Stephanie McMahon has been on a vindictive streak, her fury directed against one half of that magical twin duo, The Bella Twins. The storyline, if you go back, is really about a conflict between Stephanie and Brie Bella, stemming from Stephanie’s ongoing issues with Brie’s husband, Daniel Bryan. The last time we saw Brie Bella, she was slapping the crap out of Stephanie’s face during the final moments of her employment with the WWE. Brie would go on to quit the business that night, ending the use of Brie as leverage in the feud with Daniel Bryan – a noble sacrifice.
After one encounter with Brie backstage the following week, Nikki has been Bella twin-less. The familial ties, of course, was the only excuse needed to redirect Stephanie’s fury from Brie and onto Nikki. This is all well and good, I suppose, but for the past 6 weeks Stephanie has gone on to punish Nikki for Brie’s actions, with some fresh, new torment dreamed up each and every Monday night.
My problem with this feud has nothing to do with the performances of the two ladies on television. Stephanie is believable as the vindictive boss, and Nikki is doing her part and playing the hapless victim quite well. The problem is that the feud is stagnant and has shown zero forward momentum these past six weeks. Nikki is simply a stand-in for Brie. At some point, doesn’t the focus of the feud have to migrate from Brie to Nikki? After all, it is Nikki that is enduring these unjust physical punishment on a weekly basis.
If Brie Bella is currently resting at home, enjoying the company of her husband, there’s no reason for her to be featured on television as the focal point of a feud that cannot progress until she returns. In the interim, there’s zero reason why Nikki couldn’t have simply stood up for her sister, and had Stephanie’s anger focused onto her for that reason - keep the available talent as the active player in the storyline. Instead, Nikki is simply playing the perfect, voiceless victim – taking the fall for actions that she did not commit and doing nothing to defend herself. She is simply standing there with her arms tied behind her back, literally in some instances. Nikki, despite actually appearing on television every week, has been regulated to a bystander in this conflict.
The rumor, of course, is that Brie Bella is coming back in the near future and will be having some sort of scheduled altercation with Stephanie McMahon at SummerSlam 2014. Still, for the past six weeks, an eternity in the world of television, Brie has been a nonfactor in this feud. Brie is the focus of this storyline but hasn’t actively participated in any tangible way. It is an infuriating example of bait-and-switch storytelling.