During an interview with NBC Sports On her turf, WWE Superstar Bianca Belair took part in an in-depth interview ahead of her debut performance and the 2022 Kentucky Derby. During the interview, she spoke about the move to WWE, the environment for women in the company, and her goals. Check out the highlights below:
At her first Kentucky Derby: “Yes, this will be my first Kentucky Derby. It’s always been on the bucket list. My mom loves horses and always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby. It’s her 60th birthday on May 8th so I actually bought her tickets which I surprised her with so it’s like a bonus. I’ve ticked it off my bucket list and I get to celebrate her birthday with my husband (WWE Superstar Montez Ford) and my mom too.”
What she will wear to the Kentucky Derby: “My mother is currently looking for a dress for herself. But hubby, we always coordinate our outfits on a daily basis, so that’s right at our ballpark. I help him find his hat, sew and alter his suit. So I’m kind of just practical with everyone at this moment.”
What her Kentucky Derby hat will look like: “I’m very indecisive so I’m working on three hats… Roses and Pearls is the theme at the moment… if I’m going to stick with it. I’m trying to go with a little Southern twist.”
What was the biggest surprise for Belair when she made the transition from track and then CrossFit to WWE: “For me, the biggest transition was just starting from scratch. I’ve played almost every sport in the book since I was five, starting with gymnastics and tumbling, then moving on to track and field, cheerleading, basketball and soccer. And then I ran college track; I was a hurdler at the University of Tennessee. I was an all-American hurdler, an all-SEC hurdler.
“Every sport I’ve done – even CrossFit and powerlifting – I’ve been able to get something out of every sport (I’ve done that before). But in WWE, I walked in not really knowing anything. I didn’t really grow up wrestling. I saw it when my brother saw it. I never imagined being a WWE Superstar. So it really started from scratch. The athletic and physical part of it came very easily and quickly to me, but it was the performance part of WWE (which was more challenging).
“You know, it’s sports entertainment, so you get the best of both worlds. It’s like watching your favorite action-packed superhero soap opera mixed with an NFL football game. So the most challenging part for me was just the performance part and learning how to – not just compete – but perform at the same time.”
What WWE training looks like: “It’s very, very physically demanding, probably more demanding than almost any sport I’ve done. I’m usually in the gym from Tuesday to Friday and do cardio training, CrossFit training. And then I’m out from Saturday to Tuesday and have wrestling matches in the ring. But on these travel days, I’m still at the gym at eight in the morning. Then I’m at the show, have a wrestling match at 8am, and then I drive to the next show until about 2am. And then I do it again the next day. So it’s a drain, not just mentally but physically as well.”
“On what young people see when they see Belair perform: “I’m at an amazing time in WWE. Women really are at the forefront and women are the future of WWE. I was able to be a part of WrestleMania 37 where I played our main event with Sasha Banks. We were the first two black women to ever be the main event at WrestleMania.
“Women compete in the WWE Main Event every week… It’s really cool for little girls to see that, but also — I can’t stress this fact (enoughly) — that it’s even more important for little boys to see women.” also see this light. So I’m looking forward to being a part of this legacy that WWE is creating with women and just being a representation for women and little girls that you can do whatever you want, even if it’s in a male-dominated space. “
What the environment is like in WWE in terms of women: “It’s definitely changing. When I first got into WWE, Sara Amato was my coach. She taught me everything I know and she’s been such a part of my success. We just recently got Molly Holly, who’s a WWE Hall of Famer, and she’s one of the producers now. (There’s also) Stephanie McMahon that I look up to. She’s just a great example that women don’t have to be in a box. You know she’s a mother, she’s a wife, she’s a boss. And she’s really just a great example for all the women in the dressing room to show what our possibilities are. Our list is so crammed with a diverse group of women who represent in their own unique ways what it means to be a woman.”
About her future goals: “You know, I’ve had a lot of success in WWE very quickly and I’m very grateful for that. I’m the RAW Women’s Champion, I just defeated Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 38. Right now I feel like I’m at the forefront of a new generation of women’s wrestling. You have the four horsemen who came before me: Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley who really paved the way and broke down barriers for women. You don’t have to go anywhere, just make some space for me. I’ve already defeated three of the four riders and the only one I haven’t defeated is Charlotte Flair. So I would like to compete against Charlotte Flair and try to conquer her. So that’s really my goal for the future.
“And I’m all about being the absolute best version of myself and being authentic without apologizing and just being a representation for women, for women of color. I call myself the “EST of WWE” which means I’m the strongest, the fastest, the toughest, the toughest, the fastest, the biggest, the best.
And eventually, outside of the ring, I want to write a book and be in some movies.”