It’s a unique time in the WWE for wrestlers like Becky Lynch.
Over the past couple years, women’s matches have become more prominent on weekly shows like Raw and SmackDown, as well as WWE pay-per-view events.
And Lynch and her fellow female wrestlers are no longer called “divas” and are instead referred to as “superstars,” like their male counterparts.
In short, the WWE’s undergone a major paradigm shift where women get more of the spotlight now.
Lynch helped make it happen.
Back in 2015, Lynch and three other wrestlers – Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Bayley – were wowing crowds in NXT, the WWE’s developmental territory. Collectively known as the “Four Horsewomen,” they put on some of the most show-stopping and attention-grabbing matches in both NXT and the WWE.
Heck, GQ even called them "the four women saving wrestling."
“In general, we don't sit back and take enough time to appreciate how much we've changed the [wrestling] landscape. You know what I mean? It's completely different. It's kind of almost like turning a regular town into New York City, basically,” Lynch told Phoenix New Times recently.
It’s been dubbed the “women’s revolution,” and it reached an apex last month when the WWE presented the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match at its pay-per-view of the same name.
Lynch couldn’t have been happier to participate.
“It's just amazing that with everybody's participation and everyone's help, we've been able to get there,” she says.
This week, Lynch will be in the Valley when SmackDown broadcasts from Talking Stick Resort Arena on Tuesday, February 20. (Raw will also take place at the arena the the night before on Monday, February 19).
New Times recently spoke with the Irish-born wrestler via phone about participating in the women’s Royal Rumble, as well as why she thinks a women’s match should headline WrestleMania.
We also discussed how the WWE has brought in UFC star Ronda Rousey to compete in women’s matches and what Lynch thinks of her.
New Times: The WWE’s women superstars have on both Raw and SmackDown have had an amazing year, including both the first women’s Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank matches. Becky Lynch: And also the first women's main event on SmackDown, which is also pretty cool.
How does it feel to have participated in some of those landmark matches? It's just incredible because you start off on your journey of whatever it is you want to accomplish, whether it's in the wrestling industry or anything else in life. And you just have these goals and visions, and then they just start coming to fruition.
And I think, in general, we don't sit back and take enough time to appreciate how much we've changed the [wrestling] landscape. You know what I mean? It's completely different. It's kind of almost like turning a regular town into New York City, basically.
It's just amazing that, with everybody's participation and everyone's help, we've been able to get there. And what I thought was so great about the women's Royal Rumble is that it was the culmination of everybody's hard work. It wasn't just my hard work, for the past two or three years, it’s been an ongoing battle, and it was all those women that were able to participate. And that lent a helping hand into changing it into what it is today.
The women's Royal Rumble headlined that particular pay-per-view. Do you think this is the year where a women's match should main-event WrestleMania?
I think it should be if I'm involved [laughs].
What about some of your fellow woman wrestlers, like Charlotte Flair or Asuka? Of course. I'm only messing [laughs]. The goal has always been to be the first woman to main-event WrestleMania, and you know that's what you want to do and that's your goal and that's what you set off to achieve. I think we're on the cusp of it. I don't know if it's going to be this year. I think it's plausible. I don't see a reason why not.
Here is my bottom line of what I really want: a good emotional build in the characters towards that. And I would like to see that starting so that people are so invested that there is no doubt whatsoever that whoever is main-eventing WrestleMania – if it's girls, guys, whoever – they should be the main event.
Other than the main event of WrestleMania, what other glass ceilings are left in the WWE for women? You know what? Here's the thing. It's one thing to have all these firsts and we can make a big celebration of the first Royal Rumble, the first ladder match, the first Elimination Chamber, and all these things that are coming up, which are all wonderful. That's great. Of course, I'd like to see the first woman's tag team champs and then be that and be the first woman to main-event WrestleMania.
What I think is better than that is making it consistent and making it normalized and being able to interchange it so that it doesn't even become a gender thing anymore. It's a talent thing, it's a character thing. And getting it to where it's so normalized that we almost don't ever notice. There's not one or two women's segments, there are just segments on the card and we just flow through them and there's no real big deal about it any more, because it's just consistent and everybody has that high level of skill. And the audience is invested in all of the characters, regardless of their gender.
Have the wrestlers in the woman's division had to work harder to prove yourselves? Maybe twice as hard as the male superstars.
I think so, yeah. You know what I mean? I think when you're trying to overcome something and prove something, you always have to work harder and you always have to give that 110 percent. And I think the greatest thing about that is that's the drive from all of us. So nobody rests on their laurels and nobody becomes complacent because everybody's trying to be the best.
But everybody's trying to be that first woman to main-event WrestleManina. And any time you've got healthy competition, it always pushed you harder and I think that was the greatest thing with the Four Horsewomen.
What we did is we came together while at NXT at the same time and we have a common goal and a common vision and that's to strive to be the best and change things and change the way things work and I think that was what coached us all so much. We always just wanted to outdo each other.
Recently, you kind of teased Ronda Rousey on Twitter about learning how to point correctly at the WrestleMania sign. What was that about?
[Laughs] That was more of a tease in general because there was so many pictures of just pointing. So I thought with all the pictures of pointing that I would post one. Like, "This is how you point." I can't go off of anything else so all I can do is go off on all the pointing. [Laughs]
What's your opinion about the WWE bringing in Ronda Rousey? So I think there's a lot of good aspects, and I think that Ronda Rousey has obviously proven that she's a superstar. Like, a colossal superstar. Before her, there were no women in the UFC. That's remarkable. And she was an Olympian, and she brings in pay-per-view buys. There's no doubt that she's amazing.
I'm curious to see what she can do in a wrestling ring, because it's a different kettle of fish. And, obviously, with UFC and with such an incredible history and being so accomplished in judo, she's going to take up everything so easily. So it's just going to be a matter of seeing how she does in this business.
I know she's a huge wrestling fan so that's always great, too. I think you learn better and you learn faster when you're a fan because you know what it's supposed to be and you're able to emulate your heroes and stuff like that.
Do you want to face off against her in a match? Of course, I would love to. There's nobody that I wouldn't want to either fight or wrestle. Any girl who comes in the door, I want to have a match with them and bring the best out of them and make a good, compelling story for our audience. There's nobody I wouldn't want to fight.
Any chance we're going to see you and her at WrestleMania? Um ... there's always a possibility. I definitely would not say “no” to the match.
You also posted on Twitter recently that you would love to be Kim Possible. Ah, yes. [Laughs] I think I might be 15 years too old, but of course I would.
Were you just joking around or were you serious? Well, I've got the look, don't I?
Were you a big fan of the show? Yes, absolutely. And then I think that goes with the Becky Lynch character, you know what I mean? She's trying to always everything possible and overcome the odds and triumphing over evil. [Laughs]
You have a background in drama, right? Yeah, I've got my degree in acting. I was just in the latest Marine movie, Marine 6, which is [coming out] this year. And acting is something I love to do, or performing in general, that communication with the audience.
And this might sound a little dramatic, but there was a quote from Arthur Miller that always stuck with me and he said something like, "I take the business of theater as a serious one in that it should make man feel more human, that is to say, less alone.” And I just love that because it's just that ability to communicate and identify with another person of what they might be feeling and do it in a way that has a bit of distance so you're able to identify with it.
There's gotta be movies or events that you've seen or books that you've read, just any sort of communication that's changed your life. Definitely movies, I think, have the ability to change a lot of people's lives. That's definitely something I'd like to delve into deeper.
Every episode of Raw and SmackDown this time of year is important since it's building toward WrestleMania, correct? Yep. Absolutely. It's the most important time of the year.
Is it a lot cooler to experience an episode of Raw or SmackDown in person as opposed to watching it on TV at home? Oh, absolutely. Because there's a different energy that you get, because when you're watching it at home on TV, there's so much other stimuli around [and] you're not always 100 percent focused on what's going on.
When you're there and you've got an entire arena that's so into it and you've got the ring in front of you and you can see the action right up close and feel the energy, it's just this big experience. It's just this whole different kettle of fish. There's nothing like going to see WWE live.
WWE Raw takes place at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Monday, February 19. WWE SmackDown will take place the following evening on Tuesday, February 20. Tickets are $20 to $125.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated from its original version to reflect the correct date for SmackDown.
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE...
Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.