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.
It’s the incoming arrival of another Bella baby precipitates Nikki’s sudden change of heart: Lauren reveals to Brie Bella that she is “very early pregnant,” and the secret doesn’t stay under wraps for long. But, ironically, it’s Cena himself who gets the ball rolling when he realizes his fiancée isn’t being honest about where she wants to have the wedding. He knows this day is for her just as much as it is for him, and he wants her to be happy, but that means they should be open and truthful with each other about what they want out of the day.
Of course, unbeknownst to Cena, it’s not the wedding itself that is making Nikki nervous; it’s the idea of what comes after. The one thing that would truly make Nikki happy is still off the table, and it’s finally hitting Nikki that she may have chosen being a wife at the expense of being a mother — a choice she’s been regretting somewhat ever since Birdie was born. Telling the truth about those feelings would likely derail her relationship with the man she loves, which means she sees the wedding as a kind of unofficial now-or-never moment looming in the distance.
The cloud hanging over Nikki’s head renders her completely unable to enjoy the run-up to the wedding — she barely even gets to properly celebrate getting cleared to return to WWE — and she goes about all the prep with a grim sense of duty. She just wants to get the dress shopping over with. She finds herself gripped with anxiety during the engagement party. And when Brie, who’s getting a little too into the swing of things, prods Lauren and JJ to announce their pregnancy at Nikki and Cena’s party, The Fearless One finally goes over the edge.
As much as Nikki loves Cena, her brother’s announcement makes her realize that she won’t be able to deal with living the rest of her life without children while her brothers and sisters raise families of their own. Unfortunately, her poker face isn’t that great, and the rest of the family sniffs out her sadness almost instantly. Mama Bella Kathy is more confused than anything about her daughter’s sullen demeanor, but Brie — who is finally training with Daniel Bryan in earnest to return at the Royal Rumble event — is a bit more panicked when she calls Nikki at the end of her training session: Something is clearly wrong.
Cena, too, knows something is up, and he seems like he knows what it is. When Nikki sits him down and finally admits that she can’t sign up for a life without children in her future, Cena greets the news with a kind of sad resignation: He knew this day would come. Nikki hoped it wouldn’t. But it’s here, and now, it’s decision time.
Watch Total Bellas Sundays at 9/8 C on E!.