WWE Women's Tag Team Champion Shayna Baszler was on a recent episode of the WWE After The Bell podcast, and during her interview, she discussed her new partnership with Nia Jax. Baszler talked about how she was never close friends with Jax prior to becoming the women's tag team champions.
"We were friendly, I guess. She was another person in the locker room, but our paths never really crossed," Baszler explained. "I hadn't been up there very long. And then during the time I was, it was straight into this thing with Becky and then kind of figuring out where to go from there. So, I don't want to say we were friends, but I didn't have a problem with her, and now, obviously, we're a tag-team."
Jax and Baszler won the tag team titles at Payback. However, Baszler admitted that she does not know much about tag team wrestling, and she stated that the best is yet to come from her and Jax.
"It's been interesting because that's kind of being thrust into the deep end. Not only did I not know tag team wrestling, but learning that sort of thing, it would be easier with a best friend I would imagine because you know how each other works, and you know what each other's thinking, and all this, and we don't have any of that," Baszler pointed out. "So it's been a fun challenge to learn; I'm still getting there. We have the titles but I still feel like we haven't come to full fruition of what we are yet."
Baszler has said that she and Jax will create a "defining era" in WWE, and Corey Graves asked what other tag team have helped influence her and Jax. Baszler brought up Daniel Bryan and Kane of Team Hell No, pointing out that you have the bigger wrestler paired with the technical wrestler. However, she noted that fans will not be seeing an combination moves from her and Jax as a tag team.
"Obviously, I think there's some social dynamic that compares us to Kane and Daniel Bryan, but I think more the in-ring style," Baszler said. "I don't spend enough time looking at backstage and character type stuff, but in-ring stuff, that I'll sit for hours and I never get tired of. Daniel Bryan and I have a lot of similarities in the ring. He trained a little bit with Billy [Robinson], as well. I know he's done a little bit of training. Our paths never crossed there, but I know from just seeing some of the stuff he does and and talking with him, so I think looking at teams like that where the dynamic is similar to what we have has been really beneficial to me.
"It's difficult because our dynamic isn't going to be a tag team like-- you think about these legendary pairings that were always only a tag team. We're not doing this tandem offense and doing these cool double-team moves. That's not what we are. So, there's a lot of stuff I watch that is like, 'OK, I can put that over here for later.' But like I said, it's been an interesting learning experience."
Graves asked Baszler what she has learned now that she is on RAW full-time. Baszler talked about how even those at the top don't really feel like they have everything figured out. She told a story about Rey Mysterio thanking her for their segment at Money In The Bank, and how surprised she was about how a legend like him can be so humble.
"I think realizing that everybody is kind of mentally in the same boat, where it's like nobody is convinced they have it figured out. Nobody that's worth anything up there is convinced they haven't figured out," Baszler stated. "I'll never forget the moment that blew my mind the most at Money In The Bank. We had to run through the corporate headquarters, and I got that moment where I got to put the carriage of food on Rey Mysterio.
"In that moment, when they told me that was happening, 13-year-old me is like, 'this is crazy!' But it was the next TV taping at the Performance Center, Rey-freaking-Mysterio comes up to me and is like, 'hey Shayna, I just wanted to say thank you for that doing that.' And I'm like, 'you're thanking me?! You're Rey Mysterio! Please don't do that.' But just knowing that everybody is in the same spot... I think this can go to anybody that wants to try pro wrestling or whatever they're trying to do. If you feel like, 'man, I'm so far behind these people. I don't feel like I know how to do this.' Everybody that's worth a darn feels that way. Everybody feels that way."
Baszler highlighted her feud against Sasha Banks and Bayley that not only led to her and Jax winning the titles, but also to Banks and Bayley breaking up. Baszler recalled a conversation with Banks and Bayley where Baszler was unsure how they could come close to what the had done with the Women's Tag Team Titles, and Banks and Bayley told them that they have the opportunity to continue to elevate the titles.
"The whole thing with Sasha and Bayley was a learning experience, but it wasn't like a humbling experience necessarily," Baszler described. "But it was very much like, 'OK, we can do this'. And just the way that they were so helpful because they've been a tag team forever. And again, touching on what I was just saying, they were like, 'tag team wrestling is so hard. We don't know anything,' and it's like, 'man, nobody thinks they have it figured out.' But I think not necessarily in the ring and the matches we had I loved, but I think just even picking their brain in the locker room, even philosophy of pro wrestling type stuff, I was like, 'man, you guys had the tag titles forever and you guys were going to NXT. You guys finally crossed brands, and all this stuff. I just don't know how we're even going to match up.' And they were like, 'imagine though - both of you are so dominant. Imagine how that will elevate the titles as the lineage goes on.' I love the whole program we had with them, and then being a part of their epic breakup and stuff, it was really cool."
Graves asked what Baszler's next goals are in WWE. Baszler said that she wants to leave a legacy as a true wrestler, like a Dean Malenko, Fit Finlay, or Daniel Bryan. She noted that not many women reach that distinction of a tough wrestler that you don't want to mess with.
"I asked myself this question because it's easy to say something like, 'I want my real WrestleMania moment.' But I think the legacy I want to leave is that there's always been the the names that you talk about and it's always been men that are, like, the wrestlers," Baszler said. "You talk about Dean Malenko and [William] Regal. These guys that you can tell they're wrestlers, and maybe they weren't The Rock.
"I'm not saying they didn't sell out arenas; they obviously did. But they're not these bigger than life, over-the-top characters necessarily. But man, by the time they got done, everyone knew these guys are legit. And if anyone were to ever piss them off, they would mess someone up. They could if they so chose, and I think that's kind of the legacy I want to leave. At least in the United States, there's not a list of women that are like that."
Baszler pointed out that pro wrestling is viewed different in Japan than in the United States. She talked about how pro wrestling is viewed as a legitimate martial art, and how a legend like Kazushi Sakuraba can be at the top of both worlds. She hopes to do the same.
"People talk about Billy Robinson, the guys, the coaches at the PC that have worked with Billy," Baszler recalled. "They call him 'Billy The Bully' - just this mean, tough guy. If you beat Billy in a pro wrestling match, he respected you, and so, I think I kind of want to carry on that sort of legacy. And like I said, there's not really a female that carries that flag of pro wrestling. It's a very Japanese kind of mindset. Pro wrestling is the strongest martial art, and that's so confusing in the United States because of that f word, but it really is.
"If you take the legit wrestlers and look at them, they could hang with anyone. When you look at Pride Fighting Championship - Sakuraba was putting down pro wrestling as as martial art, and these guys were main-eventing the Tokyo Dome for pro wrestling. And then a week later, going and getting in a fight in Pride Fighting Championship. I guess kind of inversely, I want to represent pro wrestling like that, from MMA to pro wrestling."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.