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Wrestling / Shayna Baszler

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The Queen of Spades.

Shayna Andrea Baszler (born August 8, 1980) is a former MMA fighter and current professional wrestler. She was trained in Catch Wrestling by Billy Robinson, Mixed Martial Arts by Josh Barnett (who also gave her the "Queen of Spades" nickname), and is a former trainee/sparring partner of Ronda Rousey.

Baszler had her first professional MMA fight in 2006, and was signed in 2013 by the UFC to participate on their reality television series The Ultimate Fighter – she would go on to have two professional bouts (0-2) in the company. In 2015, she was granted her release by the UFC and started her professional wrestling career that same year. Baszler has an overall MMA record of 15 wins and 11 losses, with 13 wins by submission.

After a short, but significant career on the independent scene, working such promotions as AIW, SHIMMER, and Stardom, Baszler was signed by WWE in July 2017. She entered the inaugural Mae Young Classic, picking up victories over Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, and Mercedes Martinez before facing Kairi Sane in the final. While Sane took the tournament win, Baszler made her debut in NXT the following month, racking up victories and eventually winning the NXT Women's Championship from Ember Moon at Takeover: New Orleans. She would hold it for two reigns (losing it to Sane at Takeover: Brooklyn 4, but winning it back at Evolution) and a combined 548 days. She participated in the 2019 Survivor Series "NXT Invasion", facing and beating Becky Lynch and Bayley. In January 2020, she entered the Women's Royal Rumble match at #30, going on to eliminate 8 contestants, which tied the record for most eliminations in a Women's Royal Rumble Match.

In addition to her 2x NXT Women's Championship reigns, Baszler has been a 2x WWE Women's Tag Team Champion with Nia Jax.

Hard Dose of Tropes:

  • The Ace: The longest-reigning NXT women's champion in history. Her reign clocks in at a combined 548 days, over two reigns. While she is most well-known for her submission game and MMA skills, Shayna is also capable of matching speed with wrestlers like Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae, and power with wrestlers like Nia Jax or Rhea Ripley.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Her losing the NXT Women's Championship after two years of brutal dominance was celebrated en masse by the women's locker room - and by the commentary team, as it happened.
  • Arc Villain: The main antagonist of NXT's women's division for much of the late 2010s.
  • Arch-Enemy: With both Dakota Kai and Kairi Sane, which led to both of them teaming up against Shayna.
    • Dakota was Shayna's personal punching bag, having tormented her in her debut match. Since then, Dakota was unable to do anything whenever Shayna was around to the point in their second match, Dakota failed to put up any offense. In their third match, while Dakota still lost, she managed to fare better than her previous matches.
    • The two had fought since the Mae Young Classics Finals in which Kairi won. In 2018, Shayna made her debut by attacking Kairi and defeated her in February. They continue to feud over the NXT Women's Championship in the second half of the year. While Shayna did drop her title to Kairi, she eventually reclaimed it and defeated Kairi in all their following encounters until Kairi moved to the main roster.
    • Io Shirai has been siding with Kairi Sane in her feud with Shayna ever since she debuted on NXT. After Kairi's final match in NXT ended with Shayna nearly breaking Kairi's arm with Io being forced to watch, Io vowed revenge and challenged Shayna for the title. Unfortunately, Io's failed to do so twice and the second defeat turned her into a Broken Ace.
    • After defeating nearly everyone woman in the NXT women locker room, Shayna found her toughest challenge in the form of inaugural NXT UK Women's Champion, Rhea Ripley. Shayna loses her usual smugness during this feud that she had to win by DQ in order to defend her championship. They even led their own teams against each other in the first ever women's WarGames in which Rhea's team was victorious despite the four-on-two handicap. In the end Rhea was the one who ended her reign as well.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Well, Arrogant MMA Girl. Shayna will quickly become exasperated and annoyed if her opponent doesn't give her at least the semblance of a fight, or acts cowardly and tries to run. However, if she feels she has the upper hand (whether that's physically in the ring, or utilizing Shafir and Duke for a numbers advantage), she can become very over the top and pleased with herself. After Dakota Kai turned on her own teammates and destroyed Tegan Nox at War Games, this left a delighted Shayna laughing her head off and practically skipping to the ring to take on Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae at a 4-2 disadvantage.
  • Batman Gambit: Her bully persona is partially this. NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon had a particular strong sense of justice, so Shayna realized that offending that sense of justice was a great way to incite Ember to challenge her and in the process give Shayna a free title match.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Her finisher is dubbed the Kirifuda Clutch. "Kirifuda" is Japanese for "ace card" or "winning card".
  • The Bully: Her main pastimes include picking on people weaker than her, looming over people smaller than her, and intentionally injuring her opponents.
  • Blood Knight: Learned from the "Warmaster" himself, Josh Barnett. Shayna loves to fight, loves to put people to sleep, and loves breaking limbs.
  • Catchphrase: It's not pushed all the time like WWE typically does, but she's become associated with the phrase "Tap, Nap, or Snap".note 
  • Combat Medic: ...No, seriously. In Real Life, she's a certified EMT - which, along with her MMA/wrestling credentials makes her a literal Combat Medic.
  • Combat Pragmatist: You'll never catch Shayna doing aerial moves or fancy gymnastics like many female competitors. If there's a body part she can isolate and then destroy, she'll simply punch or kick her way to victory. Snap an opponent's arm and then choke them out after they're being treated by medical personnel? Shouldn't have stayed in her ring. Ambush and then bite an opponent just to freak her out? No problem.
  • The Comically Serious: Comes out when around tag partner Nia Jax. Nia is a pretty Large Ham and most of her backstage shenanigans elicit either no reaction whatsoever, or eyerolling and heavy sarcasm from Baszler.
  • Cool Shades: When not in ring gear.
  • The Corrupter: In NXT. Through her multiple victories over Dakota Kai and Io Shirai, Shayna not only broke them but also turned them heel.
  • Determinator: While she is something of a Combat Pragmatist and doesn't seem to have any qualms about having backup, when it comes down to it a lot of her successful title defenses have seen her take more than her fair share of a beating and outlast her opponent long enough to induce a submission.
  • Distaff Counterpart:
    • A South Dakota-born wrestler with an MMA background and a reputation for being feared by other wrestlers, for bullying and picking on others for no real reason, and for being one of the most dominating wrestlers of their gender, who is currently tied for the record for most eliminations in their gender's Royal Rumble Match. Are we talking about Shayna Baszler or Brock Lesnar?
    • For NXT, to Adam Cole. Both rose to prominence in NXT at about the same time at the head of stables that use intimidation and gang-beating tactics to assert their dominance over their respective divisions. Each led their respective heel team at the 2019 NXT Takeover: War Games.
  • The Dreaded: Much like Brock Lesnar, Baszler's accomplishments in the world of MMA give her an intimidating aura. Her penchant for attempting to snap the limbs of her opponents also causes many of the other women to be terrified of her.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Viciously attacking Candice LeRae and Mercedes Martinez during the WWE Mae Young Classic, establishing herself as a ruthless heel willing to do everything to win.
    • Choking out Kairi Sane in her NXT debut to make a statement and challenge Ember Moon.
    • And then to drive the point home, her in-ring debut against Dakota Kai. After spending the match bullying Kai, Baszler viciously stomped on her arm, prompting the referee to stop the match. And then when Kai was tended to by medical personnel, Baszler put the Kirifuda Clutch on her.
    • Her main-roster debut was technically on an episode of Smackdown, where she ambushed then-Women's Champion Bayley, choking her out and practically throwing Sasha Banks through the barricade wall.
    • She took it up to eleven with her Raw debut, attacking Becky Lynch (who was at the height of her fame as the untouchable "Man") and biting her neck, throwing a bloody Slasher Smile to the camera.
  • Exact Words: Took Ember Moon seriously when she said that Shayna would never win the NXT Women's Championship "as long as [Ember was] still standing". One Kirifuda Clutch later, and Ember would pass out, clearly unable to stand and winning Shayna her first title in NXT.
  • Excessive Evil Eye Shadow: Used to fantastic effect. In the right lighting, Shayna choking out an opponent with her own eyes closed and covered in dark shadow looks like an actual demon.
  • Extremity Extremist: While not billed solely as a striker, Shayna is trained in Muay Thai and a brown belt in Brazilian ju-jitsu, and utilizes frequent knee strikes and roundhouse kicks in matches.
  • Finishing Move: A rear-naked choke she calls the "Kirifuda Clutch".
  • Girl Posse: Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir were often seen in the crowd at WWE events in 2018 supporting either Baszler or Ronda Rousey during their respective matches. note  At NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV, Duke and Shafir actively interfered in Baszler's rematch with Kairi Sane, helping the former regain the title. Since then, they accompany Baszler onscreen everywhere. Subverted once both were released, not that being a one-woman army was ever a problem for Baszler.
  • Hero Killer:
    • She boasted about how she not only defeated the likes of Ember Moon, Nikki Cross and Kairi Sane, she destroyed two of them at their final NXT matches. In the case of Kairi Sane, she nearly broke her arm by stomping on it. She also ended Bianca Belair's 367 days undefeated streak and defeated Io Shirai twice, and turning Shirai into a Broken Ace in the process. Then her fourth victory over Dakota Kai, just a week after the announcement of the first ever women's WarGames, was the start of Dakota's Face–Heel Turn, especially after Rhea Ripley passed her over in favor of Mia Yim.
    • At Elimination Chamber 2020, Shayna went in and destroyed the other competitors in quick succession. Not even Asuka stood a chance against her. This tied Shayna with Braun Strowman for most eliminations in a single Elimination Chamber match which meant more for Shayna since she won the match.
  • Hypocrite: She called out Mia Yim for attacking Jessamyn and Marina from the back, something that she is an expert in, especially since she debuted in NXT choking out Kairi Sane.
  • I Know Karate: Is a brown belt in Brazilian ju-jitsu and a certified instructor in Muay Thai.
  • Invincible Villain: Since her debut in the Mae Young Classic (losing to Kairi Sane in the final), Shayna has only lost in single matches by pinfall twice on televised events and TakeOvers (Ember Moon in Philadelphia and Kairi Sane again in Brooklyn 4) but she eventually won back against them in rematches. With the inclusion of both Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir at her side, she is even more unstoppable. In addition, not only she is the first two time NXT Women's Champion, she is also the second person after Asuka to hold the title for over a year. The arrival of Rhea Ripley ended up changing this.
  • Kick the Dog: Shayna's ruthlessness is probably equal to that of Charlotte Flair in the number of dogs they've kicked. From breaking Dakota Kai's morale, nearly breaking her opponents' arms and laughing at their injury, Shayna made her name as the greatest heel in the NXT women's locker room.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Both in the context of a match (standard MMA-style ground and pound attacks) and outside (simply wanting to cause more damage).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Tried to use handcuffs to her advantage against Rhea Ripley at WarGames 2019. Ripley used those handcuffs to beat Shayna in the same match.
  • Man Bites Man: Showed up to Raw to take a chunk out of Becky Lynch, horrifying the commentary team and everyone in attendance.
  • Older Than They Look: She's in her forties, not that you'd know it from looking at her.
  • One-Woman Army: And how!
    • In the 2020 Women's Royal Rumble, she entered at number 30, and tied the record for most eliminations at 8, set earlier in that same match by Bianca Belair. But unlike Belair, who did it in about half an hour, Baszler did it in under 3 minutes.
    • And then in the Women's Elimination Chamber match, she single-handedly defeated the five other competitors. What's more is that when she entered the match there were three competitors in the ring, and she eliminated two of them in less than a minute.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being The Bully and a Jerkass, she at least respects Mercedes Martinez. During the Mae Young Classic, they wrestled in the semi-finals. Before the match, she accepted the handshake, something she refused to do with all the other wrestlers she faced in the tournament. And after the match, they hugged.
    • Also in the Mae Young Classic she wrestled and lost to Kairi Sane in the finals. After the match, Shayna accepted Kairi's hand to help her back up and hugged and raised Kairi's arm in victory.
  • Pick a Card: How she got her nickname. Baszler was at an MMA afterparty one night with trainer Josh Barnett, where she showed off her talent for card tricks and sleight-of-hand. Here's a clip of her freaking out Marina Shafir with a trick on The Ultimate Fighter.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Due to her nickname as "The Queen of Spades", her gear features both playing cards and spades. She's also got the card tattooed on her upper arm.
  • Power Trio: A number of times in her career.
    • In SHIMMER, she was part of The Trifecta with Nicole Savoy and Mercedes Martinez.
    • In ROH, she accompanied reDRagon for a few matches, with the angle cut short due to her ankle injury.
    • Her Girl Posse in NXT, with fellow Horsewomen Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke.
  • Red Baron: "The Queen of Spades" has been one for both her MMA and wrestling careers. WWE has added on "The Submission Magician".
  • The Rival: She has had a major issue with Nia Jax ever since July 27, 2020. Both want a shot at the Raw Women's Championship, but it ain't easy for them. They seem to have solved the issue by becoming a tag team.
  • Signature Move: Joint manipulation into an arm-trap stomp. Corner running knee. Gutwrench suplex.
  • Slasher Smile: Prone to giving these a lot during promos.
  • Smug Snake: Especially when she has the upper hand.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: She formed an uneasy alliance with Nia Jax, even though they still despise each other, in order to win the WWE Women's Tag Team titles.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Was merely a bit of an asshole in her MYC appearance, but turned into a borderline sociopath once she's in NXT.
  • Villainous Valour: Slips in and out of this. She's often seen taking shortcuts when it suits her - but that genuinely seems to be more a function of laziness ("I don't feel like dealing with this") or arrogance ("You're not worth my time"). When she feels like squaring up and fighting (typically during a Takeover match), she will do so.
  • The Woman Behind the Man: Her first appearance in wrestling was in Ring of Honor, revealed as the mastermind behind reDRagon (as well as their alliance with fellow MMA competitor "Filthy" Tom Lawlor). She served as their insurance policy against The Young Bucks.
  • The Worf Effect: Only Rhea Ripley ever had Shayna's number in NXT, and was the only contender to decisively beat Shayna for her Women's Championship. Kairi was a Determinator, but could never put Shayna down for the count, while Rhea managed it almost effortlessly in both War Games and in their title match.