Fighting is all Shayna Baszler has ever known.
And when she takes on Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 36 this weekend, she’s hoping her pedigree as a submission specialist comes in handy against one of the biggest Superstars in the game.
Prior to her run as NXT Champion, prior to her previous wars with Becky Lynch and Bayley and Rhea Ripley, Baszler was a mixed martial arts stud, forcing opponents to quit for the better part of a decade.
Baszler fought in multiple MMA promotions, including EliteXC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC, and in 2013, she competed on the 18th edition of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate, and was selected by future WWE Superstar and MMA icon Ronda Rousey, after defeating Colleen Schneider via armbar.
Baszler made her way into the UFC in 2014, and even faced consensus women’s MMA GOAT Amanda Nunes in March 2015. She lost the fight via TKO and fought once more in MMA before turning her attention to WWE.
Baszler’s relationship with Rousey would continue to develop in the world of professional wrestling. The two, along with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, would develop into a wrestling stable known as ‘The Four Horsewomen’ of MMA.
In fact, at WrestleMania 31, the group sat ringside for Rousey’s introduction onto the WWE scene.
Three years in the making. Go back in time to where the #TeamRousey vs. #TeamMcMahon rivalry all began… #WrestleMania @RondaRousey @TheRock @TripleH @StephMcMahon https://t.co/uddEgPD7IE
— WWE (@WWE) March 26, 2018
Baszler would soon make her WWE debut when she competed in the Mae Young Classic in July 2017. And when she made it to the final of the tournament, Rousey, Duke and Shafir were there to support.
Despite her loss to Sane, bigger things were in the works.
That night, members of ‘The Four Horeswomen’ of MMA ran across another group of female wrestlers known as ‘The Four Horsewomen,’ of WWE, consisting of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley.
That night, a feud was born.
Moving forward, WWE signed Baszler to a contract, kicking off her run in the company’s NXT brand, where she would play a role in several feuds with other women of NXT, including Sane, Dakota Kai and Ember Moon.
After failing to wrest the title from Moon at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia in January 2018, Baszler defeated Moon in a rematch at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans in April 2018 to win the NXT Women’s Championship for the first time.
In August of the same year, Baszler would lose the title to Sane before regaining it in a rematch at WWE Evolution in October 2018, becoming the first-ever 2-time NXT Women’s Champion.
At this point, Baszler’s career took off and she became a brand-crossover star.
Her success in NXT culminated with her headlining Survivor Series 2019 in a triple threat match with Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley.
No belts were on the line – just bragging rights between the three Superstars and their brands.
And in the most epic win of her career, Baszler earned those bragging rights for NXT.
Baszler submitted Bayley to win the match, but after the match, she was attacked by Lynch, setting the stage for their ongoing rivalry that will continue at WrestleMania 36.
Baszler would lose the NXT Women’s Championship to Rhea Ripley in December 2019, further clearing the way for her to focus on her feud with Lynch.
At the Elimination Chamber event in March, Baszler won the Raw Women’s Elimination Chamber match to earn a title shot against Lynch at this weekend’s WrestleMania event.
Since then, the two have taken turns brutally attacking each other, beginning with Baszler’s blood-thirsty attack on Lynch in February.
Next, it was Lynch’s turn to exact revenge.
‘The Man’ pulled a sneak attack on Baszler during her Raw interview on March 23.
A week later, on the March 30 edition of Raw, Baszler came back for Lynch once again.
Further enhancing the feud between the two is the fact that at WrestleMania 35, Lynch faced off with Baszler’s longtime friend, Rousey, as well as Flair, in a triple threat match for both the Raw and SmackDown women’s titles.
Becky won the match in controversial fashion, handing Rousey her first WWE loss in the process. Ronda has not appeared on a pay-per-view card since the defeat.
This feud is serious, and when Baszler and Lynch face off at WrestleMania 36, it will represent arguably the biggest grudge match on the entire card.
And for Baszler, not only is it a chance to exact revenge on Rousey’s behalf, it’s an opportunity to ascend from ‘superstardom’ into legendary status.