Editorial Columns

Twin Magic – Looking Back At The Careers of The Bella Twins

Following Nikki Bella’s retirement, Jack Dinsley looks back at both Nikki and Brie’s careers in WWE and their effect on women’s wrestling as a whole.

Twin Magic is officially over, as both Nikki and Brie Bella have officially retired from in-ring action.

However, did the Bella Twins have a successful career or were they just there for eye candy?

The Bella’s debuted in WWE in 2008 on the SmackDown brand, and it began with Brie Bella as a solo wrestler as she started a rivalry with Victoria and Natalya. The WWE Universe soon realised that Brie wasn’t alone, as Twin Magic was revealed. This was when Brie would switch places with her identical twin sister, Nikki, without the opponent or referee realising. The cheating was soon picked up on in future weeks, which then embarked a tag team rivalry between the women.

The twins were then paired up with The Colons (Carlito and Primo), which wasn’t a bad move at all at the time. The Colons were soon a part of a rivalry with The Miz and John Morrison and both were two of the biggest tag teams in the division at the time.

In 2009, the twins were drafted to Raw, which wasn’t the best place to utilise their talents so they were soon traded to ECW. After a short-lived stint on the brand, they were then traded back to Raw, which saw them enter several feuds with Jillian Hall and Gail Kym, among others. The Bellas really started to gain traction in their careers in 2011. In April of that year, Brie was able to beat Eve Torres (with the help of Nikki, of course), and gained her first reign as Diva’s Champion. During her time as champion, Twin Magic was used several times to ensure the belt remained with them. Her reign came to an end when she was defeated by Kelly Kelly on a special “Power to the People” episode of Raw. This would be Brie’s only time at the top of the Diva’s division, even though many thought she was the better in-ring competitor out of the two twins.

Almost a year later, it was Nikki’s time to shine. Nikki was able to defeat Hall of Famer, Beth Phoenix for the Divas Championship in April 2012, which meant both twins had held the prestigious title. Sadly for Nikki, she lost the championship a week later to LayCool member, Layla, after their patented twin magic failed them one last time. After the match, Eve Torres, who was the Executive Administrator at the time, had confirmed they had been fired.

The Bella Twins took some time away from the squared circle after this, appearing on the independent circuit a handful of times. Did the WWE Universe really think this was the last time we would see the talented twins, though?

In 2013, the Bella Twins were back in the house, and one of the main reasons was because of the new WWE reality TV show, Total Divas – which featured the Bella Twins as the main stars, but also focused on the WWE Divas outside of the ring, including Natalya, Naomi and Eva Marie to name a few. The Bellas began a rivalry with Natalya (who they previously feuded with at the start of their WWE career). The TV show cast was criticised by then, Divas Champion, AJ Lee. This then led to several matchups with Brie against Lee, notably at Battleground and Hell in a Cell. Another real-life storyline that was also brought into the squared circle was Brie’s relationship with Daniel Bryan, which was briefly used at the time, and would be revisited later down the line.  At the end of 2013, the Bella Twins were awarded ‘Diva of the Year’ – as they had been showcased heavily on WWE programming to promote Total Divas, so pretty much had more screen time than any others on the roster.

April 2014 saw Brie Bella’s relationship with Daniel Bryan take a bigger step. Stephanie McMahon threatened to fire Brie if Bryan didn’t relinquish his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, so Brie decided to quit, but not before slapping McMahon in the face. This then backfired on Nikki, who was put in handicap matches as punishment while her sister was away from the company. A month later, Brie returned, and she agreed to face McMahon at SummerSlam in Stephanie’s first real match in over a decade.

This was a turning point in the career of both women as Nikki turned against her sister at the event, which enabled Stephanie McMahon to win the match. This led to a rivalry which resulted in a matchup at Hell in a Cell which saw the loser, Brie become Nikki’s personal assistant for thirty days. Nikki went onto win a Halloween costume battle royal, which allowed her to face AJ Lee at Survivor Series. With the helping hand of Brie, Nikki was able to secure the win over then champion, AJ Lee, allowing her to become a two-time title holder. The duo reunited after, and then saw them have a rivalry against the pairing of Paige and AJ Lee. They competed against them on the grandest stage of them all at WrestleMania 31, but ultimately came up short.

While still the champion after the event, and still portraying heels they then started a rival with Naomi and Tamina. When you thought you saw Twin Magic for the last time, it was reintroduced, where it saw them turn heel (once again) in June 2015. This was also the same time, which saw the twins call themselves Team Bella and for some reason, they gained Alicia Fox as a member. Nikki carried on through 2015 as the Diva’s Champion, accompanied by her team until Stephanie McMahon announced a ‘revolution’ which was going to shape the division for the future. It was a storyline which saw Team Bella (Nikki, Brie and Alicia Fox), against Team B.A.D. (Naomi, Tamina and Sasha Banks) and Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte and Becky Lynch) in a rivalry until SummerSlam of that year.

Nikki was able to hold the champion for the longest time, meaning she surpassed AJ’s original record of 295 days. However, Nikki soon dropped the belt to Charlotte at Night of Champions, ending her reign at 301 days. It was almost like WWE didn’t want to have AJ Lee in their record books any more; I wonder why. This then resulted in Nikki taking time off for a neck injury. She did return at the end of the year to collect the award for Diva of the Year for 2015. She won the award previously in 2013, but shared it with her sister.

During Nikki’s time off, Team Bella was reduced to a tag team – Brie Bella with Alicia Fox. She also had a championship opportunity in 2016 against Charlotte, but was unable to capture the title. Again, the Total Divas storyline was brought back into the ring, which saw the cast (Alicia Fox, Natalya, Paige, Eva Marie and herself) take on Team B.A.D and Blonde – Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae, Emma and Lana. This led to a match at WrestleMania 32, and saw Brie get the win for their team. This resulted in being Brie’s last match for a while for the company, as she also took time off. This meant that for the first time in three years, both Bellas were inactive in the ring for WWE.

2016 saw the popular twins split from their colleagues and gain their own TV show, Total Bellas, which delved deeper into their personal lives. The show also starred Brie’s husband, Daniel Bryan and Nikki’s then-boyfriend, John Cena. Total Bellas went onto have four seasons and aired until March 2019. They also won the accolade for Choice Female Athlete at the Teen Choice Awards in 2016. In the same category were Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey and Simone Biles, so this was a big deal for the twins.

2018 it brought the women back to action for the last time, which saw them appear in the first women’s Royal Rumble match. They both made it into the final four with Asuka and Sasha Banks, but ultimately failed to win. In September of that year, they both returned to action in the ring against The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan). The twins then had an opportunity to team with the current WWE Raw Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey at the WWE Super Show-Down against the entirety of The Riott Squad, this time including the leader Ruby Riott. Nikki gained an opportunity against Rousey at the first all-female PPV, Evolution, for one last shot at a championship. However, she was defeated and this turned out to be her final match.

Both twins decided that they’d had enough time on the road. They have a lot going on outside the ring, with several businesses that they run. On March 10th, Brie announced on Total Bellas that she had retired after Evolution. It was revealed that Nikki had retired from in-ring action on the March 24th episode, which fully brought about the end of an era.

Love them or hate them, the Bella Twins were a part of the Diva’s revolution and contributed to the fact that the women are now headlining PPV’s. The former champions are 100% first ballot Hall of Famers one day, and it’s a worthy spot for the talented women. They have dedicated their time to the company for many years, and have both been successful with championship gold. It’s a pity they weren’t around for the current generation of women’s wrestling as they could have still been headliners or would have been an exciting tag team in the new women’s tag team division.

Comment

To Top