Before the stars of wrestling hit it big, they're learning the ropes to varying degrees of success. Some you've seen well before you even realized, as they claw their way to a big break. Whether it be extra work, or getting crushed on cable TV, everyone has a different path. Now, they'll tell you about it.
These are Enhancement Stories
Everybody starts somewhere. For some of wrestling's biggest stars, and many of the ones on the rise right now, that "somewhere" is the bottom -- kind of. The heights of WWE Raw and global broadcasts sometimes see youngsters a little over their head. That doesn't spell the end of their road, as is the case with Britt Baker, All Elite Wrestling's female division anchor.
Britt Baker is hardly a hidden gem or a diamond in the rough. Before her AEW deal, Britt Baker was featured in one of All In's most highly touted matches in 2018. In addition, Baker had established her name on a competitive independent circuit and made appearances for Ring of Honor every year between 2016 and 2019. Keep in mind, she made her pro debut in 2015, and spent a good amount of her time between wrestling and dental school.
Under one year after her pro wrestling introduction to the world, Baker found herself on worldwide television on WWE Monday Night Raw. It wasn't Baker's first time working with WWE, but it was her first match, and certainly the most action packed any of her experiences had been up until that point.
"That was probably the most anxious I've been in my entire life. At the time I had done a couple of the spots for extra work before. It was very uneventful for women. A lot of the men extra talent would get used for security spots, to get beat up, or just the random stuff. The girls, we kind of just sat around and watched in catering all day," Baker told Fightful.
What unfolded on that night was Baker taking on the newly-drafted Nia Jax. Real name Lina Fanene, Jax was quickly thrust into the spotlight after making her pro wrestling debut just a year prior herself. In fact, when Jax was drafted to WWE Raw just one week before, the expression on her face was that of complete surprise. Jax, who had been looking at her phone as her name was called, broke down into tears and embraced her trainer Sara Amato. Jax, who had to face the accusations of nepotism (as she's a cousin of legendary star of the ring and cinema The Rock), she'd have to prove herself in the ring. Needless to say, someone in that position is out to prove a point on night one.
If you're wondering how one goes about finding out that they'd be taking on a Nia Jax with something to prove, it all happened the day of. A startled Baker admitted that she was surprised by the opportunity, and considering the importance of the match for all parties involved, it was a high pressure situation.
"That night, the referee John Cone pulled me aside and said 'I think you're going to be wrestling Nia Jax tonight. I thought it was a joke and there's a hidden camera. I was like 'okay.' At that point there had been no enhancement matches for the women, it just wasn't a thing. He was like 'go put on your gear, we're going to have you bump around a little bit.' Is this real? Sure enough, (that was) Nia's first night on Raw, they're going to debut her. This is the first Raw after the brand split of Raw and Smackdown. It's her first match on Raw after coming up from NXT. You can only imagine how nervous I was, trying to get in the ring with Nia Jax on her Raw debut. There was so much pressure," said Baker.
As you can see, it wasn't an easy go of it for Baker. She was caught on a body press mid air, and powerslammed into a tree of woe and subsequently attacked. The initial exchange left Baker bleeding from the nose, and a leg drop was to follow. Jax hadn't had enough, however. She lifted her opponent, threw a headbutt and another leg drop to squash the wrestling rookie.
Despite the quick loss and the oozing from Baker's nose, she looked back on the experience fondly.
"Any opportunity there is so much fun and so rewarding. All you can be is just thankful," said Baker.
Baker also shot down the rumor that there was heat on Jax following the incident that saw Baker's nose busted. The match seemed to make a good enough impression on WWE that they would later invite her back as an alternate for their Mae Young Classic tournament, in addition to her working with Shayna Baszler on NXT TV in 2018.
You probably shouldn't count on Baker to make any appearances as an enhancement worker any time soon. Baker signed a deal with All Elite Wrestling that allows her to continue her work in the dental field, leading to the term "Britt Baker money." As it turns out, getting squashed by Nia Jax wasn't too bad for careers.
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