If this week’s episode of NXT highlights anything, it is that WWE needs to push Bianca Belair and that the brand’s Women’s Championship needs her.
This week’s episode of NXT marked not only the first episode of the year for WWE’s third brand, but it marked the first official episode that Rhea Ripley stood tall as the show’s Women’s Champion.
Yet, when the champ was onscreen, all eyes were not on her and the WWE Universe didn’t come out of the show talking her up. Instead, all eyes were on Bianca Belair.
This is of no fault to Ripley herself. She did nothing wrong during the episode, but as soon as The EST of NXT had a microphone in her hand, she commanded the screen and demanded all of our attention.
Just a few simple barbs directed towards everyone else in the ring was enough to receive some of the loudest pops of the second. Which, considering where Belair has been positioned on NXT’s totem pole during the latter half of the year, is impressive.
The first part of the year had Bianca Belair positioned under the brightest of spotlights with not one, but two NXT TakeOver title matches. Her undefeated streak ended, but as a blossoming rookie, she was able to showcase the best of her ability against prime athletes like Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane. In the process, she grew a massive fanbase.
The second half of 2019 was not as kind to Belair, as for the most part, she was floating around NXT’s midcard without a storyline. Sure, she managed to go on another UN-DE-FEA-TED streak, but when the wins were primarily against enhancement talents, the wins weren’t very memorable or carried much weight.
Her most notable moments during that part of 2019 was a brief feud with Mia Yim – which she lost – but as soon as that story was over, she was right back to being in limbo. She was then used to fill out a spot on Team Baszler for WarGames, but she wound up being overshadowed by those highlighted in bigger spots and roles, namely Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai and Dakota Kai.
The point that I’m getting at is that the latter half of the prior year, Bianca Belair was booked as an afterthought. For a time being, it felt like NXT forgot about Bianca Belair, but thankfully, the fans haven’t forgotten and, most importantly, Bianca Belair refused to allow herself to be forgotten.
No matter how, when, or where NXT decided to use her, Mrs. EST lived up to her moniker. She made the most of her time by leaving an impression in a way that’s helped etch a special place in the hearts and minds of members of the WWE Universe across the, well, universe.
Last Wednesday was no different. In mere seconds, Bianca Belair made sure we walked out of that segment remembering her the most. That is the sign of an elite athlete and one of the most charismatic Superstars on the roster.
Any Superstar who has that kind of special connection with fans and that kind of skill set deserves to be featured in the main event picture. Thus, Bianca Belair needs to be put where she belongs right now: in the NXT Women’s Championship picture.
Even if she doesn’t win the belt any time soon, she more than deserves to challenge for it again – on a big stage, no less – sooner rather than later.
NXT has kept Bianca Belair out of that title picture for far too long in the last year. After that last promo on Wednesday, it is clear as day that this is a picture where the fans want to see Belair going forward. It’d only be natural for WWE to give the people what they want.