A bittersweet return to roots.
On tonight's all-new Total Bellas, Nikki Bella and Brie Bella attended the premiere of WWE Friday Night SmackDown in Los Angeles, and though their appearance proved successful, the event also served as a painful reminder of the different problems both sisters were dealing with.
Nikki was particularly affected, especially after paying a visit to her doctor with her boyfriend Artem Chigvintsev. In the past, she'd already been told that she'd likely never wrestle again due to a severe neck injury; however, she was holding out hope that she could at least work ringside.
"[Dr. Uribe] had given me bad news recently, and I'm coming to the understanding that my in-ring career is over. I would just love to participate in some way, and not just backstage, but be ringside, which means you're outside of the ring," Nikki said in a confessional. "You're not participating in a match. There's managers and valets and you could be a part of stories. I just kind of wanted to have that check-up to know where I stand because I just want to know my future."
However, Nikki's doctor's appointment turned out to be extremely discouraging.
"That's the problem with you, Nik. You always come around like, 'What about if I just put my foot in the door...?'" Dr. Uribe told her. "So what are the chances that someone comes outside of the ring, hits you and smacks you from the back? Because that's a part of the show."
He continued, "We're talking about big risks, you know. I mean, easily, one bad move is paralysis; You're not able to walk again. Your life would be over, basically. And I know it's hard for you Nikki, but my answer still is stay away."
Nikki left feeling defeated and, to get wrestling off her mind, she decided to channel her energy into Artem's career instead. At the time, he had recently been cut from Dancing With the Stars.
"I am a go-getter, hustler, work horse...but being with Artem, I have learned not everyone's like that," she said.
So while Nikki got to work on a vision board for Artem, Brie was attempting to spice up her marriage with Daniel Bryan (born Bryan Danielson) after feeling inspired by something her sister and Artem did share: a love of PDA.
"Watching Nicole and Artem makes me remember how Bryan and I were in the beginning," Brie explained in a confessional.
However, when she broached the topic with Bryan, the couple ended up clashing over underlying issues in their relationship, including whether or not they wanted a second child.
"Right after hearing Brie say, 'Well, our family is not gonna be as big as we had planned it to be,' I'm mildly annoyed by the demand for more PDA," Bryan told the Total Bellas cameras. "When I come here, I'm all about Brie and Birdie. But she's got Birdie, she's got Nicole, she's got her businesses, she's got all these other things, so it's easier for me to fall kind of by the wayside.
Bryan added, "And that's one of the compromises that we've made, and I think that's the issue. We're both feeling this disconnection. It just shows kind of where we're at in our relationship."
Further reflecting on the argument in a confessional, Brie admitted that Bryan was "100 percent right."
"In the beginning of us dating, I was just wrestling and just living my life. And I'm evolving as a woman," she said. "I'm getting opportunities I never in my life thought I would ever get. I have worked so hard to get here. And I get why it's hard for Bryan. We both have changed and we do both want different things, and we have to be okay with that."
Though things seemed settled between the two, the episode ended on an upsetting note after a confessional from Bryan: "I often wonder if this kind of relationship is sustainable at all. There's so much missing, I think, in each of our emotional lives. We need to get back on the same page. Honestly, we're just trying to survive. That's what it feels like."
Artem and Nikki seemed to come to a better resolution after he expressed that he wanted Nikki to trust him instead of trying to steer his career for him. Nikki was also feeling better about her own job prospects, as she realized she could still be involved with the WWE in a less dangerous role—perhaps by joining WWE Backstage, which she landed an audition for.
See everything else you missed by watching the complete Total Bellas episode here.