‘Total Divas’ Recap: ‘A Tango with Fandango’

total divas

In the first episode of Total Divas, “Welcome to the WWE”, we learned that our Divas are opinionated women some of whom seem just as likely to get into a street fight with each other as fight a match in the ring.

I’m joined on this recap with special commentary from Matt Perri, who is able to put aside his feelings about this show enough to sit through it with me and write his comments even though he’d probably prefer listening to our cat yowling in pain after a vaccination.

Last time, on Total Divas:

  • We were introduced to The Bellas, Natalya, and Funkydactyls who use ring smarts and ass to win matches.
  • Cameron is jealous of the heirarchy.
  • I never knew JoJo Offerman existed until this show.

That’s about it, really.

Roanoke, VA for Monday Night RAW

Ringside – JoJo and Eva Marie
JoJo and Eva Marie are enthralled watching RAW live in an arena. JoJo says every time she goes to RAW it is beyond words. All the reactions of the fans make her think this is what she’s meant to do.

Eva Marie is especially into watching and studying Fandago who she describes as “one of the biggest superstars for WWE…who is getting a lot of attention for his ballroom dancing”. (MATT: “One of the biggest superstars because he dances” — now you KNOW this is scripted.) Cut to the crowd where one group of people even spells out Fandango in letters. (This episode of course was filmed in 2013 when his gimmick was much more fresh than it is now.)

“Every week I see him with a different girl I think, I can do that, too,”  she tells the cameras. She wants to get out of training development camp as soon as possible (even six months is too long of a wait for her) and thinks she can by becoming his dancing valet get into the main roster. “This is my in,” she says, “because once he has me as his partner, he won’t want anyone else.”

Backstage – Cameron & Naomi
A frustrated Naomi finally finds Cameron. Cameron is complaining they have nothing to wear, (while pawing through dozens of outfits in a box). She says one gold sparkly pair of shorts looks like a diaper and, picking up the blue costumes they were supposed to wear at Wrestlemania 29 says it reminds her too much of ‘Mania. Naomi agrees and suggests they burn the outfit. Cameron loves their seamstress Miss Sandra but after what happened at Mania (when Miss Sandra was shown taking up to the last second to get their costumes ready), she wants to use someone new. Ironically, Cameron had said Miss Sandra is one of three seamstresses the WWE has but, because we need a “plot” they have to find someone completely out of the WWE payroll I guess.

Naomi says Miss Sandra will “go hell on them if they do”. Both Divas agree that Sandra often finishes pieces late and that they often don’t get what they ask for, but still if Cameron’s plan goes wrong, Naomi is putting all the blame on her.

Backstage – The Bella Twins
Brie and Nikki grab some coffee backstage. Nikki actually calls the coffee from the canisters “our saviors”. Coffee is a major plot-point in this episode but I hesitate to claim “product placement” since I don’t see a brand name on any canisters. The twins and their boyfriends (John Cena and Daniel Bryan) are gonna hop on Cena’s private jet for a bit of what she calls “a life swap” (MATT: WHAT?!) to check out their respective homes in Tampa  and Aberdeen, WA (MATT: Oh…). Cena’s home is opulent and Bryan’s is the more modest home he grew up in. (MATT: Technically, he really lives with Brie in their apartment, as was revealed last episode, but this probably makes for better television.)

Nikki says John’s house is perfect (not surprising, as she thinks everything about John is perfect), and that Brie will never want to leave. She then compares it to being at a resort and tells Brie to “wash the sheets when you’re done”. What Cena can’t afford a maid for his palace? (Methinks Bryan is gonna be making Brie scream “YES!” all night long…)

Backstage – Natalya, JoJo, and Eva Marie
Eva Marie and JoJo are talking with Natalya over lunch. Natalya tells her to stay out of the treats as they have to “wear spandex for work” to which JoJo who is eating what appears to be a brownie on top of chocolate ice cream for them and tells her, “It’s OK, I’m 19, I can do it”. (MATT: This is like watching telegraphing the death of a Red Shirt on Star Trek.)

Eva Marie wastes no time in directing this conversation by telling Natalya that they had noticed that Fandango comes out with a different dance partner every time and Natalya agrees that he does as “he’s very particular and wants the best dancer he can get”.

Fandango comes to the table, calling them “single ladies” and kisses Natalya (MATT: After an uncomfortably long lean into it.), then moves to do the same with JoJo and Eva Marie. He asks if they’re staying out of trouble. Eva Marie flirts and says she is trying and he tells her she looks nice. Fandango explains that he has a “different girl in each city” (MATT: How this even still appeals to Eva, I will never know.), however, if they could find him a permanent girl who was “good looking enough and could move well”, he’d be in favor of it. The girls giggle like their brains left their head. Eva Marie says she can dance and wants to try out. Fandango flirts with her a bit more, saying he hopes they can dance together soon, then leaves telling Natalya to “keep a leash on her for me”. (MATT: I will NEVER know…)

Backstage – Brian James & The Divas
Producer Brian James talks to the Diva and briefs them on the match between Brie vs. Naomi (though Nikki and Cameron will be accompanying them to the ring). Brian tells them they are the villains of the match and suggests they do the Twin Magic move they are famous for.

Nikki says their characters are “the biggest bitches you would ever come across and the nastiest” but insists they’re far different in real life. I believe this about Brie, I still haven’t seen sweetness from Nikki.

Monday Night RAW – Bellas vs. Funkadactyls
Brie explains, on camera, that “Twin Magic” is their finisher move. It’s comprised of one twin hiding under the ring, with the other twin rolling out of the ring and under it to replace the hiding twin. (MATT: Somebody saw “The Prestige” and based the idea off that…) They do this at the match with Nikki (still pretending to be Brie) is the winner, but Naomi complains to the ref and the twins are disqualified. (MATT: I’m not getting how the ref didn’t realize that Nikki went from having enormous boobs to having nothing at all.) They have to get revenge Bella Style, so they both roll back in the ring and start beating on the Funkadactlys.

Backstage – Eva Marie and Talent Relations
Eva Marie meets with Jane Geddes and Mark Carrano of Talent Relations and they talk about Fandango and the dance partner thing. Eva says she might be helpful as she has a dance background in ballet and ballroom dancing. Jane seems surprised to hear this, but takes Eva Marie at her word without asking questions like “How many years” or “Who did you train under?”.  (MATT: Welcome to WWE: were everything is left to chance!) They say she can audition at the next RAW but stress she must take it seriously.

Backstage – JoJo, Eva Marie and Fandango
JoJo sees Fandango after his match and tells him that Eva will be out there with him. Eva Marie appears out of nowhere (MATT: What, is she a Wallmaster?!)  and when he asks her how she thinks he did out there, Eva replies, “I think you need me…we could make it work.” He leaves to take a shower. And he’ll think about her. In the shower. Also to “hit him up in Tampa”. Eva jokes with JoJo about how she should join him and scrub his back, but she ends up staying there. Eva Marie tells JoJo that she thinks she can do it — but then reveals that she can’t Ballroom Dance…and that she has zero dance experience. Liar liar, hair on fire, this is not going to end well.

Roanoke, VA

Airport and Bus Stop
John tells Nikki to take only what she needs to survive the trip. But Nikki, being one of “those chicks”, has several luggage pieces and, in contrast, Bryan appears to only have a backpack with him. Nikki gets on the private plane, proclaming that she “never wants to travel any other way.” Brie asks if she’s wearing underwear, because reasons, and Nikki sounds shocked by the idea. She talks on camera about John’s hard work and lavish lifestyle. (Not to slam my own gender, but this girl sounds like a textbook gold digger a this point. Run, John, Run!)

Nikki complains that Eva Marie shows off too much cleavage, even changing her neckline, on the spot, to flirt and that she even mentioned working with John in some sort of mixed partners tag team event. Nikki will have none of that as she’s “a lioness” as she protects her own. “When I feel like people are threatening mine,” she says “well, then, you see the lion come out.” Assuming Nikki had confronted Eva Marie, that would have been more interesting than hearing about it later, but this is what they chose to show us. (MATT: Cena’s smirking through this just yells, “JESUS CHRIST, I’M ON A REALITY SHOW.”)

Despite Nikki’s obvious dislike of Eva Marie, an oblivious John praises Eva Marie (he doesn’t seem to know her name only that she’s the redhead) for standing out in a business where standing out is how you get over. Nikki gives him an angry look, and he looks sheepish. Nikki tries to change the subject and John has them toast with champagne to “an interesting adventure”.

Tampa, FL

Eva Marie and JoJo’s hotel room
There’s a knock at the door. Eva Marie answers to discover that it’s her boyfriend, Jonathan, who flew out from California to surprise her. She seems madly in love and claims to be shaking, seeing him there. PS: they’ve been dating for only two and half months. JoJo had no idea Eva had a boyfriend and goes to read a book to give them privacy while Jonathan says stuff with Tony Scott subs again. Eva tells her to put on music (so as not to hear them having sex). He brings her donuts, to remember their first date at a donut shop. The donut box has a ring box in it. He says in just two hours of their first meeting, he knew she was “the one”. “I used to have the idea of the perfect woman and you blow all that our of the water. I love you so much it’s ridiculous. Then he asks Eva to marry him. Eva Marie wipes away tears and accepts. They kiss and not three minutes later, she’s running off to show BFF JoJo. JoJo seems happy but skeptical.

Los Angeles, CA

Ariane & Vincent
Cameron is in the car with her boyfriend, Vincent, and on the phone with Designer Mike who is “the bomb.com” to get tag team outfits for her and Naomi. She describes what she wants: something lime green and sparkly with shorts with a rhinestone buckle that will get the crowd’s attention, and she wants it in 2-3 days. Designer Mike is totally up for this.

Tampa, FL

Cena’s house
Brie and Daniel walk down a long staircase, hand in hand.  Brie is happy to see coffee is made. Nikki, dressed like an Italian Countess, gives them the Grand Tour. She and Daniel aren’t used to the extravagant lifestyle or all the rooms in his house. Among other amenities, he has a cigar room, a dressing room (MATT: A giant “dressing room”…REALLY?) which Daniel refers to as a giant closet, an elevator to the master bedroom, pool with outer grotto and a guest house. Brie and Daniel laugh over the fact that the guest house is not only bigger than the apartment that they share, it might be bigger than his childhood home (for which they plan on living after they retire). Now that he’s injured and she has quit – at least in kayfabe – I wonder if they spend any significant time there.

Nikki is driving Cena’s Maseratti (MATT: Slumming it since Cena’s Batmobile is in the shop.), but she’s driving it way too fast. She delights in telling Brie it can go 200 MPH. When Brie asks what she would do if she was pulled over in a car she doesn’t own, Nikki she says she will “show her tits and get out of a ticket”. The twins are hot and don’t most men fantasize about being with twins? I don’t think a cop would give them a speeding ticket if they were pulled over together even without Nikki taking “the girls” out of her shirt. Of course, they aren’t pulled over and we move on.

Brie says she and Daniel enjoys low key homes, but the extravagance of Cena’s place is very nice.

Eva Marie and JoJo’s hotel room
Jonathan leaves Eva Marie she immediately springs into action to prepare for meeting with Fandango. She is wearing a very tight dress, stilettos and fake eye lashes. She says on camera, “Jane and Mark said it’s all about chemistry so I’m pulling out all the stops tonight.” Was she at the same meeting I saw, or did production for this show chop out some important pieces? The parts I saw seemed more they were interested in her dancing abilities than on-screen chemistry (which ironically, they already seem to have).

JoJo correctly deduces that Eva Marie didn’t mention the date (or as Eva Marie calls it a business meeting) to Jonathan. Marie calls Fandango “her mission” and she takes off her engagement ring, much to JoJo’s disgust. JoJo says, on camera, “Last time I checked, you don’t take off a ring for an engagement  business meeting.”

John Cena’s House
The four are swimming and diving and having fun. Daniel is teased a bit for doing the doggie paddle. Nikki is totally into it,  telling the cameras “The thing about being at Johns’ house is, I feel like I’m in a rap video. I have my bikini, my Christal, I love it!”

Los Angeles

Stage Hollywood Costume Shop
Cameron gets her costume from Mike, she loves it and it fits her perfectly.

Tampa, FL

Malio’s Prime Steakhouse
Eva Marie jokes that she’s surprised he came. They reminisce that they met at WM 29 and that Fandango lifted her hand to kiss it, but ended up kissing his own hand instead. She lies to him that she can dance and worries on camera that telling him the truth would probably be detrimental. When pressed, she says she can’t do a split since wrestling training has made her right hip tight. and he offers to massage her before they go out, and she can massage him after the match. He invites her to go out with the boys to a club and she accepts.

The nightclub, later that evening
He tells her they’re gonna ballroom dance. On camera she muses, “You’d think this would be the time to tell him my secret, not being able to ballroom dance,” but of course, being someone who impulsively disobeys a direct order to change her hair color and impulsively accepting a proposal from someone she’s dated for less time than it takes to complete most college classes, she isn’t about to see the wisdom of own idea. Somehow, they end up just having him flirt more (saying she should wear a black dress for RAW with an “I’m with Fandango” sign on it) and she finally realizes she’s way in over her head.

Airport
After spending three days at Cena’s home, they’re off to Daniel’s home in Aberdeen, Washington. On the jet, John challenges them to a Battle of the Sexes wood-cutting contest. The rules are these: the Divas only have to chop one piece of wood for every three John and Daniel do to win. The girls want “intimate massages” if they win. Daniel Bryan’s acts like this is the worst thing he’s ever heard, but they accept. Stakes are set at an intimate massage once a week for a month to the winning team.

Aberdeen, WA

Daniel’s Home
Daniel asks Nikki what she thinks of the town and she says it’s cute. When pressed by Daniel for honesty, she admits she couldn’t live there full-time. Brie likes all the trees but admits she wishes it was sunny more often.

They arrive at his house which, while modest, many people could appreciate living in. When John notices there is no TV, Brian replied, “Yeah, it’s not my thing…we do have antlers though,” (there is a set mounted on the wall). Daniel gives them the tour which includes many simple things owned by his parents.

Nikki, however, isn’t impressed and complains on camera: “I can handle this for a hot minute, but Brie is going to be living here…forever.” Nikki further laments that while she thinks Brie living there will work for Daniel, she thinks it won’t make Brie happy long term. Brie, Nikki and John talk in the kitchen with Bryan absent as he’s trying to go get some wood logs for the contest. John asks Brie if she really thinks the place is big enough for the two kids she wants someday. Brie admits she’d make some changes. Nikki suggests she should start by getting rid of his parents’ furniture.

(MATT: Reason #73 to hate Cena and Nikki. That place does need work but it’s not bad at all.)

Tampa, Florida

Naomi and Jon’s apartment
Cameron calls Naomi, excited that she has the new costumes. Naomi listens on speakerphone and Jon seems concerned that Cameron describes the costumes as “sexy” and says that bits of Naomi will be hanging out, so Jon might be mad. After the call, Jon mocks what Cameron said, and Naomi seems genuinely worried about how much the costume will show.

Aberdeen, WA

Daniel Bryan’s House
The twins come out in tight jeans and skimpy tops to help them win the contest. Brie cuts a few well (MATT: Wearing high-heeled Clogs for this sorta thing really helps her, I guess.) but Nikki fails dramatically. She hurts herself and actually says, “Ow, I actually just hit myself in the vagina!” (MATT: Dialogue by Vince McMahon.) The girls get 8 so the boys need 25 to win. Nikki tries to distract John with showing more cleavage and bending over, but he says that won’t work because he “already has wood”. The cameraman, not content with a wood joke, gives us the obligatory shot of his crotch in jeans. Brie says she loves having a boyfriend who looks like a lumberjack. Bryan makes a show of chopping wood ridiculously slow, he gets only one and John complains that even Nikki cut two. Bryan says that he was trying to just get the tie. It’s obvious he did this out of love for Brie, and it’s sweet.

Nikki and John are cuddling in bed and, instead of enjoying a romantic moment with her, John suggests she gets more wine from the store. Nikki brings Brie because twins. Brie describes them as Cali girls and seems uneasy with willingness to trade sunny days for gloomy ones (as a CA transplant I empathize with this one), as well as a life she loves in San Diego. Nikki is disgusted with all the geese droppings around. Brie confesses to Nikki how hard it would be for her to live there without the sun and into a house she may not be able to change much. Nikki says she’d be unhappy without being near boutiques and in fact the house should be demolished and a new one put up in its place. (MATT: Boutiques! Bitches LOVE boutiques!)

Bok Center – Tulsa, OK

Backstage – Eva Marie, JoJo and Fandango
Eva Marie, wearing a sexy black dress with blue sparkly accents, is freaking out about how she has to come clean and JoJo is little help, mainly mocking the situation. Eva Marie confesses to Fandango that she is nervous and he wonders why. Without trying to wait for a reason, he just tells her not to freak out on him.

Backstage – Natalya, Brodus Clay, JoJo, Cameron, Naomi, and Eva Marie
Natalya gives Eva Marie two sparkly blue rhinestone bracelets and matching necklaces that work with the dress perfectly and tells The Funkadactyls that it’s a special night as Eva Marie is dancing with Fandango. Natalya says she should ask them for advice if she needs it as they are professional dancers. She sheepishly asks for advice on doing splits. Cameron is appalled that someone could dance and not do splits. This actually does make sense to me as splits also involve flexibility. Growing up I took tap, jazz and ballet for years (most girls in my neighborhood did) and even at my most flexible as a teen I could never complete a full down to the flood split.

Luckily the company is smart enough to have her audition with Fandango before the show in front of the Divas and Talent Management, though again this is the night of RAW. (MATT: NOBODY THOUGHT TO HAVE HER AUDITION DAYS BEFORE THIS?!) She didn’t consider taking a dance lesson or five that week? Google shows an Arthur Murray studio in Tampa! It’s RIGHT THERE.

Though Eva Marie prayed for her feet to do the right thing, God’s clear answer to her was “no”. She doesn’t use her arms in the entrance the way a classically-trained dancer would and she isn’t even walking gracefully. When paired with Fandango, she misses cues in the music and barely knows which way to turn or move, even when he’s using hand signals to show her. “Eva, if you’re a dancer, then I’m an astronaut!” Naomi says.

Jane walks off, clearly pissed and Fandango balks at trying again, walking to the backstage area. Mark confronts Eva, saying, “I’m not a trained dancer, and even I know that wasn’t good. Are you sure you’re a trained dancer?”

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MATT: And my reaction to said bullshit.

Meanwhile, Cameron is excited to see Naomi’s costume but refuses to take off the long coat covering most of it as it doesn’t work for her body type. “All my cookies are hanging out,” she complains. Apparently there’s a crotch blur because the costume isn’t tailored right.

They are forced to go to Sandra, with their hat in their hand, to fix this. Cameron claims she was told to have sexier outfits. Sandra is appalled she’s been asked to fix someone else’s work and claims there’s not a lot she could do with Naomi’s costume anyway. An angry Cameron tells her if she won’t fix them, she won’t use Sandra anymore. Sandra seems totally kosher with this, but Naomi is appalled. Sandra makes them apologize for going behind their back repeatedly, then won’t fix the costume to boot. Instead, she sets them up with tight orange outfits with long pants with cutouts. This time, Naomi thinks they look great (she’s right) and Cameron is bummed that it shows little cleavage as her breasts are smaller than Naomi’s. Still, they make up in a minute flat just like last week and when they go out on stage with Tons of Funk, do a great job.

Backstage – Eva Marie
Eva Marie is waiting in the “Authority Office” set. She realizes she let the lie go too far. Stephanie McMahon walks in and meets Eva Marie for the first time. “I don’t even know you, Eva Marie, but when you embarrass yourself, you embarrass the company and this is not OK.” Eva Marie confesses to the lie and says she will only be positive for the company from then on. Stephanie tells her if she screws up again she’ll be booted from WWE — and she won’t be back. She tells her she hopes that’s not the case and to take care, leaving Eva Marie in tears.

That’s this week’s episode.

This episode’s punches go to: Nikki and Eva Marie (tie) – Nikki seems more interested in what John can give her materially then who he is, I don’t even believe she knows his favorite color of middle name, she’s also trying way too hard to show off for her sister  – Eva Marie – impulsively accepts an engagement only to be ready to throw him under the bus to have the chance to be Fandango’s Valet, then does absolutely nothing to prepare for the audition.

This episode’s hug goes to: JoJo – once again, we learn nothing about her personal life or how she sees herself professionally. She realizes Eva Marie is making all the wrong choices, yet she doesn’t really try to tell her this, (preferring to joke around and mostly hide her real opinions) and, other than that, she gets no real storyline for the second time in two episodes.

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