Bianca Belair has had an incredible 12 months in WWE.
‘The EST’ debuted on the main roster following WrestleMania 36 last April and within a year, she could be set to headline night one of ‘The Showcase of the Immortals’.
By winning the Royal Rumble in January, Belair was the first WWE Superstar to punch her ticket to WrestleMania, earning a shot at either the SmackDown or RAW Women’s Championship.
Given she performs on the Blue Brand, her choice was simple and now, a historic match with Sasha Banks on ‘The Grandest Stage of All’ awaits.
When their pair collide on April 10, they will be the first two black females to have a title match at WrestleMania. But making history is something Belair is used to doing.
Her last 12 months have been scattered with incredible record-breaking moments, from leaving NXT to winning the Royal Rumble and everything in between.
It’s time to celebrate Bianca and her journey to WrestleMania, one which began all the way back in last February.
“I found my very last match in NXT would be at TakeOver: Portland against Rhea Ripley and I was told right before my match,” Belair told GIVEMESPORT.
“I was going to debut on RAW after WrestleMania and you can’t ask for better than that.”
But then the coronavirus pandemic hit and suddenly, the world was sent into chaos. Yet one thing remained stable… WWE.
Things changed, of course, but the company never missed a beat. Even without the WWE Universe in attendance, every episode of SmackDown, RAW and NXT went ahead, as did every pay-per-view event.
Debuting on the main roster during the ‘no-fan era’ was a strange feeling for Belair.
“I thought I’d finally get my moment, then the world started going through what it’s going through and we didn’t have fans,” she continued.
“Having to debut in front of no one, it was difficult. You get super excited and make plans for the family to come and experience it, and then debuting in front of no one and trying to showcase who I am is difficult.”
While the circumstances were far from ideal, Bianca believes that performing in front of no fans helped her grow – and that she hit the ground running when debuting on SmackDown – backing up everything she had boasted since arriving.
“I came over to SmackDown and they call that ‘the land of opportunity’ and that’s proven to be true for me.
I hit the ground running and was able to showcase who I was. The ‘EST’ of WWE… the strongest, the fastest, the roughest, the toughest, the quickest, the greatest, the best. I was able to show everyone that.
If we’re talking about hitting the ground running, it’s fair to say that Belair has simply refused to slow down since debuting on the main roster.
That was evident in January when she made history by winning the Women’s Royal Rumble, breaking a number of records on the night.
Bianca entered the namesake match from the No.3 spot and went on to last 56 minutes before winning the whole thing – spending more time in the ring than any other woman before her.
By eliminating Rhea Ripley at the end, she also became just the second African American WWE Superstar to win the Royal Rumble, behind only The Rock.
But it’s what happened after the match that Belair remembers fondly, when she ‘connected’ with the WWE Universe on a whole new level after showing her vulnerability.
“After the Royal Rumble match, when that hard exterior fell down, I think everybody was really able to connect.
“That moment may have been about me, but I was open and I invited people in and I feel like everyone feels a part of that moment.
“Being in the Royal Rumble, being the last one standing out of 30 women from RAW, SmackDown, NXT and legends, I was able to stand in that moment and be vulnerable.
Normally I’m someone with a hard exterior, I’m confident, I’m strong. That’s usually who I am. But when I won that Royal Rumble match all that just came crumbling down.
“I was vulnerable, happy, crying and I knew I was going to WrestleMania. This year has been a whirlwind.”
The first thought on fans’ minds when they see the lone Royal Rumble survivor standing, is probably ‘this WWE Superstar is going to WrestleMania’.
But that’s not how it felt for Belair, who revealed the realisation of achieving her dream hit her at different stages.
“Everything hit me in different stages. I won the match and I was like ‘okay, this just happened. I won the Royal Rumble. I’m the last woman standing and I’m super happy about that.’
“When you win the Royal Rumble, you automatically have your ticket to WrestleMania but it didn’t hit me that way.
“Then I looked to the left and I saw the WrestleMania sign and I thought ‘oh yeah, you’re going to WrestleMania!’.
“I didn’t know until I got to the back that I was the first African American woman and second African American to win the Royal Rumble. Kayla Braxton told me. I didn’t even know until someone told me!”
Those were three amazing moments for me. Winning the Royal Rumble, realising I was going to WrestleMania and also creating history.
Winning the Rumble, of course, sets up a showdown between two ‘alpha females’ in Belair and Banks at WrestleMania.
After everything ‘The EST’ has achieved in her first 12 months in WWE, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the pair headline night one of ‘Mania, and it certainly wouldn’t be a shock to see Belair walk out as the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Congratulations on a stunning year, Bianca!