‘People are gonna think you’re a b—’: AEW’s Dr. Britt Baker talks critics, championships and flossing
How do you spell “best?” D.M.D.
Dr. Britt Baker, DMD has ascended to the top of the AEW women’s division with her triumph over Hikaru Shida at Double or Nothing, capturing the AEW Women’s Championship and becoming the face of the “new era” of All Elite Wrestling.
Shida’s reign as champion was honorable and memorable: She captured the belt at Double or Nothing in May 2020, holding it for over a year and having to navigate a crowdless environment.
Unfortunately for Shida, just as crowds started to return, Dr. Baker was at the height of her popularity, resulting in losing the belt at Double or Nothing 2021. Dr. Baker was undeniably becoming one of the best all-around talents in AEW today, and the title win was viewed as a true coronation for Dr. Baker.
On screen, Dr. Baker’s ascent to the top of the wrestling world has been a sight to behold for fans: From berating Tony Schiavone on the Jericho Cruise in 2020 to a superstar-making performance vs. Thunder Rosa in an unsanctioned match in March 2021, the wrestling dentist (or dentist wrestler) who alternates wearing scrubs for beating up scrubs on Wednesday nights (and occassionally on the weekends), has undoubtedly earned her spot as the top female talent in the company — and, as she’ll tell you, one of the preeminent wrestlers regardless of division in AEW today.
Speaking with Sporting News ahead of AEW’s “Saturday Night Dynamite” on June 26, Dr. Baker covered everything from the importance of flossing in the morning to the importance of owning your character on Wednesday nights.
(Editor’s note: Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.)
Sporting News (SN): My first hard hitting question for you: What do adults overlook about dental health? What do you think is the most overlooked thing that you think adults don’t know about?
Dr. Britt Baker (DB): Flossing is arguably more important than brushing their teeth, because your gum health is so important — gingival health. If your gums go bad, you’ll have bone loss, you’ll lose your teeth. So everyone thinks they can skip by this by using mouthwash, and their electric toothbrushes and this and that — no. You have to floss. It’s so important.
SN: To follow up on that: Do you know who the 10th dentist is who doesn’t recommend flossing?
DB: I do, but I’m sworn to secrecy.
SN: We’re more than a few months removed from your unsanctioned match with Thunder Rosa, which was one of the best matches of the year, maybe even one of the best women’s matches of all time. What do you think that match has done for your career, the division and maybe women’s wrestling as a whole?
DB: I think for our division specifically it brought legitimacy to it, with a flashing, glaring red light on the map — if the division wasn’t there already in some people’s minds. So, for me to be a part of that is really special. It’s really empowering. More importantly it’s empowering to be part of women’s wrestling in today’s society, because we’ve come such a long way and we’re given these opportunities where we can have these unsanctioned matches on main-event TV. I’m just so thankful that I do get to do what I do for All Elite Wrestling for (AEW owner) Tony Khan.
SN: I spoke with Tony before about just your heel turn and how natural it came to you. They say that the best characters are always taken from highlighting or exaggerating parts of your personality. What was that whole transition like for you?
DB: I think it’s obvious I’m a much more natural heel. Like it or not, that’s probably the deep roots of me. I’ve always — even as a kid — I was always the kid that asked way too many questions, I was Curious George. I would always joke too much to the point where I’d push buttons and make somebody mad, and I was always issuing a ton of apologies — “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
But I really love getting to do the heel work because I get to say what everybody else is thinking, but society deems it politically incorrect or it’s not appropriate or it’s not polite, but I don’t care. I’m gonna say it anyway and that’s why I think some people have been getting behind me— because they can relate to a lot of the stuff that I’m saying.
SN: Obviously, characters and gimmicks evolve. To that end, from your promo with Tony Schiavone on the Jericho Cruise to now, how has your character changed?
DB: I’m just getting more more comfortable and confident. Owning the fact that you’re a bad guy, that you’re a villain, that people are gonna think you’re a disgrace, that people are gonna think you’re a b—. All of that, you have to just own it, and walk out with your head held high, and if they boo you out of the arena, that’s the job well done. It’s not something that you should be upset about — you did your job.
SN: Obviously it’s been a difficult year through the coronavirus pandemic. Wrestling, more than any other sport, is just so reliant on crowds. For the AEW women’s division, how difficult has it been trying to regain that momentum and rebuild the product in the last year?
DB: The thing is, all of wrestling has been going through the same thing, so it’s not just AEW and it’s not just an AEW women’s problem. We have to completely adjust and rewire our brains to thinking, “Hey there’s no crowds, there’s not going to be a reaction to this move or this promo or this line.” You have to be able to work past that, because it’s just not there — it’s not going to be there, it’s absent.
Now we kind of have to flip the switch again and realize, “Hey there’s crowds here, we have to acknowledge that the arena’s full, the stadiums full.” I keep saying it’s nerve-racking. I’m nervous to be back with the fans again, because it’s like you’re on a first date all over again. You forget what it’s like. So it’s really, really exciting, but like I said, it’s something that I think we’re a little anxious for.
SN: Watching the feud from afar, you and Thunder Rosa seemed like perfect foils for one another. What was it like working with her and being a part of a feud that helped put women’s wrestling back on the forefront in the company?
DB: I think — not only our characters but who we are as people — just naturally complement each other. It’s the classic case of the Batman needs the Joker, and they need each other for the story to work. That’s exactly what you saw with me and Thunder Rosa, and the story’s not done, and it probably won’t done for as long as we’re both still wrestling.
SN: You’ve mentioned the “new era” a lot and being the face of it. What exactly is the new era, and how do you plan to implement that?
DB: I don’t see myself as a female star in AEW or just the face of the women’s division — I see myself as one of the faces of the entire company, and I’ve worked really hard this past year to put myself in that position; To really improve my in-ring skills, to improve my promo work. I think I’ve made myself such an undeniable talent, not just in AEW, but in all of wrestling.
My goal was to make myself a can’t-miss segment every single time I’m on TV and that will always be my goal — to infinity and beyond. I think I’m getting there.
SN: In just over a month, you’re going back to your hometown of Pittsburgh. I think the first time AEW was in Pittsburgh, you came out with the with the Terrible Towel and the place went insane. Does it still give you chills thinking about the pop you got, and do you think about what it’s going to be like going back?
DB: Oh my gosh, yeah. And that’s another thing — I’m so nervous, because you always want to impress the people that you came up with, and Pittsburgh is my city, and they watched me grow from the girl that was wrestling in bingo halls and high school gyms. That’s really where I want to impress them, and make the city proud. But of course, it’s so exciting you come out and you get this deafening pop.
I will say, when we had our pay-per-view Double or Nothing, every match was like that. I think the fans are just so excited to get out of their houses and get back to the arenas and watch live wrestling. I think we’re gonna have those kind of those pops in those cheers and those really loud, deafening boos for a long time.
SN: You and Kurt Angle walk into a Pittsburgh bar: Who gets more free drinks?
DB: Laughs. Who gets more free drinks? Maybe him — age before beauty, right? He’s a little bit older than me.
SN: There’s a very vocal segment of fans who are critical of AEW’s women’s division: Maybe they don’t think there’s enough talent, or that it’s directionless. What do you say to the people who have, maybe been, overly critical about the way AEW has handled its women’s division?
DB: It’s the quote: “Some people just like to watch the world burn.” There’s some people that are just never going to be satisfied, it doesn’t matter what we do.
The match that I had with Thunder Rosa we put everything we had out there. We had the women’s eliminator tournament, we have so much to look forward to. We have so many talented females on our roster: myself, Hikaru Shida, Tay Conti, Red Velvet, Jade, Thunder Rosa, Anna Jay. It’s not something you can just turn a blind eye to anymore. We’ve improved so much, we’re putting out great content.
So, at some point you have to really look at yourself in the mirror and say: Do you not like the women’s division, or do you just not want yourself to like the women’s division?
SN: What do you think is your biggest strength as a wrestler?
DB: Confidence. I think that speaks volumes to when you see me as soon as I walk through the tunnel to when I go right back in the tunnel, I have confidence and I, to an extent, believe everything that I say. Wrestling fans in today’s society, they’re not dumb. You can’t insult their intelligence. If you don’t believe what you’re saying or what you’re doing, they’re not going to believe it either. So the most successful wrestlers today have that confidence, that undeniable confidence.
SN: Something very interesting you mentioned: I spoke with Jon Moxley for an interview, and said essentially the same thing you said: Wrestling fans today, are not stupid. They know what’s happening. Why does the average AEW fan stand out to you?
DB: We have Tony Khan, who not only is a powerful executive and CEO, but he’s a wrestling fan deep down. He can step on the other side and watch wrestling as a fan, and say, “Is this something that I would enjoy?” versus is this something that’s going to benefit his company, one way or another.
I think what’s so special about us — just Tony’s passion for professional wrestling.
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SN: What do you think your biggest weakness as a wrestler is?
DB: Ooooh, my biggest weakness as a wrestler. Brief pause. My untapped potential. The best is yet to come, and I truly believe that.
SN: So when you say the best is yet to come, can you give fans a little bit of insight of what they can expect moving forward this year?
DB: I think this is going to be one of the most memorable championship title runs in the company’s history. I plan on taking this thing all over the place, I hope to travel. I would love to travel internationally and defend the title. I continue doing my promos, my vignettes, everything. I tell Tony, “I want this title to be everywhere” — especially when it’s attached to me.
SN: On June 25, 2022, a year from now, where do you see yourself?
DB: One year from now I hope that people, if they don’t already, can hear my name, or see my picture and say, “Oh, Britt Baker — she’s the best women’s wrestler in the world today.”