Nikki and Brie Bella’s effect on women’s wrestling
Both Nikki and Brie Bella recently revealed their pregnancy via People Magazine exclusive. They are due only weeks apart! This will be Brie’s second child with fellow WWE superstar and husband of five years, Daniel Bryan. It is the first for newly-engaged Nikki Bella and former Dancing with the Stars partner, Artem Chigvintsev.
The announcement comes after Brie expressed feeling that she wasn’t meant to have another baby after trying for months. Nikki also once accepted that she wouldn’t be a mother with her ex-fiance, John Cena. So their new additions definitely feel like twin magic.
If there was a word to describe the way the very vocal internet wrestling community feels about Nikki and Brie, it would be polarizing. The WWE universe either loves or hates The Bella Twins. Why do the wrestlers-turned-reality tv-stars elicit such a reaction?
The Bella Twins are misunderstood. They deserve the respect of the wrestling fandom for all their contributions to women’s wrestling, female fans, and WWE.
WWE Marketed Them as ‘Models’
Nikki and Brie Bella signed with WWE in 2008, following a failed tryout at the Divas Search. As the story goes, this was also weeks after Nikki was supposed to go overseas to play soccer professionally. Brie convinced her sister to tryout and it was the best thing they could have done.
The sisters have expressed what made them interested in WWE. The lifelong athletes and aspiring performers loved that they could mix athleticism and entertainment.
They were initially marketed as “models” because they debuted in the company’s “Divas era”. Although Nikki and Brie modeled to get closer to the entertainment business, these ladies were legitimate athletes. They were eager to get physical and learn to wrestle. With training from Natalya, they continued to improve.
Over their decade long career, Brie won the Divas Championship once and Nikki made history as the longest-reigning Divas champ. Over the last 13 years, they have feuded with everyone from Stephanie McMahon, Paige, Alicia Fox, Ronda Rousey, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Carmella, Natalya, Tamina, Naomi and more.
The Bella Twins also had one of the most memorable debuts. In a match with Victoria, Brie went under the ring to trick her and Natalya with ‘twin magic’. Victoria and Natalya try to pull her from under and it is revealed that Brie had a twin sister, Nikki.
They went on to become a central piece in the women’s division through the Divas era. Ultimately, each twin began to show more of their individualism. Nikki changing her gear to the now-famous jersey top, fitted hat, and sneakers.
Meanwhile, Brie looked more like her hippie-self. She chose to wrap a plaid button-up around her waist, straying away from their gear inspired by their Mexican and Italian roots.
Bridging the Gap
Stephanie McMahon always says The Bella Twins helped bridge the gap between the Divas era, the revolution and ultimately the “Women’s Evolution” in WWE. Back in 2015, the women in NXT were given lengthy matches and character development. Unheard of for WWE women’s division. Soon, fans wanted to see that on the main roster.
At this time, Nikki was Divas Champion, and the Bella Twins were the center of the division. As heels, they teased that she would be champion forever. Fans gave them heat but they also wanted to see more out of the women.
Everyone knew that the Bellas, Paige, AJ Lee, and the rest of the division had a lot to give. After a tag team match that was less than a minute against Paige and Emma, #GiveDivasAChance began to trend worldwide for days.
Nikki and Brie, joined by Alicia Fox, became Team Bella. Their faction feuded with Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte, and Becky), and Team B.A.D. (Sasha Banks, Naomi, & Tamina) to kick-off the Women’s Revolution. All nine women elevated the division, gearing up for all the history-making moments to come including headlining WrestleMania 35.
Perrenial champion, Charlotte Flair, defeated Nikki Bella to win her first title on the main roster. She went on to win the new WWE Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 32.
The Ultimate Brand Ambassadors
There is no surprise that the majority of WWE’s audience is men. Bringing more women to shows and selling merchandise for them was always a goal for the company. The landscape for women in sports and entertainment was changing right under the company’s nose. So, WWE needed to adapt.
In one of their better business decisions, WWE produced a reality show, Total Divas, to chronicle the lives of the female talent in and outside of the ring. The same network and production company as Keeping Up with the Kardashians created the show. It centered around The Bella Twins, their high profile relationships, and their rise as the top gals in WWE.
Nikki and Brie’s popularity began to rise outside of wrestling. They became reality tv stars with a fan base separate from the WWE Universe. Soon, the twins made it onto all the morning and late-night talk shows. They guest-starred in music videos, on popular YouTube channels, and more.
Nikki Bella even appeared on Dancing with the Stars, where she met her current fiance, Artem Chigvintsev. They were the perfect faces to promote WWE in the entertainment world. They were beautiful, vulnerable, talented, and—most importantly—ambitious.
The Bella Twins were smart enough to recognize early on that they won’t be able to wrestle forever. They were getting older. Brie had already retired to start family, and Nikki underwent two neck surgeries.
It was time for them to think about their post-wrestling career. After a six-year relationship with one of the hardest working men in the world, John Cena, Nikki knew there was more out there for them.
On an episode of Total Divas, Nikki told Brie that she wants to be the female John Cena and The Rock. In other words, they want to cross over and have mainstream appeal outside of the ring. At the time, it seemed far-fetched but the ladies have secured a post-WWE career for themselves as entertainers.
Nikki Bella is the executive producer of Total Divas, and both her and Brie are the executive producers of Total Bellas. Their YouTube channel has over 2 million subscribers. They launched The Bellas Podcast last year. They also own the Belle Radici wine company and athleisure brand, Birdiebee.
Real Wrestling Fans and The Bella Army
Nikki and Brie Bella are legends. They endured the grueling schedule of a WWE superstar for over a decade. They became stars in and outside of the ring and amassed one of the most passionate and supportive fanbases in the world.
The Bella Army is strong and the support goes both ways. Nikki and Brie are constantly uplifting their fans and challenging them to live their best lives.
Despite all of this, “real” wrestling fans can’t seem to give them the respect they deserve. It could be because they were branded as models during the Divas era or because they star on a reality show. Regardless, The Bella Twins are good wrestlers, who gave their all in the ring. They may not be on the same level as say Sasha Banks or Asuka, but they delivered decent matches when it was time to.
Total Divas just finished its tenth season, featuring Ronda Rousey. Total Bellas is currently in its sixth season. Their wine brand made an unprecedented impact on the millennial wine market. Their Birdibee brand is about inclusivity, health, and eco-friendly alternatives.
Back in 2018, both twins made a fantastic return for the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match. Nikki was one the of final two in an epic finish with the winner, Asuka. The twins also came back for a feud with the Riott Squad.
Nikki competed in the main event of the first-ever all-women pay-per-view, Evolution with a title match against Ronda Rousey.
WWE is also more than a wrestling company. Most wrestling fans don’t like to be reminded of this. But the list of contributions and impact of The Bellas are huge and still growing.
Both Nikki and Brie have achieved their goal, they are the female Rock and Cena. They have successfully crossed over to be more than WWE superstars; they are celebrities now. And this is only the beginning.