With a Wrestlemania show-stealer preceding a move to SmackDown Live in the Summer brand-split, DIT alumna and WWE superstar Becky Lynch's amazing year reached a peak when she won the first ever SmackDown Women’s Championship at last month’s BackLash pay-per-view event.
Lynch, real name Rebecca Quin, studied for a BA in Drama at DIT’s Rathmines College campus from 2009-2012 after leaving a job at Aer Lingus, and credits the college with playing a huge part in her current success. “I loved DIT,” she admitted during a conference call to promote the WWE’s recent European Tour.
“I think it gave me such a great foundation for what I’m doing now. I can’t say that enough. Between all the different modules and the fact I got to take part in the semester abroad… I really can’t say enough about the place.
“The teachers, I thought, were absolutely incredible. Really skilled, just great at their jobs. I was originally going to go over and study in America, but I could not have been happier that I got to go to DIT and I got a really brilliant foundation.”
The WWE Superstar had a rough start in Rathmines, being cast as Cow Number 2 in her first year play. “I remember being a little bit sour about [being Cow Number 2]. They didn’t even have auditions. I’d just finished wrestling in Japan and I’d been a flight attendant and traveled the world.
Then here I was being ‘Cow Number 2’ in some farm up in Rathfarnham.
“So we did the play and it was lashing rain and I was standing there in my cow onesie, which was my costume. I was kind of thinking ‘What has my life become?’.
"But it had a happy ending because in my final year production I was one of the leads. I played Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera."
Alongside Raw Champion Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley, Lynch has become one of the Four Horsewomen (a play on Charlotte's father Ric Flair's Hall of Fame group) of the WWE's New Era. After a Triple Threat match with Banks and Charlotte at this year's Wrestlemania, Lynch believes this group will provide the match that finally earns the WWE Women's Division a Wrestlemania Main Event.
“I 100 percent believe that a fatal four-way between the Four Horsewomen is that match [that will earn them a main event spot on Wrestlemania]. I really don’t see why not. Everybody said ‘you stole that show’ at ‘Mania this year, so surely if we’re stealing the show then shouldn’t we be the main event?
“I think we are better fighting each other [than teaming up]. That’s when magic happens. I could very easily see us teaming up in the future, who knows? We’re on separate brands at the moment, but I know that with all the talent coming up from NXT we will be reunited, we will main event Wrestlemania but I don’t know if we would be reunited as a team.”
Lynch admitted while on the call that she “couldn’t be happier with life” as Women’s Champion, but the bubbly Baldoyle native was left uncharacteristically speechless when asked to choose a favourite between her career-defining Wrestlemania match or winning her first WWE title.
“Wow, that’s a hard one,” she laughed. “You always want to be at Wrestlemania and when I came in I always wanted to change the name of Divas (the pre-Wrestlemania 32 Women’s division) to Women and we achieved that at Wrestlemania. We stole the show in front of 100,000 plus people and I don’t think that’s ever been done before. It’s really an unbelievable experience.
“But then winning the title at BackLash is the culmination of all my hard work, everything that I’ve done. Leading the women on the SmackDown brand is what I wanted to do. I wanted to make the SmackDown Women’s division the one to watch, and we are all doing that, so it’s such a hard question to answer.”
The Irish professional wrestling scene has always been prominent, but 2016 in particular has been a truly ground-breaking year. All three of the country’s WWE Superstars have held gold in the last 12 months, with Sheamus ringing in the New Year on top of the main roster and Finn Bálor ruling the roost on NXT. Then after a strong first couple of months on RAW, Bálor became the first ever Universal Champion at SummerSlam, unfortunately relinquishing the belt the next day due to injury. The WWE have also recently signed Belfast native 'Big Damo' to a developmental contract.
Finally, Lynch picked up the Women’s Title on the blue brand to complete a tremendous year for Irish wrestlers. “We’re bringing that ‘fighting Irish’ spirit. We have that reputation and I think we’re doing the country proud. And not just in WWE, look at boxing or MMA. It feels great to be part of that elite group that are carrying the flag.”
One of the biggest parts of being a top star in the WWE is being a role model for young fans. This is a role that Lynch takes very seriously. “[being an inspiration to children] means everything, everything. When I see pictures of little girls with goggles on their head and lass kicker t-shirts (all items on Lynch’s line of merchandise), I mean that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Little girls saying they want to grow up to be just like you that’s a very big responsibility. One thing I want to instill in kids is just to be true to yourself, don’t feel like you have to conform to whatever it is that’s expected of you and just shine on.
“I find it very hard to say no to any kids who come up to me wanting anything. If they want a photo or if they want me to give them my goggles or whatever it just melts my heart. They’re always a reminder for me to keep my integrity and not let this stuff get to my head and really just keep working hard.”
Unfortunately, on this tour Lynch didn’t have a chance to stop in Dublin with her new belt, but she is confident of keeping it by the time the April tour dates roll around. “I love coming home to Dublin and they say ‘there’s no place like home’ and it’s true. The fans in Dublin are unbelievable. The last time I was there in the 3Arena it brought a tear to my eye. It was just incredible. So it would have been great to come back with the title. That being said, I expect to be holding this title for a very, very, long time.”