In an era of ass-kicking women on TV (Supergirl, Blindspot's Jane Doe, Legends of Tomorrow's White Canary, Netflix's Jessica Jones), the Bella Twins are the real thing. Well, as real as anything gets on reality TV, anyway.
"It's definitely 100 percent real," Nikki Bella, one-half of the WWE twin sister act with Brie Bella, vowed over the phone from Los Angles on Jan. 15, four days before tonight's Season 5 premiere of Total Divas (9 p.m. ET/PT) on the E! channel.
Brie, who seems less demonstrative than Nikki (until she gets into Brie Mode, becoming the life of the party), joined her equally funny twinster on the speakerphone for an engaging, fast-paced tag-team conversation.
Regarding the entertaining series that follows several female professional wrestlers and their significant others, Nikki added, "The cameras catch everything going on in our lives from inside the ring to outside the ring."
Brie agreed, saying: "You obviously have these moments where you want to be alone but the cameras are there. ... And they're with you constantly. Not only out on the road but when we go home on our off days and have personal lives. But that's what we signed up for."
Going by their ring name, the Bella Twins were born Stephanie Nicole (older by 16 minutes) and Brianna Monique to Jon Garcia and Kathy Colace on Nov. 21, 1983, according to Wikipedia. On youth soccer clubs while growing up in Scottsdale, Ariz., they continued playing until graduating from Chaparral High School in 2002.
Now they are two of the most popular and successful performers on the E! channel's hit series and among the WWE Divas. And it's easy to understand why -- both not only are stunning champions in the ring, but also show a lot of heart, spirit, charisma and character as their daily trials, tribulations and triumphs are played out on national television.
When the Bellas were initially approached about the series, both had doubts.
"I know my first thought was, I don't know if I'm entertaining enough," Brie said. "I know people will connect to me but I don't know if I'm that interesting. But I guess it seems like I am."
Added Nikki: "For me it was a tough decision at first because my boyfriend John (Cena, a professional wrestler and actor) and I had a talk about it. And we were kind of like, 'Do we want put our private life out there?' John being so private, there was definitely discussion about that. At the end of the day, I know that people are gonna love me and they're gonna hate me but if women can relate to me and feel like they're not alone and learn from my mistakes then, to me, that's a reward, and I love what I do. But it wasn't like an immediate yes. It's definitely something I had to think about. And in the end, I feel I made the right decision and I have no regrets."
The Bella Twins -- Nikki (left) and Brie -- are gearing up for another
dramatic season of Total Divas.
Along with divulging some of their aspirations once they finally step out of the ring, the Bellas discuss upcoming developments (so SPOILER ALERT!) on the show this season. The interview concludes with a fun lightning-round Q&A in which Brie and Nikki reveal a few likes and dislikes (watch your back, Renee Zellweger) following clips featuring each of them in the Season 5 opener.
The Jan. 19 premiere updates viewers on their current status with the loves of their lives. Brie, who has been married since 2014 to three-time WWE heavyweight champion Bryan Danielson (competing under the ring name Daniel Bryan) is developing a case of "baby fever" in the first episode while her husband recovers from a possible career-ending injury.
"We've really been thinking about kids but when you have something happen like this, now I'm the one that's working and my husband's at home," Brie said. "It makes you kind of readjust and look at your life and say, 'Are we really ready for kids right now? Or do we really have to look at the next chapter of our lives, and does that mean different careers?' So you see us go through that journey this season."
Nikki, in a long-term relationship with Cena, who underwent shoulder surgery Jan. 7, said she's stuck in a love triangle with another wrestler -- ex-boyfriend Dolph Ziggler -- during the season's first two episodes.
"One thing I have wanted since I was a little girl is marriage and kids," she said, adding that Ziggler is ready to give her both.
"Especially because we all work together, it's made it a very awkward situation. But here I thought I was protecting John by not telling him, and this season, you see his reaction when I do tell him. ... And it's definitely not the greatest situation but it's definitely one you want to tune in and see the decision I make and how, you know, I'm going to live the rest of my life with that."
So setting up the scenario like the seasoned pros that they are, the Bella Twins -- who profess their love for reality TV and would relish starring in a Divas spinoff -- also made other disclosures.
Though she still has a real estate license, Nikki said selling homes is on the back burner because of their busy schedules.
"My husband is trying to convince her to sell Earthship (Biotecture) homes," Brie said of Danielson, an affirmed environmentalist who also makes a surprise appearance later in this interview.
Asked what gives her the most pleasure away from the ring, the quick-witted Brie said, "Well, my husband ... just kidding. But, you know, honestly, my husband and I, we love gardening. We're really big into local food spots and farm-to-table spots and just kind of showcasing and using our platform to put local vendors on that."
Saying she's not totally ready to give up the ring yet, Brie offered that she is figuring out "things that I can do with a baby bump. ... You know I feel like we'll start trying for a family sooner than later."
As Nikki and Brie consider other future endeavors like an undergarment line for women, entrepreneur (and Shark Tank investor) Daymond John is scheduled to make a guest appearance on the show. Television journalist Maria Shriver, who as the ex-wife of Arnold Schwarzenegger is the former first lady of California, also offers Nikki some words of encouragement.
"I would love to be a motivational speaker," said Nikki, who made it clear she wants to remain part of the WWE family after her wrestling days are over. "She's what inspires me to use my voice and motivate women and empower them and inspire young girls."
Nikki also has designs on becoming a television host after getting an enjoyable trial run on the E! After Party following NBC's Golden Globes telecast on Jan. 10. Sitting with a panel that included Ross Matthews, Zanna Roberts Rassi and NeNe Leakes, she said, "I really had a lot of fun. ... It's definitely something I love and, if E! will have me, I definitely want to do more of it in the future, for sure."
When it was suggested that E! should consider both for a twinning combination during its Academy Awards coverage, the Bellas sounded like superheroines eager to take on the most dangerous villain.
"This will drop NeNe right off her seat," Brie said with a laugh.
With more than a month until the Oscars, let the smackdown countdown begin.
LIGHTNING ROUND WITH THE BELLA TWINS
Feel free if you want to argue or elaborate. Between you and your sister, tell me:
Who was the smartest in school?
Brie: "Nikki was not."
Nikki: "Or Brie. I would say we were equal."
Bryan Danielson: "This is Brie's husband, Bryan. I can vouch for the fact that neither of them were good in school."
Nikki: "I got A's and B's, so I think that's pretty good in school."
Brie: "We were A's and B's students but neither one of us was better at one than the other. I feel like we were equal."
Who's the toughest competitor?
Brie: "Uh, Nikki. I'll give that to Nikki. She's very competitive, she's very tough."
Who's the most romantic?
Brie: "Nikki. Well, Bryan, Bryan ...
Bryan: "I've never been in a relationship (with Nikki), but if it's between Brie and I, I am the more romantic of the two."
Brie (laughing): "So, yeah, I guess Nikki's more romantic. But I am a love bug. I'm very affectionate."
What is the most surprising thing your sister has done?
Brie: "It surprised me when Nikki actually really wanted to become a motivational speaker and took all the steps in doing that. And then gave a motivational talk to 40 women. That surprised me. And I was really proud of her."
Nikki: "Awww, thanks, Brie."
Brie: "You're welcome."
Nikki: "I actually have to say Brie's Christmas gift to me this past year. I joined this women's network called Diamonds Unleashed. And they sell these diamond rings that represent women empowerment. And Brie knew that. I was telling her that, 'You know the one thing that sucks about not being married is that I don't wear a ring, so I get hit on a lot. ... I sometimes wish I had a ring so I wouldn't get hit on.' So literally for Christmas, Brie got me this ring so I could wear it out and not get hit on. And for some reason, I was surprised. And it was like very touching."
Your favorite athlete outside pro wrestling?
Brie: "Mine would definitely be (Mixed Martial Artist) Ronda Rousey."
Nikki: "That's a good one. Mine was (American soccer star) Mia Hamm but she's retired. I would think mine would be (Denver Broncos quarterback) Peyton Manning. I love Peyton Manning."
Your favorite drama queen in TV or movies?
Nikki: "You know I have to say, it's Emma Roberts' character from Scream Queens, Chanel Oberlin. She's amazing."
Brie: "Brie's would be Juliette Barnes in Nashville, who's played by Hayden Panettiere."
Who is the biggest diva you've ever seen or come across?
Brie: "Uh, I think because we're professional wrestlers, no one's really a diva around us."
Nikki: "Actually, the biggest diva I've come across is Rene Zellweger. She didn't want to meet the Divas when she came to Monday Night Raw. And didn't want them around her ex, Bradley Cooper. And what really grates me is (when) you come into our environment and then put rules on the Divas. It's like, 'I could like you but then don't come to our environment and do that.' " (laughs)
What about you, Brie?
Brie: "No, I really haven't. It's crazy."
Nikki: "Yeah, right. She's thinking like five in her head right now."
Brie: "No. Everyone's been so sweet to me. Maybe it's because I'm so sweet. I don't know."
Fictional or real-life villain you love to hate?
Nikki: "I would say Cersei (Lannister) from Game of Thrones (played by Lena Headey)."
Brie: "Gosh, that's a good one. I'm gonna have to agree with Nikki on that. Her character legit makes me want to turn it off."
Strangest thing you've been asked to do in the series?
Nikki: "They wanted me to ride a hot air balloon and I said, 'Absolutely not,' because I'm terrified of heights. I know that's not strange or weird but it was something I was asked to do and I said no."
Brie: "Gosh, I must be boring or something. I haven't been asked to do something strange or weird. I can't even think of anything."
Do they want you to get into Brie Mode every episode?
Brie (laughing): "I think they pray for it. But they never push that on me. That's just something I like to do on my own time. You know, I was asked about the hot air balloon, too, and I was like, 'Absolutely no way.' "
Nikki: "It would be motivational speaking and starting an undergarment line."
Brie: "Mine would be saving the planet, helping the environment and all the animals that can't have their voice be heard. And to kind of be their voice."
Since it's the E! channel, who's your favorite Kardashian?
Nikki: "Oooh, that's tough."
Brie: "There's a lot of them. Khloe is just hilarious. But I feel like I relate the most to Kourtney."
Nikki: "I love Kim and Khloe. But mine would probably be Khloe. Khloe and I would have an amazing time going and having happy hour."
And just one more: Growing up, which of you did Mom like best?
Nikki: "Oh, Brie."
Brie: "Definitely Brie."
Brie: "Because I was just the better child. I listened to her ... "
Nikki: "That's not it at all. I think it was because she was the miracle baby."
Photos and clips courtesy of NBC Universal.