LaBar: Memo to the Bella Twins' haters
The Bella Twins, specifically Nikki, have came such a long way, and ironically many “smart” fans of WWE choose to not see it.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. You don't have to find Nikki Bella talented, entertaining or attractive. I find her to be all three, but that's me. The real problem is those who proclaim that the accomplishments of her and her sister are fraudulent, based on their personal-life relationships.
Nikki Bella dates John Cena. Brie Bella is married to Daniel Bryan. Do their personal lives have an impact on their professional lives? Absolutely. It's impossible for that not to be a factor when everyone involved works for the same company and is on the top half of the roster.
However you can't credit that for the amazing growth the Twins have had.
The Bella Twins missed the cut of the 2006 WWE diva search contest. That was their big start. That's how they were first seen by the company.
Once they finally received developmental deals with WWE, they were eye candy — exploited for being beautiful identical twins. They realized if they wanted to be anything more for a long period, they would have to learn the in-ring craft.
Eight years later, here we are.
Who they married or dated definitely came into play in the form of getting advice from two of the most talented professional wrestlers ever — in two different ways — in Cena and Bryan. But Cena and Bryan didn't go out and fight the Twins' matches, wear their bruises or absorb their physical pain. The girls put in their own work on the road like everyone else.
“Monday Night RAW” is going to see Charlotte trying to win the Divas title from Nikki Bella. If Charlotte doesn't win by the end of the night, Bella will become the longest reigning Diva champion, surpassing the 295 days the title was held by AJ Lee. If Bella becomes the longest-reigning champion, a portion of the heavily invested and “smart” fans of the product are going to freak out.
In the eyes of those fans, Lee is as different as could be from the Bella Twins.
Lee came into WWE with more in-ring experience than the Twins. She connected with hard-core wrestling fans more in her character.
Lee has a girl-next-door look. Nikki Bella has made no secret about a breast enhancement that makes her stand out from her twin sister and gives her a super-model look.
Lee is married to CM Punk, who resonates with many anti-WWE after his unhappy, public departure from the company and comments since made. Nikki Bella is romantically involved with John Cena, who is the poster boy for WWE.
Again, like who you want to like in regards to the characters on television. But don't try to get too smart and become an expert on what's going on behind the curtain, refusing to acknowledge any validity of the Twins' accomplishments.
The Bella Twins' relationships are public knowledge because reality-show cameras follow them around. A lot of fans don't realize that for several years when AJ Lee was with the company, prior to beginning her romantic relationship with CM Punk, there were a lot of rumors among those inside the business that Lee had some type of involvement with a creative writer.
Is that true? I don't know, and it doesn't matter.
People in wrestling have been mixing their business lives with their personal lives since the beginning of time. Yes, it can play into behind-the-scenes decisions because there is so much politics in the business. But for the Bella Twins, it is by no means the end-all explanation for how far they've come.
Another bit of irony is the real record of title-reign length for women in wrestling is The Fabulous Moolah with what was the NWA women's championship. She held it for about 30 years.
WWE technically retired its version of the women's title in 2008 and introduced a new title, which is what we know now as the Divas championship. Many of the same anti-Bella fans share the view of this title being second class and representing an era of title holders who are more focused on being models rather than traditional wrestlers.
It's not the women's title held by Moolah or Alundra Blayze or Trish Stratus or Mickie James. So this portion of fans who downplay the Divas championship on one hand are getting agitated with who will hold the record and why on the other hand.
The Bella Twins have worked hard. They have become much better in the ring. They have improved their character-defining traits and facial expressions. They have been marketed well and are among the most visible stars in the history of WWE.
They are successful talents and characters. If Nikki Bella breaks AJ Lee's record, it will have people talking. The angry people who chalk it all up to nepotism — you know, the self-proclaimed smartest fans around — will be the ones who got worked the hardest: hook, line and sinker.
They will be that much happier whenever Bella is beaten for the title, which is going to put that new champion over in a big way.
And that is what professional wrestling is all about.
Justin LaBar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-320-7949 or email@example.com.