Shayna Baszler Reveals what Matches She Wants in NXT, and More


During a recent interview with Ronda Rousey’s official website, Shayna Baszler commented on working in WWE NXT, who she wants to face, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:

On how she unwinds: “I mean, you obviously need some decompress time. So, if we’re talking like a moment where I’ll sit back and kind of do whatever I want, then it’s going to be eat a good cheat meal. And I’m really, really into craft beer. I subscribe to this service that sends micro-brewed craft beers. So I like doing that. But obviously I can’t drink those all the time, so I like to enjoy those when I can.”

On if there were any wrestlers who inspired her before she got into wrestling: “What’s funny about that is, I never really thought about actually doing pro wrestling until I started doing pro wrestling. I don’t know, maybe it was just because of the way women were at the time or something—I didn’t think it was an option for me. So I think I got into fighting and then became my pro wrestler self in fighting. And that’s not to say I [went] into fighting thinking, “I’m going to be a pro wrestler.” What I mean is that, I trained with Josh Barnett—who is an old school style pro wrestler—and back in his training and lineage, you had to fight before you could pro wrestle. And so I kind of always knew where it came from, so I just figured I was already a pro wrestler. You know what I mean? You see my old MMA stuff, I’m coming out with a guitar and I’m saying … hilarious s**t during interviews and stuff like that. And then, I get to pro wrestling and now I’m like, “Shayna’s a fighter.” I don’t do much.”

On who she liked before she got into wrestling: “Yeah, I’ve always watched it. I think my first favorite pro wrestler was Shawn Michaels. And then I really liked The Ultimate Warrior, because when The Ultimate Warrior versus Hulk Hogan feud was going on, I think part of it was his face paint. I was a kid and it was cool. But I think also, [since] Hulk Hogan was everyone’s favorite, I had to kind of be like, “the other guy.”

On working in the indies before getting to NXT: “Well, I think understanding the social dynamic of wrestling. Everything in life has a subculture around it, right? So you go do one thing and there’s a whole kind of list of unwritten social rules. And I learned those on the indies and didn’t have to get briefed on how things were once I got to NXT, as far as behind-the-scenes in the locker room. Just little stuff that people wouldn’t know. But I think the biggest thing about the indies and why it was important for me to work on the indies was the action [of doing it]. I had never have wanted… And I don’t mean this in a way where I don’t appreciate things Ronda has done for me, but I didn’t ever want it, at least to the people I’d be working with, to my colleagues… I wanted them to know that I worked to get there and I did this stuff they did. I didn’t make a phone call and ask for a favor, you know? So I think just getting the respect of my colleagues was the most important thing that I gained working on the indies.”

On the biggest hurdle in transitioning from MMA to pro wrestling: “I think the hardest thing from MMA to pro wrestling is slowing down. The pace is slower. In MMA, you can’t give any time for the other person to do anything. But in pro wrestling, we’re storytellers. So I need to tell a story in between the moves. The moves don’t tell the story of our reactions and our facial expressions and all those in-between moments. So we’re in a fight. In MMA if I get hit with something or someone does something dirty to me, I want to keep my composure and still keep it going. Even though inside I’m like raging. But in pro wrestling, I want to show on my face that I am appalled or annoyed or embarrassed or angry because I do want to make everything bigger. It’s still real, right? But it’s bigger and you’re telling that to the people way up in the nosebleeds that you’re annoyed because, like I said, it’s a story. So just learning the times to slow down, stop going after the person and giving them the space and those moments to breathe and let the story tell itself and tell the story … in between those [moments]. I think—and from what I’ve seen other people that have crossed over—that’s kind of probably the hardest thing, the thing that takes the longest to learn. The slowing down.”

On her personal philosophy regarding pro wrestling: “Pro wrestling is storytelling through the medium of fighting, I think. I would need to sit with someone for days to really extrapolate on what I mean. But it’s the same folklore that’s been told throughout human history, good guy versus bad guy. The incomparable dragon guarding the treasure and who’s gonna defeat the dragon. These stories that are in every culture, we’re just telling it through the medium of fighting. Pro wrestling doesn’t claim to be anything more than what it is anymore. The show about fighting—and the fights are just the end of the stories or like the bullet points of the story. To me, it’s a little different. I guess where I differ in my pro wrestling philosophy than maybe some other people is that I think that, at least to honor my lineage and my coaches, I have to keep it real. You’re not going to see me do very many jumps off the top, flip around and stuff, which has its place in pro wrestling—but you’ll be hard-pressed to see me do very much in a pro wrestling ring that you could not fathom me doing in a UFC cage, for example. And it’s important to me to keep that just to honor my coaches and my lineage.”

On what matches she wants in NXT: “You know, there’s some stories I really feel like the fans deserve some closure for. The Dakota Kai storyline. Before she got injured … I think that was building to be a really good story, and I think that if we call back to that, the fans will really be about all that. Her and I have good chemistry and all that, so I think we could tell a really good story. And then, Candice [LeRae] is an indy wrestling legend, that for whatever reason, our paths have never truly crossed. We’ve actually been booked to wrestle on the indies a couple of times, it just never worked out. Either something came up for one of us or one of us would miss a flight. It was really, really, really weird.”

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