WWE Divas Bianca Belair And Sasha Banks Make History As First Black Women To Compete For WrestleMania Championship Title
Earlier this year, Belair won the women's Royal Rumble and set her eyes on Banks and the title.
April 12, 2021 at 11:27 pm
Wrestling divas Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks became the first Black women to compete for a WrestleMania title belt over the weekend.
More than 25,000 fans attended the live spectacle at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida, and millions more tuned in to the live stream as Belair pinned Banks to win the women’s championship title, CNN reports. Setting a resounding precedent on the opening night of WrestleMania 37, both women were praised by fans online for a compelling and entertaining match.
Been watching WWE forever. I remember the years when there would only be Black woman on the roster, and at times, they wouldn't even be featured. So to see Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair main event #WrestleMania, is something that I will remember forever. ????❤ #WrestleMania37
— Zande ???????? #BLM (@KingZairois) April 11, 2021
Belair, 32, earned the right to select her opponent at WrestleMania after she won the women’s Royal Rumble match earlier this year. Following the Saturday victory, Belair told CBS Sports that she didn’t take the moment for granted and was grateful to elevate women of color.
“I loved the match and my thing was that I understood how big the moment was and how big of an opportunity it was. I understood that this moment was more than just about us. We were representing for women, we were representing for women of color. I just wanted to deliver and live up to the moment,” she said.
Despite the impressive win, the 32-year-old acknowledged that she’s still coming to terms with the rollercoaster year she’s had and filling the role of a champion.
"It's still hitting me. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it," Belair said. "It's been a whirlwind of emotions, even since we found out. It was announced I was going to be the main event on my birthday and it was like I was trying to wrap my mind around that. But before I could, we were standing out there. That's why I was so emotional. That's when it hit me that we were the main event, when I was standing out there across from Sasha Banks.”
Hours after her match, Belair shared that she spent time with her family and husband WWE star Montez Ford, but struggled to get sleep due to the gravity of her new title and responsibility.
"My family came back to the hotel and I just wanted to spend time with them," she said. "After they left, I didn't really sleep last night. I was like, 'I just main-evented WrestleMania. I just created history in my debut at WrestleMania. I won the title. Am I supposed to go to sleep? Do I eat food? I don't know what to do right now.' I didn't know what to do with myself and just kind of laid in bed and tried to grasp what happened."
The WrestleMania success of Belair and fellow Black wrestling star Bobby Lashley, who retained the men’s championship against Drew McIntyre, could bring more attention to other wrestlers of color who haven’t had the chance to fight on the big stages.
Puerto Rican music artist Bad Bunny also made a highly-acclaimed WWE debut as he tag-teamed with Damian Priest to lay the smackdown on The Miz and John Morrison.