finding balance often means doing it the other way around.

New episodes of Total Bellas return Sunday, July 8, at 9/8 C on E!.

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Total Bellas Season 3 Episode 5: Recap, Photos, Videos

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This season of Total Bellas has devoted a lot of time to examining how Nikki Bella ended up compromising herself and her relationship by her innate desire to please everybody around her at her own expense. Now that she’s single, however, her only allegiance is to herself, and this week’s episode tackles the obvious question that stems from that: What does Nikki Bella want? Kids? A career? A new man?

Or, is it all of the above? The notion of a working woman being able to “have it all” can sometimes veer into the realm of cliché (even for reality TV), but Nikki has thrown herself so ferociously into all of her post-breakup endeavors that she’s convinced herself she can juggle motherhood and business by sheer force of will. This places her in stark contrast to Brie Bella, who is starting to lose her grip on her personal and professional affairs while she focuses on being a full-time mom.

Brie, as the resident realist of the twins, has bought into the notion that there’s little room for anything else in her life besides her daughter. Nikki, as the resident idealist, respects it, but she thinks, respectfully, that her sister might be wrong. So, when Brie leaves Birdie Joe with Nikki so she and Daniel Bryan can pack up their Phoenix home — their first extended stint apart from Birdie — Nikki decides to put her theory to the test. The Fearless One balances personal and business errands with Birdie’s feeding schedule and naptime and even crucially enlists the help of a nanny to help her get everything done — something she’s been trying to convince Brie to do for a long time.

As JJ is quick to point out, Nikki is oversimplifying things just a bit. The family is on hand to help, and Nikki isn’t really playing mom long enough to get the full scope of curveballs and minor emergencies that come with a new baby. But Brie buys into Nikki’s enthusiasm nonetheless and agrees to the nanny idea (Bryan even admits it would make life easier for her career). The dry run is such a success that Nikki is more convinced than ever she could pull off the working mother balance.

Of course, there’s one last bit of unfinished business. John Cena remains just out of view, only popping up to remind Nikki from afar that their relationship doesn’t have to be over via a vague “We’re working on it” talk show interview. In previous weeks (and seasons), Nikki would have seen that as a glimmer of hope that she could have the life she wanted with the man she loved. Now, however, she believes that life doesn’t necessarily have to be with Cena.

All of which leads to a dinner where Cena asks Nikki to lay her cards on the table. Does she just want kids, or is she no longer in love with him? It’s the former. And, in a remarkable bit of role reversal, it’s Cena who makes the concession, agreeing to start a family with Nikki if it means getting to keep her in his life. In short, they’re back together, and in a week that is ostensibly about moving on, the Bellas end on starkly different notes. Brie and Bryan bid a healthy goodbye to their old house, opting to leave the memories behind to start a necessary new chapter for their family. Painful as it is, it’s the best thing for everybody. Nikki takes her first steps into a brave new world, then uses her newfound confidence to double back and take another swing at having it all. She gets what she wants — though, perhaps, not what she needs.

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Total Bellas Season 3 Episode 4: Recap, Photos, Videos

Total Bellas often finds its drama in the big leadup to a tough decision, but this episode focuses more on the “now what?” stemming out of the Bella family’s major life events. The headline-grabber is still Nikki Bella’s life post-John Cena, but with Brie Bella taking her first steps back into the ring and Mama Bella, Kathy, taking a swing at a long-dormant dream, the show widens its gaze beyond the breakup to tell a story of three accomplished career women who find themselves in the unfamiliar position of starting from scratch.

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In Nikki’s case, she’s rebooting both her personal and professional life. As far as the former goes, Nikki has decided to kick the can down the road for the time being. She’s so resolved to put the Cena business out of her head until after the Women’s Royal Rumble Match that her famous ex is barely even in this episode, seen only in a few fleeting glimpses backstage at the Royal Rumble. Cena isn’t quite as out of mind as he is out of sight — he leaves a note and flowers for her in their Tampa, Fla., home — but The Fearless One’s singular devotion to the professional hurdle ahead of her is a therapeutic bit of tunnel vision that lends cover to her broken heart.

The in-ring aspect comes down to whether Nikki is physically up to the task, as her neck isn’t completely healed yet and she faces some serious limitations. Given the chaos of a Royal Rumble Match, the risk for re-injury runs very high. Brie, meanwhile, is hesitant and out of sorts in her training sessions with Nikki and Daniel Bryan; it turns out she’s nervous over not being quite as ripped post-baby, worried the fans won’t accept her new “mom bod” and self-conscious about the gear she’s commissioned to conceal her stomach. (It doesn’t help that a lot of the pre-Rumble speculation is focusing on Nikki, leaving Brie to wonder if her own comeback will even register.) Looming over all this is Kathy, who is making a play at her childhood dream of broadcast journalism after she’s hired to do the weather for her alma mater’s TV station, but she’s worried that she’s too old to connect with the college crowd. These situations aren’t identical, of course, but the Bella women are all facing some of the same anxiety concerning their comebacks: They’re scared they’ve become too diminished, in one form or another, to pull it off.

All three women find their way to daylight by supporting each other. Kathy finds the confidence to do the weather after seeing that Nikki, for all her pep and showmanship, isn’t really any better at it than she is. Brie is bolstered by the reaction she gets when her music hits, and she ends the episode by literally leaning on Nikki during a Birdiebee photoshoot with her stomach proudly displayed and an on-the-record promise to stop Photoshopping her stretch marks. (By the way: She still has abs.)

Nikki, meanwhile, finds her strength in both her family and the rest of the Rumble field, but she still stands somewhat alone both literally and figuratively: She ends up in the final two of the Royal Rumble Match with her health in her own hands, and outside the ring, she can’t quite rely on anybody else to solve the still-unanswered questions surrounding Cena. Last week, Nikki made a point of differentiating between Nikki and Nicole, and she finds out here that Nikki can do just fine on her own. She delivers for the fans, and her neck stays in one piece. But it’s clear that Nicole’s leap of faith is still ongoing, and she isn’t sure what she’ll find, or who she’ll be, when she finally reaches the other side.

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WWE hosts first “For Your Consideration” event in LA

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – WWE held its first For Your Consideration event for the Television Academy on Wednesday night. WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WWE EVP of Talent, Live Events & Creative Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, Ronda Rousey, The Bella Twins, Roman Reigns and more WWE Superstars mingled with 600 attendees from the TV Academy and television industry executives after a red carpet event at the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center in the Los Angeles area.

Photos: WWE Superstars appear on TBS’ “Drop the Mic”
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Photos: WWE Superstars appear on TBS’ “Drop the Mic”

In a special WWE edition of TBS’ hit show “Drop the Mic,” Chris Jericho battles boxer Laila Ali and Superstars from the women’s division go toe-to-toe with the cast of Netflix’s hit show “GLOW,” Sunday, June 10, at 10:30/9:30 C on TBS.

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Total Bellas Season 3 Episode 3 – Recap, Photos, Videos

Nikki Bella and John Cena break up in the first moments of this week’s Total Bellas, and the rest of the episode is dedicated to Nikki figuring out why. The reasons, as we saw last week, are obvious on the surface — Nikki feels as though she’s sacrificing motherhood for marriage — though the real reckoning comes after, when the shockwaves of the breakup force Nikki to take stock of her life and realize she’s somewhat unhappy for reasons that have nothing to do with the man she loves.

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Fittingly, there’s very little of Cena in this episode: The two split up in the beginning, and he resurfaces at the end, though the opening scene includes more of their breakup talk than we saw last week and gives Cena some room to process the decision. He is as kind as he could possibly be — he doesn’t see it as Nikki making one choice over another and couldn’t live with himself if he allowed her to think of her decision in that way. He is also impressively pragmatic through his sadness, agreeing to do the heavy lifting in terms of notifying the relevant parties.

After their tearful breakup, Cena leaves the episode and we get our first extended glimpse of what Nikki Bella is like without John Cena in her life. Minor breaks aside, this is the first time we’ve seen Nikki without her man since she first went into reality TV five years ago, and she’s as thrown by the experience as we are. Naturally, the Bella family rallies to her side: Mama Bella tells Nikki she’s made a mature, if difficult, decision, and Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan scout a house in San Diego that will allow Brie to be closer to her sister through the hard times. Despite her loved ones’ proximity, Nikki still feels rather alone and doesn’t know who she is anymore.

The feeling doesn’t have everything to do with being single for the first time in a long time, though that’s a big part of it. As Nikki works through the breakup, she concludes that living in the public eye as the fiancée of a famous man and the star of several TV shows has somewhat dampened her individual expression, to the point she’s recognized more as Cena’s girlfriend than for her own accomplishments. With so many masters to serve and an image to uphold, Nicole, the person with thoughts and feelings of her own, has taken a backseat to Nikki, the people-pleasing celebrity with the movie star boyfriend. None of this is Cena’s fault, of course, but she believes this mentality infiltrated their relationship all the same. The breakup isn’t just difficult because she’s losing the man she loves, but also because she’s expressing her own thoughts and desires for the first time in a long time.

Of course, all this is coming at a terribly inconvenient time, as the Bellas have almost never been busier. Brie is entering the final stages of her return, designing new gear and having her hair done to match the classic style; Bryan is one doctor’s visit away from getting the green light on his own comeback; and, to top it off, Raw 25 is approaching, and with it comes an unavoidable confrontation between Nikki and Cena.

The meeting happens mostly without incident. They clearly miss each other. Cena maintains a respectful distance, but given that most of the WWE community doesn’t know about the breakup, Nikki finds she has to maintain a façade all over again. Having just gone through all that personal growth, that’s one favor too many to ask of her. So, after the Bellas have their moment on stage and pose with WWE’s female veterans and Legends, Nikki maintains control in the only way left available to her: She leaves.

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Total Bellas – Season 3 Episode 2 Recap, Videos and Photos

Last week, it seemed that the oncoming breakup of Nikki Bella and John Cena would be a slow burn throughout Season 3 of Total Bellas. But things heat up drastically in the second episode, which finds Nikki finally coming face-to-face with the fact that a childless marriage is still a deal-breaker for her, and, ultimately, coming face-to-face with Cena at the end of the hour to tell him that.

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Continue reading Total Bellas – Season 3 Episode 2 Recap, Videos and Photos