Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair are set to make history at WrestleMania 37 when they become the first Black women to headline WrestleMania in Women's Championship match.
Banks has become one of the biggest stars in WWE, crossing over into Hollywood and landing a role on Star Wars: The Mandalorian, while Belair has quickly ascended up the ranks with her elite athleticism and undeniable star quality.
But neither would be in this position without the women who came before them.
“Jacqueline and Jazz, I remember just how strong they were and how they picked up men, too. I always remember Jacqueline versus Chavo Guerrero when she won the cruiserweight championship and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, maybe one day I can win the cruiserweight championship too! If she can do it, I can do it!’" Banks said to Doric Sam of The Undefeated when discussing her influences.
Belair has often cited Naomi as her influence in wrestling, while Naomi cited Alicia Fox in the same article.
“This is 37 years in the making,” Naomi said. “These girls are going out there to do something that’s never been done before to inspire Black women and just women, period! These are the things that change the world, change wrestling, break stigmas and stereotypes, it’s these moments.”
Jazz, who said she'll be watching Belair vs. Banks with her 12-year-old twin daughters, also felt satisfaction knowing how hard Black women have had to work in wrestling. Jazz is also set to compete on Saturday, facing Deonna Purrazzo in a Title vs. Career match at IMPACT Hardcore Justice.
“I hope it just means to them that their hard work and efforts didn’t get unnoticed,” Banks said through tears. “It’s because of everything that they did that I’m here now, and I thank them so much.”
Belair closed by saying, "We’re representation for all the Black women that came before us and laid a foundation and all the groundwork before us. It’s us physically in the ring, but they are in this match right along with us. So I just want them to know that we’re paying tribute to them, we’re honoring them, we’re representing for them. I want people to know that when they see us, I want them to see them as well. Because without them, this wouldn’t be happening.”
Belair will challenge Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship at night one of WrestleMania 37.
You can view the current lineup for WrestleMania 37 by clicking here.