WWE Superstar and one half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions Shayna Baszler recently appeared on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette. They discussed her MMA career, the journey to WWE and her interactions with Vince McMahon. Here are the most notable points from the show.
On Josh Barnett being a fan:
“When I first started fighting in MMA, he has always been very supportive of Women’s MMA. This was great because it was really niche at the time. I passed him following a fight in the corridor and asked for a picture. We got talking at the after party, and fast forward to my next fight in California. I then asked him if we could use his gym, he said yes and basically took over my training camp. Training with him, he doesn’t baby anyone or gives you compliments that easily. He was the one that got me into pro wrestling. I had a couple of fights where I didn’t really have my heart in it. Josh saw that and he pitched me doing wrestling to UFC. They immediately said no. So I retired and tried pro wrestling. If I didn’t like it I could always unretire. That move actually reignited my love of MMA.”
On her unique style and conversations with Vince:
“It’s been this constant juggle of wrestling the way I need to wrestle and still staying true to my martial arts upbringing. Being in Japan really helped with this. Japanese fans are more used to that kind of style. Any girl can do a missile dropkick, but I am bending people’s arms in cool ways that make fans look through their fingers.
You come with this image that Vince is this unhinged, crazy guy. But actually he critiques me really well, he’s never been the may you imagine. You build this monster in your mind. When I first started on RAW, he gave me a talk. This is what he said:
“You have something different to offer, you have a unique look. But the thing you have to learn now you are on RAW is that your work rate is shown on pay per views and on NXT. Don’t get hell bent on weekly RAW TV, because that is where we build the story of the work rate we see on pay per view. So I don’t want you to do any pro wrestling.”
I just go out and it looks like I’m going off the map and he loves it. I do it again next week, he loves it. I then have a match with Natalya, who is much more experienced than me. I do the same thing I’ve done before and he hates it. He said it just looks like we are fighting. Then we do it again where Nattie calls a match that is more like pro wrestling and he loves it. So I sit outside Vince’s office for a long time, which is nerve racking in itself. I said I know I can bring a certain legitimacy that no other female has, I just need to figure it out, just give me time. He said can’t wait.
When I was in the ring with Sasha and Bayley, I was feeling more comfortable in my stuff. I wasn’t trying to impress people in the back. When I see Vince he goes now you’re getting it. It has been this big learning curve and something I am constantly struggling with. You’re going to ask 100 different vets and coaches and you are going to get 100 different answers.”
On her private life and social media:
“I want to keep my private life because we are seen so much in the public, I want to have something that is still mine. I’m not going to wave these flags and use it in storylines. I have nothing against it though. For a time I didn’t even want to post pictures of my dog. When people only know bits and pieces. I don’t want them to build and artificial view of it.”
Full audio episode can be found here.