Becky Lynch, the girl from Baldoyle who has become a wrestling superstar
‘The Man’ has ascended the ranks of WWE to become one of the company’s top attractions
With her vivid orange hair and penchant for trash talking, Becky Lynch quickly became a WWE fan favourite
It’s Tuesday afternoon and Becky Lynch is trying to negotiate her way out of a carpark that is refusing to accept her credit card. “Goddamnit,” she exclaims. The Baldoyle native is driving through Indianapolis in advance of a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Smackdown Live event due to take place that evening.
It’s been a busy week that has seen her pass through a number of mid-size midwestern cities, including Youngstown,Ohio and Dayto, Iowa. When I ask where she celebrated St Patrick’s Day, she has to take a second.
“We were in . . .” she says, pausing. “Peoria, Illinois! There were lots of people dressed up in their St Patrick’s Day garb so that was good.”
It’s a gruelling schedule, but necessary when you’re arguably the biggest wrestling sensation in the world right now. Over the past year, Lynch has ascended the ranks of WWE to become one of the company’s star attractions.
On Sunday, she will make history when she goes head to head against Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in the first-ever women’s main event match in Wrestlemania, WWE’s tentpole event.
It’s an astonishing feat when you consider she was treading the boards of Smock Alley Theatre in a student production of The Threepenny Opera seven years ago. How did she get here?
Rebecca Quin was born in Limerick and grew up in Baldoyle, Co Dublin. As a student in Mount Temple, she dreamed of a career in acting, but was talked out of it by her aunt, Eunice McMenamin, best known for playing Fidelma in Glenroe. “She told me all the reasons I didn’t want to act so then I was like, ‘I’ll be a lawyer because I can stand up in front of people and argue and talk,’” she recalls.
Like many Irish children of the 1980s and 1990s, she grew up watching wrestling, with her older brother Richy. When she was 15, she heard Fergal Davitt, better known as WWE’s Finn Bálor, was opening a wrestling school in Bray, and decided to knock along.
“I was such a big wrestling fan that I thought that would be a great way to get fit,” she says. She quickly felt at home in the ring.
After a short spell in UCD, she abandoned her plans for a career in law, opting instead to give wrestling a go. She moved to Canada and later wrestled across Japan, North America and Europe under the moniker Rebecca Knox.
At 19, she sustained a head injury and stepped away from wrestling for seven years. She bounced around from job to job, working for Aer Lingus and later studying drama in DIT. Eventually she was hooked back into wrestling, and signed a contract with WWE in 2013, adopting the ring name Becky Lynch.
“Some people’s journeys are very linear,” she says. “They’re like, ‘I want to be an accountant’ so they go to school and learn to be an accountant and they become an accountant. This was all over the place.”
With her vivid orange hair and penchant for trash talking, Becky Lynch quickly became a fan favourite. Once known as the Lass Kicker, she started referring to herself The Man last year.
It was a clever, subversive rebrand and one she says stemmed from frustration at being overlooked, despite consistently working hard and delivering quality bouts.
“In the top level of any sport and in so many walks of life, the top person has always been called ‘the man’,” she explains. “Up until now, those top people have always been men. Right now I’m saying I’m the man. It’s not about gender, I’m just the top dog.”
Lynch recalls a time when women were merely the support act in WWE.
“The women’s storylines and matches weren’t up to par with the guys,” she says. “I wanted to make sure that people were as invested in the women’s storylines.”
Now, a trio of women are headlining Wrestlemania. Not because it’s politically correct, but because they are the biggest and most bankable stars.
“It’s not about making headlines anymore. It’s real and it’s warranted that we would go on last and that we would be the main event.”
Lynch has more than five million followers on social media. She has appeared in ads for Head & Shoulders. She has a legion of little girls and young women who look up to her. It’s all a far cry from Baldoyle, but her family back home are enormously proud of her success.
“[My mother] is constantly worried about my sleep,” she laughs. “She’s always like, ‘Would you not get into bed now?’ I’m like, ‘Ma, it’s four o’clock in the afternoon.’ Irish mammies are relentless.”
Post Wrestlemania this weekend, her star is likely to burn even brighter. How is she finding being at the centre of the bubble?
“It’s pretty freaking awesome,” she says, delightedly. “You almost distance yourself sometimes because you go, ‘They love Becky Lynch’ and that’s its own entity. But so much of that is me.
“It really is surreal. I think one day when I get a little bit of time to sit down and take stock of everything that happened, I think that’s when it will hit me. Right now it’s like, ‘What’s the next thing?’”