Mt. Killamanjaro: Total Divas S01E01 Review

Mike Killam

TOTAL DIVAS is a reality series from WWE and E! taking a look inside the every day lives of the WWE Divas. It airs every Sunday on the E! network at 10PM ET and again at midnight. TOTAL DIVAS is not, despite the name, a show about Josh Isenberg, or Justin LaBar. Or Chris Cash. 

You're going to know within ten seconds of watching Total Divas whether or not it's your kind of show. It's reality TV starring WWE Divas – you either like it, or you don't. All the pseudo-scripted drama, boy-talk and cattiness of every other female-oriented reality show is here, and in full force. Don't worry, if you're one of those pesky wrestling fans looking for actual wrestling, WWE has eight other hours of content every week you can search through.

Still, despite its obvious place in the reality television genre, Total Divas does well for itself when it's not even trying. The clips of Daniel Bryan and John Cena with their respective Bella twin are some of the more natural and endearing parts of the show's debut episode. Twin Magic is actually pretty appealing when they're not in "WWE mode", ready to claw out the eyes of any and all competition. It's when they get around the other women that they come across as terrible people. 

On that note, I particularly enjoyed how well Nikki and Brie fit with John and Daniel. The twins are very different outside of the ring, and they did a great job of showcasing the uniqueness of both relationships. Brie and Bryan (who they actually refer to as Bryan Danielson) have a more organic connection, both because they've been dating longer, and because of their love for local, fresh food. Flip the coin over, and Cena and Nikki are dealing with John's recently collapsed marriage, and the pressures and challenges that puts on him going forward. It's actually pretty intriguing stuff, when not pushed too hard. 

Natalya has long been one of my favorite Divas, and I like that they are playing up her family's history in the business, and even showcased some of her phenomenal in-ring ability with a clip from pre-Mania training. I also like that WWE is playing off the real-life frustrating of leaving her out in the cold when it comes to big matches, and treating her more like the Diva chaperon than as one of the girls. It's a sentiment felt by many of her fans, and strikes a chord that will resonate with a lot of people's real feelings towards her treatment, and the Divas division in general. 

The Funkadactyls – specifically Cameron/Ariane – almost lost me. Their drama throughout the premiere episode revolves around Brodus Clay becoming frustrated in the final practice for WrestleMania, and actually assaulting Ariane with a verbal beatdown. I believe his harsh words were, "you suck." Brodus Clay is now and forever, my hero. I'm finding myself genuinely liking the other half of the Funkadactyls; Naomi is more likable, and level-headed. And yes, I have a personal vendetta against Ariane, petty as it may be. Brodus Clay just got a little justice for any fan of Tough Enough 2011. 

Newcomer Eva Marie is a pretty big spotlight of this episode, while JoJo kind of tags along in the young, apprehensive sidekick role. She's definitely cute, for a 19-year-old, but still inexperienced and not yet ready to handle the hectic and bitchy world of being a WWE Diva. There's sort of a real fear she may actually wash out by the end of the season, and I hope she sticks around. Eva was kind of robotic for my taste, by I liked her streak of defiance in dyeing her hair bright red instead of blonde, as the talent relations people had demanded. 

Total Divas was, for those that like reality TV and get a kick out of backstage drama, a lot of fun. I was surprised at how much more real it felt than the majority of other shows in its demo, let alone every other program on the E! network. The use of real names (Bryan instead of Daniel, Trinity instead of Naomi, etc.) took a few minutes to not feel awkward, but eventually added to the experience rather than detract. For the first episode, WWE did a great job of introducing all the characters, digging into their individual personalities, and giving you a reason to keep coming back. 

This episode also confirmed a long-standing suspicion of mine: John Cena is always awkward, all the time. 

Rating: 8/10

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