Recap by Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) for the Wrestling Observer
Eva Marie is driving and gets called by a WWE exec, who says that Maxim wants her for a spread in the magazine. Apparently she's dreamed of being in Maxim and is thrilled. Thankfully for everyone in the world, she pulls over to react to this news. Elsewhere, the Bellas arrive at a show and sign autographs. Nikki basically introduces a video package about how famous she and Brie are and how great their lives are (with going to red carpet events and such). We visit Ariane and Vincent, where Ariane is getting ready to go out to a red carpet event, while Vincent isn't invited and apparently had things to do, but now wants to go. Ariane recaps the wackiness of Drunk Vincent in Vegas. Long story short: she's not happy with him.
Meanwhile, we visit John Cena's house, where John's getting stretched out by his trainers. Nikki, in perhaps the lowest cut a top can be while still being considered a top, explains how physically strenuous her and John's careers are. The trainers stretch out Nikki's sore legs, too. John's being a gentleman and not staring directly into her cleavage. We then head to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Eva Marie, JoJo (who now has darker, straighter hair), Ariane and Nattie are having lunch and Eva Marie tells them about being in Maxim. Nattie admits that Eva Marie has an “it factor.” Ariane's nervous about being replaced. JoJo is a bit jealous. Back at Eva Marie and JoJo's apartment, JoJo (now with different hair) sings the Star-Spangled Banner in the living room. Eva Marie didn't know that JoJo was that good at singing. JoJo wanted to ask if she could sing the national anthem before one of the upcoming shows. Eva Marie wonders if JoJo wants to be there to wrestle or to sing. (Hey, it's kept Lillian Garcia gainfully employed since the '90s, Eva...)
Later on, Nattie, Eva Marie and JoJo meet the Bellas and Ariane for lunch. Brie (smartly) advises the new girls to always be a bit better dressed than those who are regulars in the company, as it shows they're taking things seriously. Again, Eva Marie talks about the Maxim shoot. Brie discusses when she and Nikki were in Maxim. Ariane discusses having her parents meet Vincent's parents – which may progress towards an engagement. She's nervous and doesn't feel ready for that commitment. Brie asks what makes her not want to get married, and Ariane talks around admitting that she doesn't love him. Nikki wonders aloud if she just hasn't found “the one,” comparing Vincent to John Cena, the greatest man in the world. Nattie says that Vincent hasn't taken Ariane's guard down yet, so that's why she's not ready.
Another RAW, and we join a six-Divas tag in action between the Bellas and AJ and the Funkadactyls and Kaitlyn. The match progresses, Kaitlyn tosses Brie into Nikki, knocking Nikki off the apron to the floor. Dramatic music plays as we see the fall in slow motion, as Nikki is injured on the fall. We go backstage and Nikki is hurt but doesn't want to go to the doctor. Apparently her shin was hurt back when she played soccer, but now it hurts even worse. Brie lays down the law and tells Nikki that she needs to see the doctor, as they're a team and she's putting her foot down – she even threatens to tell John and the doctors about her injury if she doesn't do it herself by the end of the weekend.
Eva Marie meets with the Maxim hair, make-up and costume people. She's stoked for the shoot, and we get a montage of her getting her photo taken in front of a pool. Long story short – she's photogenic. Back in Tampa, John and Nikki have coffee and she mentions how her shin's bothering her. John advises her to get it checked, telling her to take care of herself. She's worried she'll be on the shelf for a few months. John says one of the better things to happen to him was his (injury) time off and says he'll be there for her if that happens. She's worried. Elsewhere, Araine takes her friggin' dog to get her nails done. Vincent is there, too, asking her to meet his dad. She's spending more time fussing over her dog. He really wants her to do it, and so she says she will. After her Maxim shoot, Eva Marie goes home to her apartment and JoJo (with her third different hair-style of the episode). JoJo's not amazingly excited and Eva Marie asks what's wrong. JoJo says she's happy for her, but Eva Marie notes that JoJo's not amazingly excited (as she usually is).
After a break, we go to the gym. Trinity makes her first appearance of the episode, listening to JoJo's pitch about singing the anthem before a show. She admits she's scared to pitch it to Mark and Jane (from talent relations) – harkening back to Eva Marie's Fandango dancer debacle by saying she doesn't want to try it and suck. Continuity! Trinity admits that JoJo's onto something and thinks singing is a good idea. Trinity pitches perhaps singing the Funkadactyl's theme song with JoJo, as that's a bit of an easier song than the national anthem and JoJo would be less nervous with someone singing with her – and they can bring Araine into the mix, too. Trinity notes that everyone would win that way. Jon jokes that if the girls sing the way they work out, they're in trouble – and he's interrupted mid-chuckle by a pretty awesome-looking flying knee from Trinity.
The Bellas go to a hospital so Nikki can get her bone scan. Nikki explains the bone scan and notes she sees a bright spot, noting a break on the scan. She sends the scan to the WWE doctors and has to wait nervously for their recommendation, noting she feels mad at herself for not taking care of the original problem with her shin when it happened. Brie notes that Nikki's being a bit selfish only focusing on the injury effecting her, as their act is the Bella Twins and she'll probably be impacted by the injury, too. Nattie and Eva Marie drive around, with Nattie explaining her wacky schedule and wedding planning, comparing her relationship with TJ to Eva's relationship with JoJo. She notes being around JoJo 24/7 can be irritating. Nattie notes that JoJo should be more concerned with doing a wrestling move than doing a “girl-band with Trinity and Ariane.” She's not wrong. In the best moment of the show, Nattie begins cutting a promo on “the girls that work at Hooters,” then stops and asks Eva Marie if she ever worked at Hooters. Yep, she did. Ha.
JoJo and Trinity go to a recording studio to record a demo of “Somebody Call My Mama,” so they can show WWE their idea instead of explaining it to them. Admittedly, it sounds pretty good and the producer is actually Trinity's dad. Over in LA, Ariane meets Vincent's dad. She's nervous. His dad cooked and she says hello in Armenian. Outside of the cute introduction, the dinner is awkward – Vincent's dad wants grandkids and she's on the road a lot. But Vincent can't move away from his parents without being engaged or married. After the break, Eva Marie and JoJo are still tense. Eva notes that JoJo is jealous. JoJo gets a phone call from Jane from talent relations, calling the demo song awesome and they want to use it. JoJo is happy. Back in LA, Ariane kisses her dog while Vincent frets about it. Vincent promises a surprise for Ariane and takes her to a jewelry store...to go ring shopping. She sees what's coming. He's discussing the next step and presumes that she'll go along with it. She leaves the store and he dramatically runs after her, asking what's wrong. She says she needs to step back and figure out what's going on. Vincent's taken aback, noting Ariane never talked to her about how she felt. He takes it rather well. She doesn't. He stresses that whatever happens, he'll be there for her.
The Bellas meet with Dr. Sampson from WWE. He shows Nikki the scan results, with a stress fracture in her shin. Instead of 4-6 weeks, it'll be longer – and with crutches. Long story short, it'll be about 20 weeks before she can wrestle (if things go according to plan). Nikki admits she made things worse by not taking care of her body. Ariane, Trinity and JoJo practice for their entrance and song. Vince McMahon walks through the shot, saying hi to the girls. Suddenly, Trinity reveals she has a cough and feels like crap. Also, Ariane is sad about the whole Vincent situation. After a break, the three girls head to the ring on Main Event. JoJo is nervous. The rest of the cast hangs out and watches. They sing decently, but the harmonizing isn't great and they're visibly nervous. Eva Marie says that the song wasn't good – and that's what JoJo gets for not supporting her. After another break, the girls head backstage after the song. Trinity thought they were mediocre, while Araine is a bit more upbeat about it, calling it “not a complete trainwreck.” JoJo calls it an “epic fail.” Elsewhere, Mark from talent relations meets with the Bellas after a meeting with the creative team. Long story short, they don't know what they can do with Nikki on crutches, as Divas aren't on crutches. Thus, they're sending Nikki home for a few weeks. Nikki's nervous. She's almost 30 – will she ever come back? Spoiler: Yes (probably during the second half of this season).
FINAL THOUGHTS: This episode lacked the narrative thread that the Vegas trip brought last week, but it did have more John Cena and some pretty interesting backstage stuff with Nikki's shin injury and JoJo trying to use her singing talent to get on TV.
Next week, the first half of the season ends with what's sure to be an absolute gong show of a wedding.