Bianca Belair isn’t a heel or a face; in fact, she’s an anti-heroine that should be praised as the confident dynamo that she’s become since joining WWE NXT.
Majority of the characters in professional wrestling are painted as either faces or heels; often falling into one of the two categories. But those that are the most interesting perform while remaining within the shades of grey area; simply focusing on getting what is best for them in the end. It’s that direction that has helped Bianca Belair become one of the most intriguing characters on the WWE roster today.
Let’s talk about Belair and her motivations. Every time there’s a recording camera or a live microphone in her face, Belair reminds us that she’s out to be the best and keeps the audience informed that she’s undefeated.
While it may not be entirely factual, that statement has continued to help Belair push her way to the top of the NXT women’s division. In December, she became the number one contender and is now scheduled to face off against Shayna Baszler at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix at the end of January.
But let’s talk about the fans’ perception of Belair. As a character, she doesn’t easily fall into either one of the two buckets described above. There are fans that boo Belair, and others that cheer her every move. There are moments where she pauses to pose over her downed opponent; basking in the athleticism that gives her a hand up over the women standing across from her. However, she continues to win matches in a clean fashion; avoiding the underhanded tactics that those like Baszler or Lacey Evans may employ (unless if you call the hair whip an illegal maneuver). Even though she’s not actually cheating, there are those that respond to her with boos and jeers; like she just pulled something out of the Luna Vachon bag of tricks.
Why? For some followers of professional wrestling, this is an indication that Belair’s antics aren’t appreciated because she’s coming off as an overly confident woman of color. For some, talking about how great you are and the abilities you’ve earned that have made you the best is enough to make you a heel. Belair is saying the same thing that individuals like Becky Lynch, Ronda Rousey and Charlotte are all saying; that she’s simply the best. Carmella and Alexa Bliss pushed the same idea, but they openly cheated or used others to get there – Belair has not.
Back when Belair originally debuted with NXT in 2016 she was supposed to be a heel. But her performances in the ring caused fans to appreciate her in a way that lead cheers and chants. Her 450 splash at WrestleMania 34 was an outstanding moment and since then more eyes have been on Belair’s trajectory as a wrestler; and she hasn’t let anyone down in that journey. It’s clear that she’s a talent that can carry the women’s division if given the opportunity to do so. Anticipation for her match against Baszler in Phoenix is growing, especially as the two send barbs at each other on social media – a battle that Belair is winning with the most recent salvo.
Many are lazily correlating her character to that of Sasha Banks or Alicia Fox, when in fact she’s a whole different breed. That’s not “attitude” that comes out when she speaks; that’s confidence. Confidence in the success she’s seen in her past sports career and the same success that has followed her into professional wrestling. Speaking about that confidence shouldn’t be graded in the same fashion as outright cheating in the ring. Unfortunately for some, the goal posts to success are moved to different locations when their actions are compared to that of their peers of different pigments.
As we approach her first attempt at winning a WWE title, there’s hope that WWE Creative will see the Knoxville, Tennessee athlete as the talent that she is. Sadly, the organization doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to pushing minorities into a position of prominence that correlates to their abilities in the ring. That track record is even worse when you consider the women of color on the roster. Bianca Belair is a strong, confident and accomplished black woman that will remind you of such every step of the way. She shouldn’t be jeered because she isn’t afraid to remind viewers of the facts.