'Excited to showcase representation in Saudi Arabia': Bianca Belair on historic match at WWE Crown Jewel 2021
Known as the EST of WWE - Bianca Belair has made a mark ever since she first stepped out in WWE's developmental brand - NXT. She has been given her moniker as she, in her own words, is “the quickest, the strongest, the fastest, the baddest”. But apart from her charisma inside the ring, her physical bouts, and her superior strength, Bianca has also become an inspiration for many youngsters as she has climbed to the top of the women's division.
The former SmackDown Women's champion won her title defeating Sasha Banks in a critically acclaimed match in the main event of WrestleMania Night 1. It was a history-making moment for WWE, as for the first time, two black women athletes were competing in the main event of WrestleMania.
And now, Bianca, for whom bringing representation on screen is an important goal, will be fighting in the first-ever women's triple threat match at the WWE Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Bianca Belair spoke on what it means for her to be an inspiring figure for young kids, and why doing so is important for her.
Q1) You will be facing Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch at WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. Big fight feels -- what are your thoughts on the match?
"I am just excited for the match. For one, I am excited to have another chance to get my SmackDown Women's Championship back. I was this close to winning it back before Sasha Banks came in. So, at least I am getting another chance. But now it's going to be even more harder because now I am going up against two women. But I am even more excited because I am coming to Saudi Arabia, it will be the third women's match ever there - the first-ever women's triple threat match there. So, I am excited to compete with Sasha and Becky there - to be in Saudi Arabia and showing representation. Making change not in the ring, but also outside the ring, so I feel fortunate and blessed to be a part of that moment - and a part of that stamp in history."
Q2) You and Sasha created history main eventing WrestleMania this year - and now you are again creating history fighting for title in Saudi in a triple threat match. How does it feel to be an inspiration for so many young kids, especially girls all around the world?
"That's what this is about. I feel in WWE, I always try to find my ‘why’. My purpose of why I do what I do. Definitely, my ‘why’ in WWE is the representation and being a role model for everyone out there. Anyone who looks to me as an inspiration is why I do this. Even at WrestleMania, that was the being thing - bringing the representation. Coming to Saudi Arabia, bringing representation for other women and young girls. I always think about the role models I had when I was a little girl. They really made me feel how big I could dream, they made me feel I could do things that I did not think I could do before. And because of them, I went and did what I did, and I am where I am now. So, I may have the same impact on girls or boys or anyone - it does not matter. But that is what this is really about. And it's a bigger purpose than just winning a match or winning the championship - it's about inspiring everyone."
Q) Who were your role models while growing up?
"I did not watch a lot of wrestling while growing up. I started following after I came up to WWE. My role models were from track-and-field - Florence Griffith Joyner, Gail Devers. I did gymnastics, I wanted to be like Dominique Dawes. But the good think about role models is that you don't just have them when you are kid. My role models from WWE came when I was older. When I was 27, my role models from WWE became Jacqueline and Beth Phoenix. So, those are my role models in WWE, as far as women are concerned."
Q4) You recently moved to RAW -- and one of your major opponents from NXT Rhea Ripley is there. So, what are your thoughts on re-igniting a feud with her once again?
"Anytime I get into the ring with Rhea Ripley, I am excited. The ending of the whole Royal Rumble where it was just me and Rhea - and we got to showcase what the future has in store at the end of Royal Rumble. She became RAW Women's Champion, and I became SmackDown women's champion - and we gave everybody a taste of it. To know we are on the same brand, and we can get into the ring once again, and create magic - show this new era of women's wrestling that is peeking through, I can't wait for that. To create magic with Rhea Ripley again. In NXT we came up together, we are still on our way. Rhea is special - and anytime, we are in the ring, I am excited.
Q5) What are your thoughts on the revamped NXT 2.0, and the new women talent that is coming up on the roster?
"I am all about NXT because that was where I learned everything. I am a homegrown NXT talent. NXT is amazing - they know how to create superstars. They became the third brand at one point. They are now revamping. They know how to build superstars - you see those superstars coming on to RAW and Smackdown. Shotzi, Tegan Nox, Toni Storm - Aliyah just got drafted. She has been working for years and she finally got drafted. Me, Rhea, Shayna came from NXT - it's just fun to see new faces and new talent. We have so much talent in the locker room. Even in NXT - who are waiting to show their talent. I know what they can do. I am just waiting for the world to see what they can do."
Q6) Factions have become another major thing in the world of wrestling at this point -- if you were to lead an all-women's faction on the main roster, who would you include in the team?
"I think, if we can all get along - me, Sasha and Naomi will be a great faction. We would mesh really well. We could work really work together. I just can't trust Sasha right now. So, we cannot create this faction right now. But I have seen on social media as well, that they want this faction. I think it would be cool. But I don't know if it would ever be possible, because we just cannot seem to get on the same page."
Q7) Fans were not pleased when Becky Lynch defeated you within a few seconds at WWE SummerSlam. What were your thoughts on how things went that night?
"SummerSlam night was a whirlwind. So many things happening last minute. Me thinking, I am facing Sasha, but she could not come in. So, Carmella steps in, then Becky Lynch came on. And I was caught off guard, not really understanding what is happening. But, I just wanted to go out there and give a great performance. But to lost my title within seconds was really heartbreaking. I was really startled, caught off guard. I know I want to win it back as quickly as I lost it. I am just trying to make it right. I saw all the support from all the fans after the match - that really lit a fire in me to go back and win back my SmackDown women's championship. It was tough. The night was tough. I am still trying to get over that night. I don't think I will ever get over it - till I get back my SmackDown women's championship and make it right. I am just waiting for that moment when I can make it right. I am still trying to wrap my mind around that night at SummerSlam."
Q) Queen's Crown Tournament will be starting soon - another big step for the women's division in the WWE. You will be keeping an eye on the tournament?
"I am definitely going to keep an eye on that. I cannot wait because our locker room has so many great talents who are waiting for an opportunity to showcase what they can do. In the locker room, we all know what we are capable of and I am excited for the world to see that. You are going to see a lot of breakout stars and new women stars being made. Me, personally - I am rooting for Liv Morgan. or Rhea Ripley. I don't know who all are in it - but I am rooting for all women, but I would love to see Rhea or Liv come out on top."
(WWE Crown Jewel will telecast live on Sony Liv and all other Sony Sports Network platforms. Also, WWE Super Dhamaal will return on Sony Pictures Sports Network from October 10th, 2021 and will telecast on 8.00 pm (IST) on SONY TEN 1 (English) & SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) channels on Sundays and SONY MAX on Wednesdays from 7.00 pm (IST).)