2018 has been the most emotional year yet for the WWE and E! stars Brie and Nikki Bella.
The stars of reality series Total Bellas have been in the headlines for the right reasons, WWE in-ring comebacks for the sisters and Brie’s husband Daniel Bryan, and the wrong – a very public break-up for Nikki and her fiancé John Cena.
Total Bellas season 3 is currently airing on Sundays at 6pm on E! – BT TV channel 321/386 HD – and you can catch up on the latest episodes on the BT Player.
BT.com caught up with Brie Bella for an exclusive chat about the rollercoaster year, her husband’s inspirational wrestling return and the truth about Nikki and John’s break-up.
What has it been like making season 3 of Total Bellas with so much going on in your personal lives?
Oh my gosh, it’s crazy. Obviously, you start filming one thing… and then life happens and it ended up being a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It’s been hard having cameras around - I’m talking about John and Nikki and their relationship crumbling – and I think it’s actually been even harder to watch it back and relive it. Every Sunday night, I’m sat with my box of tissues, my black liquorice, my glass of wine and I’m bawling, crying. It’s been very hard and very intense, but what I tell Nikki is that her courage and bravery is going to touch so many women out there. So many women are in exactly the same situation and they will see, ‘oh, I’m not alone’. I know this has been tough on her, but I just think about all the people she’s helping.
How hard has it been for you watch Nikki and John break-up in the public?
I think for me, the hardest thing has been seeing what the media puts out there. ‘Oh this is fake’, ‘Oh this is for ratings’. No, the big ratings would have been for the wedding special. We’d have loved to see their wedding unfold and it would have been an insane wedding.
So that has been really tough, seeing my sister in so much pain and having to tell her to keep off social media, don’t look at this, don’t read that. Everyone acts like they know how their break-up should go. Don’t talk to each other, bash each other and it’s not like that - John and Nikki are friends.
It’s unfortunate that it had to end the way it did, but John and Nikki believe that they could come back. They’re working on it. They’re friends, they’re not together, but they hope that their happy ending might be together. But they need to work through their stuff and figure out if they really want the same future. They could have walked down the aisle and then it ended up in divorce, so I think it took a lot of courage to take a pause and think about what they really want.
A lot of people really did think the break-up was staged…
Let me tell you, the production company spoke to us three weeks out and were like, ‘wait, there’s no wedding happening?’ I think that’s what is hard for people to understand, there is some serious pressure with that. I just wish the best for them both, want them both to be happy. I think in this season of Total Bellas, it was just refreshing to see that they’re not perfect. They do have ups and downs. People need to see that ups and downs in a relationship are very normal.
You made your wrestling comeback in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble in January – what was that like?
When I got the first phonecall in December and they said, ‘Brie, we want you to be part of the first women’s Royal Rumble’, I got teary-eyed. My mind was blown. It was just an honour to be asked. Birdie was only eight months when I took part in the Rumble and you’ll see in my journey this season, I was incredibly nervous about taking part.
I had a bunch of insecurities, I felt like I had baby-weight I needed to lose, I didn’t feel like the same Brie as when I retired. I felt like I was moving slower in training with my husband. You start dealing with all those things.
However, when I stepped into that ring… oh man, I felt so empowered. I just had this feeling, what am I worrying about? I’m Brie Bella – this is who I am. I now have a little baby backstage, but I can still come out here and kick-ass.
What people didn’t realise was that the night before the Rumble, Birdie was teething so bad. I had to breastfeed all night. I had to take an Instagram picture to document the fact I had only two hours sleep. I was in a room next to Trish Stratus and Kelly Kelly and I didn’t want Birdie to wake them up, she was screaming crying, so I had to keep feeding. But I just thought, I can cope without sleep and my body image, as long as I get to be a mum and a professional wrestler – I’m so lucky to be able to do both right now. It felt so good to be back in the ring and it made me feel inspired as a woman.
What has the response from fans been like?
I’ve had so many mums reaching out to me and thanking me. I want mums to know that I’m okay not losing the baby weight. I want them to know I have stretch marks – they are here forever. Instead of looking them like they’re ugly, I look at them like I’m a warrior.
I went through hours of labour, an emergency C-section and I gave birth to a big baby. These stretch marks are warrior wounds. On Instagram and social media we get so stuck on the perfect lives that we think people have. 24-hours a day being a mum is such hard work. Being a new mum, you lose your identity and that is so hard.
What I realised was that I will never be the old Brie. I had to find a way to connect the old Brie with the new Brie and the most important part of that was accepting my new body, accepting my new life and being proud of it. The support of my husband was amazing, because you know you go through days…. ‘get rid of this mirror!’ But my husband makes me feel beautiful. It took me a little while to get my confidence back, but now I’ve got it back – wow, I’m unstoppable. I feel like the real Wonder Woman.
Your husband’s wrestling comeback brought a lot of fans to tears. How has that changed your life all over again?
It’s so funny, we never thought that in one season we would both be making a comeback in the ring. People will see Bryan’s return to the ring this season and I believe people will be inspired by what they see to never give up. They will see that in life, if you have passion, you can achieve nearly anything. I always tell him, his passion for wrestling is just so inspiring. You don’t have to be into professional wrestling to admire what he’s doing – his drive is incredible.
To see my husband achieve his dream this year and to see his journey there over the last two and a half years has been… it was so funny seeing him on the first night back taking a powerbomb from Kevin Owens. I could just see that he wanted to smile so big. I could feel him smiling through the screen, even when getting a powerbomb. He said to me, ‘Brie, I wanted to smile so much – I was in heaven!’ Not many people can say than when they’re getting a powerbomb.
It sounds so weird - welcome to WWE - but I was smiling the biggest smile when he was getting beat up by Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on his first night back. I had tears in my eyes. I just knew, this is what he wants. This is what makes his heart beat. It’s been a very emotional ride and I’m just so proud of him.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about the Bellas?
It’s funny, because everyone says when they meet us that we’re very sweet and very low-key. I think people presume we’re high maintenance, we live up to the word diva, but that couldn’t be any less true. I think when people meet us, they’re blown away, because we’re just humble, sweet girls. I never thought I would see past the desert and I’ve seen the world and I couldn’t be more grateful. I found a job that I connected with and I count my blessings every day and thank God every day. I think people are shocked by that.
Watch Total Bellas, Sundays at 6pm on E! – BT TV channel 321/386 HD.
E! is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as AMC, Comedy Central, National Geographic and many more.