WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair has opened up about the women who inspired her on her journey to WWE.
Bianca Belair signed with WWE in April 2016 after competing both in CrossFit and as a powerlifter. After being given a helping hand by WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry, Belair carved a path through NXT all the way to the main roster. Her journey culminated in a stunning win over Sasha Banks at WrestleMania 37 via a hugely impressive victory in the 2021 Royal Rumble.
Speaking in a new interview with Forbes’ Alfred Konuwa, Belair explained how she has come to understand how important representation is, recalling who inspired her prior to joining WWE.
The Knoxville native said she at first gravitated towards WWE Hall of Famer Jacqueline, who became the WWE’s first African-American Women’s Champion in 1998.
“The older I’ve gotten, I now understand the power of representation. For me, I always gravitated towards Jacqueline. I thought she was amazing in the ring. She was beautiful, she was strong, she was powerful and it was really empowering to watch Jacqueline,”
Fast forward to just before joining WWE and Belair highlights seeing Naomi perform as another key moment.
“When I got older, right before I started in WWE, I went to a live event in Atlanta—I think I was 26—and I saw Naomi in the ring. And I remember just watching her, and because she was in the ring I could see myself in the ring. So she was so inspiring to me and she impacted me in a positive way before I stepped in a ring, even at 26 years old.”
It has been something of a whirlwind few weeks for Bianca Belair as the champion was originally slated to defend her title against Bayley in an “I Quit” Match at Money In The Bank.
However, Bayley sustained a serious injury while training ahead of the bout and will now miss the next nine months of action. In the wake of Bayley’s injury, former champion Carmella found herself at the head of the queue as a new potential challenger.
As WWE welcomed back fans on July 16th, Belair defeated Carmella with the K.O.D to retain her prized championship. Predictably the result didn’t sit well with the challenger who complained that she had only six days to prepare for the match.