It was a moment I waited a lifetime for. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair stood across the ring from each other in the main event of WrestleMania 37 Night 1. Two amazing, athletic, talented, beautiful Black women were in the main event of wrestling’s biggest show.
As the winner of the Royal Rumble, Bianca gets to fight the champion of her choice in the main event of WrestleMania. However, throughout the two month lead up, we never really believed the company would give us the match fans desperately wanted: Bianca vs Sasha for the SmackDown’s Women’s Championship.
Even as the big show rapidly approached, I just knew there would be a swerve, and somehow Charlotte would be added, because there’s no way two Black women would get the spotlight.
As the crowd chanted “this is awesome” and the performers got emotional, even breaking character, I teared up, because this was something teenage me never could have imagined as I was watching blond haired, blue eyed Divas in bra and panty matches.
As the dust settled on the best wrestling moment of the year, I noticed how many different Black women were shining across the industry, and how they all represented completely different examples of Black women’s beauty.
In addition to Sasha and Bianca, WWE also has Naomi, an athletic veteran who unapologetically celebrates the culture with her gear and hair, and goes viral every time she’s in the ring.
All Elite Wrestling (AEW) includes TBS Champion Jade Cargill, Red Velvet, former women’s champion Nyla Rose and wrestler/Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes.
The Jan. 5 episode of AEW Dynamite featured Jade being crowned as the first ever TBS Champion, a title everyone expected her to win. I can best describe Jade as a blond goddess, carved from stone. If she’s not cast as an Amazon in Wonder Woman 3, why even make the movie?
From WWE to AEW to Impact to NWA to independent promotions, there are Black women of all shapes, sizes, skin colors, gender identities and ages.
I spoke to Rhodes about how it’s never been more fun to be a Black woman who’s a wrestling fan. Everywhere you look, there’s someone that represents you.
“When you’re in industries where there’s not a lot of representation, you get put into a box of you’re supposed to look a certain way, speak a certain way, and act a certain way,” she said. “The beauty of what we’re getting right now is we have so much talent across the industry, in different promotions and on independent scenes that are just so different, and so comfortable being themselves.”
Rhodes detailed how crucial it was to have all the women in AEW just be themselves, and not someone else’s idea of who they should be.
“What was important to us was that we didn’t want to change anyone. When people came to us or had tryouts we looked at them as they were, not as something we wanted to change or make different or something that could evolve into something else,” she said. “I think that’s the beauty in AEW, you come as you are, and then you’re accepted as you are. That’s how you get such diversity and variety across the spectrum.”
Getting to see all these women portrayed as powerful, unique Black superheroes is a weekly confidence builder. If I feel like I can’t get out of bed, because my limbs don’t want to cooperate, there’s Bianca slamming a woman twice her size.
When I’m so exhausted, I can’t possibly keep working, there’s Sasha flying through the air making me feel like I can do anything.
And when I’ve been stuck inside for weeks at a time, and reach my absolute lowest, Jade is there to remind me I just might be “that bitch.”
Since I’ve been watching wrestling my whole life, I know this won’t last forever. Part of being a wrestling fan is waiting for disappointment to punch you in the face. At some point, one of the men in charge will look up and realize there’s way too much Black Girl Magic on TV.
However, Brandi is a lot more optimistic than me.
“My hope is that it continues to trend in the direction that it is. Right now, people are allowed to be who they are,” Rhodes continued. “There’s no fear of Black women getting asked to do anything that they don’t want to do or be anyone that they don’t want when it comes to their in-ring personas, how they present themselves. I want people to feel empowered as they are.”
Look, I know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The hate is still there, but no matter what the future holds, I will always have this moment in time, when Jade dominated, Bianca was the wrestler of the year, and she and Sasha main evented WrestleMania.
Somewhere 17-year old me is stuck watching an evening gown match, but she knows there’s something cool coming.