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WWE’s Bianca Belair and Montez Ford say representation is 'not a request'— but 'a requirement’

The wrestling super couple have been touched by the impact their platform has allowed them to make on their fans, including the little "ESTs."
Montez Ford and Bianca Belair visit the Empire State Building in New York City in 2022.
Montez Ford and Bianca Belair have made fans and won championships as WWE superstars.Arturo Holmes / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Though she has only been on WWE’s main roster for four years, Bianca Belair has already compiled a long and historic list of achievements. One of her most significant accomplishments came in 2021, when she defeated Sasha Banks for the “SmackDown” Women’s Championship in the first WrestleMania main event to feature two Black women. And on Jan. 22, she was announced as one of the cover stars of the latest WWE 2K video game, the first time a woman of color has earned that honor.

Belair cherishes these groundbreaking moments in her career as someone who has emphasized representation as an integral part of what she does as a WWE superstar — or, as she puts it, her “why.”

“Representation is so important. I would say it’s not a request. It’s a requirement,” Belair (whose real name is Bianca Blair Crawford) tells “It really shows where (people) fit in the world of possibilities. And, you know, I love making history of being the ‘first,’ but my main goal is to not be the last. I want to open the door so that other people can come in behind me — representation for women, for women of color, for just people of color in general.”

Bianca Belair and Montez Ford attend the 2023 ESPY Awards.
Bianca Belair and Montez Ford often make public appearances as a couple, including at the 2023 ESPY Awards.Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Hearing Belair’s comments, Montez Ford — her husband, who has made his own mark on WWE as a former tag team champion — adds that they strive to create a “massive aura to chase, to inspire, to motivate.”

That message, he says, is reflected on how they present themselves on TV, including in their new reality series, “Love & WWE: Bianca & Montez.”

“You have to be the initiative, the change that you want in the world. I feel like with us doing that, hopefully it’ll inspire and motivate everyone else to do the same thing,” Ford (Kenneth Crawford) says.

Inspiring the future ‘ESTs’

WrestleMania — essentially WWE’s version of the Super Bowl — has provided an opportunity for Belair to, in her words, bring her “full self” and her “culture to the stage.” Her first one-on-one match at the annual event was the championship bout versus Banks at WrestleMania 37. When the bell rang to start the match, the gravity of the moment hit her. She looked around at the fans in attendance, visibly moved with tears in her eyes.

“(The match) transcends across all race, religion, gender, it doesn’t matter. It was able to touch everyone, and it’s a moment that’s going to go down and live in history forever,” she previously told in a 2022 interview.

Belair’s growing WrestleMania legacy extends beyond her in-ring work — she was part of one of the standout entrances at last year’s event, when the youth dance group the Divas of Compton performed before she joined them on the stage.

The idea for the entrance stemmed from Belair’s interactions at meet-and-greets with fans who embrace the confident character she portrays on WWE programming — the “EST of WWE” who calls herself the strongest, fastest and toughest superstar in the company.

“I’d see all these little girls dressed like me, and it blew me away,” Belair, 34, says. “And I would see so many people come in — and older women too — they would come in dressed like me and they would say, ‘You inspired me to find the “EST” within me.’

“And it wasn’t even necessarily wrestling-related,” she continues. “One girl came up to me and said, ‘You inspired me to apply for the job that I was scared of.’ ‘You inspired me to go back to school.’ ‘You inspired me to lose weight.’ And one little girl in particular, she was dressed like me and she came with a poster, and it was a project for Black History Month, and she did it on me.”

These types of interactions left such an impression on her that they planted the seeds for what eventually led to the WrestleMania appearance by the Divas of Compton, who competed on “America’s Got Talent” in 2020.

“I was like, ‘I want you guys to be little “ESTs.” I want you guys to go out there, show your talent,’” she recalls. “That moment stuck with me and that’s how I’m trying to bring it into my career with me.”

Montez Ford and Bianca Belair on “Love & WWE: Bianca & Montez.”
Montez Ford and Bianca Belair are putting a new spotlight on their careers, and their marriage, in their Hulu reality series, “Love & WWE: Bianca & Montez.”Hulu

Seeing the expressions in kids’ eyes

Ford, 33, has similarly been touched by the fan experiences he’s had, sharing how he felt when he and Angelo Dawkins, his partner in the tag team the Street Profits, made their debut on WWE’s flagship program, “Raw,” in 2019.

“I remember me and Dawkins, we celebrated by walking through the crowd. And we walked through the crowd and we’re, like, high-fiving all these different kids’ hands. And a couple of them were crying,” he remembers.

The fans’ excited response to him that night reminds him of how much he admired a WWE legend, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, back in the day.

“For me to see the expressions in these kids’ eyes, just by us debuting and wanting to live out our dream, and showing, like, how The Rock influenced me and now I’m influencing them, it just goes back to show … how much we really mean to people.”

That sentiment calls to mind his wife’s perspective on connecting with fans: “I always say my role models when I was a little girl were women that looked like me, and I knew that things were possible because of them. So I want to do the same thing. I want to give that back.”