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By Mike Johnson on 2021-11-11 15:21:00

With the biggest match of her slated for this Saturday at All Elite Wrestling's Full Gear PPV, challenging AEW Women's World Champion Dr. Britt Baker at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Brazilian star Tay Conti sits down with to discuss her journey in professional wrestling thus far, her time in AEW, what this weekend means to her and tons more.

Mike Johnson: So first of all, big week for you. I know you've been really busy between travel and preparing for everything. How are you and how excited are you about this week?

Tay Conti: I'm really excited. First of all, thank you so much for having me I appreciate you and all the support. So yes, I'm pretty excited. I'm right now, getting my makeup done and doing everything I had to do, went to the gym early. I'm just super excited to have this interview with me for the whole time. And it's pretty much the most important week of my life. So yeah, I'm super excited, nervous a little bit because it is what it is. It's a great opportunity and I'm grateful for it. And I'm ready.

Mike Johnson: Before you stepped into professional wrestling, you did a lot of martial arts. How do you compare preparing for a big week like this and a match with Britt, to preparing for a big martial arts tournament?

Tay Conti: I was thinking about that yesterday. It's pretty much... It's similar, but training wise, it's the same for me. My mental health and everything. I also try to keep my mind so posted and remind myself that I worked hard for this opportunity. And then I did everything I had to do to be here. So it's the kind of the same mentality, but I feel with the pay-per-view match and everything, it's a little bit harder because I need to do with... Oh, what gear I'm going to wear. And then I had to do interviews and I had to do extra stuff that I was not used to do when I was doing martial arts. When I was in judo, it was just worry about my mess, about my fight. And that's it, when now, I need to worry about more stuff. So it's a little bit harder, I guess, but the preparation training wise for me, it's all the same.

Mike Johnson: I don't think it's an understatement when I say is this the biggest match of your career. You mentioned this is probably the biggest week of your career. When you think about the opportunity that AEW's given you here, this weekend to put you in such a big signature match, what does it mean to you after all that you've gone through in the last couple of years with moving to the states, the WWE opportunity ending, and then AEW coming about, when you think about everything you've been through, what does this opportunity this weekend mean to you?

Tay Conti: It's crazy. I'm just so grateful. Yesterday, I had a crazy day, airport. I missed my flight and everything, and I was like, I have nothing to complain. I'm just too grateful for everything that's happening my life right now. So every time that I think, I came from a really poor neighborhood. Some days I didn't even had money to get into a bus, or I didn't know I was eating at night. So, that was so crazy and now that I'm here living a dream pretty much, it's just, I have nothing but a feeling of being grateful for everything ahead and then when I came here, when I did my tryout with WWE I was 20 years old with no English, no money, nothing and then I got released. I didn't know what I was doing.  I was like, okay, now what I'm going to do? Am I going back to Brazil? I had no plan. I found myself lost. And then out of nowhere, I got this great opportunity. And then it changed my life for the better. I'm literally living my best life right now. I'm so grateful for Tony, AEW and everybody in backstage. Everybody's been helping me a lot, Dustin Rhodes all the girls, it's a family. And then it's my third pay-per-view, but that's my first singles match in a pay-per-view. My first pay-per-view ever was Wrestlemania. My second, All Out, all [in] battle royals.  Now, I'm finally having a title shot in a pay-per-view. So full gear, I'm just... I can't believe it yet, but I'm just grateful for it.

Mike Johnson: You mentioned you didn't even speak English when you came from Brazil, how familiar were you with pro wrestling when the initial idea of you coming to train in the wrestling business even came about? Obviously, you had been involved in combat sports with judo and martial arts, but wrestling is so different. What was your first reaction when someone invited you to even try out professional wrestling?

Tay Conti: Well, I said no, because I didn't even know what wrestling was. So I said no for the first time, because I was trying out for the elite gang in judo and then I lost. And then out of nowhere, it came with this opportunity to try out for WWE. And I'm like, I don't know what WWE is. I never watched wrestling before. Never, ever. I had no idea. So everything was so new, I said no, the first time. And then they keep trying. And then I finally was looking into it. And then I asked a friend, he was there in WWE by that time, and I knew him from like martial arts competition, and wrestling.  Then he was like, no, it's a great opportunity. Just try it. I'm like, okay, so that's when I decided to do it.  But, even when I got signed, I had no idea what I was doing, with no English. I felt for me, because of my athletic mentality, I was like, that's a competition and I want to win. That was me, my tryout. And then I feel like I just realized what wrestling was after my second Mae Young classic. I was like, oh my God, now I get it because for me, it was super hard to understand in the beginning, but after, I was like, okay, I love this. It's pretty much the same life I had in judo, but I need to learn more. And then I had to challenge myself with English to communicate in Spanish because I did learn Spanish too. So the whole opportunity was great, not just for my career, but for my life.

Mike Johnson: When you think about getting to wrestle Britt Baker this weekend, what can fans expect from the match? And what are your thoughts on Brit? Who's been one of the most important AEW wrestlers, not just in the women's division, but for the entire company?

Tay Conti: Yeah, no doubt that she's doing a great job. Excellent job. She's one of the best we have right now. And I just appreciate that I'm having the opportunity to work with her, to beat her ass because that's what I'm doing. She's good, but I know that I work hard since I'm seven years old. I started in martial arts. I was seven years old and I'm ready for this. She's good, but I'm better. That's what it is. I'm ready to kick her ass and take the title.

Mike Johnson: We've seen your relationship with Anna Jay really blossom over the last year or so in AEW. What is it about that relationship and that chemistry between the two of you that you've become such good friends on and off camera?

Tay Conti: Yeah. Anna became my friend in the first day that I met her, which is crazy. I feel like we are so made. We dress up the same without talking with each other. It's just a connection that I'm so super grateful. She's like my sister. It feels like I know her for years and years and years, which helps a lot in the ring because our chemistry, it's not just for work. It's real. We are best friends for real life, so it helps a lot.

Mike Johnson: So we talked about coming to the United States from Brazil. One of the things we don't often talk about is what a change it is culturally, for someone outside of the country to come here and start to live here. What were the biggest changes that you had to get used to coming to the United States after living in Brazil your entire life?

Tay Conti: Oh, God, I feel like everything. Everything. First, the language and then I'm super... the Brazilian, I feel like Latin American, we are so friendly. We are always hugging each other and then always too close. And then here, is different because of the culture. So in the beginning, I kind of struggled a little bit with that. I was like, oh, because every time we see people, we hug, we kiss. And then here, it's different. And that was a little bit harder for me and the food. Oh my God, the food is the worst part. I love Brazilian food. I can be here talking about food for the whole day, but we don't have time for that, but I feel like the food too. The food was a big, big difference for me, but I got used to it. I had to learn. And then I love US with all my heart.

Mike Johnson: You're going for the AEW World Women's championship this weekend. But AEW is also in the middle of the tournament to crown the first ever TBS champion, which will be a Women's championship. Thoughts on a new women's title being added to AEW programming?

Tay Conti: It's incredible because we all deserve it. Those things that we have, they all being, helping us a lot. And the women's division growed so fast here. We are doing our best and we deserve that. When I heard about it, I was super happy because it's more opportunity for all the girls and we are doing great. We are doing our best to represent the company. 

Mike Johnson: You've mentioned how the AEW locker room is sort of like a family. How do you compare your experiences with AEW's locker room to WWE NXT and behind the scenes? Was it more competitive in one versus the other? Was it more supportive in AEW versus WWE? How do you compare them?

Tay Conti: I felt because everybody has different experience, right? For me, towards to the end, was super bad in WWE because I felt like they have this unnecessary pressure. The business is already a lot of pressure. We are on TV, real life and then everything that we need to go to, it's already a lot. And over there, it was just this extra stuff that was not necessary. I hated that sometimes I was like, oh, should I say hi? Can I try to give a high five to this person or I'm getting fired because I did it? It's just, the whole unnecessary pressure that it made.  In AEW, it doesn't exist. Here, we can be us first, that we have the same kind of the same pressure, because it's live TV, that's the job. We need to be led by it. So to have people helping us, it's like, hey, you can do it. Hey, you are going to do a great job. Do you need help? That's how I feel here. We support each other and that's the most important part. We all want to see everyone succeed.  That's the right kind of, like, competition here and that's what makes me feel appreciated.

Mike Johnson: How do you think your life would've changed if AEW hadn't offered you the job? If you hadn't gotten the tryout or if AEW didn't exist, what do you think would've happened? Would you have just gone back to Brazil and left professional wrestling? How do you think your life would've changed if there was no AEW?

Tay Conti: The only goal that I had, and I still have, was going to Japan and wrestle in Japan, because I took a couple weeks off to decide, hey, 'What do I want to do?' and stuff.  I decided I want to go to Japan and wrestle there. And when I signed with AEW, I was like, I still can do it because they give us the freedom to do that here, and that was one of the reasons that I decided to sign with them. So I still want to go to Japan and that was the plan if I was not signing with AEW.

Mike Johnson: Well, obviously there's been a lot of Japanese stars have come to AEW, including Hikaru Shida and Riho. Is there anyone from Japan that you look at outside of the women who have come AEW and you get excited about the idea of going over there? Or is it just the idea of going there and being part of the culture?

Tay Conti: I want to wrestle everybody there, but I really want to wrestle Giulia.  Yeah, I really want to wrestle her.

Mike Johnson: From Stardom, sure. I know who exactly who you're talking about.

Tay Conti: Yes, so that's a match that I'm looking forward to.

Mike Johnson: Well, there you go. New dream match announced everybody! {Both Laugh.]

Tay Conti: Yes.

Mike Johnson: Before we get out of here, I have two more questions for you. The first one is the easiest question.  Why should they tune into Full Gear this weekend? Why should they make sure that they're watching AEW?

Tay Conti: Well, because they're going to see me kicking the hell out of Britt Baker's face. She's going to be DM done, and I'm pretty sure we're going to have great matches. I'm super very excited for Eddie Kingston and CM Punk. I can not wait to watch that. It's going to be amazing and I'm pretty sure you all going to love it.

Mike Johnson: So the final question I have for you is, what's your message to everybody both back in Brazil, here in the United States, and even across the world who has supported you over the last five, six years, as you've taken this incredible life journey for yourself in professional wrestling? What's what's your message to all the fans who help support you?

Tay Conti: Honestly, I cannot say anything else, but thank you. I'm grateful. Without the support, without the fans, I wouldn't be here today and I know that. So I just appreciate all of you a lot. I really want to hug everybody and get a little bit emotional when talk about that, because I do love to hug people. And when I imagine that I'm here because of them, I'm here because of the support. I just want to hug all of them. I wish I could, but one day maybe. I just want to say thank you so much. I do appreciate you all and I love you all.

AEW Full Gear will air on PPV and Bleacher Report this Saturday and stream internationally on FITE.TV.

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