As a lifelong WWE fan, I‘ve had the joy of watching Nikki Bella‘s entire career unfold. From her early days in the Diva Search to becoming a trailblazing women‘s wrestling icon, Nikki has constantly evolved and inspired. She is so much more than just a talented wrestler – Nikki is a pop culture force who has transcended the world of sports entertainment. Let‘s take a closer look at the incredible journey and impact of the one and only Nikki Bella!
Small Town Girl Becomes Wrestling Superstar
While Nikki was born in San Diego, she grew up on a farm in Scottsdale, Arizona. No one, including Nikki herself, could have predicted she‘d end up as one of WWE‘s biggest stars one day. Her childhood dreams initially revolved around soccer, dance, and cheerleading.
After high school, Nikki pursued modeling and acting. She appeared in various catalogs and music videos but was waiting for her big break. That opportunity came in 2006 when she and her twin sister Brie auditioned for the WWE Diva Search. Neither had any wrestling background at the time. However, Nikki‘s tenacious attitude and marketable looks convinced WWE to offer her a developmental contract.
Nikki honed her wrestling skills in WWE‘s training system for two years before debuting on SmackDown in 2008. It didn‘t take long for her potential as a superstar to become evident. Within a few years, Nikki would be competing in high stakes championship bouts and headlining pay-per-views. Her small town ambitions had transformed into full-fledged wrestling stardom.
"I went from being a tomboy growing up on a farm to glamming it up in the WWE. I‘ve lived out my dreams." – Nikki on her unlikely career path
Teaming Up with Brie to Become the Bella Twins
Initially wrestling under just the name Nikki, she was paired up with Brie to form The Bella Twins in 2008. This proved to be a genius move by WWE. The duo‘s perfectly contrasting personalities complemented each other. Brie brought a sweet nature while Nikki was more outspoken and fiery.
Together, they rapidly became the most popular divas on the roster. The Bella Twins were involved in memorable rivalries and storylines for over a decade. Nikki and Brie captured the Divas Championship three times, proving themselves as one of the top tandems ever.
As Nikki reflects:
"Those years teaming with Brie as the Bella Twins were so special. We got to create magic together and make our own lane in WWE history."
Record-Breaking Divas Champion
A defining moment in Nikki‘s career came in 2014 when she captured her second Divas Championship. What made this title reign so iconic was its length – Nikki held the belt for 301 days, the longest of any diva. She smashed AJ Lee‘s previous record of 295 days.
During interviews from her title run, Nikki spoke candidly about wanting to restore prestige to the divas division after it had been neglected for years. Her message clearly resonated as enthusiastic crowds would chant "We Want Nikki!" She also proved women could draw as well as men by headlining pay-per-views against fellow superstars Paige and Charlotte Flair.
Breaking Down Barriers in the "Divas Revolution"
When Nikki returned from a severe leg injury in 2015, she entered one of the most pivotal times for women‘s wrestling in WWE history. The "Divas Revolution" kicked off with female performers like Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley joining the main roster.
While Nikki was already an established veteran, she continued breaking new ground during this movement. Her historic rivalry with Charlotte Flair resulted in Nikki becoming the first woman to headline a WWE pay-per-view event at Hell in a Cell. She also competed in WWE‘s first ever women‘s Hell in a Cell match at that same event.
Nikki‘s courage and resilience during this transitional period raised the bar for the divas division. She passed the torch to the next generation, leaving a lasting impact on women‘s wrestling.
Total Divas and Total Bellas Superstardom
Nikki‘s popularity exploded to new heights as one of the stars of the E! reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas. These programs offered an entertaining glimpse into her life outside the ring. Long-time WWE fans like myself finally got to see the real woman behind the Nikki Bella persona.
Total Divas premiered in 2013 and was an instant ratings smash. Nikki‘s bubbly personality, sense of humor, and relationship drama with John Cena made her a fan favorite. She came across as extremely down-to-earth and likeable, which is a testament to her charisma.
The limited reality exposure on Total Divas wasn‘t enough, so Nikki and Brie scored their own show Total Bellas in 2016. Now the spotlight was completely on the twins. This catapulted their stardom to A-list status, landing them endorsement deals, TV hosting gigs, and magazine covers.
But as Nikki has emphasized, "Being successful outside WWE was never my goal. I always wanted to build my legacy and make history as a WWE superstar first."
Leaving a Lasting Legacy in WWE
And build her legacy Nikki did. She retired from WWE in 2019 after a Hall of Fame worthy career. While only an active competitor for 12 years, her impact was immense. When she started with WWE, female performers were often treated as eye candy rather than serious athletes.
Thanks to trailblazers like Nikki Bella, women are now viewed on the same level as men in the company. They get more television time, higher profile storylines, and compete in the same grueling matches like Hell in a Cell. Nikki played a major role in this positive shift.
She never shied away from any challenge, always believing in herself when others didn‘t take women wrestlers seriously. Now WWE has its first ever all women‘s pay-per-view WrestleMania main event with Ronda Rousey vs. Becky Lynch. Superstars like Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair have Nikki to thank for paving the way.
The "Fearless" nickname couldn‘t describe Nikki any better. She overcame barriers and critics to accomplish things no other woman had done before in WWE. Just like her in-ring skills, Nikki‘s legacy continues to grow even after retirement.
Passion for Success Outside WWE
Nikki Bella is one of those rare talents who seamlessly transitioned into thriving outside of sports entertainment. Her business savvy and tireless work ethic have led to massive success across various other ventures.
Ever the fashionista, Nikki founded her own athleisure apparel brand Birdiebee in 2017. She also co-created a health and wellness brand called Nicole + Brizee with sister Brie the same year. Expanding her entrepreneurial skills, Nikki launched her own line of wines called Belle Radici in 2021.
But she didn‘t stop there. Nikki has also:
- Published a best-selling memoir called Incomparable
- Launched a podcast with Brie called The Bellas Podcast
- Started a YouTube channel with over 150 million views
- Become a judge on NBC‘s America‘s Got Talent Extreme
Nikki Bella simply refuses to slow down. She has all the qualities – drive, magnetism, smarts – to continue succeeding at the highest levels in entertainment.
The Secret to Nikki Bella‘s Lasting Appeal
So how has Nikki managed to remain such a lovable mainstream star nearly 15 years into the spotlight? In my opinion, it comes down to three key factors:
Unlike some celebrities, there is zero pretense with Nikki. She presents her real, unfiltered self to the world without airs. The girl you see on TV is the same bubbly personality in real life. Nikki‘s natural charm and humor constantly shine through.
Despite her fame and success, Nikki feels like someone any fan can bond with. She shares the highs and lows of her personal relationships, family issues, career setbacks, and more. Nikki comes across as the girl next door who just happens to be a WWE superstar.
Inspiring Work Ethic
Nikki Bella earned her elite status through tireless hard work – it was never handed to her. Her perseverance and determination through adversities are admirable. She chases her dreams fearlessly.
There will never be another sensation quite like the Bella Twin who transformed women‘s wrestling. But most importantly, Nikki‘s compassionate heart and magnetic spirit are what make her a true icon. She has permanently left her mark not just on WWE history but pop culture as a whole.