Marina Shafir discusses learning from Josh Barnett and having a breakthrough at GCW Josh Barnett's Bloodsport 8.
Shafir, a former MMA fighter, signed with WWE in 2018, and she spent a few years in the company's developmental system before her release in a round of cuts in 2021. She then started competing on the independent circuit. In one highlight of this run, she defeated Masha Slamovich at Josh Barnett's Bloodsport 7. Barnett, a former UFC World Heavyweight Champion, produces the Bloodsport events, which are held under the GCW banner. He has also wrestled for NJPW, Inoki Genome Federation, and TNA over the years.
Speaking on The Sessions with Renée Paquette, Shafir discussed how working with Barnett has helped her. She noted that, given his background, he knew how to help her hone her skills and simplify the differences between MMA and wrestling.
“He knows how to be like, ‘Marina, shut the fuck up. Simplify this.’ We simplified, we simplified, we simplified, that was the game plan. It just goes back to basics. I have a good enough foundation that I can lean on if I ever feel like I’m in trouble. I don’t need to just try harder than that reaction because the reactions are what are special. The two shows that I did, he honed it in for me both times," Shafir said.
Shafir then described how her match at Josh Barnett's Bloodsport 8, where she defeated Zeda Zhang, gave her the "dragon feeling" everyone talks about. She got emotional as she looked back on the way the crowd reacted to her. Shafir also described how Ronda Rousey helped motivate her ahead of the match, and her husband, Roderick Strong, supported her throughout the entire process.
"It made me. At Bloodsport was where I felt that dragon feeling, that dragon feeling that everybody fucking talks about. Having the perfect match, yeah, we already know that it doesn’t exist because it has to come to you. I worked my fucking ass off, and it came to me. It was just so cool because I wasn’t used to people cheering me, and everybody stood the fuck up, and I’m like oh… A lot of motivation from Ronda went into that one. She helped me so much with my head. So did Roddy, he was there with me every day, but what really let me understand that it happened was a voicemail from Roddy. He left me a little voice message, and he was teary-eyed in it, he’s like, ‘You fucking killed it.’ He was just like, ‘enjoy it. You fucking killed it. That was beautiful.’ It really made me happy, and it was apparent to people who love me. That’s what I want," Shafir said.
Shafir made her AEW debut in December 2021, and she has frequently competed for the company ever since. In the same interview, Shafir confirmed that she is signed to AEW. Check out her comments here.
She also named some of the people that she wants to face, including Serena Deeb, Mercedes Martinez, and Athena. Click here to see what she had to say.
Check out the card for this week's episode of AEW Dynamite here.
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