Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair made World Wrestling Entertainment, and sports entertainment history at WrestleMania 37. The “EST” and the “Boss” were the first African-Americans to jointly headline a main event WrestleMania match. Their game-changing match was awarded an Espy on July 10 for Best WWE Moment.
Banks celebrated the joint win, and teased her upcoming return to action at WWE with a tweet, saying, “We did it!!!! Let’s make some more magic, @wwe”
— Mercedes Varnado (@SashaBanksWWE) July 11, 2021
Banks and Belair’s WrestleMania bout came after a build-up which saw the accomplished Banks and the newcomer Belair go through several phases in their relationship, from initial intrigue, tentative partnership, and a falling out when their nascent tag team was hampered by interference from lovesick sommelier Reginald. When Belair won the Royal Rumble, she challenged then SmackDown women’s champion Banks for her belt. By the end of their seventeen-minute WrestleMania match, the title was Belair’s, and history was made.
Banks is no stranger to changing the game and making history for women, people of color, and women of color in sports entertainment. After growing up idolizing both female pro wrestlers of color like Jazz and WWE’s sole African American female Hall of Famer Jacqueline, as well as male performers like Eddie Guerrero, Banks went on to be a pioneer of WWE’s 2016 and beyond women’s evolution. She and Charlotte Flair were the first women to have a Hell in a Cell match, and she and former tag team partner Bayley were the first WWE women to have an Iron Man match. Not for nothing is Banks called the “Blueprint”, and she blazed yet another trail for future female Superstars to follow.
As for Bianca Belair, the Espy win and her WrestleMania moment capped off a brisk period of rapid rise for her. From the NXT to Monday Night Raw to SmackDown rosters in such a short span of time, capturing the SmackDown title from Banks, sharing their historic marquee match, and also making history on her own as the first African-American woman to win the women’s Royal Rumble.
Banks and Belair didn’t just score the Espy. Like Alicia Fox, the first African-American WWE Divas Champion, and Naomi, the first African-American to win the SmackDown women’s title that Belair now holds, Belair and Banks have scored a win for diversity in sports entertainment.
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