Following the surprising success of E!’s glimpse behind the glittering WWE curtain in Total Divas, superstars Nikki and Brie Bella premiered their own spin-off reality show in 2016.
Total Bellas documented the lives of the professional wrestling duo The Bella Twins, aka Brianna Monique Danielson and Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace, along with their respective partners, SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan and 16-time WWE World Champion John Cena.
Although they spent the last decade slaying in the ring, the twins only became household names following the success of their reality show. Whether you see them as role models, strong independent businesswomen, or drama queens, Nikki and Brie Bella draw the crowds, both in and out of the ring.
While many viewers came for the chance to get a backstage glance at wrestling royalty in Total Divas, Total Bellas gave fans more of a personal peek into the lives of the Bellas, giving more screen time to their wrestling beaus and the wider Bella family.
Though it features as much feuding and drama as any reality show, Total Bellas holds up as unique due to the stars’ unusual careers. With high-profile matches, serious injuries, a proposal, a birth, and a lot of shouting, the two seasons so far are packed with juicy secrets revealed and many intimate moments shared.
Here are 16 Secrets From Total Bellas You Had No Idea About.
16 John Cena Has A Lot of Guns
John Cena’s "House Rules" are the most hilarious truth-bomb to come out of the show.
In the first episode of Total Bellas, Brie and Bryan briefly move in to John Cena’s ostentatious home to help Nikki recover from neck surgery. It is revealed that the man of the house has a series of strict "House Rules." Cena’s demands are simple: respect the house, a formal dinner once a week, usually on Wednesday, morning coffee together, and an evening fire outside.
Hippy Brie finds the rules stifling and refers to the house as the “Museum of Cena” during the first episode.
Perhaps the most eye-opening rule was regarding coming home late. Cena said to his guests: “If you're going to be up late, please text me or tell me, because this is a shoot-first state and I have a lot of guns.” That told them.
15 John Cena Makes Nikki Sign a Relationship Agreement
With his wrestling mantra to Never Give Up, and his work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, John Cena is known as the good guy of WWE.
However, it appears this serious and stubborn approach is not only applied to his career but extends to his personal life. We already know about his simple, somewhat condescending, "house rules" that even apply to Nikki’s family when they visit, but we also find out that Cena made his girlfriend sign paperwork before she moved in with him.
Apparently autocratic Cena drew up a 75-page agreement for Nikki before she was allowed to move into Casa de Cena. Later in the season, John Cena does admit that he's "hard to live with."
All relationships are different, but 75 pages seems a little excessive.
14 Brie Bella’s Party-Girl Past
Despite the fact that Nikki is 16 minutes older than Brie, Brie behaves like the more mature and serious twin on Total Bellas.
This Bella Twin has settled down with vegan hubby Bryan and is approaching motherhood. She is known as a self-proclaimed hippy, a lover of animals, and a clean eater. However, Nikki reveals that this was not always the case.
During an episode of Total Bellas, Nikki accuses her sister of changing her personality to suit Bryan, upset that Brie does not party with her like she used to.
Brie maintains that her husband has helped her be the person she always wanted to be. However, Brie’s past - dating Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen, dressing like a Rockstar, partying, and drinking too much - comes to light during the season.
13 The Bella Twins’ Dad Emotionally Abused Their Mom
While Mama Bella is a huge presence in the girls’ lives, you will notice that Nikki’s and Brie’s father is conspicuously absent.
Usually reluctant to talk about him in interviews, Nikki drops the bombshell in Total Bellas that her dad cheated on her mum and that their marriage fell apart. An even more unpleasant revelation comes from Kathy Colace herself. She explains that her ex-husband’s routine picking apart of her appearance and self-worth during their marriage gradually destroyed her self-image.
In an episode of Total Bellas, Kathy admits that she feels insecure being in a swimsuit, even around her daughters. Kathy describes how she used to have great self-esteem, but dating a man who so casually impacted her confidence has left a lasting effect.
12 Bryan Suffers From Depression
Daniel Bryan, AKA Bryan Danielson, is the everyday hero of the glitzy reality show.
Bryan was always an unexpected wrestling superstar, a 5-foot-8 vegan who was apparently told he lacked the charisma and ambition to make it to the top, but became a firm fan-favorite until his retirement due to injury.
Besides the glamour of the Bella twins, Bryan shone as a down-to-earth, genuine guy with a penchant for gardening, recycling, and clean eating. His struggles with his head injury and abrupt retirement from wrestling at the start of the first season were some of the more emotional moments of a sometimes-trivial show.
Brie revealed his past struggles with depression and when he broke down in tears on screen, it would have taken a stone-hearted viewer not to want to leap up and give the General Manager a hug.
11 Kathy and Johnny Have A Pre-Nup
Mama Bella, aka Kathy Colace, sets to embark on her third marriage in the course of the show.
Some of the Bella brood were shocked to hear that her prospective partner, John Laurinaitis, has suggested a pre-nup with Kathy.
JJ, the kid brother of the Bella Twins, called the pre-nup a little suspect. Yet the other men in their lives, Cena and Bryan, agree a pre-nup can be a good idea in certain lines of work.
John Laurinaitis, also a former WWE wrestler and General Manager, did not jump into his engagement with Kathy. The couple had been dating for several years beforehand and are obviously going strong. With Kathy’s marriage to Laurinaitis, every woman in the family is paired up with a well-known wrestler or former wrestler, which makes for unique and theatrical reality TV.
10 They’re Not Half-Mexican, Half-Italian
The Bella Twins often cite their Italian/Mexican heritage as formative in their tempers and attitudes, but in an episode of Total Bellas, Daniel Bryant decides to do DNA tests to reveal their exact ethnicity and it is not quite what the Bellas expected.
Daniel gathers the family, including Lauren and Johnny, at a restaurant to share what the DNA and ancestry report has discovered.
It is explained that Brie is 40% Northwestern European, 26% British and Irish, 29% Southern European – of which 11% is Italian.
Obviously, Brie appears slightly gobsmacked at being more European and British than she is Italian or Mexican. Although Bryan explains that there’s technically “no such thing as Mexican, it’s native Americans mixed with European.”
Conversely, Daniel is 98% Scandinavian. A true Viking.
9 J.J. Separates From His Wife
J.J. Garcia, the little brother of Nikki and Brie, is often known as the Bella Brother. J.J. is married to popular blogger Lauren and has a baby daughter named Vivienne. Frequently seen on social media gushing about how lucky he is to have such a beautiful daughter, J.J. has a heart of gold but is also known for causing trouble and pulling pranks on the show.
One of the most troubling secrets to come to light through Total Bellas was that J.J. and Lauren were taking time away from their marriage. All relationships go through rough patches, but J.J.’s decision to move in with his sister Nikki and leave Lauren with the young baby did not go down well with audiences. Eventually J.J. is persuaded to face the issue head on and the couple get marriage counselling.
J.J. will need to do more than simply renew his vows to get back into our good books.
8 Kathy Thought Nikki Was Cheating
Nikki Bella and John Cena are the power couple of WWE. After defeating The Miz and his wife Maryse during a tag team match at WrestleMania 33, Cena got down on one knee and very publicly proposed.
It had not always been an easy road for the couple, with their ups and downs documented by Total Bellas. In one particular segment, Nikki’s mother thought Nikki might be cheating on her wrestling sweatheart. Nikki had given her mom a Facetime tour of her new house, during which a man who was not John ran by in a towel.
Nikki told Kathy she was seeing things, as the figure was J.J. and he had asked her not to admit to their mom that he was separated from his wife. Things were cleared up not long after, but Nikki was not pleased that her mom had even thought she was cheating.
7 John Cena’s Power of Attorney
The question of what to do if the worst should happen is a serious concern. Knowing who has power of attorney, or as Nikki put it, the power to pull the plug, is a relatable problem many people share with the superstars.
John Cena addressed the issue in the most Cena way possible in an awkward car conversation. He bluntly told the lady in his life that she was: “not even on the list.”
While Nikki maintains that she wants John to be hers, as she trusted his ability to make decisions, Cena refused to let Nikki know who had power of attorney in his life.
In a relationship already strained by the revelation that John did not want kids and was not particularly partial to marriage, Nikki saw this as another step back in their happily ever after.
6 Daniel Not Happy With Brie’s Pregnancy Shoot
Daniel Bryan calls his wife Brie’s semi-naked pregnancy photoshoot: “Not my cup of tea.”
On the season two premiere of Total Bellas, Brie Bella decides to do a wholesome pregnancy photo shoot to celebrate her approaching motherhood, but to boost her self-esteem she is also near-naked.
When Brie invites Bryan to take some personal photos with her as she poses before the cameras in just an open white robe, Bryan is not in his element and looks like he does not want to be there.
Bryan admits he struggles with the idea of sharing something so intimate with the rest of the world. Unlike his wife, Bryan says he is not a fan of social media and is a generally private individual. Unfortunately, he is on a reality TV show, so the privacy ship has sailed.
5 John Cena Doesn’t Like Dogs
Perhaps one of the most shocking reveals of Total Bellas is that John Cena isn't a dog's best friend.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but sometimes they misbehave. When you have a dog living with you, the fact they occasionally bark, bite, or vomit, is just part of the package.
Not in John Cena’s house. We have already heard about John Cena’s house rules; everyone, even dogs, is held accountable for their actions.
In the first episode of Total Bellas, Brie and Brian’s dog nips at Cena’s leg. Obviously, the dog needs to be trained but an emotionless Cena suggests, “We call animal control and they take the dog away.”
It might be a joke but later on we find out that John would prefer that Nikki give her own dog, Winston, to Brie and Daniel when the couple return to Phoenix.
Who knew anyone could hate puppies?
4 Mom’s Breast Cancer Scare
As ever, the penultimate episode of Total Bellas promises a juicy revelation by season’s end but audiences were probably not expecting the serious tone that the reveal took.
Kathy and Johnny have a huge argument over sharing a particular secret with the children as Kathy does not want to spread drama if it turns out not to be an issue.
At Johnny’s insistence, Kathy Colace shares with her daughters the fact that she has found a lump on her breast, understandably sending the family into overdrive with worry. The Bellas have a family history of breast cancer, as both Kathy’s sister and aunt were diagnosed with it. Thankfully, as it turns out, the lump is not cancerous but the result of a breast augmentation that she had months earlier.
3 The Extent of Nikki’s Injury
One of the unique appeals of Total Bellas was a chance to dispense with kayfabe and see backstage with the wrestlers.
Something which becomes obvious on the show is how often the superstars suffer injuries for their athleticism and how much they cover up in-ring.
Nikki Bella began the season in a neck brace, after breaking her neck and herniating a disk, but was determined to get back into wrestling. She was cleared for WrestleMania, but only just, and she was only allowed to do certain moves so that she did not wreck her neck again. Her signature "Rack Attack" move was completely out.
Unfortunately, a careless spear against Tyler Breeze at SmackDown Live reinjures her neck and cements the fact she should retire. The real shock here is that in the ring, she carried it like a champ, but in her reality TV show, fans can see how badly Nikki is injured.
2 Nikki Feared Cena Would Never Propose
The finale to years of will-they won’t-they marriage conversations on Total Bellas, as well as Nikki and Cena's first wrestling storyline together, was the iconic proposal at WrestleMania 33.
Yet both Cena and Nikki have been married before. John Cena has made no secret of his previous marriage. He tied the knot with his high-school sweetheart Elizabeth Huberdeau in 2009, but was only married for about three years before a divorce.
Nikki’s previous marriage was also to a childhood sweetheart and it also did not last long. However, Nikki kept it a secret from John and her family due to a sense of embarrassment.
Nikki admitted on Total Bellas that she started to fear her wrestling beau would never propose. With her mother on her third marriage and her sister expecting a baby, Nikki had good reason to start wondering if it was time for her to enter a new chapter in her own life.
1 The Bellas Have Drifted Apart
The purveyors of "Twin Magic", Nikki and Brie are famous for their synchronicity both in and out of the ring.
It's brought up on numerous occasions in the show that the pair are no longer the inseparable sisters that fans know and love. Nikki is caught complaining that her sister isn’t the diva that she used to be and missing the days when they would do everything together.
Nikki’s injury split them up in the ring and Brie’s change of lifestyle split them apart outside it. The sisters admit that in prioritizing their relationships to such different men, they’ve drifted away from each other.
With the birth of Brie’s new bundle of joy, Birdie, and Nikki’s approaching wedding, we're hopeful the twins can rebuild their relationship as they each move forward in their lives. Either way, viewers are sure to find out in future seasons of Total Bellas.
Do you have any secrets from Total Bellas to share? Leave in the comments!