SHAYNA BASYLER: WWE star Shayna Baszler talks Sioux Falls childhood, pro wrestling (Argus-Leader)


Posted on 1/15/122 by Mike Informer

Get to know WWE superstar Shayna Baszler, a Sioux Falls
native and 'Queen of Spades'

Alfonzo Galvan
Sioux Falls Argus Leader

One wrestler will be making her first pro appearance in her
hometown of Sioux Falls as a WWE Superstar, live at the
Denny Sanford Premier Center on Jan. 16.

Shayna Baszler is a South Dakota-raised former professional
Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and now pro wrestler, performing
for the Smackdown brand of World Wrestling Entertainment,
also known as the popular WWE show.

Baszler is only the second South Dakotan who has found
success in the world of MMA and WWE. Brock Lesnar, of
Webster, is the first.

Baszler told the Argus Leader she dipped into pro wrestling
as a way to keep fresh as she took a break from MMA. She's
found success with her wrestling status. Nearly seven years
from her initial MMA departure she's been a two-time women's
champion in WWE's NXT brand and recently a tag-team
champion.

And she's excited to be back. Argus Leader chatted with
Baszler about her return.

More:Sioux Falls-born wrestler Shayna Baszler coming home
for WWE event; match card announced

Sioux Falls native Shayna Baszler is expected to be in Sioux
Falls on Sunday, January 16, 2022 for the WWE SuperShow.
A Q&A with Shayna Baszler ahead of her Sunday homecoming
with WWE:

Q: What's your connection to Sioux Falls?
Baszler: "I grew up there my whole life. And so I went away
to college. And then I came back after college and lived
there for a while."

The 41-year-old wrestler is a Lincoln High School graduate
and said although she wasn't born in Sioux Falls, she
considers it home since she grew up there.


Baszler: "My mom and dad live there. And then obviously, I
have a whole bunch of friends that I try to visit every time
I'm in town. Next Edge Academy was a gym that I helped get
off the ground. I was one of the original members, the
martial arts gym is downtown. So I still go in there and get
workouts in with the team there."


Q: You were an accomplished MMA fighter before going into
pro wrestling, what brought about your career change?
Baszler: "I think my coach had recognized and I think, you
know, in hindsight, I can admit it, I think I was falling
out of love with MMA, I started losing fights I shouldn't
have. I didn't feel scared anymore. You know what I mean?
Like I just didn't care as much as I did before, when I was
younger in the sport."

Baszler said her martial arts based in 'catch wrestling'
made the career move to pro wrestling easy. That form of
wrestling is made up of submissions and pins, two methods of
control and great for showing off skills. By the end of her
MMA career, she was dealing with a couple of injuries and
asked the UFC for some time off in 2015.

Sioux Falls native Shayna Baszler recently signed with WWE
to be a pro wrestler.
Baszler: "So we asked the UFC, hey, could she do some pro
wrestling in between? Just to keep her busy and in shape and
keep doing stuff, earn some money and they were like, 'no.'
And so my coach sat me down and was like, 'Listen, how about
we step away and do this pro wrestling thing and see just a
reset?'"

Q: Now that you've experienced life as an MMA fighter and
WWE Superstar, what are the biggest differences in
performing for you?

Baszler: "One of the things that makes pro wrestling really
special compared to other sports or other forms of
entertainment is that the crowd is an integral part of the
show. The crowd is a character in this whole thing. So the
crowd being into it, the crowd chanting, how they're
reacting can affect how the match goes."

She's not always in it to end the fight right away,
something she had to learn. In MMA, Baszler was taught to
tune out the crowd and focus on winning whether it looked
"good" or not. But in pro wrestling, she tries to tell a
story in the ring.

Baszler: "Timing, I think, in MMA there's not a story to
tell. I mean, there might be a story to tell, but you're not
telling it in the match. You're just winning the fight as
fast as you can. Doesn't matter if the crowd can tell what
you're doing. Doesn't matter if it looks cool. Just the win
is ultimately what matters. And I think in pro wrestling,
you kind of want to show everyone what you're up to. You
want the crowd to know your thought process."

Q: How are you feeling leading up to your homecoming this
Sunday, have you ever performed in Sioux Falls with the WWE?
Baszler: "So no, I've never performed in Sioux Falls as a
part of WWE.

I have been to shows that were in Sioux Falls while I've
been signed with WWE. I was on NXT and I think like Raw was
there and I just so happened to be home, like by
coincidence. So I went to the show and said hi to everyone,
but I wasn't on the show. None of the crowd saw me or
anything.

But yeah it's gonna be fun. I mean, I'll have friends and
family there, obviously. But you know, I hope Sioux Falls
hasn't forgot about me. So we'll see what happens when I
come out and, and hopefully it's good."

Shayna Baszler in the ring with Sasha Banks.
Q: What are some of your proudest moments from your time in
WWE?
Baszler: "I think there's two and I guess these kind of go
hand in hand so obviously winning the NXT title was my first
big, big moment. I think that's it. That's the one that's
most memorable to me. I've had other matches that I think I
would rate better."


Outside of her titles, Baszler said that she's proud of some
matches where she's lost because of the storytelling aspect
that went on during the matches and the crowd's reaction.

Baszler: "I think on the flip side of that, I think when I
lost the title to Rhea Ripley that match is one of my
favorite matches because the way we told the story and it's
so cool because I lose and the crowd, the fans are so happy
that the bad guy lost and the good guy won that they stormed
the ring."

Q: Who are some of your favorite opponents that you've faced
in WWE?
Baszler: "My bread and butter are these like ultimate good
guys."

The 41-year-old mentioned Kairi Sane, Sasha Banks and Rhea
Ripley as some of the opponents she's enjoyed facing off
against the most.

She also said her in-ring style focused on her MMA
background helps her connect more in matches with
traditional "good guy" opponents or "baby faces" as they're
called in pro wrestling.

Baszler: "If Sioux Falls hasn't forgotten about me, I'll
come out to cheers instead of jeers. I don't know. We'll see
what happens."

Shayna Baszler a WWE wrestler born and raised in Sioux Falls
is expected to be at the WWE SuperShow in Sioux Falls on
Sunday, January 16, 2022.
Q: What are some of your goals left to accomplish in WWE?
Baszler: "I'm always saying the title is the goal. If we're
not in this to be champions, then it's going to be a rough
road."

Outside of championships, Baszler also has the goal of
winning the annual Royal Rumble. She was the last person
eliminated in the 2020 edition.


Baszler: "This sounds like such a cliché phrase, but I dare
you to tell me why it's not true that we have the best
women's division in the world. I think that we're going to
put on matches that you forget you're watching women, you're
just watching wrestling at that point."

Q: If you had to pick, who would be on your Mount Rushmore
of wrestling?
Baszler: "With a pair of each I'll go [Trish] Stratus and
Lita obviously, I think a lot of people will say, as far as
WWE because during a time, like you've talked about the
Attitude Era, and when the women were presented completely
differently, they were able to draw the fans in and, and,
and evolve their story into a point where they had this
iconic women's wrestling match. And I think that speaks so
well of their ability and their desire to do that. And I
know I, I speak for a few of the women when I say that one.
And then I think Undertaker and Shawn Michaels."

The "Queen of Spades" mentioned Undertaker vs. Shawn
Michaels as one of her favorite matches ever and Hulk Hogan
vs Ultimate Warrior. She said those are two matches she'd
recommend to anybody not familiar with pro wrestling to help
them grasp the concept of what she does now.

Q: Lastly, what would you say to the people of Sioux Falls
planning on attending Sunday's event?
Baszler: "Oh, man, I hope we fill that arena up. And I hope
that they just come out and be loud. And have fun. And you
know, I'll see you guys there."


The 41-year-old said she'd like to be remembered as someone
who helped legitimize the sport and women's wrestling.

Baszler will be making a special appearance at the WWE
SuperShow in Sioux Falls on Sunday.

How to get tickets to see the WWE SuperShow in Sioux Falls
Tickets can be purchased at the Denny Sanford Premier Center
or on their Ticketmaster.

The event starts at 5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.

Got a story idea from your community? Email reporter Alfonzo
Galvan at agalvan@argusleader.com or follow him on Twitter
@GalvanReports.

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