Her Illustrious Journey Through The Main Roster
by Sukhdeep Singh
I thought of reflecting on the illustrious journey of Bianca Belair to the top of WWE’s Women’s Division and the amazing two years on the main roster. Now she is going to compete at WrestleMania 38. In the past couple of years, Bianca has been consistently booked and adequately pushed on both brands. She has been neither “overrated” nor “underrated.” She may also go down as the most perfectly booked female WWE Superstar in her initial years. Below is the breakdown of her journey that she embarked upon and the rating of that journey on the basis of highs and lows.
Debut at WrestleMania 36
Bianca debuted at WrestleMania 36 to even the odds for The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) against Zelina Vega’s team of Andrade and Angel Garza. She spent majority of her time on Raw feuding with them. As entertaining as The Street Profits are, Bianca was the not the right fit with them. I think we all can the agree that the gimmick, “The EST of WWE” was not made for comic relief. WWE Creative realized it quickly and took her out of that six-person feud.
Analysis: Low-No Direction in the First Six Months on Raw
In October 2020, Bianca Belair was drafted to the Smackdown brand and she started taking her baby steps to success. After winning the first qualifying match of Team Smackdown, Bianca Belair nervously joined the team. At Survivor Series, Bianca went onto being the MVP of the match. She showcased both her powerhouse strength and high flying agility in the ring. She also managed to eliminate the two most dominant performers of opposite team in Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. Even though she lost for her team, she earned respect of the fans and management with an amazing performance.
Analysis: High- Being the MVP of Survivor Series Team Smackdown
Feuding with Bayley
Bianca got her first long term feud with Bayley after Survivor Series. Bayley had recently lost her Smackdown Women’s Championship to Sasha Banks at Hell In A Cell. Their feud lasted for 6 weeks where they engaged in promo battles, an obstacle course and a 1 singles match on SmackDown before the Royal Rumble event. This six week long feud was short but sweet. It helped Bianca gain a lot of momentum for her super push ahead.
Bianca said that Bayley was one of the first to welcome her to the Smackdown locker room and was one of the most positive wrestlers around. She learned a lot from her about working with the Thunderdome crowd on screens. The most sensible thing WWE Creative did was to put her in a basic feud first with a veteran wrestler. They didn’t put pressure on her while fans made up their minds about her capabilities, babyface role and get familiar with “The EST.”
Analysis: High- Winning the Feud Against Bayley
The Start of Historic Road to WrestleMania 37
After defeating Bayley on Smackdown, Bianca entered the Royal Rumble match at number 3. She went on to win the entire thing earning the right to name her opponent at WrestleMania. This made her the first female wrestler to win the Royal Rumble as a rookie (as the winners in earlier Rumbles were already WWE Superstars: Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch). Then she chose to challenge the Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks after visiting Raw to see if she would like to challenge Asuka. Sasha claimed the she is “The b-EST” of the WWE and not Bianca upon hearing the challenge.
Analysis: High- Winning Royal Rumble
The Challenge to the Champion
With both Sasha Banks and Bianca being babyfaces and having huge shared fanbases, this started out as a friendly competition until the very last Smackdown before WrestleMania. This was possibly WWE’s worst booked WrestleMania main event. WWE Creative decided at the last minute to make Banks a heel which many fans didn’t agree with. Others wondered why this was not done sooner. This worked out well for Bianca because it did not make her look to be overpushed in her early development on the main roster.
Analysis: Low- Storyline Going Into WrestleMania
The WrestleMania 37 (Night 1) Main Event
Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks became the first African American women to main event WrestleMania. It was the second ever women’s main event overall. The match lasted for 17 minutes and both women delivered their best performance. Many have said it may rate as one of the top twenty WrestleMania matches in history. From the beginning to the end, it was implicit that this match was made for Bianca Belair. Sasha did her job perfectly to put Bianca over.
During the match, Bianca was not backing down. She was tossing Banks all over the place. I think the whiplash she gave to Sasha with her braid was a chef’s kiss. Then Bianca sealed the deal by hitting Sasha with the K.O.D (Kiss of Death) to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship. She received a thunderous response from the audience in attendance. This was the moment all of us saw her become the “B-EST of WWE”.
Analysis: High- Winning WrestleMania 37 Night 1 Main Event
Reigning Smackdown Women’s Championship and Scrapped Plans
While Sasha Banks went on a much deserved vacation, Bianca reignited her feud with Bayley who wasn’t on the WrestleMania card at all. Bayley thought it was her that deserved to main event WrestleMania and win her title back from Sasha Banks. I feel the Bianca vs Bayley feud went on too long because they kept coming back to it over and over. After having a short program with Bayley in 2020 then again in the beginning of 2021 and then WWE Creative went back to it again. I feel like this was a huge step down for the new Smackdown Champion.
Bianca defeated Bayley at WrestleMania Backlash and then again in Hell in a Cell match. This made her the first non-horsewoman to win the match. Bianca was expected to compete once again with Bayley in “I Quit” match at the July PPV, but the Bayley got injured in the ring at a mandatory practice to get ready for the fans coming back. She had to have reconstructive knee surgery and began rehab. So the plans were scrapped for this match.
From Carmella to Sasha to… (All in Seven Weeks)
Next, Bianca entered a program with Carmella. After getting beat by Sasha Banks over and over from November 2020 to February 2021, Carmella hadn’t gotten any momentum back. WWE Creative had Bianca keep on defeating Carmella in singles matches without a lot of storyline. Therefore, in my opinion, this program didn’t help the betterment of Bianca’s reign at all.
After four months off, Sasha Banks finally returned as a heel to bring Bianca’s reign back to life. Bianca started to pick up steam and the crowds started to get into the two wrestlers playing off each other. The animosity between them was getting to a fevered pitch when it was announced that Sasha would get her rematch against Bianca at SummerSlam. However, it didn’t payoff for the next chapter of their great rivalry when the match was scrapped for unknown reasons. Their match did not take place at SummerSlam. I believe that it can be concluded that despite a historic win at WrestleMania 37 that Bianca’s reign as Smackdown Women’s Champion did not live up to the mark.
Analysis of Her Reign:
Low – Lack of Worthy Opponents
Low – Two Major Cancelled Matches Against Sasha Banks and Bayley
Low – Repetitive Feuds and Matches
High – First Non-Horsewoman to Win the Hell in a Cell Match
Infamous SummerSlam Match and The Fallout
At Summerslam 2021 PPV, Bianca Belair made her entrance for her match against Sasha Banks. However, it was announced that Sasha was not able to compete and she was replaced by Carmella. This was met with a huge disapproval from the crowd and Bianca herself. As Carmella walked down the ramp, the crowd heard Becky Lynch’s music hit. They erupted as she made her way down the ramp taking out Carmella in the process. The fans had been waiting on her to return since she left in May 2020 to have her baby girl, Roux. After 15 months away, she was back to challenge Bianca for the Smackdown Championship on the spot. Bianca was overwhelmed by Becky’s return. She had prepared for Sasha, heard minutes before that she was taking on Carmella and now had Becky in front of her. A star-struck Bianca accepted the challenge.
There wouldn’t be a moment of reflection like she had at WrestleMania with Sasha Banks to look around. Becky Lynch immediately attacked Bianca with a cheap shot as the bell rang and hit her Manhandle Slam (The Rock Bottom which Becky had asked for permission to use) to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in 26 seconds. This entire match was met with huge criticism for making Bianca lose in less than 30 seconds. I still disapprove of the way they booked Bianca in this match even if the entire thing was written on the spot.
Analysis: Low- Losing the Smackdown Women’s Championship in 26 Seconds
Various Championship Pursuits
After the Summerslam match, Belair started her pursuit to get the Smackdown Championship back. The first match she received at WWE Extreme Rules against Becky Lynch was interrupted by Sasha Banks. During their match, Sasha attacked both Becky and Bianca resulting in a No Contest decision. For the second time, Bianca got a title match at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia against both Becky and Sasha. Becky as the heel in the match cheated to retain the title by pinning Sasha using the ropes. So once again, Bianca came up short.
Then it was time for the 2021 WWE Brand Draft, both Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair were drafted to the Raw brand. Becky now became the Raw Women’s Champion. They kept their feud running until the one-on-one Raw Women’s Championship match. Becky would push Bianca into an exposed turnbuckle to pin her clean. After this match, Bianca was taken out of the championship picture and she was placed in the mid-card of women’s division. While Becky Lynch took on Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series, Liv Morgan at January’s Day 1 PPV and Doudrop at January’s Royal Rumble.
Analysis: High- Great Way to Showcase Bianca While Chasing for the Championship
Starting From the Bottom Again
I think up until this point it was very clear that WWE Creative had major plans for the Becky Lynch vs Bianca Belair feud with the key focus on Becky being a typical heel. She was not able to win over Bianca without any assistance or cheating.
Bianca Belair went on win the women’s Survivor Series Match by eliminating 3 out of 5 opponents from the Smackdown team. She became the Sole Survivor of the match. Then Bianca entered a 5 way match for the right to challenge Raw Women’s Champion at January’s Day 1 PPV. This match was eventually won by Liv Morgan after Bianca was taken out of the match by a vengeful Doudrop. She briefly feuded with Doudrop for next few weeks. Bianca managed to defeat her in all three matches they had. The most notable match was their last one where Bianca lifted Doudrop on her shoulders then delivered a K.O.D which left everyone stunned and impressed.
On Monday Night Raw in mid-January, Bianca once again got a chance to challenge Liv Morgan and Doudrop. The winner would take on Becky Lynch at Royal Rumble for the championship. As Bianca was about to win the match, Becky interfered by attacking her to prevent her from winning. In Feb 2022, Bianca was announced to be one of six women to compete in an Elimination Chamber Match in Saudi Arabia. The winner would challenge the Raw Women’s Champion at WrestleMania 38. Belair eliminated Rhea Ripley and Alexa Bliss at the end to punch her ticket to WrestleMania. She will finally get her hands on Becky Lynch at the grandest stage of them all.
Analysis: High- A Well Written Way Back to the Top
My Analysis of Bianca’s Journey So Far
Bianca Belair has had her share of highlights and setbacks in her two year journey. She was never booked too much to say that she was shoved down our throats. While Bianca got enough opportunities to showcase her skills, I think she was underrated still. She was booked consistently well throughout the past two years. Now Bianca has a Raw Women’s Championship match against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 38. Will she be able to avenge her 26 second loss at Summerslam or will she fall prey to “The Big Time Beck’s” Becky’s tactics once again?