Long before she was the EST of WWE, Bianca Belair was destined to be the best. She hadn’t yet dominated track competitions, turned heads at CrossFit, or main evented WrestleMania, but her drive — even at five years old — was there.
As she sat at a football banquet for her brother, Belair recalls telling her mom “I want a trophy, too.” That moment was a turning point that would lead her to global superstardom. And it’s something she reflects on fondly in her recent partnership with NBC Sports in an effort to give fans an outlet for the Sunday Scaries as they immerse themselves in Sunday Night Football.
“Sunday Night Football is one of the ways that I’m able to jumpstart my week, and I’ve just had so many amazing memories with football,” Belair tells Uproxx Sports. “It’s a form of self care and self care has this misconception when people think of it, being spas and candles and cucumbers and that’s not always what self care is. It’s things that you enjoy and that’s what NBC Sports is doing. They have these nationwide watch parties and it brings people together that just love football and it gives them an unforgettable night.
“The Sunday Scaries, it’s the feeling of anxiety that you get every Sunday before the start of your new work week,” she continues. “Everybody knows that I’ve struggled with depression, I still struggle with anxiety. So, I was really excited about teaming up with them because they’re making football more than just a game. And they’re using it to jumpstart people’s work weeks to take the scaries out of their Sundays.”
Even with the amount of time she spends on the road, Sunday Night Football is an important part of Belair’s week. She loves watching games with her husband, Montez Ford, and his tag team partner, Angelo Dawkins.
“We’re usually leaving a show where we’re the ones back in the competitive environment, so it allows us to step outside of that and we get to be the fans and we get to be the ones that boo and cheer and have our teams that we’re going for,” Belair says. “So it just brings us back down to normalcy and it’s able to jumpstart our week and it helps soothe my anxiety. That’s my best form of self care and I feel like I can get all that with Sunday Night Football.”
Belair has long been a competitive person. It led her to track as her early interest in sports evolved alongside her admiration for Florence Griffith-Joyner. She speaks glowingly about how FloJo branded herself by blending sports and fashion, and how Belair mixed her own style by running races in leotards. By the time she was in high school, she was making the team’s track uniforms. And when she got into CrossFit, she was able to explore her creativity by making her own outfits that helped her stand out.
From an early age, Belair had a mindset that when you look good, you feel and perform good.
“The pageantry that goes into wrestling has really stuck with me,” Belair says. “I love designing and sewing my own gear and showing my talent. When I watch a video game or see my action figure, it’s the gear that I had on. So it’s just the extra element where I’m able to use my creativity with wrestling.”
Belair didn’t join WWE with a plan of designing her own gear, if only because there are so many other things that need to happen before you can even consider getting into the ring in front of a crowd. But once it became clear that she was a superstar in the making, her creative disposition took over.
“Once I started getting word that I was going to start getting in the ring, I started reaching out to gear makers. I’m a very hands-on person and I’m a very creative person, and what I had in my mind, I couldn’t verbalize to the person. What they made was great, but it wasn’t what I wanted, and I just realized I’ve done this before. I did it with track, I did it with CrossFit. It was very intimidating when it came to making stuff for wrestling because I never had done it before,” Belair says. “My husband bought me my first sewing machine when I was in NXT in 2016 and I just started watching a lot of YouTube videos. It was trial and error. I still have the first pair of pants that I’ve ever sewn — I actually didn’t wear them in the ring because they probably would have split open.”
It’s hard for Belair to nail down one outfit that’s her favorite — she creates each piece of gear with the intention to only wear it once. But if she absolutely has to pick one above the rest, it’s what she wore against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 38.
“That was the first time that I really pushed myself to make something out of my normal pattern that I usually wear,” Belair says. “That one really intimidated me. I used a fan design for that, and I loved that collaboration because that fan, I think, was a teenager at the time that they made that design. I just really wanted to push them to continue with their skill because they’re so talented. It’s really hard to pick because I’m connected to all of them in a different way.”
Belair’s gear is only a single component of what’s made her one of WWE’s biggest stars. The EST isn’t a moniker, it’s how the former Women’s Champion approaches her work in WWE.
“It’s really about just having passion and love for the sport. When you’re a champion and you’re constantly in the title picture, and you’re one of the faces of the company, it’s always go, go, go, it’s grind, grind, grind. And it can be very easy to just get in autopilot mode and you have to really remember why you’re in this,” Belair says. “I’m able to have an influence and have an impact on a large amount of people inside the ring. But for me, it’s what I do outside the ring and the impact that I have outside the ring. I’m not just doing Raw and Smackdown. I’m also traveling throughout the weeks to do appearances and do community events and stuff behind the scenes. That’s what drives me.”
Belair is one of the faces of the company, above any era and not confined to a division. She’s paving a path of her own alongside the varied styles that come with WWE’s packed women’s division — a division that got even stronger in recent weeks with the addition of Jade Cargill.
“It’s always been a huge goal and mission of mine to bring myself and my culture and representation to WWE. And it’s only going to get bigger with Jade coming in the picture,” Belair says. “There’s so many amazing possibilities that can come out of it, singles matches, tag matches. Going from being one of the first Black females to main event WrestleMania and now having Jade come in, it’s just showing how much WWE is evolving and continues to evolve.”
The more competition, the better. While she acknowledges what each star can add to the roster, make no doubt about it: that competitive edge never left and she’s ready to continue proving why she’s one of the faces of WWE.
“It’s great to be one of the faces. It’s great to be one of the girls that gets to be in the top positions and be representation,” Belair says. “For awhile, I would just be so proud of myself with trying to do it the right way. And now I’m just to the point where there’s not a right way to do it. You just do it your way and everybody brings a dish to the table, then you can have a whole meal. And that’s what we all do.
“We all collectively add to this division. And I’m just grateful that I’m one of the women that can bring my dish to the table. I want to be the main dish. We’re all fighting to be the entree, but that’s what makes the meal even better. You’re the girl that’s the top. You’re the girl that gets to show this women’s division. It means everything.”