Bianca Belair talks Saudi Arabia, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and *that* SummerSlam match with Becky Lynch

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  • When looking at Bianca Belair’s list of achievements it is hard to fathom just how little time she has actually spent with the organisation.

    A Smackdown Women’s title reign, WrestleMania headliner, three 30-minute plus stints in the Royal Rumble, and beating four-on-one odds at Survivor Series, are CV entries most would be happy with at the end of a career – but for the EST this has all come in the space of less than two years.

    Despite this one thing will always haunt her. Losing inside 30 seconds to Becky Lynch at SummerSlam last year.

    It brought to an end her title reign, and for a short period threw into some doubt everything that had gone before.

    “You can’t really talk about the year of the EST without talking about Summerslam and the 26 seconds,” she says.

    “I am very eager to rewrite that bit of history and not have my legacy stop at that. I’ve tried to stay positive and keep a great perspective about it but at the end of the day I am trying to rewrite what happened at Summerslam. There is definitely unfinished business with Becky Lynch.”

    The road to finishing that business may well start this weekend in Saudi Arabia. Belair will enter the women’s Elimination Chamber match for the first time, with the winner lined up for a shot at the RAW Women’s title, currently held by Lynch, at Wrestlemania.

    Belair will take on Rhea Ripley, Nikki ASH, Doudrop, Liv Morgan, and Alexa Bliss in Jeddah and has fond memories of her first trip to the Kingdom when she competed in a stunning triple threat match alongside Lynch and Sasha Banks.

    Given her meteoric rise, she was unsure if fans in Riyadh that night would even know who she was – that was quickly proved wrong.

    “I didn’t know how much the fans knew about me and wasn’t sure if they would know me or cheer for me, but it was great. I felt very welcomed, it felt they loved the match and it was really cool to be able to look out into the audience and see everyone cheering for us.”

    Much is made of the impact WWE superstars are having when performing in Saudi Arabia, as they continue to break down barriers in the country’s development.

    For Belair, the idea of being a role model is one she cherishes and wants to fulfil to the maximum – for young girls, and boys, everywhere.

    “It is exciting because I always feel like we up it when we go over there  – especially when it comes to the women. We progressively keep adding more matches and more women to the card, this will be the most women we have had on a show in Saudi Arabia.

    “I remember going out and seeing a little boy who had a sign with every single female wrestler on the show that night. I feel very honoured to be in this position and be on this stage to go to Saudi Arabia and for little girls and little boys to be able to see us in that position it is really cool to be a part of.”

    Sometimes the inspiration can also be the one who is inspired, and this was recently the case when Belair met long-time hero Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

    A start of United States track and field, Joyner-Kersee has three Olympic gold medals, and four from world championships and was the idol of Belair in her formative years – she even wrote a story about her in elementary school as part of a Black History Month project.

    Fast forward more than 20 years and the WWE superstar came face to face with her hero as part of Black History Month celebrations and it was a moment which not only took her back to those days as a child, but also reinforced why she wants to be that role model for others.

    “The moment was amazing. Being able to sit down with someone I looked up to as a little girl, and influenced me to run track and field. Granted, I didn’t go to the Olympics and I am not a professional track and field athlete but that got me to where I am today,” she said.

    “Watching someone like her instilled so many things in me like hard work, determination, she was my role model and she gave me that so to sit down with her and to express that to her was so special.

    “Meeting one of your heroes and them living up to your expectations and actually exceeding them is a whole other feeling. She is amazing not just on the track but off it too and that is what stuck with me when I met her.

    “The feeling she gave me, I want to give that to other people and I am able to do that now. It inspired me to be more than just the person you are in whatever it is you are doing – give back to your community and be an inspiration in so many other ways. It is a moment that will be with me for the rest of my life.”

    Elimination Chamber is set to be held at the Jeddah Superdome, the world’s largest pillarless Superdome, on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 8.00pm AST. Tickets can be purchased online via Fans can also catch all the action live via the WWE Network.