Shayna Baszler Talks Josh Barnett's Influence On Her Career; Feels Raw Underground Events Can Work

Shayna Baszler talks about Josh Barnett’s effect on her career and why she believes Raw Underground can still be successful in the future.

Shayna Baszler came into WWE as part of the first-ever Mae Young Classic Tournament and while she was known as part of the four horsewomen with Ronda Rousey, Shayna had long since been building her name on the independent circuit in professional wrestling.

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The person who got her started in the world of professional wrestling is Josh Barnett. Barnett, who has also been a commentator for New Japan Pro-Wrestling and a promoter of the Bloodsport shows, assisted Shayna with the latter portion of her MMA career before convincing her to retire and give pro wrestling a try as MMA was starting to feel like a job to Shayna and it was losing its fun factor.

Speaking to Renee Paquette earlier this year on her podcast, Oral Sessions, Baszler recalls Josh’s “hard-ass” nature and details how he opened her eyes to the world of professional wrestling and its ties to mixed martial arts and catch wrestling.

“He didn't baby anyone. He's a guy -- and you, having met him, will laugh at this -- he doesn't give his compliments easily. He's not a guy who's going to tell you, ‘good job’ every day but when he tells you, ‘good job,’ man, you feel good about it. He's a hard-ass, for sure.

“I think just having someone as experienced as him at a time -- and it's still this way, where the sport is very Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu-heavy, he's the one that opened my eyes to the fact that catch wrestling, pro wrestling, and MMA all had the same shared history. Obviously, with what I'm doing now, it opened an entirely different world to me than the way I had been looking at it before.”

Renee Paquette then referenced Shayna’s brief time in the short-lived Raw Underground, saying that she felt like the idea had been created specifically for the former mixed martial artist to shine.

Baszler, in response, spoke about how fruitful events like Raw Underground and Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport could prove to be as long as the time is taken to create the right roster for such an endeavor.

“Obviously with my [MMA] upbringing and everything with Josh and Billy Robinson, all that is kind of threw that UWFi style. That's what Bloodsport and Raw Underground [were]. I think the difficult part is, and I’m just speculating I’m not speaking for anyone, but just knowing how I trained for that style of professional wrestling, I don’t think you can grab just any pro wrestler nowadays and just throw them into this and they know how to do it and make it look the way it’s supposed to look. It started getting to be like what we have anyway.”

She continued, “This isn't like, ‘Oh let's grab a bunch of MMA fighters and do these worked fights,’ and it's also not, ‘Let's grab a bunch of pro wrestlers and have them do these shoot matches, you have to find this balance of people that have been trained a certain way -- it's hard. It's going to be slow to build up the talent pool but if you do it right, it's better in the long run.”

Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport will return to Tampa during WrestleMania weekend and Barnett will face Renee Paquette’s husband, Jon Moxley in a fight that has been booked and canceled for a variety of reasons, on multiple occasions.

You can find results from past Bloodsport events in our results section.

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