To close Night 1 of WrestleMania 37 this past weekend, Bianca Belair made her WrestleMania debut — and immediately found herself at the center of an all-time moment at the legendary event. Belair managed to outlast Sasha Banks in the main event, winning the SmackDown women’s championship in a thrilling match that had the entire WWE Universe buzzing.
Speaking to CBS sports on Sunday afternoon, the moment still hadn’t fully set in for the new champion.
“It’s still hitting me. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it,” Belair said. “It’s been a whirlwind of emotions, even since we found out. It was announced I was going to be the main event on my birthday and it was like I was trying to wrap my mind around that. But before I could, we were standing out there. That’s why I was so emotional. That’s when it hit me that we were the main event, when I was standing out there across from Sasha Banks. Then, having my hand raised as SmackDown women’s champion, it hit me when I heard the fans and when I was celebrating with my family and my husband, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it. I keep saying it feels like a dream. It still feels so unreal, but I know it’s so real.”
The night after the event, Belair said she spent time with family, including husband and fellow WWE superstar Montez Ford. Once the small celebration ended, however, Belair wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do as a new champion and WrestleMania main-eventer — a post-event feeling only known by a small handful of performers in WWE history.
“My family came back to the hotel and I just wanted to spend time with them,” Belair said. “After they left, I didn’t really sleep last night. I was like, ‘I just main-evented WrestleMania. I just created history in my debut at WrestleMania. I won the title. Am I supposed to go to sleep? Do I eat food? I don’t know what to do right now.’ I didn’t know what to do with myself and just kind of laid in bed and tried to grasp what happened.”
The match between Belair and Banks received wide critical praise for the in-rind product. But as important as that was, the representation on display before the bell even rang spoke higher volumes. For the first time in history, two women of color were main-eventing a WWE pay-per-view event, and with a major title on the line. The significance of this, of course, was not lost on Belair.
“I was very happy with the performance,” Belair said. “I haven’t watched it back yet because I’m super critical of myself. I just want to live in the moment right now and be happy because I know when I watch it back, I’m going to be critiquing myself and saying, ‘You should have done this. You should have done that.’ Even though I won, I’m still going to critique myself. I loved the match and my thing was that I understood how big the moment was and how big of an opportunity it was. I understood that this moment was more than just about us. We were representing for women, we were representing for women of color. I just wanted to deliver and live up to the moment.
“WrestleMania in itself is already a huge deal. When you’re in WWE and anyone asks what your goals are, you say you want to go to WrestleMania. The biggest goal is to main event at WrestleMania. WrestleMania is already a unique event itself, and there’s already pressure to live up to the expectations of being at WrestleMania. To be able to create history at WrestleMania — to be able to create history and main event at WrestleMania? I don’t think there’s anything bigger than that. There was pressure and it was a big deal to us. I always say representation is not a request, it’s a requirement. I think WWE is an amazing example of how women and women of color in the world and in the world of sports should be celebrated. They always put us on a platform to where we can show up and we can show out.”