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Nikki Bella: Total Divas Was The First Thing WWE Couldn’t Control

Nikki Bella opens up about some of the struggles she faced during her time in WWE.

The Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie Bellas) had successful careers with WWE, and they also became breakout stars on reality television with Total Divas and Total Bellas. They were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2021, but they were not acknowledged during the 30th anniversary edition of WWE RAW on January 23.

Speaking on The Sessions with Renée Paquette, Bella was asked about the video she and Brie posted after WWE RAW XXX, in which they criticized the way women didn’t get enough recognition during the anniversary show. Paquette noted that it seemed like The Bellas didn’t get the credit they deserved for their contributions to women’s wrestling.

“I remember one time Triple H saying, ‘Perception is reality in this business, and we can perceive people however we want.’ I think that’s what’s happened to Brie and I,” Nikki said. “At that time, they made people believe so much that Brie and I only cared about reality TV, we were only there because of our men. They were super cool and doing amazing things as well, awesome. I know AJ [Lee] spoke about it in her book, and I think she has regretted a lot because that could have been a time where we could have empowered women even more and created more change. That was still a fight, and that locker room was really difficult, and a lot of women could speak about that. I think that was the time when I saw so many women with their heads down that I was like, ‘I’m gonna fight real hard for this.’

“I didn’t have to find back with reality cameras. I already had them with me. But I chose to come back to make sure that we showcase women’s wrestling because I thought what women were doing was so badass and they weren’t being appreciated for it. Honestly, ‘Total Divas’ should have been praised even more because what we were doing was….we literally were at the point of almost beating the Kardashians in ratings. We were shaking the world up. What a great time. We could have had the industry behind us, but instead they used it to turn it against us. That was really shocking to me because I was like, ‘But wait, we’re making great change for women’s wrestling. Why are you hating on it?’’

Bella continued by sharing her belief that Total Divas was the first thing Vince McMahon and WWE overall couldn’t control. She recalled how she and Brie got yelled at after they won the Diva of the Year award. She then emphasized her belief that, in WWE, the company wants to control who gets over. Bella also highlighted that she felt like everyone thought she and Brie were going to fail.

“I think a lot, as far as the boss, I felt like it was the first time he lost control of what he could make and not make,” Bella said. “When Brie and I won Diva of the Year, we got in trouble, and I got yelled at. I remember, we came back so happy, and it was like, ‘Oh, because you brought in all these new viewers, and the women are now voting for you, and all these new women are here.’ [My jaw] was on the floor. Everyone around was on the floor like, The Bella Twins are being yelled at for being successful?

“Because it wasn’t what they wanted. They were were the storytellers. They push who they want the crowd to be behind. Perception is reality. That is WWE to a T. Even though the fans think they own it, no, they laugh it in the back. ‘No, we own you at the end of the day.’ So I truly believe ‘Total Divas’ was the first thing they couldn’t control. They couldn’t control the success. They couldn’t control what mainstream… there was no control. So that was hard on one side because they lost that. Then I think everyone backstage truly thought we were gonna fail. I don’t like to use the word envy or jealousy, but I think there was a bit. We all kind of get that.

When asked whether their success led to some hate, Bella agreed and noted that some people were supportive, but others made it clear that they weren’t. She also looked back on the way she didn’t like aiming for cheap pops when she was cutting a promo on Awesome Kong. Bella then stated that she feels like she has to carry a “cloud of hate” in the industry with her.

“That brought in a lot of hate, within people in the back,” Bella said. “Some people were super supportive, and then there were some that were hate, and then some got the mic, and they just really expressed it. It gave me great fire, and it made for a great story, but I wish people wouldn’t have believed it beyond that. But it was also sad for me because to slut-shame or tear women down, I was not for that. I remember when I had to cut a promo on Kong before Brie and I had left for 11 months, I just remember feeling like sh—. I went with what they said on paper. It was so wrong. I talked to Kia before, and Kia and I even talked after. It just didn’t feel good, and I didn’t like it.

“I was like, I don’t want cheap pops from the crowd anymore, especially if it’s not approved by the women. I could have said a lot more stuff on the mic to get these greater reactions. It was never worth it to me because at the end of the day, I was like we’re still telling stories, and that’s kind of how I left the rest of my career. But then some of the stuff that was would be said to me on a hot mic, with not even realizing, I just remember being inside just disappointed, like, ‘Okay, we just took five steps back,’ and just tearing these barriers down, breaking them. We still shattered them, but it took even more work. I just have to live with this hate in this industry, and it’s hard on me because I love wrestling. But I just have to carry this cloud of hate on me.”

Bella later revealed that they did not appear on WWE RAW XXX because the company booked them for a media tour.

RELATED: Nikki Bella Comments On The Bella Twins’ Absence From 1/23 WWE RAW

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