Britt Baker grew up in awe of warriors of the wrestling ring like Bryan Danielson and was further inspired by female grappling pioneers like Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch.
Then, in 2019, she began carving her own path as a dual career superstar becoming the first female wrestler ever signed with the nascent All Elite Wrestling promotion. Since then, Baker has continued her professional career as a dentist and also has a world title in AEW: "To this day, I still get asked if I'm actually a dentist," shares Baker, who had a standout year in 2021 (she was no less Pro Wrestling Illustrated Woman of the Year).
But with perhaps their 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 an in-depth chat about her incredible drive, her evolution as a performer and how she makes the most of every moment does with such a busy schedule.
Britt Baker, now 31, never had any illusions that it would be easy to develop a professional career in dentistry while pursuing her dream of becoming a professional wrestler. "I had four years of elementary school studying biobehavioral health and family studies, but once I enrolled in actual dental school, I swear I started training[to be a wrestler]in those very few months," says Baker. “And it's about a seven month to a year training course and then they put you out in the wild (independent wrestling scene), the rest is up to you. They give you the tools to be successful, have your first match, but then everything else is up to you. Personally, I wanted to keep learning, so I drove from Pittsburgh to (wrestling school in) Cleveland twice a week, which is about two and a half hours each way, after dental school, twice a week just so I could learn from two of my favorite wrestlers at the time, (current WWE Stars) Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. Just because I'll probably be a nerd forever. I always want to keep learning and studying.”
Britt Baker always finds time to pursue her passions
"I'd have to bring mine [dental studies] te cards are everywhere with me, especially when you are an apprentice [wrestler], you are expected to pay your dues. So you're the ones setting up the ring, setting up chairs around the venue, helping everyone, every time we got a two second break, I pulled out my notecards and studied for dental anatomy or biology or whatever my test was supposed to be ' Baker laughs. “Sometimes I was so tired on the drive home that I had to stop at the side of the road. But I really had to plan and calculate everything because I had to make sure I was back by 8am for my dentist class.”
When All Elite Wrestling formed in 2019, Britt Baker was the first female wrestler signed by the company, but with a love for both pro wrestling and dentistry, she wanted to stick with both careers. "That was the first question I asked," says Baker. "Before I asked about money, or how many days a week I would be away, or if we would be on TV, the first question I asked was, 'Can I still be a dentist?'" Luckily, the boss of AEW, Tony Khan encouraged her to continue with dentistry because it was one of the things he loved about her from the start. "If I need to catch a specific flight, AEW doesn't hesitate to click the button to get me there on the earliest flight to ensure I get to my office on time," she shares. And it's a mutual benefit to have a real dentist on-site at AEW shows. "Anytime there's a medical injury, whether it's a tooth or a mouth, the doctors actually call me to the infirmary," says Baker. “The team doctors let me look at my teeth. I have to renegotiate my contract now that I think about it because I'm like the dentist on call," she laughs.
Focus on small goals so the long-term goals can take care of themselves
"I'm very stubborn about it," says Baker. "A lot of people, I don't know why, have the misconception that I need dentistry financially because Tony Khan isn't paying me enough, which absolutely isn't the case. It's very much that I love it. At this point it doesn't help me at all financially because I'm only in the office a few days a week, but it's been such a journey; the eight years of schooling and half a million dollars in student loans. There were so many days that I just didn't know how to get through the day, but I just put one foot in front of the other and got through it. And that really taught me the mentality that I use every day of my life now. You can achieve this long-term goal if you focus on the small ones.”
Britt Baker likes to mix up her workouts
"I'm admittedly a very night workout girl," shares Baker. "I'm usually in the gym by 10pm and finish around 11:30pm or midnight. That's how it works for me now because that's the only time I can adjust. On a typical day when I'm at home I wake up, go to the dentist's office and sometimes I'm there until 7pm, come home, eat real quick, say hello to my friend (who happens to be another AEW superstar; Adam Cole, I'm going to the gym then.” Baker finishes his dental practice on a Tuesday and takes a flight to a different city each week to prepare for AEW's top-rated flagship television show “Dynamite” on TBS, but she'll still make it between her incorporate a workout into your flight landing and bedtime!
"I'm also very into Pilate," says Baker. "It's something I've gotten a lot better at in the last year or so. I actually work with a stretch therapist twice a week just to improve my flexibility because I've had quite a few injuries. I think one thing that's really important for your body is mobility.” Never one to sit still on the street, Baker is always looking for a way to while the hours moving. "I like to mix things up," she says. “When we're in cities I always like to find a class to take and one I've found recently is 'Solid Core' which is something of the toughest 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 toned and toned and that's what I like to pay attention to right now.” Traditional exercises like squats and deadlifts are also a staple that never strays far from their routine. "At least four days a week I'm in the gym and I pick a body part, whether it's legs or buttocks or arms, shoulders. That's pretty normal. We don't have to reinvent the wheel," she says. "I'm a big, big proponent of incline running for my cardio. I broke my leg, I have bad knees so running just doesn't work for me anymore so I definitely love the incline walk and the Stair Master and again any type of HIIT fitness class, like F45.
Britt Baker likes to take control of her diet
"I'm pretty much always on track with my macros," says Baker. "When I'm busiest, I grab the prepackaged meals, which tell you exactly what everything is. It's not as good as home-cooked food, but if you have to go, you still have to eat.” Happily, when time and circumstances permit, Baker welcomes the opportunity to indulge her sweet tooth (in moderation, of course, says the dentist! ). “If I have a piece of cake or candy in front of me, I will definitely eat that candy. I will not torture myself with food because I don't think food should be used as a punishment or reward. If I want to eat something I will, but at the same time I want to stay healthy, I like healthy food.”
Britt Baker honed her craft as a pro wrestler under Elite Company
Legends like Chris Jericho, who Baker looked up to as she rose in the wrestling business, now have a direct impact on the development 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 have to wrestle to win fans over.” Another positive influence was the American Nightmare, which Cody Rhodes helped me a lot. He sat down with me and helped me write promos until I was good enough to do them on my own. I will forever be grateful to Cody and Chris."
Ready and in full gear
At AEW Full Gear, Baker will face her toughest test when she takes on Saraya (formerly of WWE's Paige) in her highly anticipated return match, but AEW's opening lady is ready to make a statement. "I mean, Saraya laid the groundwork, even before The Four Horsewomen, if we're being honest," says Baker. "She's part of the group that got the ball rolling for (WWE management allows) for the longer matches and for women to be more respected (by removing the 'Diva' label from the division) or for the Women are seen as equal to men and Saraya can never take that back, she will always have that in the history books, but what I can take away from her is the first match after her (neck) injury... because they don't win that becomes. The fairy tale ending won't work this time. But it's still great. She thought she would never wrestle again and now she does, it's wonderful, but she picked the wrong girl to be her first match. You don't start at the top; you work your way up.” The confidence Baker has gained from sacrificing her own blood, sweat and tears leaves her in no doubt as to who the better wrestler is. "If we're going to lay out our matches together, I think a lot more people could pick some of their favorite Brit Baker matches than their favorite Saraya matches," says Baker. “This is a different time and era and I hope it can go. That's all I'm going to tell her.” AEW Full Gear will air live on pay-per-view and select theaters on vember 17th.
Follow Britt Baker on Instagram @realbrittbaker.