Sports

Doctor Britt Baker DMD Reflects On A Year Of AEW Dynamite And COVID’s Effect On The Company’s Momentum

This week All Elite Wrestling is celebrating their first year on television with an anniversary edition of AEW Dynamite, one where every title will be defended, in their usual time slot of 8 p.m. ET, Wednesday on TNT. In the past year, one of the stars who’s become a big name in pro wrestling thanks to AEW is Doctor Britt Baker DMD. At first, AEW seemed determined to make the wrestling dentist their top female babyface. Pretty soon, however, she turned to the dark side and became the biggest heel in the women’s division (which is no small feat with competition like Nyla Rose, Penelope Ford, and the Dark Order’s Anna Jay). We sat down with the good doctor to talk about this first year of AEW Dynamite, what fans can do to help out the women’s division, and who inspires her as a wrestler.

Uproxx Sports: What did you want to be first, a dentist or a pro wrestler?

Dr. Britt Baker DMD: I get asked that all the time, and they very much came at the same time. I guess the wheels were moving to be a dentist first, but when I moved to Pittsburgh for dental school is the exact same time I started training to be a professional wrestler. So I started wrestling school and dental school at the exact same time.

So back when you were in wrestling school and dental school, did you ever imagine you’d be on a nationally televised wresting show as a wrestler whose gimmick is being a dentist?

So, this is a hard question to answer. Because in my mind, that was the hardest time in my life, when I was in dental school, which is a 24/7, you have to be grinding constantly or you’re not going to make the cut. It’s very grueling coursework. You’re studying, you’re in the clinic, and if you’re not, you should be. And then for wrestling, you need to be watching wrestling all the time, you need to be in the gym to look the part. It was such a hard time to balance the two of them that I think, deep down, in my gut, if I didn’t think that I had what it takes to be successful with both of them, I wouldn’t have pursued them both. So in a way I think I knew I could do it the whole time. But of course you doubt yourself, of course you hope and pray that you’re going to get to wrestle on TV, or get to the end of dental school and get the DMD after your name. So there are kind of multi-answers to that question.

I’ve always wanted to ask a dentist this next question? How do you really feel about the Dentist song that Steve Martin sings in Little Shop of Horrors?

I get asked about Little Shop of Horrors all the time! All the villains or psycho dentists are only half true—only half of dentists are dangerous psychos. The other half are good—no, I’m totally kidding.

But it is interesting that you say that, because any type of horror film with dentistry or whatever—when I first became a wrestler and I was a babyface, a good guy, everybody was like “But nobody likes going to the dentist!” and I would try to put a spin on it like, “No, I pursued my dreams! I’m a dentist and a wrestler, and a good guy! I’m going to inspire everybody!” But that’s totally not how anyone sees it. The dentist is evil! They don’t like going to the dentist, so you’re the bad guy!

Obviously he most famous wrestling dentist was Isaac Yankem, who was a fake dentist and then became Kane, who was a fake demon. So I guess the next obvious step in your evolution is to become a real demon.

Yes! I’ve written it on my goal list for 2021.

AEW

You’re one of AEW’s biggest female stars, but you haven’t held the women’s championship yet. Do you feel impatient about that?

No! Well… yes and no. Everybody wants to be a champion! Everybody wants to be the best, and that belt is a physical display that you are the best of the best. I feel that I was very fortunate, especially through my injury in the last four or five months, that I’ve still been featured in a way that highlights my character and makes me somebody that the audience can learn to know, or even to hate, maybe? I think this has been a good period of growth for me as a wrestler, especially as a character and learning who I am. And I think you have to be patient and all good things come in time.

Yeah, your storyline with Big Swole over the summer was my favorite things happening on AEW Dynamite at the time. How enthusiastic were you about climbing into that dumpster?

That trash bin was horrible! It was an actual, disgusting dumpster filled with trash. It smelled so bad I had to burn my sneakers from that night because they smelled terrible and were covered in trash. And getting trash dumped on me a week or two afterward was equally horrible! I was trapped in my Rolls Royce, encased in bulletproof glass, trying to be totally safe, and just swimming in trash! One of the worst things that’s ever happened to me.

We could tell that you’re really dedicated to that classic Looney Tunes aesthetic of being covered in trash, because you literally had a banana peel on your head.

Well, you know, it just happened to fall exactly on top of my head facing the camera.

I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I’m sure you know that there’s been some controversy about the AEW women’s division. Just that you don’t get as much time as some fans would like, or you don’t get as many storylines. Is that something you feel like the company could work on, or is working on?

Yeah, I definitely think it’s something the company is working on. You know, and we got hit hard—our women’s division, because of the COVID outbreak. Half our roster is international talent, so we immediately didn’t have access to any of those women. Then Kris Statlander got hurt, and I got hurt. And there’s only so much time on AEW Dynamite to start with.

And I know there are plans to grow the women’s division, but at the same time we need help from the fans at home too! We can’t have the women’s segments being the lowest rated or the lowest views each week. Because at the end of the day it’s a business, and AEW needs ratings.

It’s no secret we’re in a war every Wednesday night with NXT, so we need the ratings up. So for the fans that are so encouraging and saying “We want more women, we want more women!” that’s great, but please don’t turn the channel when the women are on TV then! We want everybody to be watching the segments and cheering us on from home.

Of all the people you’ve met at AEW, including all the veterans of the business they’ve brought in, who do you feel like you’ve learned the most from?

Someone who’s extremely involved in the women’s division and training the women in the ring, is Dustin Rhodes. And you have to pinch yourself, to be like “I’m literally in the ring training, practicing moves and spots, with Dustin Rhodes,” it’s extremely surreal. And it’s awesome because he watches all of our matches and gives us feedback, and he has his own stuff to do! He’s on TV every week doing his own thing, which is kind of the pattern with everybody on Dynamite. Everybody has their own thing that they’re working on, but so many of these veterans and legends are still giving their time to help us younger, newer talent. That’s why we have such a great future with things moving forward.

Chris Jericho is extremely influential with me specifically, because since my heel turn my character is a direct replica of Chris Jericho in WCW. And what better way to develop your character than with the person you got the idea from originally. Cut a promo on him, tell him your ideas, and he’s so amazing at making you see, in between the cracks, how to make something better.

Kenny Omega is in charge of the women’s division. He’s booking everything behind the scenes, he’s writing the stories, so we all—every female is going to cite Kenny Omega as helping them. Texting us when we’re not at work, helping us when we are at work. He’s extremely dedicated, and so passionate about women’s wrestling.

And the last one I would say is Cody Rhodes. He’s extremely dedicated and really passionate about helping the younger talent rise, and I think he understands that his face and his name are on AEW, and he wants it to succeed more than anyone. Even when his time has come and gone, it will still be his legacy, and he’s really just so awesome about helping younger talent find who they are. Who’s your character, who are you, and how can we make you a star? There’s a lot that goes into that behind the scenes. And Cody just pours hours and hours of his time and dedication into helping us.

WWE

Is there anybody who’s not in AEW that you’d like to see join the company, even if it’s just a fantasy?

Oh, I have a great one! Are you ready? Adam Cole.

I never saw that one coming! I’ve been curious actually, if it ever feels awkward to be in such a public relationship with another wrestler, especially one who’s on a show that you just said your show is at war with?

No, not at all, because it’s our jobs. It’s our careers, and we’re each other’s biggest supporters and biggest cheerleaders, and he has been wrestling a lot longer than I have, and he has so much to offer me as far helping me, and going over matches helping me grow. Especially now since I’ve been a heel. There’s nothing more I can ask for than sharing this dream of being a professional wrestler with a person that I call my best friend and the love of my life. So it doesn’t matter what night we’re wrestling or what channel we’re on, we’re still there for each other.

What’s your feeling about intergender wrestling? I know you fought men sometimes on the indies, is that something you’d like to see become a part of AEW?

I know Tony isn’t a huge fan of intergender wrestling, so I think the question kind of stops there. Because it’s his company and it’s his brand, and if it’s something that he’s not super-passionate about, or something that he doesn’t see going forward, than it’s just not going to be. And that’s fine, because we’re extremely thankful for everything we do have!

As far as intergender as an art itself? When it’s done correctly, it’s great! One of my favorite wrestlers right now, one of my favorite people period, Kylie Rae, she’s one of the best at intergender wrestling. She’s so awesome at telling a story, at really painting the picture that this is a man and a woman fighting. It’s not 50/50, it’s not an even playing field, and when that story is told, it’s as great a story as any other in wrestling.

When you were training as a wrestler or even before that, what women wrestlers were you inspired by?

Definitely Candice LeRae. Candice LeRae actually helped train me, and even to this day she’ll watch my shows, watch the matches, she’s always checking in on me, like when I was injured, she was always making sure I was okay. She really helped me in all aspects of wrestling, kind of teaching me the ropes behind the scenes —what to do, what not to do. And obviously in the ring, she helped me learn the art of professional wrestling. She’s somebody I will always be thankful for, that I have her in my life, and get to sit under her learning tree. Because she’s really done it all, when she was on the independent scene. Now that she’s on a platform where she gets to show the world what she’s capable of? I wish her the best and then some. And she still, even to this day, has so much more that she’s capable of that the world has not seen. And they just need to sit back and wait, because Candice LeRae is literally one of the best wrestlers in the world.

I completely agree, she is. Also the heel work she’s been doing lately with Johnny is fantastic. The matching track suits? Amazing.

Yeah, I’m here for it.

So who are your dream matches? Whether it’s feasible for the near future, or somebody way out there, who have you not been in the ring with that you’d like to be?

We’ll go way out there. Sasha Banks is one of my favorite wrestlers. When I started training I’d practice her moveset. Literally I was like a little Sasha Banks in the ring. That Sasha and Bayley TakeOver match? I memorized the entire match because it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen at that point—two females outshining the guys on the show and just tearing the house down. Bayley and Sasha are two of my absolute favorites, and it’s hilarious that we’re on opposite channels calling ourselves the same title, “the Role Model,” but I would love to wrestle either of them. Sasha and Bayley. The Battle of the Role Models.

AEW

So it’s been a year since AEW Dynamite launched on TNT. How do you feel about where things are a year out, compared to where you thought they’d be? I mean, obviously this is weird year for everybody.

Yeah, and it really was kind of depressing timing for us, when COVID hit. We had such huge momentum going, we had three of our biggest sell-outs coming up. We had the Rochester show, the Newark show… we had 14,000 and 10,000 person arenas sold out coming up, and just to be told right before, “It’s done, we’re not doing it, we have to shut down because of a pandemic,” I don’t think anybody in the world saw that coming.

But you can’t think “What if…” even though of course we all do, like “What if Matt Hardy and Brodie Lee debuted in front of 14,000 people?” That would have been an epic moment for all of wrestling for the rest of time. But we can’t think like that, we have to move forward.

We’re at a point right now where I think we’ve had more COVID shows than non-COVID shows. It’s just become a norm where we’ve learned to adapt and work around it, and all we can do is keeping giving this content to the fans at home so they do have have something to look forward to—some sense of normalcy in this crazy time, that every Wednesday night we’re still going to be there: AEW Dynamite on TNT.

And when there is a time when we have live fans, I hope it’s like the ‘80s again and everybody’s losing their minds in the stands and we can’t even hear ourselves think over the roar of the audience!

I’m looking forward to that day too.

Doctor Britt Baker DMD doesn’t have a match scheduled for this week’s AEW Dynamite First Anniversary show, but her rival Big Swole is challenging Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship, so don’t be surprised if the good doctor puts in an appearance.

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