WWE’s Shayna Baszler: “I am in support of intergender wrestling when it makes sense”

Apr 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Shayna Baszler (red top/red pants) and Nia Jax (red shirt/black pants) face Natalya (pink/black attire) and Tamina (black/green attire) during their Women's Tag Team Championship match during WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Shayna Baszler (red top/red pants) and Nia Jax (red shirt/black pants) face Natalya (pink/black attire) and Tamina (black/green attire) during their Women's Tag Team Championship match during WrestleMania 37 at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s been some time since WWE fans last saw the killer side of Shayna Baszler on her own. On Monday’s Raw, she aims to bring back that inner intensity when she goes one-on-one with Reginald.

The former NXT Women’s champion challenged Reginald to a match at the end of last week’s show when he once again cost her and Nia Jax the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. It will be a rare case of WWE actually promoting intergender wrestling, something we haven’t too much from the company in recent years.

Beyond getting her hands on Reginald, Baszler has her sights set on becoming a champion again somewhere, somehow. She’s been in the tag team ranks for so long that it might be high time she re-enters the Raw Women’s Championship conversation and rekindles her rivalry with current champ Rhea Ripley.

Ahead of her outing with Reginald on the Memorial Day Raw, Shayna Baszler spoke with Daily DDT about her thoughts on intergender wrestling, Marvel movies, opponents she wouldn’t mind mixing it up with, fans being back in the building soon, and more.

Shayna Baszler previews her Raw match with Reginald and shares her thoughts on intergender wrestling

Her match with Reginald on Raw this week isn’t just any ordinary outing for Baszler. It may prove to be a walk in the park, but she’s more motivated to destroy Jax’s main squeeze than anyone else she’s faced this year.

Reginald’s constant interference has prevented her and Jax from regaining the WWE Women’s Championship twice in the last two weeks. By challenging him to a one-on-one matchup on Monday night, she hopes to take him out of the equation entirely and ensure he’s no longer a thorn in her side.

“You have to approach it like every other match,” she said. “As soon as it changes in your mind, it starts affecting how you work in the ring. In order to do what I do, you have to keep it like every other match. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited to get my hands on Reginald and ground the flippy circus guy… I’m going to show you what happens when a technician grounds a flier.”

Above all else, her game plan is to keep him grounded and out of the air. Having seen his matches on SmackDown against Sasha Banks, she’s aware of his athleticism and what he brings to the table.

As far as intergender wrestling goes, Baszler has experience fighting men from her mixed martial arts days and doesn’t see her match against Reginald being much different. Thus, she has no doubt a female can bring the fight to a male in certain circumstances.

“[Intergender wrestling] is an interesting topic and it always is,” she said. “As a mixed martial artist and a fighter, I was the only female on my fight team for years for the majority of my career. I’ve even entered submission wrestling tournaments and wrestled in the men’s division because the women in the women’s division weren’t as experienced, so I wanted to get my money’s worth in this tournament.

“This is not new to me or anyone else who trains in that sort of martial art to understand that a woman can compete with a male,” she added. “That’s not a question and it’s surprising to me that this day and age that’s so hard for people to understand.”

People will always have their preferences and reservations regarding certain things in wrestling, especially when it involves male vs. female matches. It’s worked in certain promotions (most notably in IMPACT and Lucha Underground) but not in others, and that’s because it has to be approached properly.

The Queen of Spades explained that it definitely depends on who the female is and their skill-set and background, along with the male. In her opinion, it is possible and can be believable, which is what she’s looking to prove when she and Reginald finally face off.

“I am also in support of intergender wrestling when it makes sense and when I know the woman knows what they’re doing,” Baszler said. “I wouldn’t suggest that just anyone… I don’t know if it’s even appropriate to name names. I wouldn’t tell Lana to get in there with any male on the roster, but someone like myself who’s a technician and is experienced competing against males and I know how to balance technique against strength, it’s a little more fitting for someone like me.

“I’m not all Gung Ho, ‘All women should fight on the equal ground as the men,'” she continued. “If there are women who are trained to do that, I’m all for it. I think the argument for me is that people don’t necessarily believe all the time that a woman can balance out that male vs. female aspect. But it is possible and I will show that.”

Shayna Baszler compares wrestling to Marvel movies and which Marvel character she relates to the most

Baszler went on to make an excellent comparison between professional wrestling and superhero movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe sees women battle men all the time and it’s widely accepted as it should be, but wrestling is a different story for some reason in the eyes of fans.

Of course, wrestling is intended to be more realistic than a Marvel movie for example yet not as realistic as a fight you’d see in the UFC. The shared similarities between all of those forms of entertainment are what makes it difficult for some fans to buy into intergender wrestling regardless of who’s involved.

“Pro wrestling is an interesting medium because it has a shared relationship with things like mixed martial arts and also at the same time with things like Marvel movies. When you look at the side of a Marvel movie, we’re not going to argue. The female superheroes are always fighting the guys in that, but when we look at it in a mixed martial arts sense, we’re never going to see that. That’s not getting into ‘Women can’t be competitive,’ that’s not what I’m saying, but there’s no reason why women will ever compete professionally in a fight sport against men.

“I think it’s hard for people to meld these two thoughts to realize that professional wrestling is its own entity,” she continued. You can’t watch professional wrestling all the time the same way you’re going to watch mixed martial arts. You can’t watch professional wrestling the same way you’re going to watch a Marvel movie in the theater.”

Additionally, Baszler believes that fans always feel they have to pick between MMA, WWE, and superhero movies instead of letting wrestling be its own thing. Fans will understandably enter any situation in wrestling with their specific tastes and being against intergender wrestling isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but she wants to show people that there is a way it can all make sense.

On the subject of Marvel, the former NXT Women’s champion admitted to being a fan of the film franchise and that she plans to see Black Widow upon its release in theaters and on Disney Plus this summer. She enjoys the female protagonist’s style of martial arts but feels Magneto is the Marvel character that fits her best.

“I feel like with my style of martial arts and the attitude I bring, I’d be more of a villain than a hero,” she said. “Magneto is a bad guy, but when the line got drawn, he would fight alongside [the good guys]. He’d be the villain I’d be where it’s like I’m doing my own thing, but when the line is drawn in the sand… you know what I mean?”

Shayna Baszler reveals the status of her tag team with Nia Jax and other possible opponents

Since Baszler and Jax lost the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship to Natalya and Tamina on the May 14 edition of SmackDown, fans have been left wondering what the future holds for them as a tag team and if the time has come for her to branch back out on her own.

Spoiler alert: It has.

Baszler didn’t specifically say whether she prefers singles competition or the tag team ranks, as she’ll take any opportunity that comes her way. Removing Reginald from the picture so that Jax isn’t as distracted as she has been in her first order of business.

“Look, I just want to wrestle,” she admitted. “Wherever the bodies are lined up for me to dismantle, that’s what I want to do. Do I have a preference? I want to win titles. Obviously, I want Nia to not be so distracted, so that’s what I’m doing right now: taking care of that distraction. I think once she’s snapped out of this weird, I don’t know, spell or whatever with this Reginald thing, she’ll be fine.”

As she pointed out, the duo of Baszler and Jax was virtually unstoppable when Reginald wasn’t in their corner. They reigned as the tag team champs for the better part of nine months, but whether it’s the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship or possibly the Raw Women’s Championship, she guarantees she’ll be holding gold again sooner rather than later.

“If someone is in my way,” she said, “if you’re not in this to win the title… Sure, there’s a part of me that’s in this because I like the puzzle and breaking humans in ways I’m not supposed to, if anyone’s in my way of either of those two goals, they’re the ones that are going to be taken care of.

“I have Reggie, he’s in the way right now, that’s going to be taken care of,” she continued. “If Alexa keeps poking her nose in my stuff, I can take care of her, too. With Rhea, hopefully, she’s still around because I have unfinished business with her. If Becky ever wants to show her face again, I have unfinished business with her. I don’t like to limit myself to just one side. Bianca, I’ve taken care of her before. That’s a shot I wouldn’t mind. There’s a ton of people.”

Shayna Baszler reflects on her WrestleMania 37 experience and talks fans being back

One year ago, Baszler was forced to make her debut on The Grandest Stage of Them All in front of no fans in an empty Performance Center. She and Becky Lynch had a hard-hitting affair for the Raw Women’s Championship that unfortunately didn’t end in her favor.

Regardless of the result, it didn’t quite feel like a “WrestleMania moment” for Baszler because of the atmosphere that night. Thankfully, her successful defense of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship alongside Jax at this year’s installment in front of a sold-out crowd in Tampa more than made up for it.

Despite having experience of wrestling in front of fans, having not done it for so long, nothing could have prepared her for that moment.

“We all went the whole year with no fans and you think you know,” she said. “I’ll be honest with you: walking out on that stage the first night when the show started and hearing the collective crowd noise that’s tens of thousands of voices as one… Hearing that and the chants, on top of that being excited for them… it really hit me in that moment being on that stage.”

She noted that the crowd is a character in the show and that’s been evident for the last year without fans. It’s all about that audience interaction in wrestling and having that back at WrestleMania made Superstars and fans alike extremely emotional.

As for Shayna’s style specifically, she believes the circumstances surrounding the pandemic actually benefited her to a degree. Viewers being able to hear her break down an opponent and see her attempt to tear them limb from limb emphasized how dangerous she can be inside the squared circle.

“I think I’m in a special spot with my style where [having fans back] can only benefit me,” she said.
“I think this past year, the only perspective the audience watching has been shown is a close-up of me bending someone’s elbow the wrong way. That’s hard to show a live crowd. Now that everyone that watches wrestling has seen this close-up, I think when we get back, the crowd will know… I think it’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise that it happened this way.”

WWE will be officially hitting the road again this July, so The Queen of Spades will have her chance at that point to show the world what she can do live and in person. Until then, with the world slowly opening back up and returning to a state of normalcy, she looks forward to doing two things again: visiting her nieces and returning to Star Wars Land in Disney World.

“My sister dealt with cancer, so she was kind of at risk, so just to safe, it’s been over a year since I’ve been able to go over and visit my nieces and stuff,” Baszler said. “It’s what I’m excited about and go to Star Wars Land maybe sometimes.”

Catch Shayna Baszler every Monday night on WWE Raw at 8/7c on USA Network.