Want to know what really happens behind the scenes at the WWE? It’s a question that would have been unheard of just a few short years ago, in an era when kayfabe was alive and well and wrestlers protected the illusion of their characters like they were Gollum with that freaking ring. However, in today’s world of social media and shoot interviews, that’s simply not the case, so when Total Divas premiered on the E! Network in 2013, it not only changed the way WWE did business but the way fans looked at their favorite superstars as well. Showcasing the personal lives of several of the WWE’s female wrestlers (as well as their wrestler spouses), the docu-series quickly became a ratings juggernaut, opening an entirely new female fanbase up to the world of professional wrestling and even earning the 2016 spin-off, Total Bellas.
Following the lives of Nikki and Brie Bella (known professionally as The Bella Twins) as well as their significant others John Cena and Daniel Bryan, Total Bellas has experienced similar success, its first season documenting Nikki’s road to recovery after undergoing neck surgery as well as the trials and tribulations of Brie and Bryan’s marriage after both retired from the sport they love prematurely. However, being a reality show on the E! Network, the show is also full of juicy revelations that might change the way you look at the WWE mega-stars.
The following list examines some of the most surprising revelations to come from the first season of Total Bellas. From Nikki and Cena’s unconventional living arrangement to Brie and Bryan’s interesting sex life, here are 15 shocking things learned about the stars of Total Bellas.
15 John Made Nikki Sign A 75-Page Contract
One of the most shocking revelations to come from Total Bellas first season was that John Cena actually made his girlfriend (now fiancee) sign an agreement upon moving into his 15,000 square foot home in Florida. However, he didn’t make her sign any old contract, Nikki Bella signed a 75-page agreement upon moving into his residence.
The Cenation leader would explain that he’s very proud of the property he’s amassed, having come from humble beginnings and calling the contract a necessary measure to protect it. “Here’s how I view it, it’s like buying a handgun for home defense. It gives you a sense of security and it gives you a failsafe in case something happens. And those who buy a handgun for self defense pray they never have to use it. [But] Without it, it’s a dog fight.”
14 Daniel Bryan Battles Depression
One of the biggest season-long storylines throughout the first season is the aftermath of Daniel Bryan’s forced retirement from the WWE. After suffering a career-ending concussion, the former world champion was forced to hang up his wrestling boots by WWE officials, doctors telling him another head injury could have a grave effect on his long-term health. The news sent Bryan spiralling into a deep depression and in one episode, after Nikki criticized her brother-in-law’s emotional state, Brie was forced to reveal to her sister that Bryan has actually been battling depression for much of his life.
She would further reveal that Bryan has suffered from depression and anxiety since he was 25 years-old, also admitting that he usually experiences it in 2-day bursts, his 2016 bout being the longest he’s endured.
13 Nikki And Brie’s Mom Had A Breast Cancer Scare
The penultimate outing of Total Bellas promised a shocking revelation by episode’s end and while what fans got probably wasn’t the juicy secret they were hoping for, it did shine a light on a serious event in the Bella family’s lives. Shortly before their mother Kathy Colace’s wedding to John Laurinaitis, Colace would reveal to her daughters that she found a lump on her breast, sending the family into overdrive with worry.
As it turns out, they had a right to be concerned as the Bellas have a family history with breast cancer, both Colace’s sister and aunt having been diagnosed with it. Thankfully, as it turns out, the lump was not cancerous but the result of a breast augmentation that she had months earlier.
12 Nikki’s Neck Injury Didn’t Slow Down Her "Bedroom" Life
The Bella Twins are known to overshare, especially when it comes to their bedroom exploits, but in the series premier they took things to extremes, giving full updates regarding the current status of their sex lives. It all started when Brie mentioned that her and Bryan were in the midst of a dry spell, having not been intimate for almost a month. It’s then that Nikki would reveal that even having a broken neck hasn’t slowed down her love life, having slept with her boyfriend the past two nights. When Brie inquired as to how they were able to continue getting intimate with Nikki’s injury, her sister would confirm, “Yes Brie, I have my neck brace on, he has to do it very softly and gently.”
11 Brie Bella’s Wild Past
If you’ve watched the Bella Twins on Total Divas or Total Bellas, chances are you think of Brie as the “serious Bella.” The Brie-Mode practitioner has made a name for herself as a lover of animals and self-proclaimed vegan hippie much like her husband. However, as Nikki revealed during an episode of Total Bellas, there was a time when Brie was much wilder than the settled-down wife and mother we know today.
It all started when Nikki accused her sister of changing her personality to suit Bryan, upset that Brie doesn’t go out as much as she used to and arguing that when Brie was dating Poison guitarist, Richie Kotzen, she “dressed like a rockstar,” and was a wild party girl. Brie maintains that her husband has helped her be the person she always wanted to be, however, during a 2016 interview with Lillian Garcia, Bella revealed that she coped with the death of her high school sweetheart by partying and drinking too much to fill the void. It’s possible that this was a symptom of her “party girl” days.
10 Nikki And Brie’s Stepfather Is A WWE Veteran
By now, you’re probably well aware of the Bellas relationships with John Cena and Daniel Bryan. However, what you might not know is that their biggest WWE connection comes in the form of their stepfather, John Laurinaitis who serves as a senior producer with the WWE. Laurinaitis’s courtship with their mother, Kathy is a frequent storyline throughout the show’s first season, documenting their engagement leading up to their wedding which served as the reality show’s season finale.
Before taking his behind-the-scenes role with the WWE in 2001, Laurinaitis was an accomplished wrestler, wrestling under the name Johnny Ace with the NWA. Upon retiring from in-ring competition in 2000, Laurinaitis would become the head booker for WCW. However, he’s probably best known to WWE fans for his on-camera role as one of Vince McMahon’s corporate stooges, remembered for his feud with CM Punk.
9 John Forced Nikki To Give Up Her Dog
John Cena has made a name for himself as the ultimate good guy in the WWE, known for his “Never Give Up” motto, however as Total Bellas shows, when it comes to man’s best friend, that motto doesn’t seem to apply. For the much of the first season, Cena’s distaste for dogs is well chronicled, the leader of Cenation often coming down on Nikki’s dog Winston for eating his own poop and seemingly being the agent of chaos standing between him and an organized home. At one point, the 16-time world champ even threatens to call animal control after being bitten by Brie and Bryan’s dog, Josie.
It’s a point of contention that eventually forces Nikki to give her dog to Brie, allowing them to adopt him. While Cena’s feud with canines is never really explained, during one scene Nikki comes to realize that her boyfriend (who famously refused to marry her for much of their relationship), might see their dog as a substitute for a child, replicating an experience of fatherhood that Cena has long maintained he doesn’t want.
8 Nikki Bella Doesn’t Know What A Pronoun Is
When you think of Nikki Bella, chances are Mensa is not the first thing that comes to mind. And while her YouTube series Bella Brains has proven that the Fearless Diva is a lot smarter than meets the eye, that doesn’t mean she’s immune to having a blonde moment or two. During one of their many formal dinners at chez Cena, cameras caught just that after John Laurinaitis used the word pronoun in a sentence, leading to this A+ exchange between Nikki and Daniel Bryan.
“Do you know what a pronoun is Nicole?” “I don’t know, like, better? Isn’t it like a capitalized noun? Like it’s bigger than?” When Cena jokingly explained to his girlfriend that it’s a professional noun, calling it a “noun that actually makes a living off of being a noun,” she would respond, “Well, that makes sense.”
7 John Cena’s Dirty Sense Of Humor
If you’ve watched John Cena over the course of his more than 15-year career, chances are you’ve become accustomed to his wholesome, child-friendly, superhero persona. The record-breaking WWE Champion often presents himself as a role model and friend to children everywhere, known for his unparalleled work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is why it’s so jarring to see that outside of the ring, Cena has a very dirty sense of humor.
The wrestler-turned-actor rarely makes it through a scene without cracking a sex-related joke, at one point telling the Bella family that he used to be known as a Mass Debater. When they curiously asked him why, he explained because he’s from Massachusetts and he would often debate with his friends, making him a Mass Debater. Just one of the many solid dad jokes in his arsenal.
6 Daniel Bryan Doesn’t Like Quickies
Here’s something you never wanted to know about one of the most beloved wrestlers in recent WWE history. The Bella Twins have a habit of oversharing when it comes to their sex lives and in one episode of Total Bellas, that habit rubbed off on Daniel Bryan as well, forcing him to explain his bedroom preferences on national television. It all started when his wife, Brie began complaining about a recent dry spell they found themselves in, largely caused by Bryan’s depression.
When Nikki brings up the idea of the two having a quickie, Brie is forced to reveal that she doesn’t have them because her husband is not a fan. Bryan later explains to the camera that he believes quickies only stimulate your sexual organs, saying that he prefers to stimulate his heart as well, often going all out with candles and music, making it a long and thorough affair.
5 Nikki And Brie’s Parents Had An Abusive Relationship
You might notice that Nikki and Brie rarely talk about their father on television. While interviews and segments on Total Divas have colored in details about who he is and why he isn’t a bigger presence in their lives anymore, Total Bellas has probably revealed the most about his marriage to their mother, starting when Nikki dropped the bombshell that he cheated on her in an early episode. However, perhaps the biggest revelation came from Kathy Colace herself who explained that he psychologically abused her throughout their relationship, destroying her self-image for many years.
After admitting that she felt insecure being in a swimsuit around her daughters and their younger, fitter friends, Colace revealed that she used to have great self-esteem, growing up in a household that encouraged her to be confident and have a positive body image. However, she says that all changed when she began dating their father who routinely picked apart her image and her self-worth, emotionally abusing her. While she seems to be in a better place these days, it’s clear that she still deals with lasting effects from the abuse.
4 John Cena Lives Like It’s The 1930s
While John Cena’s house rules have become that of legend (a fact we’ll get to later in the article), perhaps one of his strangest is his after dinner regimen which feels like it was pulled straight out of Downton Abbey. In the first episode, Cena informs his houseguests that they’ll be required to dress up for a formal dinner once a week, including hair, make-up and shoes.
After dinner, the men and women are required to separate, the men retiring to the cigar room for a post-meal smoke and boy talk, while the women congregate in the lounge for drinks. Frankly, it’s hard to choose what part of this tradition is worse, the outdated gender roles or the fact that attendance is mandatory.
3 Brie And Daniel Faced Serious Marriage Problems After His Retirement
Brie and Bryan have pretty much epitomized relationship goals from the moment cameras first caught their union on Total Divas. The vegan hippies, seemingly couldn’t be more perfect for each other, always appearing to be on the same page regardless of the situation, however, as Total Bellas reveals, Bryan’s depression threatened to derail their marriage at the worst possible time. Following his forced retirement, the former world champion found himself in a very dark mental space just as the couple was thinking of having a child.
The strain of which perhaps most affected their love life, as their sex life hit a dry spell and Bryan began closing himself off emotionally, forcing Brie to feel like she had to take care of both him and her recovering sister who was still healing from neck surgery. Bryan would eventually leave John Cena’s Florida compound, saying that he needed time alone at his home in Washington. Thankfully these days, things are much better, the couple welcoming their daughter Birdie Joe Danielson in May of 2017.
2 The Bella Twins Have Drifted Apart
While the Bella Twins may seem to always be in sync with each other, perhaps the most shocking reveal from Total Bellas’ first season is that the purveyors of Twin Magic are no longer the inseparable sisters that fans have come to know and love. It’s a subject that’s well mined on the reality show, Nikki often complaining that her sister isn’t the person that she used to be and longing for the days when they were the best of friends.
During a heart-to-heart towards the end of the first season, both admit that in prioritizing their relationships, they’ve drifted away from each other. However, as Nikki plans her impending wedding to John Cena and Brie and husband, Daniel Bryan focus on their bundle of joy Birdie Joe, it’s unlikely the two will mend those fences anytime soon.
1 John Cena’s House Rules
One of the most talked about aspects of Total Bellas is John Cena’s extensive, borderline obsessive house rules. Upon moving into Cena’s sprawling Tampa mansion, Brie and Bryan are immediately given a rundown of the the house rules that must be followed to a t. The rules include no shoes in the house (unless it’s a formal dinner and in that case, shoes are a requirement), no dogs in the house, keeping everything in place at all times, keeping your bed made at all times and a formal dinner once a week where everyone is required to dress up, among others.
As Nikki explains, Cena grew up with very little, even living in his car at one time and because of that, he takes pride in the finer things and the beautiful home he’s been able to afford. However, the rules definitely make a stay at chez Cena look like more work than it is play.
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