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Shayna Baszler On Breaking Stereotypes In Wrestling, Importance Of Pushing Boundaries As A Female Wrestler

March 8, 2021 | Posted by Blake Lovell
Shayna Baszler Raw WWE

In a recent interview with Arabian Business Lifestyle, Shayna Baszler discussed breaking stereotypes in wrestling, the pressures of being a female wrestler, and much more. Here are some highlights:

On the challenges of being a female in male-dominated sports like MMA and pro wrestling: I definitely think there was some proving yourself. I think a lot of guys, especially on the wrestling mat or in martial arts gyms, for lack of a better term, wanted to ‘show you’ that you didn’t have it. So maybe they would go a little harder on you. On top of that I think it’s very humbling at first for males you are training with to lose to a girl. Until they get it in their head that on the mat there’s no difference, that’s what martial arts and amateur wrestling were made for, to be this equaliser for a smaller and weaker opponent to be able to equalise against someone stronger. I think when they got that in their head it was fine. I think that I had to learn pretty quickly that I had to not complain at all. Even less than a regular male might complain.

“There’s a quote from a female fighter Amanda Buckner that really resonates with me as far as wrestling and everything. She said: “If someone watches a male fight, they’ll say ‘that guy is bad at fighting’, but if someone watches a female fight, they’ll say ‘see look, women are bad at fighting’. I think knowing that double standard, rather than trying to fight it, taking what you’re given and still proving your worth is not something that’s easy to do and I think a lot of women have had to do that. If the guys go out and have a boring match, they’ll say, ‘wow, those guys are boring’, but if the girls go out and have a boring match, it’s ‘see, women’s wrestling is boring’. I think knowing that you have this weight of representing everyone on your shoulders, I think realising that helps to represent that.”

On pushing boundaries as a female wrestler: “I think that it’s a really special thing. Professional wrestling is in a particularly special place because it is entertainment. I’ve been really blessed to be active in this time where people watch it for entertainment and they know. Let’s take MMA where I came from. There will be a lot of people who will just turn off, they can’t watch women fight, it’s uncomfortable for them or whatever their preconceived notions might be about females fighting, they just can’t watch it and they won’t. Even as progressive as women in mixed martial arts has been. But I think in a professional wrestling sense they can watch these, which are stories about fights. Where MMA is the fight, pro wrestling is the story about the fight.

“I think people are more willing to watch women in professional wrestling because it’s not a fight per se, so they can watch it for its entertainment. Even getting them to watch can open doors and start changing their mind about things. That’s something I remember Triple H talking to us about, it’s about just getting the door to crack open. Some people won’t even open the door to check it out, no matter how much you say to them. But if you can just crack the door open and let them get a peek, then they start seeing and they want to see more and they’ll open the door themselves.”

On whether there’s more pressure on female wrestlers as compared to male wrestlers: “I don’t know if it adds more pressure, I think performing and wrestling, especially in the WWE is a high pressure situation no matter what and you know when you’re going out there you’re thinking definitely about the match and for me personally I’m not digging through my brain adding more pressure on the history of the moment or what boundaries are being pushed. After the match I get emotional because I realise all that stuff happens, but I think for me through all my competitive years and being on these big stages, the WWE is no different. I think I’ve learned to accept that that nervousness, that feeling of pressure, I say it a lot right behind the curtain to whoever is next to me, I’m like ‘man, there’s no other thing in the world that feels like this, what we’re feeling right now’.

“People might dream and study to be a lawyer their whole life, but everyone’s wondered if they could hit someone, everyone has. Maybe everyone hasn’t dreamed about standing in front of a judge and making an argument, but everyone’s been that mad. I think that just taking that moment as a part of the ride. It might not be for everyone, but I found that the more I tried to fight it and not be nervous and try to calm down, I think it makes it worse for me. I think even if you have your dream job, there’s parts of the job that are uncomfortable. You’re lifting weights and your muscles start burning, that’s a bad feeling but you accept it as part of working out and I think those nerves and that pressure before you step out of the curtain is part of the ride I’ve had to learn to accept otherwise it’s crippling.”

article topics :

Shayna Baszler, Blake Lovell