Last year was filled with many important matches for women’s wrestlers across all promotions. However, after the votes were tallied, the Daily DDT team looked at one that stood out among the list: Bianca Belair versus Sasha Banks at WrestleMania 37. This was the biggest match for not only these two but perhaps the entire organization because of what it meant beyond the action in the ring.
Diversity and inclusion are two words that are being used a lot in professional wrestling today. Professional wrestling almost as a whole continues to struggle with properly representing the vast backgrounds of people that watch the product. But there are still moments to stand and cheer where levels of the glass ceiling are shattered. That is what Banks and Belair did at Night One of WrestleMania 37.
Leading up to the show, there was a lot of back-and-forth about what should main event this night. WWE seemed non-committal to the idea, and to some almost took the steps to sabotage the momentum of the two women heading into the showcase. But fans made sure they were loud and clear, Banks and Belair must headline the night and anything else would be a massive failure. So, that’s exactly what happened. Banks and Belair stood across the ring from each other as the first Black performers to ever headline a WrestleMania card. Not only are they women, but the first Black wrestlers to ever find themselves in that pivotal position in the history of the show. That’s monumental in every facet of wrestling history.
When the bell rang, these two ladies delivered, far exceeding expectations. Fans hung on every moment of the match, from Belair walking up the stairs with Banks pressed over her head, to Banks taking a nasty hair whip across the stomach, each moment in this contest delivered. After nearly 20-minutes of action, Belair would secure her first title victory on the main roster, securing the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship.
For professional wrestling, this is a moment akin to Doug Williams at Super Bowl XXII or the late Sidney Poitier at the Academy Awards in 1963. Black wrestlers, but especially Black women, face excessive criticism coupled with a lack of opportunities in professional wrestling for a wide variety of reasons. Up until the very moment night one started, there were fans still asserting the idea that Banks and Belair didn’t deserve the opportunity to headline the show. But they still did it, and they did so with a level of Black Excellence that saw them both win awards for this moment as a duo and individually.
There was a lot of great action across wrestling, regardless of the promotion. But Bianca Belair versus Sasha Banks stands out as the 2021 Women’s Match of the Year as voted on by the team from Daily DDT.