This Wednesday, for the first time in AEW history, women will headline Dynamite.
The show will close with Dr. Britt Baker against Thunder Rosa in an unsanctioned lights-out match. Though it was a surprise that AEW champion Hikaru Shida is not featured in the first women’s main event, Baker has been a viewed as a cornerstone of the promotion from the beginning. And this match certainly belongs atop the show’s marquee, as it promises to be physical, intense and even gory.
Baker has flourished as a heel, showcasing a wide range of personality on the microphone while shifting her in-ring style to highlight her strengths as a villain. Over the past year she has emerged as one of AEW’s top stars. The feud with Thunder Rosa has been particularly strong, and Baker has made the most of being paired against an old-school babyface.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Baker discussed her progression as a heel, the rapport she has built with Rebel—which has been so entertaining that it forced AEW to call off a planned breakup of the duo—and the opportunity at hand this Wednesday on Dynamite.
Sports Illustrated: You have developed into a star in real time on live television, which is extraordinarily difficult to do. What has that process been like for you?
Dr. Britt Baker: I went from wrestling on the independents in front of 200 people to wrestling on Dynamite in front of 10,000 people, and with a million more watching. That’s definitely baptism by fire, but that is one of the things that makes AEW so great. We don’t have a performance center to train; we’re all learning as we go. That makes the highs higher and the lows lower. And as far as learning as we go on TV, I love it. It’s such a challenge and such a rush. You know you have to go out there and kill it, or you won’t get that opportunity again.
SI: Watching your character develop as a top villain has been a highlight of AEW’s programming. Did you have any inclination you’d be this effective as a heel?
BB: I didn’t. I’d never been a heel in my wrestling career—I was always, always a babyface. Kenny Omega had the idea to turn me heel. I was up for it, but deep down, I was concerned. Now I’m learning that I am a much better heel.
I get to say the things that everybody else is thinking. That makes being a heel so much fun. It’s really a matter of saying and doing the things that, if I were watching, would make me furious and drive me crazy. The facials, the verbiage, whatever it takes to piss people off, I’ll do it.
SI: I know there were some questions about not including Shida in this match, but a main event pitting you against Thunder Rosa makes sense. Not only is it showcasing a division with growing depth and solid story lines, but it is the blowoff to a long, heated feud—one that belongs in the main event.
BB: We’re writing the history books instead of reading them. There is only one chance at having the first-ever women’s main event, and I get to be part of it. This is a match you’re going to remember for a long time.
SI: You are an indispensable part of AEW, dating back to its beginning. Plus, your work has helped carry the product over the past year. I cannot envision a scenario where this match could take place without you.
BB: I truly believe I am the biggest star of the women’s division. You could put me in the main event with one of Kenny Omega’s broom girls, and people are still going to watch it. I want to put all eyes on me when I come on TV.
This is a show that has the likes of Jon Moxley, Cody Rhodes, Matt Hardy, Penta and Eddie Kingston, and I’m the main event. Part of me can’t believe this is happening, while the other half is saying, damn right, it’s happening.
SI: Wrestling in the pandemic era is becoming more normal, especially with AEW having fans at the shows each week. How do you gauge your work with only a limited house at the venue? You and [partner/NXT star] Adam Cole can compare and contrast notes, but how do you know which areas to harness?
BB: The Wednesday night ratings are really important, so we can see where we’re rising or falling. And my best gauge of what is working is going to my boss, Tony Khan, and seeing what he thinks worked and what didn’t. He’s the guy literally creating and running Dynamite, so who better to go to than him? And with so much of our fan base [at] home right now, social media is an important gauge, too.
SI: Social media was buzzing with the reveal of your partner at the Revolution pay-per-view. What makes Maki Itoh such a dynamic presence?
BB: Just walking through the curtain, she’s so vibrant. The fact she can literally tweet, “Hello mother------” and get 20,000 likes, that is a good indication she is going to get a huge pop with the live crowd. She’s a badass character, and it’s really fun to watch her in the ring and interact with her backstage.
SI: The presentation of your character has reached new heights after the pairing with Rebel. She is incredibly talented, and one of the highlights of this past year in wrestling was seeing her receive some much-deserved recognition.
BB: I am so happy that the rest of the world is seeing her talent. When we started “The Rules of Being a Role Model,” she was the makeup artist. She’s so passionate about wrestling, she was written into the first scene, the one in my dental office, as Reba. Once Tony saw that, he thought our interaction was great. We all thought it made sense to keep us together.
At one point, there was talk of me turning on her. But I can’t. She’s that important to Dr. Britt Baker. We are having so much fun together. We always say, “Just let us flow; don’t overcomplicate things,” and that’s when you get the greatest product quality from us. Just let us flow, and we’re going to hit it out of the park.
SI: Your overall presentation—mike skills, charisma, presence, look, in-ring skills—help make AEW stand out. There is no denying your talent, but eventually, will you need a run with the title to further establish yourself? Or can you do that even without the belt?
BB: Yes and no. I am going to be great at whatever I do in AEW, and I am the face of the women’s division. With that being said, you can say you’re the best all you want, but the physical display of being the best is having a championship belt around your waist. That’s the goal, and I will have that title sooner than later.
SI: You are making AEW history this Wednesday. Why should people watch this week’s Dynamite?
BB: You can say it’s because of Thunder Rosa; you can say it’s because of me, but we are going to add a lot of respect to the women’s division this Wednesday on Dynamite. We’re going to go all out.
We both have a different vision of who is pioneering this women’s division. Someone has to win; someone has to lose, but it’s going to be a fight. I promise this is going to be a can’t-miss main event match that people will be talking about for years.