Becky Lynch talks about learning from Finn Balor, performing at WrestleMania and the power of Pearl Jam.
The highlight of Becky Lynch’s summer?
Seeing Pearl Jam live at Fenway Park in Boston.
“Someone told me, ‘When you go see Pearl Jam, it’s going to be a spiritual experience,’ and it was,” said Lynch. “It was my first time seeing them live, and I’ve been a lifelong fan. Eddie Vedder’s voice is a million times better live, and I couldn’t believe the passion he put into every single song. They did an encore that lasted for like an hour, and then they did another one.”
Lynch, the 29-year-old face of the Smackdown women’s division, felt the concert captured her entire career, strumming the heartbreak and happiness of the highs and lows of her 14 years in wrestling.
“They were playing ‘Black,’ and it’s just one of those songs I listened to in my teenage years when I was going through some tough times,” said Lynch. “They played songs that I listened to when I was getting my heart broken. They played ‘I Am Mine,’ which is one song I was listening to when I was breaking into wrestling during my teen years and I wanted so badly to break into WWE. All these songs made me think, Oh my God, this is the music that got me through all these hard times and motivated me to get where I am, and here I am at Fenway Park watching Pearl Jam.”
The WWE Network is airing a special Tuesday, immediately following Smack Talk, entitled WWE 24: The Women’s Revolution, which will premiere at 10:30 p.m. ET and provide an inside look at Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks before their triple-threat match for the women’s championship at WrestleMania 32.
“They filmed this around WrestleMania and followed me, Charlotte and Sasha,” said Lynch. “This was one of the biggest women’s matches in history and we were on the front of AT&T Stadium, and we got a lot of press behind us coming out of the ‘Diva’s Revolution,’ which turned into the ‘Women’s Revolution’ at WrestleMania.”
Lynch never thought of the women’s movement as anything more than a group of talented wrestlers–who happened to be female–who badly thirsted for a chance to make an impact.
“For me, it’s never been about a revolution,” explained Lynch. “Talking about a revolution sounds like a whisper, as the old song says. It was just about going out there and doing our thing—having stories where people get emotionally involved. It doesn’t matter if we’re women. It shouldn’t matter; it’s 2016. I never felt like it should be a big deal, and I talk about that in the special.
“I remember going, ‘This is how it should it be,’ and this IS how it should be. We should be able to go out there and put out great matches, and it shouldn’t be a surprise when we do. That’s what we’re paid to do, and that’s what we have invested our entire lives in—we moved away from home, slept on floors, lived on protein shakes for weeks at a time, and it’s all to do this: to headline WrestleMania, to be in the top spot, to not let there be any difference between the men and the women.
Lynch believes that hunger was encouraged in NXT, especially among the women wrestlers.
“When we were in NXT, it wasn’t a revolution–it was guerilla warfare,” said Lynch. “Just, ‘put on a good match, people will like it.’ When we became the Four Horsewomen [Lynch, Banks, Charlotte, and Bayley] in NXT, it wasn’t a revolution—it was just, ‘Hey, these girls are good.’ That’s what I wanted over here, and that’s what I want to continue.”
Lynch was recently separated from her WrestleMania opponents, Charlotte and Banks, when she was drafted by Smackdown, and her two competitors—including best friend Charlotte—were selected by Raw.
“Let me walk you through my seven stages of grief,” said Lynch. “First, I knew that I wouldn’t be on the same brand as the two of them. There was no way they were going to have all three on one brand. I just didn’t know how they were going to break us up. When I was drafted to Smackdown, I was like, ‘Hell yes, I’m going to captain this ship.’ Then I was like, ‘Oh wait, you’re losing your best friend and travel partner, and the person you enjoy having matches with the absolute most.’ That’s Charlotte. We travel together, and she is my best friend.
“On the other hand, it was a whole new beginning and a fresh start. When I look around the locker room, I could not be happier. All the girls are excited to work. They’re hungry, and they want to make good stories and good matches, and we’ve got the potential to do that. I know we’ll link up, but the brand split is going to be interesting. At some point, people are going to cross over, so we will meet again–all three of us, and hopefully all four of us, Bayley included.”
Lynch is more than a great female wrestler. Gender aside, the Dublin, Ireland, native is an incredible athlete and is tremendously gifted at telling a compelling story in the ring.
“Everybody that’s employed by WWE—the biggest wrestling company in the world—should be good wrestlers able to tell good stories,” said Lynch. “It doesn’t need to be gender specific.”
Lynch’s journey in pro wrestling began in 2002, when she enrolled with her brother in a wrestling school run by Fergal Devitt—better known in WWE as Finn Bálor.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Finn,” said Lynch. “I wouldn’t be here if he didn’t open that little wrestling school in this little school hall at St. Andrew’s down in Bray County Wicklow [Ireland]—which was an hour train ride for me, and then a half hour walk to the school. I remember walking into the school, and I’d just come off watching Tough Enough, so I expected to see this warehouse with a big name outside of it, and I’d open the doors and there would be these tough burly lads standing inside a ring.
“When I walked in, and there was lovely Finn, with his big smile, ‘How are you lads?’ he asked me and my brother. There were blue padded mats on the floor, a bunch of young teenage rocker kids with hair they were attempting to grow out, and I thought to myself, ‘So this is pro wrestling.’ We learned on these little mats for the first few months until we got a ring, and to see Finn go from there to headlining SummerSlam, it’s an unbelievable journey for him and I’m so excited for him. He deserves absolutely everything he gets. And Seth Rollins is one of my favorite people on the roster, and somebody who has looked out for me since day one, so I’m really excited to see what the two of them bring. I know they’re going to bring it.”
Beauty is a mask for Lynch’s hard work, grit and perseverance. Lynch refers to herself as “Becky Balboa,” and she has gone the distance in her journey to the WWE. A string of serious injuries–including a head injury that revealed potential damage to her eighth cranial nerve–forced Lynch away from the ring for seven years.
“I gave up wrestling for seven years,” said Lynch. “So even though I started 14 years ago, half of that was dedicated to finding myself again. My whole WWE career has been rebuilding myself and finding the confidence that I once had. It’s been one hell of a journey. There have been times I felt like the prodigal son because I left wrestling and abandoned this thing that I loved. Who was I to come back here and be in the position that I’m in? I felt all this guilt and regret, and it was a struggle to overcome that. To get to where I am now—the food that I buy is paid for by the business that I love, the car that I drive is fueled by the business that I love—it’s just unbelievable. I’m now finally believing, ‘This is it. You’ve got this, you’re here.’ It’s incredible, and I just feel so lucky. For those seven years I was gone, I was dissecting the little parts of wrestling that I loved—like traveling and the fight. I was a flight attendant, and I did martial arts, but nothing ever felt the same.
“It doesn’t matter what it is. It might be hard times in life or in the wrestling ring, or if I’m not getting to where I want to, I just try to think like Rocky. You just have to come back swinging.”
Talent is necessary to be successful, but Lynch is proving that passion is needed to be great.
“We want a women’s champion on Smackdown,” said Lynch. “I would like to bring that in, but I would like to win the belt that everybody wants [Sasha Banks’ WWE women’s championship]. I want whatever storyline I’m in to be the storyline that people want to watch and care about. I want to make this women’s division worth watching on Smackdown, and make Smackdown the show to watch with enticing stories and entertainment.”
Lynch has found her home—the equivalent to Vedder’s stage—in a WWE ring.
“I want to make people feel something—that’s what it’s all about,” said Lynch. “That’s why Pearl Jam was so great. That’s why Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and Daniel Bryan and Stone Cold were all so great—they made you feel something. It’s resonating with the crowd and having them relate to the stories, and engaging. People will remember how you made them feel, and that’s the way I want to go down—as one of the best wrestlers of all time.”