The season finale of Total Diva's eighth season surpassed any imaginable hype and should instantaneously go down as one of the show's most heartwarming and emotional all-time episodes.
The finale was filled with heightened drama including marital strife between Jimmy Uso and Naomi, historic women's matches along with the internal struggles that come with setting the pace of history, but the most memorable moments include the late Jim Neidhart's struggles with Alzheimer's & his sudden and tragic passing.
From the tear-filled goodbyes to more Bella gaffes, join us as we take as we examine 5 Things We Learned From The Total Divas Season Finale.
#5. Neidhart's health struggles were heartbreaking
He still looked like Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, the goatee donned maniac that leveled through WWE's tag team division in the 1980s and 90s; but, there was something off, something just not right about the legendary WWE Superstar. For fans that watched Neidhart on Total Divas, the physical decline was obvious. Neidhart was obviously overweight, seemed out of breath, swollen, and red-faced. Perhaps more worrisome, Neidhart increasingly seemed to have difficulties with his mental acuity. Gone was the quick witted promo master we came to know and love during wrestling's golden era. Instead, Neidhart was there; but, not there. It was difficult to place.
When Natalya opened up about her father's struggled with Alzheimer's Disease, the puzzle pieces began to fall into place and the wrestling world began to make sense of Neidhart's obvious struggles. Neidhart had been declining mentally, purchasing the same pair of shoes over and over again that ultimately racked up a credit card debt of thousands. The family couldn't bear to tell him. They didn't want him to feel like a burden, although they braced for the time that he would require a full time care-giver and possibly be placed in a full-time care facility.
A shaken Natalya said, "I don't want people to think that daddy's not all there, but then the other part of me is like, 'Why are we hiding something like this that is really going on in our life?'"
Natalya was so burdened by her father's diagnosis that she insisted on being tested for genetic markers for the disease. Fortunately, she did not have the markers and will likely never suffer from the disease, as her future will, in all likelihood, look very different from her father's. Jim Neidhart; however, was less fortunate. He was only expected to continually decline, as Ellie (Natalya's mother, sister of Bret Hart) said, pouring out her heart & soul.
If "The Anvil" had lived, he would have likely forgotten his Hall of Fame worthy career, his days as an NFL football player, his impressive tag team accolades, and worse, his wife and daughters; Natalya, Kristen, and Jenny.
The weekend before his passing, Neidhart would rekindle his relationship with his sister, with whom he had been estranged for two decades. She brought him pictures and videos to see and he became a boy again, as the two reminisced over good times long gone by. Natalya remembered her father as having 'perfect clarity' in these simple beautiful moments and claimed that it was her father's way of somehow someway saying goodbye.
On this episode, an increasingly heart broken Natalya shared some of her very last hugs, smiles, and laughter with her father, her hero. Our eyes were all wet.
#4. Natalya gave her father a fitting tribute
The Neidhart Family were shocked by Jim Neidhart's passing. They were preparing for his future with the terrible Alzheimer's Disease; but, were nowhere near ready to bury the legendary Neidhart patriarch.
Natalya received a shocking call at 7AM and braced herself for what would be devastating news. Natalya's sister was direct and succinct over the phone, "Daddy died." Natalya later reflected, "I just thought my dad was gonna live forever. I always looked at my dad as being somebody that was just this unbreakable unstoppable force."
Natalya, in the midst of the hectic SummerSlam schedule, had to prepare for her father's funeral, "I felt like I was in a dream where I just couldn't get it together." Natalya instantly went into planning for her father's farewell and planned, 'The best send off ever.'"
Natalya helped display a Hall of Fame worthy collection of memorabilia that included Jim Neidhart's famous jacket and in a reminder of how quickly time passes, his tiny baby shoes. Ellie Neidhart summed it up, "Everthing, his family, his dreams...everything that he's about is on this table."
Natalya was presented with her father's personal rosary. It was his wish that it would to go to the daughter, who followed in his footsteps and became a WWE Superstar. Natalya wept, as she placed his legendary shades above his famous leather jacket and broke our collective hearts as she cried, "I just loved daddy so much."
Natalya gave a touching eulogy; however, the ultimate tribute was given when she appeared alongside Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam, proudly wearing the same leather jacket that was displayed at her father's funeral, only days prior.
#3. The WWE is a family
As Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart was laid to rest, wrestling superstars, luminaries, and personalities came from all around the world to pay their respects. WWE chief brand officer, Stephanie McMahon, came to support Natalya and say goodbye to The Anvil, despite being in the middle of the intense SummerSlam schedule. McMahon attended the funeral and then flew back to the east coast to take part in a SummerSlam meet & greet that very same day.
Joining Natalya was her Hall of Fame Uncle Bret "Hitman" Hart, who sadly came to bid a final farewell to his friend and former Hart Foundation tag team partner.
Later while picking up the pieces at home, Natalya debated whether to attend SummerSlam at all; but, inevitably did so as a fitting tribute to her father. When she arrived backstage, Natalya could hardly hold it together and openly wept, as she was embraced by Lana and long-time friends, Nikki & Brie Bella.
Daniel Bryan, who lost his own father in 2014, was also there to offer kind words of wisdom and emotional support. Natalya lost her father; but, she didn't lose him alone, as this episode clearly demonstrates She lost him along with her WWE Family, who love her deeply and fully offered their unwavering support.
#2. The Bellas have a terrible grasp on history
Total Divas is filled with Bella gaffes, but that doesn't make them any less entertaining. The season finale featured one of the all-time greatest Bella gaffes and left social media abuzz in shock. Apparently the duo are dumbfounded over when Albert Einstein existed (at least they don't believe he's mythical...hopefully). They even called Daniel Bryan, so that he could get in on the fun.
Brie asked her doting husband, "What year did Albert Einstein die?" Bryan almost knew the exact year and without hesitation said, "1958." Bryan was in the ballpark, at least. Einstein passed in 1955; but, the Bellas didn't even have the right century.
The Bellas actually believe that the 1921 Nobel Prize winner died long before his scientific prime: in the 1800s. Nikki said in head scratching fashion, "He seemed like he was a part of Socrates, or at least a part of Newton?" A shocked Daniel Bryan could be heard screaming over the cell phone, "Socrateeees?" Nikki added, "I thought he was around at the time of the guy with the light bulb [Thomas Edison, maybe]."
Bella went on to state that when you look at Einstein's photos, they do seem fairly recent; but, hat's also a significant issue since photographs were extremely uncommon in the 1800s. Just think of how few there actually are of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most notable figures in history. Meanwhile, Albert Einstein just rolled over in his grave.
Even Lana (hardly known for her historical acumen) took a moment to chide The Bella Twins via Twitter:
#1. Jimmy & Naomi - Trouble In Paradise?
WWE power couple, Jimmy Uso and Naomi, have had their share of marital strife on this season of Total Divas. Most notably, the couple who wed on the show in 2014, faced difficulties over their current living situation. Jimmy Uso is content with the couple's living situation in Orlando, Florida whereas Naomi would like to move to Atlanta, Georgia, where she has family.
This episode saw the couple again on shaky ground. It was revealed that although Jimmy Uso wears his wedding ring in public, Naomi does not. The former SmackDown Women's Champion instead kept the ring in her gym bag, which was stolen after her vehicle was broken into. Oooops!
Jimmy took his wife ring shopping; but, seemed heartbroken over the ring, which had loads of sentimental value to him specifically. That point seemed lost on Naomi, until her husband actually threatened her with divorce papers.
Naomi was shocked and decided to make a peace offering. She offered to get matching tattoos (Naomi's very first) on their ring fingers. The couple went through with it; but, one has to wonder, how much more these two can actually take, especially if Jimmy keeps bringing up divorce (a real life fear of Naomi's)? Total Divas season nine promises to bring all these things (and more) to light.
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