Former WWE NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler appeared on the WWE After The Bell podcast where she discussed her 2020 , beginning with her viscous attack on RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch. The segment received mixed reviews, and Baszler admitted that she also had mixed thoughts but was happy to make some sort of impact on the main roster.
"So even I felt mixed about it as it happened, but the fact of the matter is, you can't argue. You already said it - everything was trending. People were talking about it," Baszler said. "It's a good gauge as far as what's gonna get people talking. So I guess this goes back to [when I] I was talking to Kevin Owens when I was still at NXT.
"He was at the Performance Center, and he was telling me that you forget being in NXT because NXT has a very loyal fan base. You forget that the majority of the RAW and SmackDown audience doesn't necessarily watch NXT. So he said he was NXT champion and it was a real eye-opening experience that when he started dabbling up on RAW and SmackDown while he was still champion, there were some crowds that didn't know who he was. And it kind of blew my mind.
"If I'm moving from NXT to RAW and SmackDown, you have to do something that's going to make you stand out. What am I going to do? Just come out, and do the thing, and have a regular match? I think, in the end, I came around to being like, 'OK, people are talking about this. That's what I wanted anyway.' So, it worked."
Lynch and Baszler would go on to have match at WrestleMania where Lynch successfully defended her title. Baszler reflected on the match and said that she hoped to get her WrestleMania moment in front of a crowd, but noted that her technical style of wrestling was able to be fully appreciated in a smaller environment.
"That's the most important match of my career that I've had thus far. Obviously, title match at WrestleMania - it doesn't get bigger than that. But I still feel incomplete," Baszler admitted. "I haven't had my WrestleMania moment. At the time, everyone's calling their family and it turns into a 30-minute discussion about the pandemic and this virus.
"And we understood the value in putting on a product where for three hours, two nights in a row, people didn't talk about that. And they were like, 'I hate this person.' Even just for a glimpse of a window, we give people something else to to have their minds on. So we got that; it was a very important in that sense. But I don't know-- it's hard. There is a magic that's missed about it not being 80,000 people, and a roaring crowd, and all that.
"At the same time, I talked about the different style of wrestling that I have. I think, in some ways, it was a blessing to have that big moment of mine first before whatever big moments come next, because I think having an empty sort of arena and a camera up close, there's some things that I do in the ring that a person in the stands way up in the rafters can't see."
Baszler also noted that every talent hopes to have crowds return. However, she agreed with Corey Graves when he pointed out that Superstars like Baszler, Daniel Bryan, and Drew Gulak are able to stand out with their technical style.
"I think that a lot of times, especially before the shutdowns and everything, we're on the road wrestling every night and you really start craving that kind of audience. Everybody loves that, and we still do," Baszler prefaced. "I'm not saying we don't, but I feel like this has been a good time, or at least that kind of PC era, or whatever you want to call it. It was a good time to kind of get back to wrestling."
Baszler admitted that she likes watching MMA without a crowd since you're able to hear everything more. She pointed out that the sounds of the hits mixed with the crowd reaction can sway your opinion as to who is actually winning the fight.
"I've said the whole time that MMA, especially, is a sport that I think I enjoy more now that they're in a closed [environment]. You can hear things better, and you hear the intricacies of the instruction they're getting, and you're not swayed by the crowd," Baszler noted. "I always talk about the kicks that make the slapping noise are not the ones that hurt.
"It's the ones that thunk, and so you don't have a crowd to sway you. Like the slap - everybody goes, 'ah!' But you don't have that to sway your mind about who's winning the fight. It's really interesting. So I think that, obviously, I come from that background, so it helps. But I think that my style equally benefits in this sort of environment."
Graves asked Baszler that if she gets a chance at the title at WrestleMania, who is standing across from her? Baszler said it doesn't matter since she is confident that she can have a good match with whoever is the champion, and her biggest desire is to have a true WrestleMania moment in front of a live crowd.
"I think I'd be faking it if I told you anything other than I want to have a title match at WrestleMania like I did [this past] year, but I want the real WrestleMania this time," Baszler stated. "Everybody's got the same limbs, and limbs all bend the same way. So the person behind the body parts doesn't matter so much.
"Anybody that holds the title, regardless of what personal feelings people might have behind the scenes or whatever, can go in the ring. So whoever it is, I know we could put on a banger. I've spent this past year being kind of lucky where I've been able to show a close-up of what I'm about in the ring, and by then, people should know. So hopefully I get a real WrestleMania moment."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit WWE After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.