Bianca Belair wants a squad with Megan Thee Stallion, others ahead of WWE Rolling Loud debut
WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair will defend her title against Carmella for a second straight week as WWE is set to appear at the 2021 Rolling Loud Festival at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Rolling Loud is the biggest hip-hop festival in the world, and the promotion seeks to expand into the hip-hop and contemporary music genre, which comes with the kind of younger audience it is currently targeting.
“Given our connection to music, this was a great opportunity to plan a crossover event as part of a larger strategy to seek out culturally relevant moments in music, sports, art, fashion and entertainment. This is where we want to be, challenging ourselves to say ‘how do we reach a new fan?’ Scott Zanghellini, WWE senior vice president, revenue strategy and development, said over the phone.
“No matter how popular the brand is, we are always looking to expand our reach and we thought this was a great way to attract new audiences, while also providing a unique experience for our existing fan base.”
Zanghellini went on to note that WWE’s current plans at Rolling Loud will not be affected by the recent collapse of the Rolling Loud stage, where no one was injured, as WWE will be performing on a different stage.
WWE’s presence at Rolling Loud is part of a dedicated effort to push black Superstars, some of whom will compete at Rolling Loud, such as Big E, the first black winner of Money in the Bank, the champion intercontinental Apollo Crews and the pioneer Belair. Belair and Sasha Banks recently won an ESPY for “WWE Best Moment” after becoming the first two black women to compete in the WrestleMania main event at WrestleMania 37.
Ahead of her SmackDown Women’s Championship rematch against Carmella at Rolling Loud, Belair fully embraces the magnitude of inspiring young fans like her. Even as someone who didn’t grow up as a wrestling fan, she also found inspiration in black women in wrestling past and present.
“The older I get, the more I understand the power of representation. For me, I’ve always been drawn to Jacqueline. I thought she was amazing in the ring. She was beautiful, she was strong, she was powerful and it was really empowering to watch Jacqueline, ”said the SmackDown Women’s Champion in an exclusive interview.
“When I was growing up, right before I started in WWE, I went to a live event in Atlanta – I think I was 26 – and saw Naomi in the ring. And I just remember looking at her, and because she was in the ring, I saw myself in the ring. So she was so inspiring to me and she had a positive impact on me before I stepped into a ring, even at 26 years old.
Belair has daily interactions with people who are baffled that the former track star and CrossFit athlete is now a WWE Superstar. Some in her community now feel compelled to watch upon hearing that she is such an important star within the company.
“Sometimes I’m in public and people say ‘are you a wrestler?’ and they kind of ask me a little question in my voice, like ‘oh I didn’t know WWE had wrestlers like you. I’ll start watching. ‘ ”Belair said.
Belair is hoping to have a similar effect on Rolling Loud audiences tonight in Miami Gardens as Friday Night SmackDown airs a co-show from the first major music festival of 2021. Despite wrestling in front of a hip-hop audience, Belair feels right at home him as a hip-hop fan herself. Belair’s eye-catching musical theme (“I’m Alone / Against the Wall …”), her undeniable swagger, and one-of-a-kind athleticism make her the perfect WWE Ambassador to any event, without talk about Rolling Loud.
And Bianca knows it.
“I’m going to feel right at home because this is my environment, this is who I am,” said Belair of Rolling Loud.
“One of my main goals, even when I came to NXT / WWE, was to get as many eyes as possible for the product and get more eyes in the urban market, the hip market. -hop. I want to draw more attention to the product, and that’s what we’re going to do at Rolling Loud. I go out with my baby hairs, and my bamboo earrings, I love to walk around so I hope to be well received because I will feel at home. I hope they will receive me as if I were coming to the barbecue and invite me in.
Belair cited City Girls, Lil Baby and Moneybagg Yo as acts she wanted to see before she flew to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday and Louisville, Ky. On Sunday with WWE now back on the road full-time. And after Bad Bunny stole the show at WrestleMania 37 alongside Damian Priest, Belair has a few names in mind for similar collaborations.
“I would love to work with Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj – I’m in love with Nicki Minaj – a few of these people are going to be there, so maybe I can go talk to them and see if we may have a tag team or partnership in the future.