We all know where Total Bellas is going before Season 3 even starts: The dream wedding of Nikki Bella and John Cena, unfortunately, will not come to pass. This makes the season premiere, in which the couple begin to finally prepare in earnest for their nuptials, both telling and tragic in hindsight: Not only do we know what’s coming down the line, we’re actually able to see it happen, piece by piece, in real time.
This hour topples the first domino, which is that Nikki is reflexively making too many concessions in both wedding planning and her life. Rather than address her concerns with Cena, Nikki’s instinct seems to be to agree with whatever her fiancé suggests, while never letting on that it might not be entirely what she wants. Her latest compromise of having the ceremony in West Newbury, Mass. — rather than the Napa Valley wedding she always dreamed of — causes Brie Bella’s mounting frustration with Cena to boil over following a Belle Radici meeting.
Brie, who has always seemed somewhat skeptical of Nikki’s decision to sacrifice her dream of motherhood, is having a harder and harder time toeing the line as the wedding approaches. After finding out Nikki is folding on her dream venue, Brie snaps just a bit, going so far to accuse Cena of imposing more restrictions on Nikki than is necessary. This isn’t entirely true, though: To Brie’s horror, Nikki admits that she feels like she strong-armed Cena into marrying her in the first place and is just agreeing to everything he suggests so as not to push her luck.
As Brie well knows, this isn’t a great mindset because 1) Cena wouldn’t have proposed if he didn’t want to and 2) marriage is about communication and compromise. Brie’s marriage is requiring a lot of the latter, as the Bellas’ business ventures and Brie’s aspirations toward an in-ring comeback are forcing her to miss time with Birdie Joe. Daniel Bryan’s happy to pull dad duty while he prepares his own WWE return (still in the planning stages, though it seems like he’s a lot further along than he ever let on), but Brie is still dismayed that she’s not around for milestones like her daughter’s first swimming lesson.
That said, at least she and Bryan are talking about it. Brie finds her sister’s situation particularly alarming because not only does it make Nikki’s life harder than it needs to be, it mistakenly gives Cena the impression that nothing is wrong. Cena himself has even begun to let his guard down, acting like a goofball over a new rug and making amends for his previous uptightness by throwing out the house rulebook during their first formal family dinner.
Nikki’s hesitant to make any moves that would damper his happiness, but having the family together under one roof both reactivates Nikki’s baby fever and leads her to make a somewhat stark confession: With Cena’s Hollywood career taking off and Nikki occupied with Belle Radici and Birdiebee, they spend less time together than ever. As Cena’s opportunities continue to roll in, Nikki, whose businesses are mostly local, is essentially signing up for a very solitary life without the promise of a baby down the line. Unfortunately, the idea of being alone in an empty house is becoming more and more difficult for Nikki to stomach.
Total Bellas airs Sunday nights at 9/8 C on E!.