Brie Bella Opens Up About Twin Nikki and John Cena's Doomed Engagement: 'I Want to Protect Her'
The WWE star, 34, made her first public appearance at the Nirvana Food and Wine Festival in Arizona on Saturday when she and twin sister Brie Bella hosted a rosé tasting party in partnership with their wine line, Belle Radici.
Nikki’s event came nearly a week after she and Cena, 40, announced their split Sunday, a year after he proposed during WrestleMania 33. The pair —despite their differing stances on marriage and having kids — was scheduled to marry on May 5.
“She’s good, they call her fearless Nikki for a reason,” Brie told PEOPLE. “She always puts on that brave face. My sister has more strength than any other woman I know, especially Wonder Woman. She’s bigger than that.”
Brie also shared that fans and viewers will see what went wrong in Nikki and John’s relationship in the upcoming season of E!’s Total Bellas.
“I really had to take a step back and allow it and that was really hard on me because it’s my twin. I want to protect her from everything,” the mother of one said. “This has been the hardest season to film for me because all I want to do is protect her and keep everyone away, but this is what we do.”
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And the former couple allowed cameras to film everything from the good and the bad, according to Brie.
“I have to give a lot of credit to John and Nicole. They really opened up their lives and they really wanted to close the curtain and be like this is it, we’re done. My sister is really great with her fans in a way where she lets them connect with her. She lets them like go, ‘My life isn’t perfect and isn’t easy’ and lets them see the playbook of her life,” the supportive sibling said.
“John and Nicole allow the fans to see some very personal conversations, that to be honest, I was mind blown about. [Husband] Bryan and I both said, ‘I don’t think we’d allow them to see those conversations’ but they do. I give them a lot of credit. You get to see where they’re at today and see that unravel,” Brie added.
Also on this weekend, Nikki broke her silence on social media with quotes that seemingly referenced the demise of her six-year relationship with Cena.
“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea,” she captioned a photo of herself at the beach on Instagram, quoting E.E. Cummings.
On Saturday, she shared an image of another quote that read, “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”
An insider previously told PEOPLE that Nikki was the one who pulled the plug on their wedding, for which Brie would’ve been matron of honor.
“John acted more and more like he was doing her a favor by somehow conceding to go ahead and marry her,” the insider said. “[Nikki] doesn’t need a pity proposal, a pity wedding, a pity husband. She’s a phenomenal, tremendous woman.”
Their romance — specifically their discussions about marriage and kids — has been documented on the hit E! reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas.
“I do want to be a mom. I feel like I’d be missing out,” Nikki told Cena in 2013 on Total Divas, to which he replied: “I’m going to choose my words carefully. I can’t give you that.”
WATCH: Brie Bella Says She’ll ‘Always Love John Cena Like a Brother’ After Twin Nikki’s Breakup
Even Brie told Cena she felt like her sister was “lying to herself” in 2014 when he discussed his no kids policy.
“Nicole and I were talking and she brought to my attention that she’s over marriage, she doesn’t want to have kids anymore. It was a little alarming to me,” Brie said. But Cena stressed that he’s always been open and honest with Bella about not wanting children.
“I was abundantly clear about that from our very first date,” he said. “It wasn’t like I tried to manipulate your sister into thinking a certain thing was going to happen and then all the sudden say ‘Ha ha.’ I love this girl, but I love my life,” he said.
Total Bellas returns May 20 at 9 p.m. ET on E!