Dr. Britt Baker sees her tenure with All Elite Wrestling as still in the getting-to-know-you phase — but maybe not for much longer.
Baker, who is a practicing dentist, believes the mainstream wrestling audience is still learning about her after being first introduced to them at last years’ “All In” pay-per-view. She faces rival Bea Priestley on Full Gear’s “Buy In” pre-show (7 p.m., B/R Live) Saturday in Baltimore. The 28-year-old Baker, the first woman signed by AEW, sees this feud as her chance to reveal more of herself and connect with the company’s fanbase
“These fans don’t know all of Britt Baker and when they do, I hope more than anything that it’s something they fully get on board with or something that may [make them] want to boo me out of the arena,” Baker said in a phone interview. “There is nothing worse than being in the middle, where fans just don’t care. So I hope more than anything that they form an opinion of me one way or the other because I don’t want to be the person they don’t care about. They can boo me, they can cheer me, as long as there’s some kind of reaction.”
The Punxsutawney, Pa. native said she’s getting a reaction from the area crowds, but hasn’t connected to the AEW audience on the whole at the level she would like yet. Baker has only wrestled on three of the six episodes of AEW’s new weekly program “Dynamite,” which airs on TNT.
Baker, who is also the girlfriend of NXT champion Adam Cole, believes fans have only gotten “a taste” of what she’s about as she adjusts to performing weekly on live television. It’s added a level of pressure because “everyone is going to see every little slip up.”
“I’m learning as I go,” said Baker, who started wrestling professionally in 2015. “I’m really thrown into the deep end because I’ve never been on live TV. They’re like here, we want you to be one of the faces of this women’s division while you’re on live TV for the first time. It’s certainly been challenging in more ways than one.”
Baker is hopeful her emotional and edgy promo, which aired on AEW’s most recent “Dark” YouTube show, to set up her match with Priestley is the start of her breaking through. Baker has called Priestley “unprofessional” and “reckless” for giving her a concussion at “Fight for the Fallen.” The injury kept her from working at the dentist’s office for more than a week. Baker was nauseous, throwing up and couldn’t see out of the corner of her left eye.
Priestley also delivered Baker a serious black eye during a tag match on the Oct. 2 edition of “Dynamite” and ruined her a chance at being the first AEW women’s champion by costing her a win at the Battle Royale at “All Out”
“When I flew to Atlanta to cut that promo I had one intention in mind and that was to get across that this feud, this war with Bea is way more than meets the eye,” said Baker, who has lost a title match to champion Riho.
“I’m so happy with the response that I’ve gotten back from it because, like I said it’s more on the realistic personal side. It’s not a made up story. It’s not a fabricated story. This is the real deal.”
So is her real-life position in the Wednesday Night War between WWE’s NXT and AEW, which has won the ratings battle for the first six weeks. Baker said Cole and her are very supportive of each other’s careers. They have embraced their situation, even creating a joint T-shirt with the phrase “The Real Wednesday Night Wars.” Baker did joke she’s let Cole know a “couple dozen times” what the scoreboard between the two companies looks like thus far.
“I have to say I poke the bear a little bit more with the competitive side than he does, so it’s all in good fun,” Baker said.
The two watch anything the other does: matches, promos, etc… when they can find the time. Baker admitted she’d be foolish not to tap into Cole’s knowledge of the business, noting that no one is more “brutally honest” than the person you live with.
“He is super adamant about watching everything that I do,” Baker said. “If he’s able to watch them live, like sneak it on his phone, he will. Most of the time it’s when we’re home watching it together.”
They don’t have a set time for doing so because “that doesn’t exist in our house.” Baker said the two had plans to go out last Friday when Cole got the call he was needed for the invasion angle on WWE’s “SmackDown.” Cole would be in the main event that night and also on “Monday Night Raw” three days later. Baker called Cole’s situation right now “his dream and then some.”
“For him just to get to do everything he wants to do and he gets to work with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, his absolute idols, there is no better opportunity [for him] that exists right now than the ones that he has,” Baker said.
She feels the same way about AEW, saying there is “no better place” for her right now. The company’s schedule, which does not include the grind of house shows, allows Baker the ability to be both a dentist and a wrestler — a dynamic she can not see herself changing. It also gave her the opportunity for a “coming-full-circle-moment” when she wrestled on the “Dynamite” held at the University of Pittsburgh, which is where Baker earned her doctorate.
She uses that degree to work four 10-hour days at her office in Orlando. The practice is of course closed on Wednesdays. Baker tries to take the last flight out Tuesday night or the first one Wednesday morning to the city where “Dynamite” is being taped. She is on the first plane out every Thursday morning after the show, lands and heads straight to her practice.
“It’s definitely grueling, but I love every second of it,” Baker said.
Baker admitted that back when WWE was the only major wrestling company around, despite dreaming for working for Vince McMahon’s company, she dreaded the idea of getting the call to join NXT because it meant she’d have to choose between wrestling and being a dentist.
“I used to not even think about it, like brush it to the side, kinda of like it was never even gonna come because I didn’t want to have to think about it,” Baker said. “That gave me so much anxiety.”
So does getting in the ring with Priestley again at “Full Gear” after leaving injured in two of the four matches they’ve been together. Baker believes she will end up leaving the feud in a better place as a performer and with the audience because of what she endured.
“I’m absolutely scared and I absolutely have reservations, but sometimes you need to find that deep down in you to bring out the best performance of yourself, to bring out the best version of yourself, but yep I’m nervous and I’m scared.” Baker said. “I’ve relived that concussion over and over again, but at the same time I literally want to kick her ass so bad because of all of that I’m finding this version of myself that I didn’t even know existed.”