Nikki Bella Reflects on ‘Traumatizing’ John Cena Breakup and Finding Love With Artem Chigvintsev (Exclusive)

Nikki and Brie Bella are going way back to the beginning, opening up like never before about their childhood with a drug-addicted father, Nikki’s sexual assault, and their road to making the WWE a better place for women. 

“You can’t do life alone,” Brie tells ET in a new interview. “I think that’s what made Nikki and I succeed quick and the way we have, is because this has been a tag team since the womb. And through all the pain and all the suffering, we always had each other to just kind of uplift.”

The Bella Twins are the subject of a new Biography: WWE Legends series, airing July 24 on A&E, chronicling their rise to stardom and featuring never-before-told stories straight from inside the ring. 

“Even though Brie and I have always been such open books,” Nikki says, “we just have never really told our story and journey of inside the ring to where we got to today.”

The doc will highlight the direct role a teenage Nikki played in her parents’ divorce and, later, delve into her painful decision to call off her own engagement to John Cena before finding love with current fiance, Artem Chigvintsev.

Nikki says that at 15 years old, she gave her mother an ultimatum: leave her father or she wouldn’t come home.

“I felt like as a young girl, I was already a woman and I knew what my mom deserved and it wasn’t the marriage she was in,” Nikki recalls, acknowledging that the fallout brought her father into a “deeper, darker place” which ultimately led to his “rebirth.” 

“I always want to teach people that even though we can have these upbringings where our parents do drugs or something they shouldn’t do,” she notes, “it can always come around in our hearts. We can all become one and become a family, and my dad has learned so much. It’s so beautiful to see his journey in life and the man he’s become. It’s been so amazing.” 

As for her own split from Cena in 2018 after six years together, Nikki says it wasn’t quite so black and white. “You almost wish it was bad, because it’s so much easier to walk away,” she muses. “It’s so much harder to walk away when it’s loving.”

“I think a lot of women get into this situation when it’s like, ‘I love this person, but I don’t know if it’s right for my life,’ and that’s a hard thing,” she admits. “Sometimes we meet amazing people, but we’re just meant to live a different life. … I just got this feeling so deep in my gut of, like, ‘I need to walk away.’ And no one thought I would, but it was hitting me so hard. Even though it’s painful and even traumatizing, I just knew it was right.”

Today, Nikki is engaged to Russian Dancing With the Stars‘ pro Chigvintsev. The couple are parents to son Matteo, who turns two this month. 

“This is when I know how God is good — and believing your gut and intuition and following through, good things happen,” she says. “It’s hard to see it in the moment.”

Nikki says the pair are “still planning” their nuptials and plays coy on whether she’s found a dress. 

“We are just trying to figure out this whole family thing with Artem,” she says. “Praying that we can get Artem’s family, hopefully, to America soon. That is our goal.” 

Ultimately, it’s the wrestling that takes center stage in the Bellas’ story, with the Divas saying they are most proud of the road they’ve paved for other women at the WWE to headline big ticket, main events with the organization.

“I just love the fact that I know my sister and I were a big part of opening up that door for women,” Brie says. “That part to me is what I love, and that women just have the same opportunity as men. Because it does take somebody to take a chance, and my sister and I took that chance. I love that so many women are benefiting from that.”

Nikki adds that she’s especially proud of their decision to return to the sport after becoming mothers. 

“It’s not easy to get back into your superhero outfit, into the person you were before you had kids, and you see that kind of battle of, like, am I dressing up as Nikki Bella? Or am I Nikki Bella? Am I having this fight?” Nikki recalls. “I was so grateful that Brie had gone through it all to help lead me through that, ‘cause when we were just in the Royal Rumble, it was hard. I was like, ‘Where is my long hair? Now I got my short hair and my body is different.’

“But when I look at those moments, it makes me so proud because not only can we birth kids, we can still go do what we do and do what we love,” she continues. “As women, we can do it all.” 

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