The identical sisters in The Parent Trap may have fooled their parents, but the Bella Twins rose to WWE fame switching places in the ring during matches to ensure victory. Whether it was seen as deception or pure wrestling drama, the “Twin Magic” soon gave them a reputation, which they were able to back up with their deft and powerful skills.
Now retired, Brie Bella — whose full name is Brianna Monique Danielson — won the Divas Championships in 2011 and sister Nikki — who is Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace — eventually won two titles as well. That paved the way for reality television fame on Total Divas in 2013, followed by their own spinoff Total Bellas in 2016, which has followed them through their relationships, including when they were both pregnant at the same time. They were also inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Here are 10 things you may not know about the pro wrestling twins:
They grew up on a farm with little exposure to entertainment
Nikki, who is 16 minutes older, and sister Brie, spent their childhood relatively sheltered on a farm in Scottsdale, Arizona. “We were raised with horses, cows, and chickens,” Brie told Muscle & Fitness. “We’d have to wake up before school and feed the animals, come home and feed the animals, and then go straight to soccer practice.”
Even in their downtime, the sisters, who are of Mexican-Italian descent, weren’t allowed to gravitate to anything that they wanted to. “My mother was very strict about what we watched,” she added. “We were lucky if we could watch 90210 or Saved by the Bell.”
They’ve always had some sense of twin intuition
At the age of 5, the twins insisted they not dress alike unless their mom forced them to. Following that, when they were in third grade, their mom put them in separate classes to give them a bit of space. Though they shared a friend group, they had different best friends. Still, there was always a connection. “They could sense each other's feelings and would sustain similar injuries at the same time or within weeks of each other,” AZCentral wrote. “They often finish each other's sentences.”
The sisters were both soccer stars
Soccer became one of their common outlets, as they both started playing in fifth grade and then continued playing competitively for 11 years. “I snapped my tibia on the field senior year in high school which wasn’t fun, but never stopped the love for soccer,” Nikki said on Fox Sports’ Soccer Tonight. That injury led to a rod in her shin.
Yet that didn’t stop the drive. Nikki joined the soccer team at San Diego’s Grossmont College, leading them to the Pacific Coast Conference championship. “I was being recruited by a professional league in Italy,” she told Muscle & Fitness. But instead, her sister convinced her to audition for WWE Divas.
They were initially rejected by the WWE
The sisters moved to Los Angeles in 2005 with the goal of becoming professional wrestlers. “It’s entertainment mixed with athletics — Nicole and I felt that was our calling,” Brie told Muscle & Fitness.
While working toward that goal, they auditioned for television and modeling gigs. They tried out for Diva Search in 2006 but didn’t make the cut. But by the next year, they signed with Florida Championship Wrestling, a developmental program of WWE.
The easiest way to tell them apart is by their face shapes
While they are identical, there are some slight differences between the sisters. “I have two beauty marks on my chest, and our faces are shaped differently,” Brie told WWE Magazine. “We joke that I have more of a banana head, and Nikki has an apple head. She has the bigger booty, too, which she’s proud of.”
They appeared on the reality show 'Meet My Folks'
Ever since they were young, the twins were told that they were entertaining, since they would readily go back and forth between telling each other off and show their love for one another. “I remember everyone kept saying, ‘Man, you guys should do reality,’ And I was always like, ‘I don’t know,’” Brie told AZCentral.
When the opportunity to go on the reality show Meet My Folks came along, they jumped at it. “When you’re 19 and they want to give you a paycheck to have some fun? My sister and I were all about it — and sure enough, we felt so comfortable in front of the cameras,” she said. The 2003 show was a hit, and the sisters have since become reality TV mainstays.
Freddie Prinze Jr. wrote their first match
Actor Freddie Prinze Jr. was a writer for WWE when the Bella Twins were making their debut. “I feel like the writing team didn't know exactly what to do with identical twins,” Brie said on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “So Freddie is like we're gonna have one debut and one hide under the ring, they're going to do a twin switch at the end of the match, and then the fresh twin under the ring, wins the match.”
Not only did the teen heartthrob come up with the winning concept, since there wasn’t social media at the time, they were able to keep ruse going from August to November. “Freddie came up with a genius idea that worked for months!” she said.
Brie’s romance with her now-husband started as fiction
A couple of years into their pro wrestling career, a storyline was written for Brie with Daniel Bryan, who was known for his chant of “Yes, yes, yes!” While it started as a work of fiction, it was ultimately Brie who said yes to Bryan.
“It actually started as a story line and then we really hit it off,” he told PW Mania in 2013. “Actually it was shortly before our story line ended we kind of started dating each other. We kind of started off real slow, but now we’ve been together for two and half years.” The two were married in 2014, and are now parents to daughter Birdie, born in May 2017, and son Buddy, born in August 2020.
Nikki broke up with John Cena because he didn’t want kids
After being friends in the WWE circuit, John Cena asked Nikki out to dinner in 2012, and the two ended up dating on and off until July 2018. At the heart of their differences was that they just weren’t on the same page about family, with Cena explaining to Rolling Stone in 2016: “Just because everyone else is happy with children doesn’t mean that’s how I have to live.”
He had committed to the idea by getting a vasectomy, but in April 2018, he told Nikki he’d reverse it to get her back. “Even in the end when he was willing to give me kids, I could just tell it's not what we wanted,” Nikki said on Better Together with Maria Menounos. “To force someone to be a father… that's not what I want. I don't want to force someone to change.”
They love (and live in) Napa Valley
During the pandemic, both the sisters and their families made a major decision to move to one of their favorite places, California’s Napa Valley. "We majorly downsized. We wanted to be more simple,” Brie said on The Bellas Podcast in October 2020. “You guys have always known how Bryan and I are, so we were just like, we need to get back to who we were before kids, and let's simplify our life and live more country, and we're doing it. And so we did it!"
Nikki said the global lockdown definitely spurred on the move: “I will say the one thing COVID taught me was to simplify my life, and in all areas...For me it was like seeing beautiful parts of the world, having amazing experiences and new memories with my family." And of course, they did it together, with Nikki adding: “It was definitely a twin decision — our poor guys!”