Shayna Baszler On Talking With Ronda Rousey About Being in WWE, Holding NXT Women’s Title Twice

Sep 13, 2019 - by James Walsh

Shayna Baszler spoke with Muscle & Fitness for a new interview discussing NXT’s move to USA Network and more. Highlights are below:

On goring up as a wrestling fan: “Yes, I’ve watched pro wrestling since I was super young. I’ve watched it my whole life, and then even in MMA, I started training with Josh Barnett, and he’s a pro wrestler himself. He was kind of a tie-in, so when I was studying mixed martial arts, he was the one that showed me how the two [disciplines] are like cousins of each other. And then when I moved in with Ronda and the girls (Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir), I’m the one that was watching [pro wrestling] and I kind of sucked them into it. ”

On when she decided she’s like to try for WWE: “It’s funny, because I never really thought of actually trying WWE before I was fighting [in MMA]. I trained with Josh Barnett, and with Billy Robinson who is a legendary British professional wrestler. The way that they do pro wrestling, they want you to have [MMA] fights first, in order to graduate into pro wrestling. I guess it was just kind of a natural progression. I was fighting for the UFC, and I tore my ACL in my last fight, and with the UFC they sign you for a few years but you don’t know when you’re fighting next. They don’t give you an advanced schedule. They’ll call you and say ‘hey we have a fight for you ’, say, in three months, ‘do you want to take it?’, but then when the fight is over you don’t know when you are fighting next, until they call you again. So, knowing I was injured and then sitting on the bench for a little while, Josh asked me how I felt about doing some professional wrestling. I said ‘yeah, if it keeps me active, cool’, and then it has kind of just snowballed from there.”

On how much her character reflects who she is: “Well, I think I have a lot to draw from [thanks to MMA]. Before NXT, I knew what it felt like to stand behind the curtain and wait to get called out to the ring, to beat someone up. It’s a very familiar thing to me. But then also, I think there is some reality to the fact that even the style of pro wrestling, if you look at a guy like Billy Robinson or Josh Barnett, that style is very no-nonsense. If you watch the matches that these guys put on, you won’t see much of a difference between MMA and NXT. That’s the style that I have ingrained in me, and I bring it to the ring.”

On if she and Ronda Rousey have provided each other with support and advice in WWE: “Yeah, a little bit. Rather than giving advice, it was just nice to have someone to talk about it [being in WWE] with. So, it was like sharing in the uniqueness of what we were both going through. Then, of course, Ronda getting to the position where she was in WWE, mirrored what I was going through in NXT, where we were both kind of at the top of the division. We would get together and train, of course, and we always did that in MMA too, so it was more like getting together and just sharing in the process of it, rather than tips and tricks.”

On being the first woman ever to hold the NXT Women’s Championship twice: “In my opinion, the NXT Women’s title is a very prestigious title to have. So, the fact that I’m the only person to have ever held it twice is a huge thing that I definitely add to my list of accomplishments and I am very, very proud of it. ”

On how she would describe NXT to someone who has never watched it: “That’s an interesting question! If you ever had any preconceived ideas about what pro wrestling is, I think you’ll find that they were wrong. Everyone should check it out! (laughs).”

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