Britt Baker grew up in awe of the warriors of the wrestling ring such as Bryan Danielson and would become further inspired by female grappling pioneers like Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch.
Then, in 2019, she began to blaze her own trail as the dual-career superstar who became the first women’s wrestler ever signed to the emerging All Elite Wrestling Promotion. Since then, Baker has continued with her professional career as a dentist, and has also held a world title in AEW: “I still get asked, to this day, if I’m actually a dentist,” shares Baker, who had a stellar year in 2021 (she was Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Woman of the Year” no less).
But with perhaps her biggest match ever looming on Saturday; against Saraya at the AEW Full Gear pay-per-view, now seemed like the perfect time for Baker to sit down with M&F for a wide ranging chat about her incredible drive, evolution as a performer, and how she makes the most of every moment with such a busy schedule.
Britt Baker, now 31, was never under any illusions that developing a professional career in dentistry while following her dream of becoming a pro wrestler would be easy. “I had done four years of undergraduate school and I studied biobehavioral health, and family studies, but then when I was enrolled in the actual dental school, I swear, those exact same couple of months is when I started training (to be a wrestler),” says Baker. “And, it’s about a seven-month-to-a-year training course and then they set you out into the wild (independent wrestling scene), the rest is up to you. They give you the tools to be successful, to have your first match, but then everything else is up to you. Personally, I wanted to keep learning and so I would drive to (wrestling school in) Cleveland twice a week from Pittsburgh, which is a about two and a half hours, one way, after dental school, twice a week, just so that I could learn from two of my favorite wrestlers at the time, (current WWE stars) Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. Just because, I guess, I am forever a nerd. I always wanna keep learning and studying.”
Britt Baker always finds time to progress with her passions
“I would have to bring my [dental studies] note cards with me everywhere because, especially when you are a trainee [wrestler], you are expected to pay your dues. So, you’re the ones setting up the ring, setting up the chairs in the venue, helping everybody, anytime we would get a two-second break I would pull my note cards out of my pocket and be studying for dental anatomy or biology or whatever my test was gonna be,” laughs Baker. “Sometimes, on the drive home I’d be so tired that I would have to pull over onto the side of the road. But, I had to really map it all out and calculate because I had to make sure that I was back in time for 8 a.m., to get to my dental class.”
When All Elite Wrestling was formed in 2019, Britt Baker was the first female wrestler to be signed by the company, but with a love for both pro wrestling and dentistry, she wanted to hold on to both careers. “That was the first question I asked,” says Baker. “Before I asked about money, or how many days a week I was going to be on the road, or if we were going to be on TV, the first question I asked was ‘can I still be a dentist?’” Fortunately, AEW’s Chief, Tony Khan encouraged her to continue with dentistry because it was one of the things that he loved about her in the first place. “If there’s a certain flight that I have to take, AEW doesn’t hesitate to click the button to get me on the earliest flight out of there, to make sure that I get to my office on time,” she shares. And there’s a mutual benefit to having a genuine dental professional onsite at AEW shows. “Anytime there’s like a medical, tooth, or mouth related injury the doctors actually call me to the medical room,” says Baker. “The team doctors have me go look at the teeth. I need to, like, renegotiate my contract now that I think about that because I’m like the on-call dentist,” she laughs.
Focuse on small goals so that the long terms goals can look after themselves
“I’m very stubborn about it,” says Baker. “A lot of people, I don’t know why, there’s a misconception that I need dentistry financially, like Tony Khan isn’t paying me enough, which is absolutely not the case. It’s very much that I love it. At this point, it’s really not helping me financially, at all, because I am only in the office a couple of days a week but it was such a journey; the eight years of schooling and half a million dollars in student loans. There were so many days where I just didn’t know how I was gonna get through the day, but I just put one foot in front of the other and got through. And, that really taught me the mentality that I now use every day in my life. You’ll get to that long term goal if you focus on the little ones.”
Britt Baker likes to mix up her training
“I’m, admittedly, a very late-night workout girl,” shares Baker. “I’m at the gym, usually at 10pm, finishing up around 11.30pm or midnight. That’s just how it works for me now because that’s the only time I can fit in. When I’m home, in a typical day, I wake up, go to the dental office and I’m there sometimes until 7pm, come home, eat really quick, say hello to my boyfriend (who just happens to be fellow AEW superstar; Adam Cole then I go to the gym.” On a Tuesday, Baker finishes up at the dental office and catches a flight to a different town each week in order to get ready for AEW’s top-rated flagship television show, “Dynamite” on TBS, but she will still manage to fit in a workout between her flight landing and getting to bed!
“I’m really big on Pilate’s too,” says Baker. “It’s something I have got way better at in the last year or so. I actually work with a stretch therapist twice a week just to help with my flexibility because I’ve had my fair share of injuries. I think one thing that is really important for your body is mobility.” Never one to sit still on the road, Baker is always on the lookout for a way to while away the hours through exercise. “I like to mix things up,” she says. “When we are in cities, I always like to find a class that I can take, and one that I found recently is ‘Solid Core,’ which is like the hardest Pilates class on the planet, it is so difficult! It’s just one of those things where practice makes perfect. My core is on fire, I feel so tight and toned and that’s my favorite thing to lookout for now.” Traditional exercises such as the squats and deadlifts, are also a staple that are never far from her routine. “At least four days a week, I’m in the gym, picking a body part, whether it’s legs or glutes or arms, shoulders. That’s pretty standard. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” she says. “I’m a big, big advocate on incline walking for my cardio. I broke my leg, I have bad knees, so running just does not work for me anymore, so I definitely love the incline walking and the stair master and, again, any type of HIIT fitness class, like F45.”
Britt Baker likes to take control of her nutrition
“I’m pretty much always right on track with my macros,” says Baker. “When I’m at my busiest, I’ll have the pre-packaged meals that tell you exactly what everything is. It’s not as good as a home cooked meal but when you have to go, you still have to eat.” Thankfully, when time and circumstances do allow for it, Baker relishes the chance to indulge her sweet tooth (in moderation, of course, says the dental professional!). “If there’s a piece of cake in front of me, or sweets, I will definitely eat those sweets. I’m not going to torture myself with food because I don’t think food should be used as punishment or reward. If I want to eat something I will, but at the same time, I like to stay healthy, I like the healthy foods.”
Britt Baker has honed her craft as a pro wrestler under Elite company
Legends such as Chris Jericho, who Baker looked up to while coming up in the wrestling business, are now having a direct effect on the evolution of her presentation. “Chris Jericho is all about delivery,” she enthuses. “He always says it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. He really showed me that you don’t need to wrestle to win fans over.” Another positive influence has been the “American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes helped me so much. He sat down with me and helped me write out promos until I was good enough to do them on my own. I’ll forever be grateful to Cody and Chris.”
Ready and in Full Gear
At AEW Full Gear, Baker will face her toughest test when she battles Saraya (formerly Paige in WWE) in her highly anticipated return match, but the inaugural lady of AEW is ready to make a statement. “I mean, Saraya laid the foundation, even before the ‘Four Horsewomen’ did, if we are being honest,” says Baker. “She is part of the group that got the ball rolling for (WWE management to allow for) the longer matches, and the women to be respected more (by removing the ‘Diva’ label from the division), or for the women to be viewed just as equal as the men, and no one can ever take that away from Saraya, that’s something she will always have in the history books, but what I can take away from her is the first match back from her (neck) injury… because she’s not going to win that one. The fairy tale ending is not going to pan out this time. But it’s still great. She thought she was never going to wrestle again, and now she is, it’s wonderful, but she picked the wrong girl as her first match back. You don’t start at the top; you work your way up to the top.” The self-confidence that Baker has gained through sacrificing her own blood, sweat, and tears puts her in no doubt as to who the better wrestler is. “If we wanna lay our matches out together, I think way more people would be able to pick out some of their favorite Brit Baker matches than their favorite Saraya matches,” says Baker. “This is a different time and a different era, and I hope she can go. That’s all I’m gonna say to her.” AEW Full Gear will be broadcast live on November 17 on pay-per-view and in selected cinemas.
Follow Britt Baker on Instagram @realbrittbaker.