Ever since the week after SummerSlam, Carmella and Nikki Bella have been involved in the most heated rivalry in SmackDown’s women’s division to date. Even after two brand-exclusive pay-per-views for the blue brand, they’re still going strong.
The longevity of the feud does not mean it hasn’t come without its flaws, however.
Following Nikki Bella’s victory over Carmella at No Mercy, and up until this week’s instalment of SmackDown, the feud was actually starting to feel pretty forced.
Prior to their match, Carmella had shown great promise in her efforts to knock off the longest reigning Divas Champion in WWE history, having felt insulted when the woman returned at SummerSlam and instantly stole the spotlight from some of the division’s other talent, namely her.
It brought out a lot of fire in Carmella, who’d been the final overall draft pick back in July, and needed to make some sort of impact if she wanted to be taken seriously on the main roster. It also added a lot of depth to the SmackDown’s women’s division to have one feud going on for the championship, and another one on the side based solely on emotion.
But following their encounter a number of weeks ago, the rivalry was barely held together through backstage attacks and match run-ins. It significantly undervalued the story of the feud, and felt like Carmella was only attacking Nikki for the sake of having something to do on SmackDown. That said, this week put things back on the right track for both Bella and ‘Mella going forward.
The two came to a heated discussion just as Carmella was about to “spill the tea” on Nikki Bella about her relationship with John Cena. Now, that part in particular was quite ridiculous given the amount of platforms, i.e. “Total Divas,” “Total Bellas,” social media, etc. where WWE not only acknowledges the relationship between Nikki and John, but features it prominently.
She wasn’t exactly breaking new ground in that announcement, but what she said next was what added some much-needed fire to this feud. Carmella basically called Nikki out on the same things that a lot of people who aren’t fans of her work do — implying that she wouldn’t have her spot in the company if not for her boyfriend being the biggest star in the company for over a decade.
It got very real, because although we’ve seen the Bella Twins be vilified by the likes of Paige and AJ Lee in past rivalries for allegedly using their looks to get to the WWE, the story of Nikki Bella’s status as John Cena’s girlfriend had not really been noted in an on-screen capacity.
This is the kind of fuel that a personal story like Nikki Bella vs. Carmella needs, and it worked really well, particularly given that it ended not in a brawl, but with Carmella walking out with her head held high and leaving Nikki looking doubtful of herself in the middle of the ring.
Sure, Nikki got in some inspirational speech about Carmella undermining the efforts of a fellow woman, and how the word “fearless” plastered on her t-shirt helped her scratch and claw her way back from injury, etc. to try and brush Carmella’s words aside — and maybe even shill out some merchandise in the process — but it ended the way it needed to with Bella looking thrown.
With SmackDown’s women’s division going head-to-head with that of Raw at Survivor Series, it’s likely that Bella and Carmella will have to show solidarity for the sake of the brand, but the continued animosity showcased this week will add an interesting dynamic to that match.
Nikki has been made to look like a spoiled little reality star by Carmella, and it will be interesting to see if this impacts her abilities to act as a leader heading into Survivor Series, or if they’ll choose to put this rivalry to bed prior to the event so that each brand looks more solid for the big showdown.
If it’s the former, it could lead to some top tier character development for Nikki Bella.