WrestleMania: WWE's Shayna Baszler credits Ronda Rousey for career success

The influence of Ronda Rousey on both her career and her life is not lost on World Wrestling Entertainment star Shayna Baszler.

The 39-year-old American is just days away from the grandest moment of her professional career - a feature WrestleMania match against Ireland's Becky Lynch.

Baszler's less than three-years removed from signing with WWE, after retiring from mixed martial arts, where she paved the way for female combat sports athletes.

'The Queen of Spades' scored 15 wins in 26 fights, dating back to 2003, long before the likes of Rousey, Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes became household names.

Baszler eventually found her way into the UFC, where she was coached by Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter reality series.

Her UFC stint didn't go to plan, finishing with two losses in two fights, so Baszler switched focus to the larger-than-life world of sports entertainment - her true passion.

The South Dakota native inked a development deal with WWE in June 2017, where she quickly established herself as a legitimate 'bad ass' in the mould of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

Baszler won the NXT women's championship the night before Rosey made her in-ring WWE debut at WrestleMania 2018, with the 'Baddest Woman on the Planet' cheering her on at ringside.

Twenty months of dominance followed, before Baszler made her main-roster debut at the Survivor Series last November.

That was the culmination of a lifetime's work for Baszler, who has since been propelled into a marquee match-up at WWE's biggest show against its biggest female attraction - 'The Man' Becky Lynch - for the Raw women's championship.

"I’ll crush Becky Lynch," Baszler told Newshub. "She wants to talk about my whole life being a lie? 

"I think fans that aren't familiar with the way that I wrestle, I’m here to show them a little bit of reality. This is what’s real. 

"This is what really happens if you get in a fight with someone that you shouldn’t. This is how it works. 

"This is reality - I have a burden that I have to show what reality is and if I have that title, everyone will be forced to look at it."

Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey Photo credit: WWE

Watch WrestleMania Sunday 5th April & Monday 6th April at 11am (NZST) on WWE Network & Sky Arena.

Don't know where i'd be without Ronda

Lynch has been the focal point of women's wrestling for the last 18 months, thanks partly to the exposure Rousey's WWE arrival brought to the product.

Alongside Charlotte Flair, Lynch and Rousey headlined WWE's biggest annual show in New York a year ago - the first all-woman main event in WrestleMania.

Lynch had her hand raised in victory that night, while Rousey hasn't been seen since, the former UFC bantamweight champion taking a self-imposed sabbatical from the limelight.

Baszler has had Rousey by her side for as long as she can remember and admits she's not sure what her life would look like had they not crossed paths.

UFC Hall-of-Fame inductee Rousey created MMA's version of wrestling's 'Four Horsewoman', recruiting Baszler, fellow judo champion Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Juke to join her at MMA Glendale in California.

The 'Four Horsewoman' - Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Juke
The 'Four Horsewoman' - Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Juke Photo credit: WWE

The four have all since switched to the professional wrestling realm, where they are all employed by WWE. 

"Ronda set the four of us up in a way that we could concentrate on being exactly what we are," Baszler said. "You don’t make a lot of money in MMA, especially at first.

"She set us up, so that we could just concentrate on showing up at the gym.

"We were free to concentrate on being whatever we wanted to be and that is what really set the tone for where I am today."

Baszler's UFC stint didn't go as planned
Baszler's UFC stint didn't go as planned Photo credit: Getty
Baszler attacks Becky Lynch on Raw
Baszler attacks Becky Lynch on Raw Photo credit: WWE

MMA career helped WWE transition

Baszler's 14-year career as a mixed martial artist cushioned her growing pains as part of WWE. The bright lights and full noise of sports entertainment have often proven an eye-opener for young, would-be stars, but for Baszler, it was just an extension of what she had experienced in the UFC. 

"Obviously, there is a familiarity with making that walk to the rin - or a cage or whatever it may be - to face someone in one-on-one personal combat.

"Someone is there to stop you, you are there to stop them. Being in that situation and also in front of a large live audience, and all the lights and stuff that comes with TV, that is a very familiar feeling for me. 

"There was no adjustment time as far as that happened. I’ve been in every situation you can think of in a contest like that. 

"Never feeling lost or stressed out is the biggest advantage I have, coming from mixed martial arts."

And 'The Submission Magician' has a word of warning for Lynch, who has mocked Baszler's combat sports accomplishments in the build-up to this weekend's match-up. 

"Everyone - Becky and her fans - are about to get hit with a hard dose of reality. 

"I am that reality."

Join us for live updates of WrestleMania from 11am Sunday, April 5, and Monday, April 6.