Total Divas is back, and while we are all looking forward to catching up on the latest exploits of the Bella Twins, Eva Marie, Paige, Nattie, and the rest of the cast, today we’re going to shift focus to their male counterparts and how they’ve performed inside the ring. Whether the show has piqued your curiosity and you’re thinking about adding Monday Night RAW to your DVR queue, or you just want to know a little bit more about what these wrestlers do when they aren’t growing their own organic vegetables or taking care of their cats, we have you covered.
Let’s start with the man who is perhaps WWE’s biggest Superstar at the moment — and the current love interest of Nikki Bella — John Cena. The leader of the Cenation and Doctor of Thuganomics started his pro wrestling career in 1999 with the now-defunct, California-based Ultimate Pro Wrestling promotion. His character, The Prototype, stood out with his signature blonde flattop and extremely muscular physique. He immediately made an impact, becoming its champion within a year.
WWE must have instantly recognized his potential, because in 2001 it signed Cena to a developmental deal to wrestle for its Ohio Valley Wrestling promotion. He continued to train and develop his character in OVW, going on to win both the Heavyweight Championship and Tag Team Championship.
Cena made his WWE television debut in June 2002, when he answered an open challenge from Olympic gold medalist and former WWE Champion Kurt Angle. He nearly won his debut match, and in the process kicked off what is now known as the Ruthless Aggression Era in WWE.
Cena’s star was quickly on the rise, and he went on to win the United States Championship in 2004 and his first WWE Championship in 2005. He has since held what is now known as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship a record 12 times. In addition to the World Heavyweight Championship and United States Championship, Cena has also been a WWE Tag Team Champion, has won the Royal Rumble twice, and is the recipient of several Slammy Awards.
Cena’s rise to glory and subsequent title dominance has not gone without controversy. Perhaps it’s the fact that Cena has been the face of WWE for so long, or that people are tired of seeing the babyface hero finish every pay-per-view match with his signature Attitude Adjustment slam or STF submission. Regardless, Cena is nothing if not polarizing. Don’t be surprised if you tune in to RAW and hear opposing chants of “Let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” as he makes his way to the ring.
These days, when he is not showering Nikki with Louis Vuitton shoes or avoiding the topic of marriage and children, John Cena can be found nursing a shoulder injury and preparing for his return to the ring. He also keeps busy with several guest appearances in television and movies, including last year’s Sisters and Trainwreck.
Daniel Bryan is a complex individual. Rare is the man who loves an organic artichoke equally as much as a guillotine choke, or can recognize the importance of both a composting toilet and a flat back bump. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that his in-ring persona, move set, and career so far are just as complex and fraught with contradictions.
The future Mr. Brie Bella first began training to be a professional wrestler just after high school. He developed his skills under the watchful eye of Shawn Michaels at the Texas Wrestling Academy. Like Michaels, many of Bryan’s early influences and teachers are on the smaller, more agile side of the wrestler spectrum, but he also cites many big men as sources of inspiration. Bryan’s ability to blend the influences of the likes of Dean Malenko and Michaels with larger wrestlers such as Toshiaki Kawada, Mitsuharu Misawa, and William Regal — with a hint of Jujutsu added on top — has resulted in a distinct wrestling style unlike anyone else’s in the business.
As a young performer, Bryan bounced around the wrestling world, including stints with New Japan Pro Wrestling and the WWE developmental territory, Memphis Championship Wrestling. Bryan joined Ring of Honor in 2002, and it is there that he truly made a name for himself. Fans reacted to his in-ring talent and work ethic, as well as his willingness to put his body on the line. This disregard for his own personal safety made for some memorable matches, but would ultimately come back to haunt him later in his career.
While Bryan’s early career in WWE began in fits and starts, he eventually joined the roster on a full-time basis in 2010. He immediately began to build a reputation for being one of the best wrestlers in the locker room, but was held back in favor of larger performers that more closely fit the WWE mold of a typical champion. However, his work ethic and down-to-earth persona began to lay the foundation for what is now known as the “Yes! Movement.”
Bryan’s relative lack of size, untraditional look, and laid-back attitude seemed to connect with WWE fans. This connection only grew stronger when he grew out his hair and beard and developed his now-signature look. Bryan may very well be the world’s first hipster professional wrestler, and it appears that is exactly what WWE fans were looking for. Soon, you couldn’t attend a live event or watch an episode of RAW or Smackdown without hearing the crowd chant “YES! YES! YES!” as Bryan mounted comeback after comeback against any opponents thrown at him. This all culminated with Bryan overcoming the odds and finally winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX.
Unfortunately, Bryan wouldn’t retain the title for very long, as a neck injury resulted in him vacating the title later that year. He mounted a small comeback a few months later, but had to vacate yet another title, the WWE Intercontinental Championship, after years of strain on his body, old injuries, and a history of concussions finally caught up with him.
At this point Daniel Bryan’s wrestling future is up in the air. He is faced with the choice of giving up something he loves versus risking his long-term health and well-being to try to recapture in-ring glory and WWE gold. This season of Total Divas will no doubt focus on Bryan’s struggle adapting to life without wrestling. As to whether or not he will ever return to the ring, we can only hope the answer is “YES! YES! YES!”
Jimmy Uso may be the life partner of WWE Diva Naomi, but in the ring he and his twin brother Jey partner to form the tag team The Usos. His most memorable moment on Total Divas so far may be getting caught having an up close and personal moment with Naomi while sharing a luxury bus with some other performers. However, getting up close and personal with The Usos is not something any WWE tag team wants to do. From the moment The Usos enter an arena, wearing traditional Samoan tribal face paint as they perform the customary haka, you know they mean business.
The Usos grew up in a wrestling family. Their father, Rikishi, was a popular Superstar in the Attitude Era of the late 90s. Their great uncles, The Wild Samoans, were also one of the most feared tag teams of the ’70s and ’80s. Their cousins include Yokozuna, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and current WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns. Wrestling is in their blood, and it’s something they knew they would pursue from an early age.
The Usos began training in WWE developmental in 2009, where they would face off against other future WWE Superstars, including Bray Wyatt and Big E. They made the move to the main roster in 2010, when they debuted as heels against another wrestling family, The Hart Dynasty.
Jimmy and Jey didn’t remain bad guys for long, as their energy was infectious and high-flying moves like the Uso Splash won over the hearts of WWE fans. They soon went on a roll, capturing their first WWE Tag Team Championship on the March 3, 2014, episode of RAW.
Unfortunately, the tag team faced a setback last March when Jey suffered a shoulder injury that would keep him out of action for several months. During this time, Jimmy lingered as a singles competitor, or by partnering with the occasional Superstar or existing tag team for one-off matches. He also spent some time ringside doing commentary, where we got to see a bit of the personality and charm that is so apparent on Total Divas.
Jimmy and Jey returned to the tag team scene last November and have their sights set on recapturing the WWE Tag Team Championship. In the meantime, they will have to make do with the Slammy Award they won last December for Tag Team of the Year.
You may know Theodore Wilson by the name “T.J.” or simply as Nattie’s husband, but in the ring he goes by the name Tyson Kidd. As a child in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T.J. grew up around the famed Hart family and trained in the infamous Dungeon, where he no doubt experienced his signature finisher, the Dungeon Lock, firsthand. He wrestled his first match at the young age of 15, then went on to wrestle for New Japan Pro wrestling and Stampede Wrestling before signing with WWE in 2006.
Kidd made his WWE television debut in 2009 as part of the ECW brand. He soon joined forces with David Hart Smith and Natalya to form The Hart Dynasty, which went on to win the WWE Tag Team Championship and had a successful run until November 2011, when they decided to part ways. Kidd had mild success as a singles competitor but was sidelined due to a torn meniscus in 2013. He eventually headed back down to the NXT developmental brand, where he began to regain some momentum.
In January 2015, Kidd began teaming with Cesaro. This was a pleasant surprise to hardcore WWE fans, who recognized the tremendous in-ring talent of both men, despite neither receiving a lot of airtime. The two immediately became a dominant force in the tag team division, capturing the WWE Tag Team Championship from The Usos at the February 2015 Fastlane pay-per-view.
Kidd and Cesaro lost the titles a few months later, but their hopes of recapturing the gold were put on hiatus when Kidd suffered a serious neck injury in June. He is still out of action and stuck at home for the time being, which may be sad news for wrestling fans, but ought to make for some fun moments on this season of Total Divas.
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