The Curious Case of Bianca Belair

Let’s get this out right now; Bianca Belair is the biggest female star the WWE has. With all due respect to Becky Lynch and Rhea Ripley, its Belair who is the one that screams star power. It’s not just the fact she made history with her main event match at WrestleMania 37 but her outside projects. From appearing on the ESPY Awards, being the guest picker for ESPN Gameday, Slim Jim commercial and Make a Wish Foundation, Belair is the star.

And because of that she has put WWE Creative in a tough place on how to book her.

How do you book Belair (who is a fantastic heel) when she is the most popular babyface?

Here is the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed; Triple H (otherwise known as Paul Levesque) for all his success is terrible at booking babyfaces. They are always booked as naive, somewhat stupid in falling for heel tricks and they always have that cheery smile.

And even when it’s a three on one or two on one, the babyface always prevails. Call it the John Cena effect.

And since her main roster call up, Bianca Belair has gotten that treatment in spades. But while that has worked and helped launch her into stardom, it has gotten a bit old and caused fans to scream for more layers.

We know Bianca has it in her as her work in NXT showed that she could be that cool, cocky, and vicious heel. That is where she developed the “EST” gimmick, the use of eye rolls, chewing bubble gum, being defiant and arrogant and getting people to hate her.

As Duke Loves Rasslin stated “Bianca Belair has always been a heel. She brags about being the “Fastest, Strongest, Hardest working woman” all the time.”

But ever since she joined the main roster, she has been what some will say “miscast” as a smiling babyface. And yet, she has become probably one of the most popular wrestlers on the planet. Not African American, not female, not minority… Wrestler period.

Because of that, WWE and Paul Levesque have been backed into a corner of how to give her an edge.
Turning her heel is a bit of a non-starter; for one her Make a Wish foundation work has been spotlighted. Children love her and she is the role model that many argue is needed in young women’s lives. Add to the fact her publicity for WWE outside the ring with ESPN, Slim Jim and soon her own reality show on Hulu, and she is just money.

But you also must add in the fact that she is a popular African American female wrestler. And the company probably knows it must tread lightly in the court of public opinion.

Right or wrong, the WWE has long been accused and at times considered racist. From the Saba Simba character, blackface with DX and Roddy Piper to even Cryme Tyme portrayal, it’s been a series of miscues. Yes, its pro wrestling and stereotypes are often played up (Foreigners = bad guys, American Hero vs. Russian, etc) but that ship sailed years ago.

Don’t think for a moment that WWE is taking into account the public divorce of Trinity Fatu and Mercedes Mone (i.e. Sasha Banks) and how it looked. It gave more ammunition to those who call the WWE racist. No way that TKO Sports doesn’t look at this and figure they can’t have this become louder noise.

It is a big reason why the eye rolling, gum chewing, and hand gestures went away as soon as Bianca got to WWE. No doubt creative, legal and corporate didn’t want to hear howls of “stereotype angry black woman”.

The ironic part is that while Sasha Banks was able to do some of the more heel mannerisms, Belair and the WWE will be crucified by the media for doing it.

It’s sad and ironic but that is the new world we live in.

Meanwhile over in the women’s division, the WWE is quietly finding they have a lack of babyface wrestlers who are over. Right now, they are relying on Becky Lynch, a miscast Charlotte Flair and Belair. Raquel Rodriguez has the tools but has been hindered by poor booking; Liv Morgan is over but is too small compared to her counterparts.

And the rest of the roster is often buried in flip flop pushes (Zoey Stark, Shayna Baszler, Dakota Kai) or flip flopped too much (Nattie Niedhart) for people to care.

Everybody is hoping that Jade Cargill will be a star, which she will, but her track record and past have shown her to be a natural heel.

Which comes back to the dilemma with Bianca and how to evolve her. While her return was met with thunderous applause this past Friday, the issues remain how to freshen her up. Do they give her more of an edge and allow her to be more badass? Do they keep her the way she is and hope that feuds with Jade, Charlotte and Rhea bring out the best? Or do they turn her heel?

Bottom line is something that needs to be done and even Bianca knows it. However, with her immense popularity and lucrative business deals it complicates the matter. Turning her heel means that a lot of those deals will go away as well as her mainstream appearances.

Can Paul Levesque balance this and make her a cockier face like The Rock, MJF or Stone Cold? Will he just go full heel and let her become what she was in NXT? Or stay the path and continue to portray her as the modern-day female version of Hulk Hogan?

Either way something has to be done as Belair is too talented and popular to be dragged down by bad character writing.

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