In the middle of the madness and ballyhoo of NOLA’s wrestling weekend, I want to take the time to discuss someone who just became a new WWE champion. Someone whose career I followed dating all the way back about half a decade ago. Someone who reignited my love for professional wrestling.
I want to talk about Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler.
For the uninitiated, Shayna is a former MMA fighter and current pro-wrestler from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is one of the true pioneers of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts (WMMA). I use the term “true pioneers” to describe Shayna because she was fighting all the way back to when cage-fighting, let alone women’s cage-fighting was considered as something along the same lines of doing porn. This was a time when if someone decided to be a cage-fighter, it was probably because there was no better alternative for them.
One could say that it was a time when it was perfectly okay for a 300+ lb. monster like Bob Sapp to fight someone a third his size like Kiyoshi Tamura, but that’s still happening today (*cough* Gabi Garcia *cough*) and I’ve deviated from my point.
Anyway, I first came across Shayna Baszler when she was a part of Team Ronda Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the reality show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Shayna is a Catch Wrestler. Catch Wrestling, or Catch As Catch Can (meaning ‘catch any hold you wanted or could’), is one of the oldest forms of combat. It’s lineage dating back to 648 B.C., when it was first introduced as pankration in the Greek Olympics. Unlike other forms like Greco-Roman, Catch is the first “freestyle” form, and is less rigid in their rule set. Shayna’s association with Catch has to do with her lineage of coaching under former UFC champion Josh Barnett, coach Erik Paulson, and the late, great Billy Robinson. (For more information about the sport, follow @CatchWrestling on Twitter.)
To call Baszler a wrestling aficionado would be a gross understatement. It is to be believed that Shayna is the reason why Ronda Rousey is now a WWE superstar, and is one of the reasons why the “Four Horsewomen” concept even exists.
About a decade ago, I lost my love for pro-wrestling. But Shayna brought that back through to her immense and steadfast passion for it in all its myriad forms. It’s infectious in a good way, to say the least.
Shayna Baszler is more than just a WMMA pioneer, ex-UFC fighter, and ex-MMA fighter. She’s a prime example of how a student of the sport can, with enough patience and perseverance, make it to the top. She’s someone who has experienced her share of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, yet stayed true to herself and stayed the course towards something she is passionate about and didn’t stop until she got to where she wants to be. And now she’s the new NXT Champion.
As a Baszler fan, from her MMA run to her Twitch streams to her indie career to her competition in the Mae Young Classic and now as NXT champ, I am nothing short of proud to be a #Shaynasexual.
Let the naysayers cry. Let the haters hate. That’s their job. Yeah, she doesn’t “run the ropes” (whatever that means). Like it or not, the War Wagon is on course, Shayna Baszler is the woman to beat, and god help anyone who tries to stop into her squared kingdom to attempt to take her crown. She’s not in the ring with you, you’re in the ring with her.
Long live the Queen. Long may she reign.
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