Q&A: Bianca Belair Is Ready For Sasha
By Ryan Satin
There’s no denying Bianca Belair is a special talent.
"The EST of WWE" has something many people just don’t possess: It-factor.
If you need proof, just watch this video of her first match on SmackDown after moving to Friday nights in the recent draft.
Each time she’s on screen, the 31-year-old former track and field athlete exudes star power and comes across as a serious contender.
This week – after recently qualifying for Team SmackDown at Survivor Series later this month – Bianca joined me via Zoom to discuss a potential dream match with Sasha Banks, pitching the idea for her Mr. Perfect-inspired Raw vignettes to Vince McMahon and more.
Watch the full interview or read the transcript below.
RS: I want to start things off by talking about something you did recently that I loved, and that’s the "Thriller" video you put out on Halloween.
What was the inspiration behind all that?
BIANCA: Halloween is my husband’s favorite holiday. That is his absolute favorite holiday. He loves Halloween.
I’m not gonna say I don’t like it, I just don’t like being scared.
But we haven’t been able to celebrate Halloween together for about two or three years. He was finally home, and we were gonna get to celebrate Halloween, so it was all his idea.
He loves Michael Jackson. He was like, "Let’s do Thriller!"
Then it turned it into, "Why don’t we do a video and just remake Thriller?" So I was like, "Okay, cool."
It was so fun making it.
We turned it into our own thing and he loves to dance. I have behind the scenes footage I’m going to put out later of him getting dressed at home and actually practicing the Thriller dance.
I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning and heard the Thriller music. He was in the other room practicing the dance!
So I was like, "You know what? I’ll let you have it. You can do the dance by yourself." It was so much fun.
RS: I was actually very impressed when it got to that part and he was doing the Thriller dance. So the fact that he actually practiced it makes a lot of sense. Because I was watching it thinking, "Man, he’s got this down!" I was impressed.
BIANCA: He actually practiced it.
He doesn’t practice a lot of things. Like the garter toss at our wedding, he didn’t practice the dance. But Thriller? He was so serious about it and so excited for the video to come out.
I think this is gonna be a yearly thing now. I don’t know how we’re gonna top it next year.
But I guess everybody can be on the lookout for next year, cause it’s gonna be a yearly thing.
RS: I wanna talk a little about your time on Raw.
You got involved in the Street Profits match at WrestleMania, then had a match on Raw to establish the change of brands, but after that you were sort of absent from Raw for awhile.
Do you have any idea why that may have happened?
BIANCA: I just feel like I transitioned to Raw at a very weird and crazy time.
I got to debut on WrestleMania, and the Raw after Mania with my husband, and I don’t have any regrets because I got to share those moments with my husband.
I feel like my journey, I’m all about the moments, and I got to share those moments with my husband. Then I kinda went into the storyline a little bit with Zelina, and I got to have a match with Zelina which I loved.
Then, after that, I just feel like it was a thing of trying to figure out where I fit. With me, I’ve just learned that you focus on the things that you can control. And that’s what I’ve been doing since NXT.
I just focus on the things that I can control and I honestly would rather wait until there’s something for me, then to just be thrown out there.
I just looked at it as, "Okay, there’s something for me," and just looked at it on the positive side of things.
So I appreciate that, and it all worked out.
I had some vignettes on Raw and then I got switched over to SmackDown, and now it’s all about to just unfold.
That’s what I’m about. Just focusing on the things that I can control and do my part and everything that was for me will be for me.
Nobody can stop that and that’s what’s happening now.
RS: Did you have fun making those EST vignettes?
BIANCA: I did have fun.
The Mr. Perfect style vignettes, I’ve been wanting to do something like that since NXT.
I might not always be able to show when I’m in inside the ring what my character is about and introduce it to the bigger audience on Raw and SmackDown. But I had a lot of fun making those.
I had a really weird moment when I was on the track making the track vignette, because I didn’t grow up watching wrestling.
So, to the people that are in the business now that grew up watching wrestling, track was my wrestling. If that makes sense.
I’ve been running track since I was five. I could name down every single Olympian that ran hurdles. I could tell you all my role models growing up. I wanted to be an Olympian.
That was my world.
Then I came into wrestling, and now wrestling is my world.
When I ran track, I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than running track. Now I’m in wrestling, and I can’t see myself doing anything other than wrestling, because I’ve completely fallen in love with what I do in this business.
When I got on the track, the smell of the track, the feel of the track on my feet, it all came back to me ... but it felt so foreign.
It felt like, "Wow. This used to be my world! And now it isn’t. Now wrestling is my world."
So I had this weird moment of, like, this is kinda crazy! This is how I’m absorbed into wrestling to where now something that used to be my life feels so foreign to me.
But it was fun.
I was so sore after the vignette on the track because I was out there like sprinting and running. The next day I’m like, "Oh gosh. I’m using muscles I haven’t used in awhile."
RS: And you probably didn’t even have to go that hard! The other people would’ve held back a little. But I like that you still couldn’t not put your effort into it.
BIANCA: Yeah. Actually, the last time I hurdled was in like 2012.
So it was all just being an athlete and muscle memory, it was just still there for me. It was fun though.
RS: You mentioned Mr. Perfect. Was he the inspiration for those vignettes?
BIANCA: Mr. Perfect was the inspiration for the different vignettes and just trying to show other things outside of wrestling.
Like I said, I wanted to show stuff you wouldn’t normally see inside the wrestling ring. So, that was the inspiration.
The hard part was just picking three and narrowing it down, because we had so many other different ideas that I wanted to do.
But we just had to pick three and that was the hard part, like, which three are we gonna pick?! So, we came out with the strongEST, the fastEST and the smartEST.
RS: What were some of the other ones you wanted to do?
BIANCA: I didn’t know how to fit it into the vignette, but I wanted to do one where we went to a football field trying to see how many back handsprings can I do and then just going the whole length of the football field.
Or handstand walking the length of the whole football field.
Just like crazy things that we could show that I could actually do.
RS: You can actually do that?
We used to go to visit the University of Tennessee when I was younger. They have an indoor football field where we used to take field trips to.
I used to go there and just do back handsprings from the end of the end zone all the way to the other.
RS: I get tired from doing cardio in my garage. I couldn’t imagine doing full back handsprings for that long. That’s insane.
BIANCA: Super dizzy after though!
Like can’t walk for a good thirty-seconds afterwards.
RS: You mentioned being drafted to SmackDown. I loved the videos that they were playing to hype your arrival on the show.
Did you like those more than the comedic vignettes on Raw?
BIANCA: I liked them both.
I feel like the vignettes really showed my personality. I wanted to show that, yeah, of course I’m an athlete, everybody knows that. I’m an in-ring performer. But I’m also entertaining.
I wanted to show the entertaining aspect of me too because wrestling is more than just getting in the ring and doing moves.
You have to be entertaining and have personality, and charisma. I feel like that’s so important when it comes to Bianca Belair.
So I wanted to show that with the vignettes.
But, with the packages that they showed on SmackDown, I loved those packages because it really showed the badass side of Bianca Belair.
It looked like a sports commercial that you would see. The athlete in me really loved those packages.
I was telling my husband that the first package, I don’t know if a lot of people picked up on it, but the athlete in me definitely picked up on it.
It showed the things that I did in the weight room, it showed how it correlates to how I do it in the ring.
Like, it showed me doing, in the weight room, an overhead ball throw … then it showed me doing the move where I throw the girl over my head.
Then it shows where I’m doing a squat, where I have the bar on my back, and then it shows me where I’m doing the K.O.D. with a girl on my back.
Then it shows me putting more weight on the bar and then putting the bar on my back again. Then doing the double K.O.D. with more weight on my back.
It showed me doing the chain exercise where I’m doing the battle rope and then it’s showing the hair whip.
So it just really showed everything that I’m doing in the gym, in the weight lifting, and the athletic things that I’m doing it directly correlates to what I’m doing in the ring.
That’s what I really loved about those vignettes and those packages.
RS: I totally noticed that when watching the video packages. That’s part of why I loved it so much.
It definitely had more of a sports-feel to it.
Also, you just have a very hip personality. You’re fresh. You’re young. And I felt like it had that same vibe to it, as opposed to a comedy segment like the other ones.
BIANCA: They were fun. This is like, "Okay, now it’s time for business. I’m getting in the ring."
Even the music. The music was amazing.
I think the first package came out on Friday, and I was like "Oh, this music is great." Then woke up Monday and watched Raw, and now it’s the song for Raw!
I’m like, "See! I told you that song was it."
So everybody else noticed and now it’s the theme song for Raw.
RS: Did you pitch those Mr. Perfect-style vignettes to somebody? Or did they bring that to you?
BIANCA: I worked on it a lot with one of the writers. Then just got some advice and started working on the pitch.
Then I actually went and pitched it myself and it went through.
So I was happy about that.
I feel like I’m very creative in my head and I feel like I have so many ideas. I always say I don’t believe in doing the bare minimum at all. I’m not a bare minimum person.
I go over and beyond.
Anything that’s handed to me I always say I try to put a little stank on it. You know? And that’s what I do.
I don’t believe in doing the bare minimum and I feel like I know who I am, and I know what I’m good at. I know my personality. I know my character. I know everything about me.
So, I went and pitched it. And it went through! I try to be very assertive when it comes to who I am.
RS: Was pitching that to Vince [McMahon] a nerve wracking thing to do?
BIANCA: It wasn’t nerve wracking.
I just looked at it as I’m my biggest cheerleader and if I’m not gonna cheer for myself, who is?
Of course, he’s Vince McMahon. He’s the head guy in charge. So, you know, you gotta come correct.
That was my thing. You just gotta come correct. That was the nerve wracking part for me.
Just come correct and just be who you are. And if it’s a good pitch, it’s a good pitch. If it isn’t, I’ll just go back to the drawing board and let’s see where we go from here.
I feel like you can’t get anywhere if you’re going to be scared.
As long as you’re being assertive and respectable, and you’re just being your biggest cheerleader, nobody can fault you for that.
RS: Now that you’ve told me this, I’m guessing that probably played a part in this push you’re now getting on SmackDown.
There’s no question that they are presenting you as a star.
From the way you were presented in those video packages to the way you had your match against Zelina Vega, I feel like everything about it has been making you look like a star.
Have you been happy with everything on SmackDown so far?
I was very excited when I got drafted to SmackDown. I’m super excited to be team blue. You know, first qualifier for Team SmackDown for Survivor Series.
I’m very happy with how things have been going. I’ve been saying like, "Hey! I’m here! I’m ready. Just give me the spotlight. I’m ready to shine, just give me the spotlight."
I feel like I’m finally getting the spotlight and I’m just here to prove myself. I’m in the stages of proving who I am. Showing everybody why I am the EST and every time I get in the ring just showing that.
Inside and outside the ring. Outside the ring is just as important as inside the ring and I’m just here to show that whatever time, place, opportunity, whatever, look … I’m the EST.
I keep saying I’m gonna prove it to you and I feel like that’s what I’m doing. I’m just getting started and SmackDown is the land of opportunities.
I’m just here to eat up all the opportunities and fight everybody on SmackDown.
RS: It must be fun for you, with Survivor Series coming up, to go from being on the underdog NXT team last year to now being part of Team SmackDown.
BIANCA: I’m excited.
When they asked about it, I was like, "Well, you know, Survivor Series this year is the best of the best, for one. So, I call myself the bEST … the b, e, s, t … so it only makes sense that I’m on the team."
SmackDown is gonna be the best.
But, yeah, last year I was actually on the winning team for Survivor Series with NXT. So, you would definitely want me on your team, since I was on the winning team.
NXT isn’t a part of Survivor Series this year, which I can say, like, it would be kind of bittersweet to fight against my former squad and beat 'em.
Cause, you know, I gotta beat 'em.
RS: Of course! You gotta do what you gotta do.
BIANCA: I gotta do what I gotta do! Okay?
I’m just excited to be on team blue and to see, hopefully, who else is going to join me.
I feel like our locker room is so stacked and no matter what five girls you pick from our locker room they’re all amazing.
They’re all great. They’re all talented.
We’re gonna have a stacked team and we’re gonna do the dang-ole thing at Survivor Series and come out as the best.
RS: Lastly, what do you think about the current SmackDown Women’s champion Sasha Banks?
BIANCA: Since NXT, whenever they ask me about the girls that I’m looking up to, or when I came in not knowing anything, and of course the names Sasha, Charlotte, Becky, Bayley, they all came up.
So, I’m excited to now be in the same locker room as Sasha.
I think that that’s a dream match for not just me, but for a lot of people to see. I think that we can get in the ring and create a lot of magic.
She’s done so many monumental things, alongside Bayley, for the women’s division in NXT. And they just had the Hell in a Cell match, which was crazy.
She has a lot of momentum going and getting this title. And I feel like I have a lot of momentum coming in and debuting on SmackDown.
So, now that we’re on the same playing field, and we’re in the same locker room, I’m just trying to figure out when can I fight Sasha? Cause I’m trying to get the title!
I’m trying to be SmackDown Women’s champion and get that title.
I want to fight Sasha now.
I still want to fight Bayley, cause when she was the champion she was just like all over the place and kept trolling me on Twitter.
So I still want to fight Bayley, but now I’m looking at Sasha like, "Girl, when you trying to fight? You got something I want now."
Catch Bianca Belair weekly on FOX's Friday Night SmackDown.
*Interview lightly edited for length and clarity*