I love wrestling. This is not a secret by any stretch. I watch it, I write about it, and I adore it completely. I’ve said it before and again, it’s my favorite form of entertainment.
Here’s a question though: Do you know when I really love wrestling? When do I REALLY love it? When my love for it transcends almost any other form of media that is presented in my life? When it encapsulates me. When it draws me in to the point where for that brief moment, only it exists and nothing more. When I become nothing more than an audience of one, and I feel like what I’m watching unfold is for me and me only. Sure I still hear the cheers, the boos, the gasps, the awes, but I am so in sync with them that it feels like they are all my own all at once! What a feeling all of that is.
Most importantly though, it’s when I am transported. When 39-year-old Jeri, writing about pro-wrestling as a hobby, is transported to a time when I was in my youth. When I was on my chair, on my couch, lying on my bed, rocking back and forth, standing, pacing, yelling, and screaming at what was going on the television screen. When the fangirl that is always in my soul waiting for its moments, reaches out and possesses me and I am lost in the story, the magic, the moment. It doesn’t take a five-star match to achieve this, it takes something special at all levels for this to be accomplished. It takes something truly memorable, special, unforgettable.
While it was not the best match of WrestleMania Weekend, Bianca Belair versus Becky Lynch at night one of WrestleMania 38 achieved everything I wrote above and beyond. It achieved it far beyond anything else that happened that weekend. It was perhaps my favorite match of the entire weekend for how I felt, how I enjoyed it, and the entertainment that pierced straight through to my pro-wrestling loving soul. It happened on the alleged grandest stage of all time on a night that felt over-delivered by many. It was the best match of both nights and I was just as giddy watching it a second time, a third time, a fourth time. I’ve especially watched the ending over and over again. It captures me each time and doesn’t let me go until well after the ending. It is a match where BOTH the journey and destination were worth it in the end. Engaging work with a highly satisfying and correct conclusion.
WWE is often, and rightfully, maligned for its storytelling and the “wait and see” approach many fans throw out in its defense. Wait and see usually turns into wait and nothing of value is presented. It was reasonable and highly probable that when Becky defeated Bianca so easily at SummerSlam this would be the case. We are used to talent, to potential stars, being tossed aside for the established order. In this rare instance though, everything played out how it was supposed to. Maybe not always in the best way, and the way to the conclusion was rough, but the conclusion landed beautifully. Regardless of how I, and many others, may have felt this feud had started, it ended perfectly. It ended in a way that had me applauding and cheering and feeling in ways that WWE can still frustratingly achieve in rare moments when they choose to allow it.
This match FELT meaningful, and it felt impactful, and the crowd was invested into it. This is a testament to both Becky and Bianca, who both made it clear how much this title, this match meant to both of them. You could feel it pouring out of their emotions how much everything meant to them. Every sequence, every spot, every moment, every bit of movement. They conveyed it through their wrestling and kept you enthralled. Becky Lynch, the once-popular conquering champ, has bought her own press, her own hype, and become far from what she once was versus the likable, charismatic, exciting, and highly gifted Bianca Belair. Everything about the presentation draws you in, from the big entrances to the participant announcements, to the opening moments. This match isn’t perfect bell to bell, but it’s a perfect representation of how to make a wrestling match matter and feel significant and so much praise should be harped on that.
This was great pro-wrestling as a match, as a spectacle, as a moment. It was well placed, well-paced, well time, and the further it went along, the more I sunk in. The more I went deep into that transporting mode and before you know it I was a 13 year old on the couch cheering for Bianca against that dastardly Becky Lynch who sucker-punched her and took her rightful championship. I wanted nothing more than for Bianca Belair to once again make history. She made significant history at Mania last year main eventing night one with Sasha Banks. The first time two black women would main event WrestleMania. A moment that still gives you chills, and now here she could become champion for a second time defeating one of WWE’s most popular stars. Incredible. This isn’t what makes stars, it’s what takes stars and raises them into the sky higher, brighter, more visible.
Then the ending comes, and it is in the ending I am completely lost in this journey. With Bianca Belair flipping out of the Manhandle Slam, you could feel it coming, you could sense it, but it grips you by the throat all the same. Becky misses a charge and Bianca lifts her up for the K.O.D and the crowd begins to stand on their feet. I ignore the review I am writing and I lift off my couch as she hits it and then the crowd (and myself) erupts as the pinfall is made. Bianca, with every bit of excitement she still has in her, explodes from the pin and collapses from exhaustion. This was beautiful, the definition of a proper WrestleMania moment. WrestleMania moments are often forced, exhausted, and stated as such without any true feeling or meaning behind them. This wasn’t that. This moment spoke for itself, wrestled for itself, and earned its place as such. At that moment I became a 13-year-old. A 13-year-old girl watched in awe as these two put on their best performances they could. I was giddy with excitement, bubbling inside of me just waiting to be let out in cheers and other happy sounds. When Bianca got the three count I legit threw my hands in the air and went YES (almost knocking over my poor laptop in the proceedings). It truly was a special feeling moment. 13-year-old me giddy with excitement and childhood wonder slowly morphed back into 39-year-old me, now seeing things with adult eyes once more, still spellbound, still giddy, and applauding the efforts of both competitors for putting on such a great performance, such a great effort. I wonder if anyone who was actually at a young age watching this will end up being inspired?
Becky Lynch versus Bianca Belair made me feel emotion and magic like nothing else during WrestleMania weekend, and I’m glad to see it’s been given the respect and accolades it rightfully deserves. While I’ve always been a fan of Becky Lynch, it has been Bianca Belair I’ve been high on since I saw her for the first time in that Mae Young Classic years ago. She had so much charisma, confidence, and promise then and to watch it grow, improve, and become the package she now has has truly been a wonderful journey. I don’t pick them correctly often, but I was an early supporter and I’m so glad to watch and witness what it has blossomed into. One of the pure bright positives you can point at in WWE, and she shines even more brightly now. Becky Lynch for her part seemed motivated beyond her previous recent efforts. Confident, focused, and ready to work hard. This was the best Becky Lynch we’ve gotten in a long while. This is the Becky Lynch you want to see show up, and she showed up to the fullest.
It wasn’t always perfect, they had their missteps, but you don’t need perfection to create memories. You just need the energy, the know-how, and the investment from those witnessing, and that is what we did. We watched from bell to bell (hell, before the bell even rang) pure WrestleMania Magic will itself into existence by the exertion of talent from both of these women. Perhaps the best individual performance of both women ever happened at the right time, right place, right crowd. Lightning in a bottle unleashed upon us all, causing our hairs to rise, our senses to tingle, and for a brief moment of time a brilliant flash from the often dark, grim, and barren land that can be the WWE landscape. Well done Becky and Bianca, take a bow, have an encore down the line, and be proud that you achieved something that could be hung on a wall because it was fucking art.