Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler are set to clash at SummerSlam 2023 in an epic battle that has been brewing for a long time now. After tasting success in UFC together, and then going on to dominate the WWE Tag Team roster, the pair are set to lock horns in a special MMA rules match at the Ford Field Stadium in Detroit on August 5 (August 6 in India).

Ahead of the blockbuster showdown, Baszler sat down for an exclusive chat with, explaining how she felt like a ‘sidekick’ to Ronda at WWE, and that she should be the ‘face’ of the company.

Only a couple of months ago, Baszler and Rousey had won the Women’s Tag Team titles at Wrestlemania 39, the pair then embarked upon a dominant run with Shayna herself admitting that they would be the Tag Team ‘for a long time’ but then she suddenly decided to turn on her partner.

In a freewheeling chat, the 42-year-old explained why she decided to part ways with Ronda and has decided to ‘shut up’ up her long-time friend at SummerSlam. Baszler also revealed how she made the transition from mixed martial arts to pro wrestling and dropped a major hint on her future plans after the biggest party of the summer.

Here are excerpts from the interaction:

How’s your preparation going for the SummerSlam faceoff against Ronda Rousey?

We’re getting down to the final week, so now it’s just about maintaining the work done so far, in a week the cardio and conditioning aren’t going to increase. It’s just about getting mentally ready, Ronda’s one of the best female combat sports athletes in the world so I have to understand that it’s going to be painful even if I win so it’s about going to this place where I’m willing to accept that, to do what needs to be done.

Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey with the WWE Tag Team titles

During your faceoff with Ronda on RAW recently you said she ‘ruined’ wrestling for you, if you could shed some light on that remark?

I’m not denying that Ronda isn’t history-making, she’s one of the best fighters that’s ever come along. She changed the landscape for women’s wrestling. I was fighting almost a decade before her, so it would be easy for me to whine and cry about how MMA was and she got noticed but that doesn’t bother me because she’s Ronda. On our team as far as MMA goes, she was our leader, she was the face of our team and I didn’t have a problem with that.

As it comes to professional wrestling, I’m the one who made her fall in love with that, I’m the one that got signed first, she saw how happy I was she said it herself in one of her interviews. She’s come to me for advice as it comes to pro wrestling, as far as WWE is concerned it should be me that’s should be the leader. It should be me that’s the face, this is my thing. When I was in NXT and Ronda was doing her own things I had a lot of success.

ALSO READ| WWE Returns to India in September 2023 With Superstar Spectacle

I had probably the most dominant run with that title, and it just seems like ever since she’s come back I’ve just been her sidekick. She’s done nothing to change that, she’s done nothing to give me that push, me and Ronda were the tag champs, I still say it to this day I don’t think anyone was beating us for a long time. It just came down to do I wanna go another couple of years defending these titles and being Ronda’s sidekick or is it time to finally do my thing.

You’ve known Ronda for a long time, and you both have similar techniques, so is there any added pressure knowing each other inside out, or do you see it as an advantage?

I think that physically and in the ring we know each other inside out. Our job was to go to the gym and fight each other. We were sparring partners, so every advantage I have against her, she also has against me. So really this game planning has been just changing my mentality, trying to get my mind to get to this different stage of intensity because as I said before even if I win it’s gonna hurt. She’s gonna cause me a lot of pain and vice versa, no one’s coming out of this unscathed win or lose.

If you roll your ankle working in the garden that hurts but in the middle of the game, you get to a different place mentally and you can fight through that.

Could we see Shayna Baszler going after Rhea Ripley’s title after your SummerSlam bout?

Once I take care of Ronda Rousey, and I called for it to a fight. So I’m gonna beat Ronda Rousey at what she’s the best in the world at. I think everyone’s head has to look in my direction after that. So whether that happens in, you know, a month or a year, I think that’s the eventual path that happens.

My job up until I get that opportunity is to make everyone’s head turn or even turn away cause they can’t bear to see what I’m doing to someone in the ring. I need to be letting people know that I’m here for real.

ALSO READ| WWE Executive Chairman Vince McMahon Served With Federal Grand Jury Subpoena

After your success in MMA, your moved to professional wrestling, were there any challenges you had to face during your transition to WWE?

I was very fortunate that my coaches in MMA, Josh Barnett and Billy Robinson they’re also professional wrestlers and my particular area of expertise in MMA, like everyone I studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai kick-boxing but I also was very known for my catch wrestling. For people that don’t know, catch wrestling looks a lot like Brazilian jiu-jitsu except you can also pin people as a way to win.

There’s a lot of similarities too, it’s a very familiar feeling to stand behind a curtain, walking out to a ring where someone’s waiting to beat you up, I knew what that felt like and I was comfortable with that.

The hardest thing I feel is the pacing is different, in MMA you have three five-minute rounds, and you’ve trained for that. Whereas a match in WWE might be five minutes or it could be 20 minutes. So it’s just training to be prepared for more variables.

Shayna Baszler has enjoyed a lot of success in WWE

Who inspired you to take up professional wrestling or mixed martial arts in your childhood?

I was a big fan of Pro Wrestling and then I was a big fan of martial arts. I think the two met and then that’s how I became a wrestler. I was a big Bruce Lee fan, I was a big fan of Jet Li fan, watching these martial arts movies growing up. When I first came around, the UFC was kind of branded as ‘which martial art is the best martial art’ and you like a ‘Karate Guy’, vs ‘Kung Fu guy’ and now it’s evolved into the sport we have today.

ALSO READ| Legendary WWE Star Hulk Hogan Engaged to 45-Year-Old Yoga Instructor, Set to Get Married For Third Time

But I was interested in UFC because of my love of martial arts and how it was branded as this martial arts competition. Then as the sport grew and it turned into jiu-jitsu, and so now you have these catch wrestlers, you had like Ken Shamrock also a former WWE superstar these guys came from catch wrestling and it just opened up my world.

Do you have any message for your fans here in India ahead of your SummerSlam bout?

I just want to say thanks to everyone for supporting me, and after I take care of business at SummerSlam and shut Ronda Rousey up we’re gonna go on a wild ride after that so keep following along.

If given an opportunity to have a fight in India in the future, would like to take that up?

I would love to, yeah, I love to travel, I love experiencing other parts of the world, I think it’s important to us as human beings so I would love to share my craft with everyone all over the world.

Watch the LIVE coverage of WWE SummerSlam 2023 on Sony Sports Ten 1 (English), Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) and Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on 6th August 2023 from 5:30 am IST.

Source link