Athlete Interview: The Rise of Bianca Belair – If you aren’t among the millions of WWE fans who have been turning into SmackDown every week or clicking into YouTube content,  you’re missing out on one of the most dynamic Superstars in sports entertainment todayBianca Belair.

In just a few days, Belair will make her official WrestleMania debut. Known to many as the Showcase of the Immortals, WrestleMania is as important to WWE and sports entertainment as the Super Bowl is to the NFL and football. This year’s edition will follow the same format as last year, being spread over a two-day period with action taking place on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11. This year, however, WWE faithful will be in attendance thanks to the easement of Covid-19 restrictions for the first time since March 2020.

“WrestleMania is one thing, but to have the fans there is magical,” Belair says. “This is going to be a great two days.”

Belair will take on Sasha Banks, the current SmackDown Women’s Champion, with the gold on the line.  This will be the first time that two African-American women have competed against one another at WrestleMania, a milestone moment that Belair is very cognizant of and is ready to take to the history books.

“We’re going to send a powerful message, being two black alpha females who are so confident in themselves, who are out there creating history,” Belair comments. “[As a message] I will say, pay tribute to those who came before you, because they paved the way and opened doors.

“When I see myself in that ring, I see every single woman and woman of color who came before me and will be right there in that ring with me. This moment is not just for us, it’s for everyone.”

Prior to joining WWE, Belair was a competitor in CrossFit, who was scouted by WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry. Following a couple tryouts, Belair signed her first WWE contract in 2016 and one year later was part of the first-ever Mae Young Classic.

Once the tournament ended, Belair stayed very visible with NXT. It was here that Belair first saw WWE trading cards, issued by Topps, and hoped for her inaugural appearance in the product line. “I remember being in NXT and seeing all the Topps trading cards and wondering when I’m going to get mineam I ever going to get one?” she told Go GTS. “Coming into WWE… you know it’s eventually going to fall into place. You’ll get into a video game, you’ll get an action figure, you’re going to be on a Topps card. But I never saw this for myself and now that it’s happening, I have this feeling… I’ve seen John Cena and all these amazing wrestlers and legends on Topps cards, and to see myself on one, I had this feeling of, ‘Yep, that is a Topps card, but that’s not the same thing, right?’

“It’s this feeling of disbelief. I’m kind of like, ‘no way, not me,‘ but once it hits that it’s that same girl on a Topps card, it’s an amazing feeling; something hard to wrap my mind around but it’s crazy to see myself on a Topps card with all these amazing wrestlers.”

Her rapid ascent as one of the top faces in WWE has meant that, indeed, there is a lot of cardboard available of the “EST of WWE”. Belair’s first cards and autographs came in 2018 and now the collection stands at over 225 pieces. Belair’s newest cards will arrive shortly after WrestleMania when the delayed 2020 Topps WWE Women’s Division arrives in stores.

Though Belair wasn’t much of a collector growing up – she recalls having a bug and reptile collection (and medals as she jokes) she has a different memorabilia today.

“I’m a collector of gear. I’m a little bit of a gear hoarder,” Belair confesses. “I make my own gear so I have boxes of fabric that I’ve made gear out of. I try to make gear for every single big moment and I try not to re-wear it. It takes me back to that specific match, that specific moment. It’s very sentimental for me. I usually hang it up or put it in little bags and wrap tissue paper around it.

The same, however, cannot be said for Belair’s husband, Montez Ford. The Street Profits member, known for carrying a Solo plastic glass to the ring, is equally as colorful as Belair, but the collection he keeps in their home is a bit different.

“There are red cups all around the house,” she says with a sigh. “They’ve literally become a decoration of the house. There are red cups everywhereEVERYWHERE.”

Listen to the full interview with Bianca Belair below!

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