I really liked this quote from Nikki and Brie Bella’s freshly released autobiography, Incomparable;
“If you want something, you have to be willing to call someone to the mat to get it. You have to be willing to take a stand. You state your position and then defend it, even if it means walking out of the arena without the thing you most wanted to win. But if you don’t try, if you don’t put yourself forward, if you don’t lay it all out on the line, then it’s nobody’s fault but your own if you don’t get it.”
There aren’t many women in the wrestling industry that are as divisive as the Bella Twins. You either love and respect everything they have done for the business, or you despise them with every fibre of your being.
There is no in-between, which is why the much anticipated autobiography of Brie and Nikki Bella was met with a sell-out of presales.
I am not going to spoil the entire book, nor am I going to stir up headlines in the name of clicks. Instead, I have pulled out some interesting parts that are worth discussing in more detail, to show how Brie and Nikki are not the villains that have sapped the life out of women’s wrestling.
The Bellas Refuse to be Victims
The early parts of Incomparable discuss the twin’s upbringing – it was not the picture of perfection. In fact, it was far from it.
The twins go into detail about the abuse they suffered from their father, forcing Nikki to run away from home, refusing to come back until their mum divorced him. Mama Bella obliged, and the family started the road to recovery after such a rocky childhood.
Brie experiences her own tragedy through a teen love, Bear, dying in a car accident at the age of 17. Brie outlines her grief in vivid detail, but this is the section that resonated with me the most:
“If you’ve lost someone in a tragic way, when you are wholly unprepared for their passing, then you know that there is no forgetting. I’m sure that is true for those who’ve had long goodbyes and peaceful ends, too. People are always scared to mention someone you’ve lost. I think they’re afraid that maybe you’ve forgotten that that person is gone, and they’re reminding you of something painful. But that’s not how it actually is—the people you lose live in your mind, your heart, your very being, in a way that is constant. Talking about them feels good—even if it might also bring tears—because it’s a way of bringing them to life again, of indulging in memories. There is no getting over it. There is only learning to live with it.”
As someone who has experienced this form of sudden grief, I understood this and I have to give kudos to Brie for being so open in the way she talks about Bear, because I know I still struggle to talk about my grief.
Brie also explains how she believes Bear brought (Daniel) Bryan (Danielson) into her life and how she knew he would be the one for her when a Medium told her Bear approved of him.
Nikki is also very open in her issues growing up, as she explains that she was raped twice in her younger years.
Their Twindom was despised by many
It should come as a surprise to no one when I say that the Bella Twins were not liked by many people during their WWE career, even from FCW!
Nikki explains in detail how girls who had been in Deep South Wrestling for many years were not happy with their arrival because they had been on the independent scene for many years.
I have been able to deduce that Angel Williams, Shantelle Taylor and Melissa Coates were among the “veterans” of DSW at the time Nikki and Brie were down there. By the time they had been called up to the main roster, Brie and Nikki were told to go on diets.
They also explain how they got into hot water with the other Smackdown Divas for a very interesting reason:
“A year into our time on the main roster, there was a locker room meeting held against me, Brie, and Nattie. They were pissed at me and Brie for getting too much TV time. They were pissed at Nattie for being “annoying,” though it was never made clear what that really meant. It was never clear to us what we were supposed to do about our TV time, which wasn’t ours to control. They also felt like we had formed too many friendships with the guys. We liked either. We took it, and put our heads down, and kept going.”
It is crazy to think that such simple things as being friends with work colleagues would pose such a problem, but I guess that was the lay of the land at the time. Having a niche act, like being a pair of twins, isn’t something that can be replicated by any woman and, considering how scarce time was for women in WWE back in 2008-2012, you can see why others would not appreciate Nikki and Brie being the focal point.
THAT Pipebomb went down like a lead balloon.
Brie and Nikki have made it clear that they fought for equality in WWE. They both cite the lack of equality as the main reason for their 2012 departure:
“We were tired of pushing for storylines that weren’t coming, and we wanted more TV time and longer matches. Essentially, we just wanted more equality. They had made it clear to us that they thought the twin thing was played out, but they rejected everything new we pitched. They didn’t want to give us what we really desired, which was a shot at making it as solo wrestlers. Instead, they wanted to keep us in nonessential storylines where we were assisting celebrity hosts and fighting over the male wrestlers, which we thought was tired.”
However, when they returned, they brought along the Total Divas brand with them and with that, a whole new look into life in WWE. While some did not like the cameras being backstage, and branded the Bellas sell outs, one person in particular voiced their views in a way neither Brie or Nikki appreciated:
“They decided to make the match short, at just two minutes, in order to give this third wrestler plenty of time to do her thing on the mic and get the crowd excited. Well, she didn’t do that, and instead used the time to go on and on about herself and our “daddy issues.” All of the Total Divas were furious in the moment because it was the exact reason why women weren’t doing well in WWE—it was far too typical of how things went down. One woman wanting to outshine everyone else instead for the full four minutes and cut her out, but that’s not how we ever chose to roll. Backstage, Brie pulled her aside: “We’re all in this together. You can have jealousy, you can have dislike, but the only way this division is going to grow is if we connect and put that other stuff aside. We have to stop stabbing each other in the back.” I have no clue if it resonated. Change was always slow to come.”
I remember how I felt when this promo was cut – I was with the person speaking out because I felt the same as she did.
However, looking back, it has not aged well. What you will understand from reading Incomparable is that Nikki and Brie wanted to elevate the entire women’s division, not just themselves, so having a promo shooting down the entire division is not a good look in hindsight. Chances are, in your separate “stan groups”, this is still a promo praised to this day.
But who did it really benefit in the end?
Braniel Was Not Smooth Sailing!
One of the highlights of Incomparable is reading about how Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan became a couple in real life (and how Daniel was originally going to be named Buddy Peacock in WWE!).
Their first date was at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2011, but they broke up by the end of the year because Brie kept saying no to being Bryan’s girlfriend!
However, this did not last long and Brie and Daniel became an official item on February 15, 2011 after a Smackdown taping. How romantic!
Brie explains how she did not expect to be in love with someone like Daniel (especially as she had just established independence in New York after moving into an apartment in Greenwich Village) which is why she delayed saying yes to being his girlfriend. He did get his own back when Brie asked him to be her boyfriend and he said no! “Doesn’t feel good, does it?” – Fair play to Bryan.
Brie also noted how Bryan did not say he loved her until he proposed in 2013:
“It’s funny, because even though it was irritating to have to wait—and I definitely had moments of wondering how I had managed to get involved with a man who couldn’t stomach three simple words—I got what he meant about love becoming a little cheap with overuse. When he finally said it, it was incredible, even though I knew he had loved me for a long time. He always made me feel cherished. He said it with his eyes, his actions, the way he looked at me, touched me, protected me, and nurtured me.”
I adore Braniel as a couple. They are wonderful together and to read in detail about how their relationship is not as smooth as expected felt relieving. Not all relationships are picture perfect, so for Brie to be refreshingly honest about their early days was a highlight.
Nikki Bella regrets many things about her relationship with John Cena
For those wanting some Nena gossip, you are not going to get it.
Nikki Bella makes it very clear that her ups and downs with John Cena are well documented and she wanted to spend this section of the book reflecting on what she learned. She explains that her need to please people stems back from her turbulent childhood and that as a result, Nikki felt she could not express how she truly felt to Cena. In addition to this, Nikki explains that she had to push her want for marriage and children deep down because she knew it was not something Cena wanted:
“By continually putting him first, and choking my own voice back, I didn’t give him the respect of actually hearing about how I was doing. I didn’t given him, or our relationship, the benefit of the doubt that maybe it could handle more. Because I assumed he wasn’t willing to make sacrifices, I did not persistently ask. Because I was so fixated on what I believed he wanted, I made many decisions on his behalf, even though I was losing myself in the process.”
Nikki cites her stint on Dancing With The Stars as the turning point in her mindset because it unlocked the idea that she could be successful on the back of her own name and she freaked out over her upcoming marriage to someone who did not want the same things as her.
The biggest takeaway Nikki had from her relationship was finding her voice – For someone with the upbringing she has had, that must have been incredibly difficult to accomplish and you cannot help but feel proud of Nikki for having the strength to stand by what she wants in life (and now she has got what she wants with a baby on the way with a man who clearly adores her).
I loved reading Incomparable.
Brie and Nikki Bella wear their hearts on their sleeves, and you can tell this is a cathartic experience to unleash their story into an autobiography. I applaud them both for being honest, open, and unwavering in their strength. It takes a lot to be able to discuss the lowest points of life and putting it out there for the world to absorb, so you cannot help but respect them both for wanting to pass their knowledge onto someone who might need it.
I felt a lot of personal connection to their stories. Some the things they said have been things I needed to hear for the longest time.
I am not expecting the die hard Bella hater to go out there and read this book, but I feel that taking in the Bella’s perspective on their career and life generally will help you understand that the Bella Twins are not the killers of women’s wrestling.
They are in fact a part of the reason it exists in the form we know today.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @ShirleighShirlz. Thanks for reading!