KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Performing in your home city is always special, but it is especially cool to come back home as a champion.
That was the case for Knoxville native and WWE Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair, who made the return to her home city with the hardware around her waist.
"I wasn't able to bring a title back the last time I was here," Belair said. "To be in front of my family with the Raw Women's Championship, I feel like I'm celebrating with them."
The former Smackdown! Women's Champ captured the Raw title at WrestleMania 38 in early April. Monday's Raw event was Belair's third time performing in her home city, and she said coming back never gets old.
"I don't think that I'll ever get used to it. It's always new," Belair said. "It's just a whole vibe."
The Austin-East Magnet High School graduate and former Tennessee track athlete has been in the WWE since 2016 and had issues with self-doubt when she was first trying to break into the ring. Eventually, she began building up the confidence it took to succeed in the industry.
"It was really wrapping my mind around just starting from the bottom and working my way up," Belair said. "The training is very rigorous and the traveling is a grind, but I wouldn't wish to be doing anything other than what I'm doing now."
Belair has become one of the standard-bearers in women's professional wrestling over the last couple of years, and it's not a distinction she takes for granted.
"It means everything to me," Belair said. "I feel like I'm kind of at the forefront of this new generation of women's wrestling that's coming through. I hold that responsibility greatly. It's just a feeling of something I can't describe, but I'm just taking it, I'm running with it and I'm going to carry this momentum and continue to build my legacy."
WWE returns to Tennessee with its annual SummerSlam event on July 30 in Nashville's Nissan Stadium.