Before the journey began for a number of WWE talent, their skills were being honed in gymnasiums, auditoriums and in front of crowds of a few hundred people. They never wavered in the pursuit of their goals, and those roads they traveled helped them achieve the success they have today. This is the newest series to be found here on Pro Wrestling Post, titled “Before the E”. ‘The E’ is inspired by a common nickname for WWE. In order to understand where talent is today, it is important to understand how they came to be part of the Entertainment side of World Wrestling Entertainment. This week we present Bianca Belair.
While typically we journey into a WWE superstars past before they come to the promotion this week’s reflection is a little bit different. At 30 years of age, Bianca Nicole Blair has proudly turned the NXT wrestling universe on its ear. Unapologetically strong and confident, Belair journey into professional wrestling when she entered her information into the database of the WWE performance center but that came after being tired and feeling complacent.
The Pursuit for Something Greater
“I was just settling and trying to live the life I felt was the hand I was dealt. I thought there would be something bigger, but this is what it is”. – ESPN.com
As a sales representative in Atlanta, Georgia, Belair wanted more and in doing the show she looked into different options. A track star from the University of Tennessee, Belair was capable of so much more physically. Her athletic prowess was evident. After completing college, Belair also joined the Crossfit craze that swept a nation a few years ago but an injury prevented that from becoming more.
“I have shifting rib syndrome (formerly known as intercostal chondritis). There is no treatment, there’s no surgery, there’s nothing really you can do for it. I went to a million doctors and chiropractors and nobody could tell me what was wrong. I was really defeated”.
With some, the obstacle such as this could set someone back. When you are an elite athlete the caliber of Bianca Belair, it was crushing. What were her options? The answer was simply – anything she put her mind towards. She recalls having to overcome this obstacle and sharing that she wanted to become a wrestler. Unlike some whose passion for wrestling began as childhood fans, Belair’s was different. Her interest came about through her brother’s love of wrestling. What was remarkable was something as simple as just entering her information into a database of sorts led to an incredible message a week later.
The Message from Mark Henry
She received a message from WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry asking her if she’d be interested in trying out. With no wrestling background but a strong athletic background, Belair excelled at the WWE Performance Centre’s combine. It is a test of one’s physical, mental and internal drive to succeed. After strong performances, she eventually signed with the promotion. Her nickname ‘The EST of NXT’ is tied into what she boasts about being. The fastEST, strongEST, quickEST, roughEST, and toughEST may have won the combine but hadn’t completed yet. That would all soon change.
Upon her own reflection the athlete Belair was accustomed to having an endpoint. The former track athlete would have a finish line as her main goal. The goal was to get to the finishline before anyone else. Now it wasn’t about getting to the finishline as the hurdles of competing, putting on a convincing match, selling your offense and showing your skills were all all vital.
“Every single day I’m here to prove [Mark] right and show him that what he saw in me is there,” said Blair, who remains forever indebted to Henry and his faith in her potential. “It’s been a challenge, but I’m extremely grateful to be here and am excited for what’s to come.”
Bianca Belair Comes To The Mae Young Classic
After competing in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, Bianca Belair has risen through the ranks of NXT. She went on an undefeated streak to start her career. After an undefeated streak that went over a year she finally lost a match. Her loss however came at the hands of Shayna Baszler and for the NXT Women’s Championship. Even as she was falling victim to Baszler fans could see there was no quit in her eyes. With that loss, it seemed as though Belair underwent a bit of a new direction for her career.
She wasn’t an outright heel but wasn’t necessarily a face either. As a tweener, Belair worked alongside the likes of Io Shirai and Kairi Sane but that was short-lived. It didn’t seem right for Belair to work alongside them as her aspirations were for professional growth and not personal friendships. She ultimately needed to recapture what made her the EST of NXT. After a short time together, Belair ultimately faced Baszler once again for the NXT Women’s Championship. She once again was unsucessful capturing the championship.
After some time, Bianca Belair feuded with NXT newcomer Mia Yim. The two would ultimately battle for bragging rights between them. It became all about who was better than who. After exchanging losses to one another the two faced each other as part of a fatal four-way to determine the number one contender for the NXT Women’s Championship. Despite not winning the match, Belair would eventually challenge NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley for the title. Today Belair’s quest for the finish line is far from met.
She is quickly is seeing that her quest is less of a sprint and more of a marathon. While the parallels between track and wrestling are similar in that both have hurdles, the end goal has yet to be reached. This doesn’t appear to be an issue for Belair. She is earning opportunity after opportunity. With each match comes a new opportunity to show her worth. A current feud involving herself and Charlotte Flair along with Rhea Ripley is also showing her value.
Bianca Belair: Future Women’s Champion?
She has competed for the NXT Women’s Championship, competed as part of NXT TakeOver events, and been a part of NXT’s Survivor Series team. Belair continues to make herself heard and relevant. With an athletic background as the foundation of everything she does, Belair is truly remarkable. With a character that is unapologically proud of who she is, there is no reason to think she won’t continue to succeed. Bianca Belair continues to grow as a must-watch talent. Her risks in the ring are as calculated as her confidence on the mic. She doesn’t pull punches and doesn’t back down. Her confidence is another reflection of why she is what she says she is the EST of NXT.
All quote courtesy of Sean Hurd and ESPN.com