When WWE announced Nikki Bella would challenge for Ronda Rousey’s Women’s Championship, the fans let out a collective groan. Even before it was official, the rumours alone were enough to complain about. It seemed like a match made for ticket sales not for storyline, pitting the two most famous women in the company against each other. I’ll admit I had my own reservations about Nikki Bella and her nearly-broken neck getting in the ring with a rookie who isn’t in a position to protect her like a seasoned vet. As the feud’s progressed from no story to a story mostly based on Ronda slut-shaming Nikki (never heard that one before), hopes aren’t high for their match. The thing about it though is this feud could’ve been great, something truly worth main-eventing the first ever all-women’s pay-per-view. They just got it backward.
I would never defend the lazy promo that Ronda cut on Nikki, claiming that the “only door you knocked down was the door to John Cena’s bedroom.” It was gross and like frankly, we got the point from the “Do Nothing Bella” post. What I don’t hate, however, is the idea of Ronda calling Nikki a “DNB”. Ronda absolutely would call her that, she’s called plenty of people that for not adhering to her idea of what a strong woman is supposed to do. At the same time, Nikki has been called a “DNB”, or at least the idea of it, for years and years. This actually really works, but if and only if, Nikki is the face and Ronda is the heel.
Let’s start with Ronda and her coining of the term “DNB.” Back in her UFC days, when she was, in fairness, breaking down barriers for women in sports, she would say that she never wanted to be a “do nothing bitch.” The type of woman who lets a man take care of her, who doesn’t do “anything” for themselves, and who, in subtext, puts out in return. Ronda probably thinks this is feminism, it’s not. She has a checklist of sorts. If you want to be respected you have to check all the boxes, not be too dependent or too slutty, and mold yourself to her idea and her idea only. Otherwise? You’re a DNB. It was a big part of her PR, she sold t-shirts for charity (because what’s more charitable than tearing other women down?) and if you’ve read her book, you understand where it comes from. Internalised misogyny is a big hurdle we all have to overcome, but that doesn’t mean we ought to celebrate it. By being the face here, in this feud, while spouting this absolute nonsense, is just so tone deaf on the part of WWE.
The so-called Do Nothing Bella, on the other hand, is the heel? Nikki has had to stand being told her accomplishments don’t matter. Because of what exactly? Because she dated an influential wrestler in the company and unsubstantiated rumors say he helped her get ahead? Because she speaks a certain way, dresses a certain way, has breast implants, and likes expensive things? Or is it because all her career she has done exactly what was asked of her? When you say it like that, it sounds ridiculous, and that’s because it is. I called the promo Ronda cut lazy because it’s been done time and time again. Remember AJ Lee’s pipe bomb, the one where she dropped the god awful, though effective line, “talent is not sexually transmitted.”
Listen, whether you enjoy her work in the ring or not, you have to respect well, her hustle. Her and Brie have a bonefide empire at this point, and BirdieBree Brand isn’t just slapping the Bella name on some undies. It has true vision. They put Total Divas on the map, which has undeniably brought eyes to the product and helped the company’s growth. Now Nikki is executive producing it along with Total Bellas. She wouldn’t even need to rely on a man to provide for her, she’s doing just fine on her own, and there is no way she would quite literally risk her neck by getting back in the ring unless she loved it.
This could be seen as a chance for Nikki to call out all her haters. She’s not just talking to Ronda in the fiery Instagram post below. She’s talking to every single person who has called her a “DNB”. Every person who has wrongly taken away her accomplishments and attributed them to John Cena. Every person has made up their mind about her before giving her a chance. That is powerful, that is human and emotional and real.
Imagine, for a moment, how much better this would’ve been if Ronda had turned on the Bella Twins instead. WWE is obsessed with Ronda being their female top babyface, but she doesn’t really come off that way. Especially not when she’s stomping out another woman’s light so that she shines brighter. What she is, however, is incredibly competitive and aggressive. She is the sort of character who would take a loss to the Riott Squad so poorly that she beats up the Bella Twins immediately after. That makes so much more sense than them winning and the Bellas beating up on her because, what, they’re bored? Nikki could come for revenge and to protect the division that she helped build up. Her motivation is much stronger as a face.
I won’t criticize the WWE for catering to the casual fanbase by pitting their most famous women’s wrestlers against each other. If you’re going to do it, rather than give the spotlight to other deserving women, give it a real story. The one we’ve been given has Ronda is the face delivering a lazy promo we’ve heard a thousand times, and Nikki is the heel. it just doesn’t ring true.
Do you agree this feud is backwards? Do you wish Brie had died in the womb? Let us know @SteelChairMag