'Total Bellas': How Nikki Bella fought a serious neck injury, a very public heartbreak and more to become a strong female role model
Reality and WWE star, longest reigning Diva champion, businesswoman and actor, Nikki has overcome personal pain, a broken neck and countless losses to be the woman she is today
Some stars shine bright without burning out - Nikki Bella is one of them. Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace is a reality and WWE star, longest reigning Diva champion, businesswoman and actor. She's had immense success with everything she's stepped foot in, especially WWE. Her story is that of persistence and triumph and although you may just see her as a pretty face - she's much more than that.
Before she became a WWE star, Nikki Bella lived a quiet life on her parent's farm in Scottsdale, Arizona. Although at the time she probably didn't think she would wrestle in her life, she and her twin Brianna, who is now known as Bri, were huge soccer fans. She played soccer all the way till college. Her sporty gear makes her stand out in the ring and every WWE show she's been a part of - clearly showing that she's never let go of her roots. She then dreamt of turning her love for athletics into performing on the WWE stage and, boy! are we glad.
She's one of the top WWE female wrestlers in the world today and one cannot imagine the world of wrestling without the twins. Her starts were humble and did not involve a big fight at all. In fact, she first got noticed after she made a guest appearance on Fox's 'Meet My Folks', following which the twins were brought onboard as the World Cup Twins for Budweiser and were photographed holding the World Cup trophy. The two then tried their luck with the 2006 WWE Diva Search, but they did not make the cut.
Her fortunes looked up in the very next year when she was signed to a developmental contract with her sister by WWE and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling. The Bella Twins, as they were dubbed, made their ring debut the same year opposite Nattie Neidhart and Krissy Vaine. It was after this fight that the persona of Nikki Bella was born - the woman who would stop at nothing to beat her opponent. The Bella Twins and their opponents began a staged feud and continued to fan the flames all the way till October 2007.
All was well - Nikki and Brie were competing in FCW, Raw, Superstars, WWE Divas Championship, Royal Rumble, NXT, SmackDown, and Wrestlemania XXVIII. Soon her life started spiraling out of control in 2014. The twins at the time were competing in 'Extreme Rules' and Nikki went up against Naomi to retain her title.
The twins were then faced with Tamina and Naomi, who were brought in just to even the odds. This change did not do well for them - and the twins lost. However, Nikki still defended the title of being longtime Diva champion when she defeated Charlotte in Raw, by being a winner for more than 295 days - a record previously held by AJ Lee.
@BellaTwins I congratulate for your unbelievable career within the WWE but also for everything you have achieved in the ring during all the years since your debut. #Bellaarmy pic.twitter.com/EdaIgQpX8n— Quentin Ferry (@queflo46) December 17, 2018
This success did not last long - she ended up losing to Charlotte at Night of Champions and lost further in Hell in a Cell. Then came the worst so far - she sustained a serious neck injury in 2015 that led her to going off TV (she was already on 'Total Divas' at the time) and the ring for a while. She required a bone transfusion that could potentially end her WWE career at a time when it was at its heights. She also had to let go of her signature finishing move, the Rack Attack. While this may seem like a tiny deal, in wrestling, having a signature move, a gimmick and look are extremely important to the identity of a wrestler's persona.
Her struggle with her injury was real but even then, she didn't lose hope. "I have basically a broken neck, a pretty bad herniated disk," Nikki had said at the time, "What makes mine a little bit difficult than most people is that I have some disk behind my vertebrae so with a lot of prayers we're gonna pray that the doctors can get the piece behind my vertebrae with just a bone fusion. I have honestly one of the most amazing doctors," Nikki said. "And I know that he's gonna do so amazing and I'm going to have the best comeback story that anyone has ever heard of."
Her recovery was 10 months long. She returned the following year as a villainess at SummerSlam playing with Natalya and Alexa Bliss against Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Carmella. This game was big to her in two ways. First, she made her comeback and secondly, she established her face as a part of the brand - something that hadn't happened to her since 2014.
Then came her very public heartbreak and split with fellow wrestler John Cena in 2018. Cena proposed to Nikki in the ring just after winning a match last year - however, they split up soon, in front of the whole world to watch. They had been together for six years and the breakup took a huge toll on her career.
She had early on in her career went on to do another reality show with her twin on E! called 'Total Bellas' that chronicled her and Brie's personal life - establishing her as a reality star as well. Her injury and relationship went on to pull viewers onto the reality show as well - after all, who didn't want to know what was going on with Nikki?
The show will return for a fourth season in January - marking the first time that Nikki will be seen without John on the show. Season 4 follows Nikki as she moves forward with her new life as a single woman and dips her toes back into the dating pool for the first time in almost a decade.
Nikki has overcome personal pain, a broken neck and countless losses to be the woman she is today. In a world that was predominantly male-centric, Nikki has carved out space for herself and she's not going anywhere. Nikki Bella is a force to be reckoned with and there's no denying that.