WWE's Shayna Baszler is one of the deadliest superstars on the roster, and she's currently holding Championship gold alongside Nia Jax as the Women's Tag Team Champions. Thanks to the first-ever Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic though Baszler and Jax have some new competition in the form of Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai, the latter of whom she had several matches with during her Championship run in NXT. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Baszler all about the big match, including taking on the new and improvised version of Kai, adjusting from solo competition to Tag Team life, and even some Warhammer 40K.
Baszler and Jax have held the Women's Tag Team Championships for 140 days altogether, which makes them second on all the all-time list of Women's Tag Team Champions. Both stars were more solo competitors before teaming up, and it was a significant shift to go from solo matches to becoming a successful tag team.
"I think it's a huge shift, and I think that you can even see, earlier in our time when we first teamed up, you can definitely see it was two singles wrestlers doing their own thing when they were in the ring," Baszler said. "Whereas now, and we're not one of those tag teams that's doing cool, big double team moves, you know what I mean? But I think you can definitely see that we work together now. So like I said, we're not doing these convoluted big tag team moves, but we definitely help each other out using numbers, so I think we figured out how to work well together as two singles wrestlers."
Teaming up with someone for a longer run wasn't something Baszler originally envisioned, but it's worked out quite well.
"I didn't foresee a permanent tag team or a long long-term tag team. I wrestled on the indies too, I've been wrestling long enough to know that every now and then you team up for a match with someone or something along those lines. So that was not unexpected," Baszler said. "It was unexpected to have a long-term tag team, and I think the nature of how Nia and I happened, it started off as more of a business proposal where it was beneficial to both of us to help take out problems for both of us, and it just ended up working. And you can't argue with the results, we're champs and dominating ones at that. So it was unexpected, but that's how things work out sometimes, so you got to roll with the punches."
Baszler dominated NXT during her run as Champion, and one of the opponents she went through during that time was Dakota Kai. She got the better of those previous matchups, but since then Kai has become a much different competitor, changing up her persona and becoming part of a powerful duo alongside Raquel Gonzalez. Despite the makeover, Baszler just sees the same old Kai, and she is looking to prove that tonight.
"Everyone is talking about this transformed Dakota Kai, but all I see is a Dakota Kai that has a Raquel Gonzalez to hide behind. She's pretty confident when she has her. She wasn't that way when I was around and she's not going to be that way when I return," Baszler said. "I've been in combat sports, wrestling and MMA long enough to know when someone's putting on this facade, and her facade happens to be Raquel, and she can talk a big game while she's there, but I'll break her down just like always. It might take longer, but you guys will all see it, it's the same Dakota Kai."
Speaking of Raquel, Baszler knows she'll need to go through her to get to Kai, and regardless of how big and strong Raquel is, she knows she can take her down.
"Raquel is big and strong and she can move a lot of weight, I'm sure, in the weight room, but the thing I've always been taught, and the reason why the Kirifuda Clutch is my go-to is because it doesn't matter," Baszler said. "I think I've said this before, it doesn't matter how big, how strong, how athletic and intimidating you are, you still need air to breathe. And I've trained a long time in grappling arts that are designed to be an equalizer for a person who's bigger and stronger to be on the same level of a more technical, smaller, not as strong person. So it's unfamiliar for everyone else to see because they haven't seen me and Raquel, but it is not unfamiliar territory for me."
Baszler and Jax are already starting off 2021 in style as Women's Tag Team Champions, but there are two elements they'd like to bring not just to their division but also the titles as a whole, and those include a fearful aura around the Champions and a sense of importance around the titles themselves.
"I'd like to see us... I'd like to bring, and I think we're on the way to doing it, but I'd like to bring fear back into the titles, where the Champions are people to be afraid of," Baszler said. "Too long, it's been, the Tag Titles especially have been this side story, and it's the other title to hold, but I think we've really done our job being so dominating like we are, and taking on all challengers, it doesn't matter what brand they're coming from, to make these be, not just one of the most important women's titles, but most important titles in the WWE right now."
"And I think that we will continue to carry that flag all through 2020," Baszler said. "This is going to be... We've done it. It's a long-winded answer to say more of the same, but that's what we set out to do when we said we're winning back the titles. We're going to go and take these and make people know these are the most important titles and the Tag Team Champions are the most feared people to get in the ring with. And we've succeeded, so we're just going to keep doing that."
When Baszler isn't inflicting pain on someone in the ring, she's probably enjoying one of her favorite franchises, Warhammer 40k. Whether it's just getting lost in the characters and world of Warhammer via the books or attempting to survive in the VR world of Warhammer: Battle Sister, Baszler adores the franchise, and it's the rich and extensive lore that first hooked her.
"So Josh Barnett first introduced me to Warhammer when I first started working with him. He gave me an Ultramarines book, and from there, I went on my own black hole," Baszler said. "And I really fell in love with the Horus Heresy and all the prequel-type stuff leading into 40k. But I really am such a big fan of lore, so if a universe has a rich history and it's... I don't know, there are 20 original chapters, and each one has their own story, each Primarch has their own story of how they came to be."
"The lore is really what I love about Warhammer 40k. It's so cool, there's so much history, there's always a story that you remember. Also, not to make it seem like I don't have a sensitive side, but it's awesome to have a universe where there are not all these romantic subplots written into the book, it's all just war," Baszler said. "There is only war in the grim darkness of the far future, so I don't know, I like that. I like the lore-heavy books and how that translates into the games and everything."0comments
You can watch Baszler in action alongside Nia Jax during tonight's NXT, which airs at 8 PM EST on the USA Network.
Do you want to see Baszler and Jax retain the Women's Tag Team Championships? Let us know in the comments or as always you can talk all things WWE and gaming with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!