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By Mike Johnson on 2019-11-06 15:34:00

The following interview was conducted Wednesday morning November 6th.

Mike Johnson: it's been a busy couple of days for the NXT brand. They return the TV tonight on Wednesday, November 6th, but the reigning and defending NXT women's champion, Shayna Baszler, has not only been seen on NXT in the last week, she's also popped up on Smackdown and had a most interesting face to face with Raw women's champion, Becky Lynch. We spoke to Shayna just a couple of weeks ago at the Performance Center, so I guess this gets to be our followup conversation. So before we start, Shayna, have you had a chance to catch your breath yet? How are you doing?

Shayna Baszler: Barely. Barely. This is my breathing time, right now.

Mike Johnson: Well, I appreciate you letting us sit in, while you decompress. [Baszler laughs] Let's talk a little bit about the sit-down with Becky Lynch first and foremost.   I thought personally, that was the best thing on Monday Night Raw and I think it was one of the best segments for Becky Lynch, really since she won the Raw title back at WrestleMania from Ronda Rousey in the three-way with Charlotte. This was a chance for you to be full-on Shayna Baszler and bring that sort of big fight feel that you and I talked about at the Performance Center a couple of weeks ago, even in a backstage segment.   Talk a little bit about that moment and what was going through your mind as you prepared for it, given that this has been such a whirlwind couple of days for the NXT brand, and just your take on the big match announced for Survivor Series.

Shayna Baszler: Yeah. It's been a wild week, I'll tell you. But, we show up on Raw and I think with Becky being the Raw women's champion and myself being an NXT women's champion, I really wanted to sit down. You watch a old mobster films and you see the two mob bosses sit down in the restaurant and have a little chat. And that's what I wanted to do.   It's interesting because having a Survivor Series match like that, the triple threat, is exciting enough. The real challenge, and this has followed me from MMA to pro wrestling is, people don't care about the fight as much as they care about the story of the fight. That's something that when I started working with Josh Barnett, he told me, before I really started fighting on big stages, even in MMA.   So, how do we put together what is basically ... It's exciting and it's cool, but it's basically a cold match. But beyond, here's the three champions in here, let's give these people a reason. Let's let them know why I'm doing this. So, it was a very fun challenge to let people inside our minds, as to why we're doing this, a little bit.

Mike Johnson: So the obvious question is your thoughts on Bayley, because you talked about, "I'm not going to keep my eyes off Bayley", but it was pretty obvious that the idea of Becky and Shayna facing off was the moment here.  However, thoughts about having a chance to get in the ring with Bayley, especially given everything that she brought to the NXT brand and kind of set the stage for the women who are currently part of the women's division in NXT?

Shayna Baszler: Yeah. I said it and I didn't mean to gloss over the fact that Bayley is a big threat. She's dangerous. She's the only triple crown. She's won all three titles, you know. She's also won the tag titles. You know, you judge a tree by its fruit and she's producing pretty good fruit, as far as her wrestling here, but make no mistake, I have a target set on Becky. I'm also not stupid. I'm two times champion, myself, and you don't get there taking anyone lightly or not being smart enough to cover all the bases. But for sure, my issue is that ... I'm getting in the ring and Bayley's a competitor, but Becky, I take issue with.

Mike Johnson: The NXT invasion of Smackdown, as it's been termed, pretty much came up at the last second. So talk us through from the moment you were tapped and said, "Hey. You're going to Smackdown tonight", to landing in Buffalo, literally with the show about to go on the air.   It was one of those crazy, only in pro wrestling stories, where this huge confluence of events leads to something really cool and amazing for wrestling fans. So where were you when you realized, all right, it's time to go to work and it's not going to be just a Performance Center day or an NXT day, but hey, the whole crew's going? Talk a little bit about that craziness and what went through your mind and how it all developed.

Shayna Baszler: Yeah. I, for whatever reason, just randomly, it doesn't happen to any of us very often, but I wasn't booked on Friday or Saturday. So I went to the gym and killed myself in the gym, Friday morning, because I was like, "Damn, I have the rest of Friday off and Saturday. This is going to be great. This never happens. I'm going to enjoy myself. This is great".   So, I go kill myself at the gym and then I'm on my way home and I get that call, like, "Be ready. As soon as we say, you've got to head to the airport".   Oh, okay. So I had to rush around packing, doing all this stuff and then they said "Go". And it was go. It's like you said, I don't think people realize that quite literally, not exaggeration or anything, I ran from the shuttle. The shuttle that picked us up at the airport when we landed and took us to the venue. I left my bags and ran to the ring. So it was like, my warmup was running around the arena to my position, to run out to the ring. And the lady that was taking me showed me a video on her phone of how to get through the crowd, like what the path was to get to the ring and that was it. Then you saw what happened.

Mike Johnson: Smackdown ends and goes off the air. What's going through your brain at this point? Because by then, the adrenaline has to be wearing off of this crazy day. So at the end of Smackdown, big moment for NXT, what's going through your brain at the end of all this?

Shayna Baszler: It's such a crazy thing, because the whole day ... Like I said, I'm driving home from the gym, from that moment that we got that call to be ready. It was just stress, stress, stress, stress, stress. Pressure, pressure, pressure. Now we have to perform, we have to do this, and we are the backup quarterback that got put in the game. We have to put together a game winning drive now and this is our shot.   It's like everything in any sport, that everyone dreams about doing, and it was just ding ding ding ding ding ding, and then just in an instant, it was over. It's crazy, once we're at the arena, how fast it goes, and it was over and we delivered. I mean Adam Cole had one of the best matches on SmackDown, of the year. We ran in. It was crazy. The energy was high. We were super stoked. And something unplanned, but I think it all worked out because now Survivor Series is really interesting, you know?

Mike Johnson: One of the things you and I talked about, at the Performance Center a couple of weeks ago, was the idea that previously it was, at some point, someone has to leave NXT to go to the main roster. And NXT coming to the USA Network opened up the doors for NXT talents to have a WrestleMania moment, without leaving the brand. Now, it's not even six weeks later and NXT is going to be tri-branded with Survivor Series for the first time, but we still have TV tonight and every week on the USA Network. So with all of the things that happened over the last week, and with Survivor Series on the horizon, talk about how any of this changes your focus for the weekly Wednesday night TV show, or NXT on the road. Is there more anticipation for the show this week, because maybe someone from Raw or someone from Smackdown is going to show up? Or do you feel like, it's Wednesday night, this is our house, time to get back to what we've been working on, towards the WarGames and things like that?

Shayna Baszler: Well, I think we'd be foolish to think that there's not going to be some sort of retaliation. I think we pulled the trigger first, so obviously with all the noise and stuff, the social media, attention it's gotten, we're not totally unfocused from WarGames. That would be foolish. But at the same time, I think we're all looking over our shoulder as we sit and strategize about what's going to happen, going into WarGames, as far as ourselves, as well.

Mike Johnson: For yourself, looking at the next couple of weeks, is there anyone from the main roster you'd like to have a chance to get into the ring with on Raw or Smackdown, as you kind of fine-tune and prepare for Becky and Bayley?

Shayna Baszler: I say this a lot when I get asked this question. Everybody's got the same limbs and they all work and don't work the same ways. So it's just about getting in there and getting reps, as far as I'm concerned    So just being comfortable. Becky and Bayley are phenomenal and they're champions for a reason, but I don't think we're lacking any talent at NXT. I think we've showed, over the past week or so, that we match up to them pretty well. So I'm not too concerned over the who's, I'm just concerned about the time that I get to be in there.

Mike Johnson: The conversation we had a couple of weeks ago, you said wherever you are is where the main roster is [Baszler laughs], and it's kind of prophetic that you said that, given the changes and the turmoil of the last week. Have you had a chance to even take it in, kind of look back on it and reflect on any of this? Or are we still in war mode and we're still in, "All right, what's next? What's next? What's next?"  As we reflect on this, the NXT involvement it's going to be one of the biggest WWE moments of the year, that Smackdown leading into this Raw. And I think a lot of people got excited about it, the way they sort of got excited when WCW, when ECW invaded WWE in 2001. It was something very unique and something very different, and there was an aura of danger to it.   Have you had a chance to reflect on what a cool moment this was, in terms of a little milestone or a chapter for your career yet?

Shayna Baszler: I mean, a little bit. Just because everything is so instant, feedback is so important for us now, with social media and all of that. But I think that, it's really not going to settle down. I'm just expecting that, until Survivor Series is over, I'm not really going to get a real chance to sit down and take a deep breath and take it all in. It's just going to be ... What you see now, I think is the tone that's going in, these next couple of weeks, but it's a ride and ... I'm around enough athletes and legends, that I'm aware that I need to like take a step outside of myself and look around and take that all in. I tried to consciously do that, even in the ring on Smackdown, when you see me standing there, and I'm looking around, I'm like, "Man, this is it. This is the moment for ... Everything's changing right now."   But yeah, I think it's going to hit me after Survivor Series, when I get a real chance to sit down and breathe.

Mike Johnson: Have you picked a limb yet for Becky?

Shayna Baszler: [Laughs] We'll see. We'll see what opens itself up.

Mike Johnson: All right. Well Shayna, I thank you so much for sitting down with us. We look forward to the continued adventures of not just you, but everybody else in NXT, as we had to Survivor Series and beyond, and we wish you nothing but the best, personally, professionally. And I want to thank you for the time.

Shayna Baszler: Thank you.

Mike Johnson: All right, everybody, until next time. I'm Mike Johnson.

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