On Saturday, frenemies Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks made history as the first Black women to go head-to-head in a Wrestlemania title match, and while they put on a performance for the ages in what many have deemed an instant classic, it was 32-year-old Belair that would emerge victorious and become a WWE champion for the first time in her career.
With the two performing in front of the WWE’s first live audience in over a year—a sold-out crowd of over 25,000 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.—Banks, the established vet eager to defend her crown, tried her best to stave off Belair’s continued meteoric rise to no avail. The NXT product, who joined the WWE’s main roster in 2020, relied on an assortment of pain to get the job done.
From a vicious 450 splash, to consecutive powerbombs, to vertical suplexes and even a standing shooting star press, Belair did everything humanly possible to beat the shit out of her opponent to the crowd’s delight.
But in the end, try as Banks may with dirty tactics like pulling hair and choking Belair with her own braid, it just wasn’t enough. So with the crowd clinging to the edge of their seats as this incredible match continued to gain momentum, we got the ending none of us were truly ready for:
Ladies and gentleman, Bianca Belair is your new champion.
Banks was so overjoyed at the magnitude of the moment, there were several instances throughout the match that she couldn’t conceal her pride at the history being made for Black women on such a massive platform—even when her character was supposed to be selling a loss.
“This main event was everything that was needed from Belair and Banks,” user UnrealEntGaming wrote on YouTube. “It was emotional, it was fast-paced and it told a great story! Bianca winning was truly well deserved! Outstanding performance from both women.”
Belair earned the opportunity to go to war in the ring with Banks after destroying Billie Kay and Natalya in a triple threat match in October and lasting over 56 minutes in a brutal Royal Rumble back in January—becoming only the second Black person ever to win (the first was The Rock). So after beating the brakes off of everyone else, her grand prize was getting to choose her opponent for Wrestlemania 37.
She picked Banks.
Not only for the opportunity to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship belt, but to wage war with another Black woman as the main event—and make history in the process.
“I love the fact that this is not just something that’s just about me and it’s not just about making history,” Belair told the Tampa Bay Times prior to the match. “It’s about going out and representing for women and for Black women.”
“This is the first time ever that two African-American women will be headlining at WrestleMania,” Banks said on the Token CEO podcast. “So this is crazy because it’s bigger than me and I think that’s what the beautiful thing is. Everything that I’ve done in the WWE, not only has it been for me, but it’s been bigger than me.”
Here at The Root, we love to see it.
Congrats to both Sasha and Bianca for putting on such an electrifying, historic performance this weekend. And to whoever is in here cutting onions, would you please stop?! Damn!