Bianca Belair has been the most dominant force in WWE NXT over the past year, and after months of beating whoever William Regal put in front of her, Belair finally has an opportunity at the NXT Women’s Championship at TakeOver: Phoenix. Here’s why it’s her time to run the Women’s Division in 2019.
Whether she’s power-cleaning another unfortunate opponent or verbally accosting a less gifted wrestler backstage, Bianca Belair imposes herself on the WWE NXT Women’s Division in a way that only a true superstar can. Belair has been nothing short of excellent since her first match in WWE at the Mae Young Classic in 2017, and she’s quickly become one of the most popular wrestlers in NXT.
At NXT TakeOver: Phoenix on Jan. 26, Belair will finally have her first title opportunity. The STILL undefeated EST of NXT will face two-time NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler for all the marbles at Chase Field, and while Baszler is perhaps the most formidable opponent Bianca could face, it would be unwise to doubt a woman who has owned the rest of the division in 2018.
Bianca earned this opportunity at the title by defeating main-roster bound Lacey Evans, former Knockouts Champion Mia Yim, and the best damn in-ring competitor in the world (Io Shirai) in a Fatal Four-Way No. 1 Contender’s match on this week’s episode of NXT.
That is quite the collection of opponents, but Bianca was too determined and too talented to be denied this match against Baszler. After being pocket vetoed by Regal for far too long, Belair took matters into her own hands by emerging victorious in this must-win match.
But Belair’s journey to the top included so many more great matches than just this barnburner Fatal Four-Way bout. She has defeated Candice LeRae, Nikki Cross, Dakota Kai, Mia Yim, and Deonna Purrazzo (in her debut!) in singles competition. Those are five of the best wrestlers in the world, and Belair handled them rather convincingly.
A former All-American track star in college, Belair is undoubtedly an impressive athlete with mind-blowing strength. In 2017, she shined at the NXT Combine, posting a Combine-best 8-foot-7-inch standing broad jump, the furthest overhead medicine ball toss, the fastest 1,000-meter row, and the most reps on the bench, a 415-pound trap bar deadlift to tie Ember Moon in first.
In short, she was the bEST at everything. No. 1. In everything. Nobody else came close to dominating the competition in that way, because most superstars are either the strongest or the fastest. Bianca? She was the strongEST and the fastEST.
All of that translates into the ring, but what makes Bianca so special is the fact that she has one of the best characters in WWE (yes, the entire WWE and not just NXT itself). Her hair whip is one of the most “over” gimmicks, and it even helped her break up a decisive pinfall in this week’s No. 1 Contendership match.
But beyond just the famous hair whip, the fans love everything about Bianca. They love her unapologetic confidence, they love the fact that she’s better than everyone else and backs it up, and they appreciate how quickly she’s risen to the top on the strength of her mind and work ethic.
The way Belair has picked up all the little aspects of what makes a wrestler great is alarming, because she’s done it at such as rapid pace that it’s hard to argue against her being the most captivating wrestler in the NXT Women’s Division. And that’s a loaded division that features wrestlers like Baszler, Shirai, and former NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane.
But that’s just how damn good Belair is, and the way grown men in the NXT Universe bop to her theme song is unlike anything I’ve seen. She hooks everybody into the essence of her character, and while not everyone can say they are an All-American track athlete and one of the most brilliant young wrestlers in the world, the EST character is still relatable to so many people.
Belair is an example of black excellence and will play an important role in setting an example for children who are told, as she was, to “stop being so good” due to their jealous peers, but her overall message and character is something that everyone can get behind. Bianca is unique and authentic in a way that so few superstars are, and therefore it shouldn’t surprise fans that she is receiving babyface reactions.
Although Belair has been presented to the NXT Universe as a heel, she, like fellow 2018 breakout star The Velveteen Dream, has become one of the most well-liked and respected wrestlers on the roster. This has turned those boos into cheers, as the crowd has been quite visibly behind her recently. Facing one of the most odious heels in WWE – and another 2018 breakout star – in Shayna Baszler at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix will only cement Belair’s status as a fan favorite.
In so many ways, Belair has won over the WWE Universe, and that should mean that she’ll defeat Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship, right? Her popularity and body of work should merit a win that cements her status as the bEST woman in NXT, yet it feels like strapping the rocket on her to stardom could wait in order to help build up Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, an Marina Shafir as a force in NXT before their inevitable call-up.
But what if Duke, Shafir, and Baszler get called up sooner? What if WWE sees that Bianca Belair is indeed the present and future of NXT? What if they have seen and heard the crowd’s interest in the EST and decide to take advantage of her undefeated record and connection with the audience, putting the title on her in her first TakeOver match?
No matter the result, Belair will keep on shining, because she’s never needed a title to get over at all. Titles, however, are more than just a means of “getting someone over”; they validate a wrestler’s accomplishments and enable the cream of the crop to be the face of a division. Bianca has reached that precipice, and it’s just a matter of time before she rules NXT as its champion. It should happen at TakeOver: Phoenix, because she’s already defeated everyone there is to defeat…except for former champions Baszler and Sane.