Bianca Belair Reacts to WrestleMania 37 History-Making Win, Sasha Banks, More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2021

Bianca Belair Reacts to WrestleMania 37 History-Making Win, Sasha Banks, More

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    Bianca Belair's SmackDown Women's Championship victory made for the perfect close to Night 1 of WWE WrestleMania 37.
    Bianca Belair's SmackDown Women's Championship victory made for the perfect close to Night 1 of WWE WrestleMania 37.Credit: WWE.com

    A terrific two-night WWE WrestleMania 37 extravaganza is in the books, and fans are still buzzing about Bianca Belair's history-making SmackDown Women's Championship victory from Saturday.

    The EST of WWE won the women's Royal Rumble match back in January, but it wasn't announced until the Friday of WrestleMania weekend that she and Sasha Banks would headline Night 1. It ended up being the best choice the company could have made, as the match was a masterpiece and told a story that was practically perfect.

    Belair has been on the rise for several years, but this WrestleMania win launches her into the stratosphere of superstardom. Her 'Mania moment was especially significant with it marking the first time two Black women have ever competed in the main event spot of The Show of Shows.

    Banks played a crucial role in the success of the matchup as well. Even in defeat, she had a stellar showing and helped elevate Belair to that next level. A rematch is surely inevitable, but in the meantime, Belair is still soaking it all in and living in the moment with family, friends and fans.

    Fresh off her huge victory in the main event of WrestleMania, Belair spoke to Bleacher Report about everything she's been feeling since Saturday night, when she found out about their match main-eventing, her respect for The Boss, wrestling in front of a crowd again and more.

How She's Feeling Immediately Removed from Her Huge Title Win

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    Typically, as the EST of WWE, Belair isn't shy when it comes to boasting about her attributes, accomplishments and everything she's capable of. However, moments removed from winning the WrestleMania main event, she was overcome with emotion and essentially speechless.

    "I am feeling good, I'm feeling great, I'm feeling blessed, I'm feeling grateful. All of the above," she said with an excited tone in her voice. "I'm just honored to be the first person in this position right now, and I'm ready to take full advantage of it."

    Not only was Belair and Sasha Banks' match the second-ever women's main event in WrestleMania history, but it was also the first to feature two Black women. That historic stat wasn't lost on either of them or the fans, especially before the bell rang as the audience was already electric.

    It was an incredible weekend for Belair, who turned 32 on Friday and clinched the SmackDown Women's Championship on Saturday. The best part is that was only the beginning for her flourishing career.

    "The moment that they announced we were going to be the main event on my birthday on Friday was the best birthday present ever," she said. "I was trying to wrap my mind around that. It didn't really sink in for me until I was in the ring standing across from Sasha Banks because it was all hitting me that I'm at WrestleMania, that we are the main event, that we are creating history."

Her Family's Reaction and Her Dad Nearly Jumping the Barricade

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    Anyone who has followed Belair's career, specifically since the start of 2020, is well aware that her family is more supportive than almost any other.

    Her parents' reaction to her Royal Rumble win in January went viral and saw her father celebrate on top of the coffee table when she was declared the victor. Better yet, they were in attendance for her history-making moment at 'Mania this past weekend and had the chance to experience that joy with their daughter in person.

    Their awesome reaction was captured on camera for the whole world to see Saturday night. Her father nearly jumped the barricade when the three-count hit while the rest of her family exploded with elation.

    "My parents are always my biggest supporters, and my dad just goes crazy," Belair said. "When I ran track, I have videos of him when he was recording and as soon as I crossed the finish line, the video camera would go up in the sky because he just loses it. I was doing interviews and people were asking, 'Are you worried about your dad?' and I was like, 'Yeah.' 'Do you think he'll need an ambulance or try to jump in the ring?' I figured he'd go viral by jumping in the ring, and he actually tried to, but I think he forgot. He was supposed to stay over at the barricade."

    Belair made her way over to them afterward to show off her newly won prize, which was a WrestleMania moment on its own.

Finding Out About Main-Eventing 'Mania and Montez Ford Running Down to the Ring

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    In theory, Belair's Royal Rumble victory should have automatically earned her a main event match on one of the two nights of WrestleMania 37, but that wasn't made clear to the fans for over two months.

    Belair vs. Banks was easily among the most anticipated matches on the entire card, so it only made sense for them to have that elusive spot. That said, the build to the bout was less-than-stellar with a majority of the focus being on their time spent as a tag team and their unnecessary feud with Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.

    Outside of a few of their recent interactions on SmackDown, WWE didn't do the strongest job of getting the audience more excited for the outing than it was initially. That led to fans fearing the main event would go to Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship, and although that was a great match in its own right, this was the perfect year for a contest of this caliber to go on last.

    Ultimately, WWE made the right decision by announcing it as the main event one day in advance, and Belair revealed that she found out when the rest of the world did—on her birthday, no less.

    "I found out when everyone else found out: on my birthday on social media," she said. "I would say sometimes the fans know just as much as we know. I found out when everyone else found out, and I wouldn't want it any other way because it's fun when you get to celebrate things with the fans and you get to be in that moment with the fans."

    Another thing that took her by surprise was her husband Montez Ford, one-half of The Street Profits, running down to the ring to celebrate with her afterward and embracing her in a hug. It was completely unexpected, and as a fellow WWE Superstar, he understands the significance of the moment.

    "I was in the ring celebrating and crying and I heard the crowd get a little bit louder," she said. "I was like, 'OK, they're really excited. Why are they getting so loud?' And I turn around and he just slides in the ring. I had no idea he was coming out, and I'm so glad he did because I got to share that moment with him. I always say that he's a husband before he's a worker, and that's what I admire about him so much."

What the Backstage Reaction Was and Her Respect for Sasha Banks

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    During the Royal Rumble 2021 edition of WWE The Day Of on Peacock and WWE Network, Belair was shown walking through the curtain after winning the women's Rumble match and being welcomed to the back with a standing ovation from Montez, the rest of the women's roster and even Vince McMahon.

    If you were expecting something similar following her WrestleMania win this weekend, you weren't wrong.

    Belair noted that the support from the women backstage was overwhelming. They were afforded the opportunity to watch it with the live audience and not on a monitor backstage, which made the experience for everyone that much cooler.

    "The women in the locker room were amazing," she said. "They actually got to go out and watch it, and we don't get to do that a lot. A lot of the matches that we watch, it's always backstage on a TV screen. They were back there when I came backstage. They all hugged me and clapped for me and everybody was super happy for me and for Sasha. I won the title, but this moment wasn't just about that. It was about creating history, making history and sharing that moment with Sasha. It takes two, but it was more than about just us. It was about the moment. It celebrated the both of us."

    The EST of WWE was adamant about giving Banks her just due and rightfully so. The two had a tremendous match, and although Belair had her hand raised in the end, it was also about Banks and the fantastic work she had done up to that point to make the match a possibility in the first place.

    Both of them etched their names in the record books with that one, and it was a moment everyone could be proud of and resonate with.

    "We both have mutual respect for each other," Belair said. "We're both competitors at the end of the day, but our locker room is really just full with women empowerment. When one of us wins, we all win, and all of us know it takes two. She was happy for me, but at the same time, I know she's coming right back for me, and when we get in the ring, it's right back to being rivals and competitors."

If She Knew It Was an Instant Classic and Soaking It All In

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    Once the smoke cleared Saturday night and the evening was over, fans were already discussing where Banks vs. Belair fell among the best WrestleMania main event matches in recent history, if not ever.

    Other than a strong build, the bout had everything else going for it: two tremendously talented athletes, an electric atmosphere, emotion, drama, suspense, action and pure perfection for the finish. Needless to say, the women more than earned that spot and proved they belonged in the spotlight.

    The Superstars are almost always so wrapped up in the moment that it takes time for them to realize how great their match truly was. Belair was no exception at WrestleMania, but she had an inkling that they accomplished something special as soon as it was over.

    "In that moment, I felt pretty good about the match," she said. "Any time there's real emotions involved and you're emotional and it's something you want so bad. ... Sasha was doing everything she could to keep her title, and I was doing everything I could to take away it from here. There's so much passion there, and you know when it unfolds, you're going to see magic.

    "I felt like I was so much in the moment of trying to win the title and doing everything I could that I didn't realize it was going to be an instant classic," she continued. "I was just so in the moment. It wasn't until after when you can hear everyone's praises and you see everything online, when everything calms down and you have a chance to reflect on the match, you really feel good about it."

    Not letting the moment pass her by was among her top priorities before walking out to the ring. It's a feeling she can't put into words, which was why she could be seen getting emotional before the bell even rang.

    "Any time you're about to have a WrestleMania match, whenever someone comes up and gives you advice, the most common advice someone gives you is, slow down and make sure you take in the moment because it goes by fast. That's what was in my head. I just wanted to take a minute to stand there and soak it all in.

    "It was a huge moment," she added. "It's WrestleMania, it's the main event, we're making history. We have our fans back for the first time in over a year. What the world has gone through has been so devastating and to be able to be back with our fans and to be able to hear the EST chants, the boos, the cheers, them chanting Boss, I just wanted to stand in that moment and I got overwhelmed."

Forgetting How Fans React and If She Was Confident They'd Be Invested

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    Amazingly enough, leading up to WrestleMania 37, Bianca Belair's entire WWE main roster career had happened in front of zero fans. She made a few appearances on Raw and SmackDown in the build to Survivor Series 2019 and participated in the 2020 Royal Rumble match as a member of the NXT roster, but there was no one in attendance for her official Raw debut on last year's post-WrestleMania episode.

    Even her Royal Rumble win, which was widely praised online, went down in an empty building. She admits that you almost forget how fans react to certain things, and getting back to that at WrestleMania was a surreal experience.

    "At first, it was definitely bizarre and weird," she said. "I came out with The Street Profits at WrestleMania, I debuted on Raw, I won the women's Royal Rumble in front of no fans, and it's weird coming out and not hearing any noise. You have to learn how to perform differently because you have to try to connect with people through a television screen.

    "You learn how to perform a little bit differently, so I was nervous about going to WrestleMania and finally hearing the crowd and trying to figure out how they're going to react to this and how they're going to react to that and not knowing, but that's a part of it," she explained. "With WWE wrestling, you have to go with the flow and figure it out. You live in the moment, and I feel like that was what was so special about WrestleMania."

    Despite WrestleMania being WWE's first event back with a live crowd and Belair being slightly nervous about how they'd react, she was confident that they'd be excited for her encounter with Banks. It's been difficult to tell who has momentum and who doesn't without anyone in attendance, but it was obvious Belair would be received by the masses as the star she is.

    The massive reaction to her title win was proof of that. Now having made history and won her first title, she's ready to take on all comers to her championship and back up her claim as the EST of WWE.

    "I feel like I was pretty confident because after the Royal Rumble match, especially with the Chronicle that came out, it was received so well and I got so much love. It was cool because I got to connect with a lot of people and hear their stories, and that's what this is all about.

    "I feel like people were really happy about the Rumble match and that they were part of the moment and the fans created a lot of hashtags advocating for Sasha and I to be the main event," she continued. "I see all the love and the support from fans, and I appreciate it so much. People were advocating for us to be the main event, so I knew we had fans backing us and were so excited. We wanted to live up to it and deliver because we knew we were representing for so many people."

         

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.