Becky Lynch retained her Raw Women’s Championship during the first night of WrestleMania, defeating Shayna Baszler in a hard-hitting, physical match.
“Shayna has a whole different skillset,” said Lynch. “She’s unlike anybody else on the main roster, and certainly on Raw, so I had to adapt and adjust my own style to hang with her and take that beating from her–and give a beating back to her. I loved that it was so hard-hitting. You could see it, you could hear it, we both beat the crap out of each other. But at the end of the day it wasn’t about who was tougher, it came down to who was craftier.”
The finish saw Lynch counter Baszler’s Kirifuda Clutch submission hold into a successful pin fall, and Lynch laughed at the popular notion that she was going to lose the match.
“I’m always full of surprises,” said Lynch, who executed a finishing sequence that saw her take a page out of the Bret Hart textbook, overcoming certain defeat by outsmarting her opponent. “You mention Bret Hart, well, who’s studied the game for the longest? It wasn’t Shayna, no, it’s the one still holding the championship.”
Lynch famously headlined WrestleMania 35 with Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair, becoming the first woman in WWE history to close out WrestleMania with a victory in the main event. Her reign with the Raw title will reach its one-year anniversary on April 7, and she is immensely proud to have a lengthy run with the belt in an era where that is no longer customary.
“It’s one thing to get to the top of the mountain, and it’s a whole different kettle of fish to stay there,” said Lynch. “A lot of people said I was a flash in the pan, a lot of people said I’d lose this real quick, but I’ve held on for a year straight and I’m not letting go.”
This year’s edition of WrestleMania is unique for many reasons, beginning with the fact it is being held over two nights and, due to the restrictions regarding the coronavirus, held in an empty arena without fans. WrestleMania was originally set to take place in front of over 70,000 fans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, an enormous contrast from its current setting at the Performance Center in Orlando. Lynch feeds off crowd reactions as well as anyone on the roster, and she was asked to describe the feeling of wrestling in front of an empty arena at WrestleMania.
“It’s not the same without the fans there,” said Lynch. “But it’s not as weird as I would have thought, and that’s because we have a job to do–go out there and have the best fight possible. That’s the job, so I focused on putting on the best performance I possibly can and tell the best story to make people care, like I always do.”
Since WrestleMania was taped in advance, Lynch was able to watch her match as it aired.
“That gave a different perspective,” said Lynch. “It was cool to be a performer and a fan at the same time. That was a reminder that we’re all in this together. And I think people needed this. I was so proud watching last night. I thought there were some great matches, and to cap it off with the ‘Boneyard’ match, it was amazing. That was wrestling reimagined. It’s not what we’re used to, but it was fantastic. In this time, we need to get more creative.”
The Undertaker delivered a throwback performance in WWE’s cinematic “Boneyard” match, defeating AJ Styles in a match Lynch found captivating to watch.
“I just thought it was so well done, and the production was great,” said Lynch. “And I’m a big fan of the Good Brothers, so when Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows got involved, that was awesome, too. How about The Undertaker riding away with The Undertaker logo on the house? And freakin’ AJ with the glove coming up at the ending? All of it was brilliant.”
Lynch now turns her focus on to what comes next in her story.
“Anything can happen from here,” said Lynch. “It’s a blank slate, a fresh season. It always is after WrestleMania. Who’s going to come challenge me? Or are we going to see a different side of Shayna? Will she up her game and realize she underestimated me? What’s going to happen from here, I don’t know.”
The expression on Baszler’s face following her loss to Lynch captured an incredible amount of emotion and distress, perhaps signaling that their story will continue.
“You learn more from defeat than you ever do from victory,” said Lynch. “Shayna really had an opportunity to stand out on her own. Losing is devastating, but it’s not the end of the story. Where does she go from here? What will she do next? Is there an even more dangerous side to Shayna? That’s what I’m asking myself.”
With the world currently facing a challenging period in time and uncertain about the future, Lynch is thankful to still have her wrestling profession–and she is especially grateful that people remain so invested in the product.
“That means the world, and that is the reason we’re going out there and putting on a show,” said Lynch. “I want to make sure people stay entertained and have something to keep their mind off the craziness of the world right now. And when it’s all said and done, we’ll still be there holding down the fort, ready to entertain, and more excited than ever.”