Since arriving to WWE from NXT in 2015, Becky Lynch has been a major superstar in the women's division. She competed in the women's title match at WrestleMania 32. She was the first woman drafted to SmackDown, and the first-ever SmackDown women's champion, and since then she has been a constant presence on the brand, arguably the cornerstone of the SmackDown women's division.
At SummerSlam, Lynch started the next chapter in her journey when she attacked Charlotte after Charlotte won the women's title, presumably turning heel for the first time since joining the main roster. However, something somewhat unexpected (to some at least) happened. The crowd cheered for her. They continued cheering until she won the title at Hell in a Cell, becoming a two-time champion. All the while, she continued to attack Charlotte, both in the ring and backstage, with the crowd fully in her corner all the way.
With SmackDown 1000 airing Tuesday, The Baltimore Sun got to talk to Lynch before she is part of the historic show. We discussed becoming the SmackDown women's champion for the second time, her feud with Charlotte, engaging with the crowd, Ronda Rousey and SmackDown 1000.
It's been a pretty wild past couple of months for you. Let's go back to SummerSlam. You have the title match, Charlotte wins and you attack her after. Yet, the crowd voraciously cheers for you. What was that moment like for you?
It was incredible. It was incredible to know that the people felt my frustration. This isn't something that's just popped up over a week or a month, it's been three years in the making of just constantly being the underdog and fighting from underneath. Finally, enough is enough and I think everybody has felt that — when they've tried their best and tried their hardest and they haven't gotten ahead. Eventually you just snap and say, “Enough is enough and I'm going after what I want and what I deserve and I don't care who I have to take out in the process. I'm doing it. I'm making it.” To feel that myself and then have everyone in full support of that, it was a great moment.
Is that why you feel like you have such a great connection with the crowd, the fact that they can relate to you? Or is there something else that you feel makes your bond with the fans so strong?
I think that's part of it. I think they know that I love them as well. I think that they know I love wrestling and I love this sport. I think they're fans because they love wrestling, right? So when they can see that passion mirrored, they appreciate that. It's also that I think I give off an energy anytime I meet fans. I hope I let them know how much I appreciate them. I think that's all part of it and I just feel very lucky.
The other big moment you've had recently, obviously, is winning the SmackDown women's title for the second time. Obviously both times you've won the title were big, validating in different ways, but is there one moment you put over the other?
Yes, I would definitely say the second time was better. The first time, I was almost apologetic. I wanted the SmackDown women's division to be the division, and be the thing that people watched. And we made it that. So I almost felt apologetic that everybody wasn't getting the championship. I wanted everybody to succeed. I wasn't concentrating enough on myself, or there was a part of me that wasn't sure that I deserved it or maybe I was just concerned that I wouldn't do a good job with it. This time around, I know I deserve it and I'm going to do a great job with it. I'm going to be the best champ of all time. It's been two long years to get back to this point, but every minute has been worth it.
Last time you won the title in a multi-woman match, that was simply about the title, and there weren't really feuds involved. This time, you won it in the midst of a deeply personal feud with Charlotte. Did beating Charlotte, and pinning her cleanly, make the moment even more special?
Absolutely. It was said that the only reason I won the first time around was because she wasn't there. She was right there and I pinned her this time, so what does that say? And of course Charlotte is, possibly, one of the greatest. I wouldn't say the greatest because that's me, but one of the greatest female superstars that we've ever had in WWE. Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. There's nobody that's tougher in that ring. But I beat her. And I beat her again. And I'll beat her again and again, and I'll beat her at the Last Woman Standing and cement my legacy.
As we've gone through this feud, we've seen you attack her from behind, jump out of the crowd and you've gotten yourself disqualified intentionally. Yet the crowd still cheers you. Is that something that's concerning to you at all, that you can't get those boos?
It's not concerning. They're reacting and they're entertained. They're enjoying the feud. It's just a matter of what side that they're on. Some people are on my side and some people are on Charlotte's side. I do see it on my Twitter feed and Instagram, that I'm getting a lot more hate as it goes on. But it's OK, I'm going after what I want. The people that are behind me, they'll stay behind me. The people that aren't, well that's fine. I'll just go ahead and succeed in spite of them.
Of course, we have Evolution right around the corner, a big event for you and of course all the women in WWE. What does that show mean to you to have an all-women's pay-per-view?
It's amazing. This is what I envisioned when I came over to WWE. I always felt that I wanted to be the women to be the coolest thing on TV. I wanted to make it that way. Through everybody's hard work, past present and future with NXT and the Mae Young Classic, this has been deserved. It's something that I think the fans are going to really enjoy. They're going to really enjoy it a whole lot more if the SmackDown women's champ is main eventing it and walks out with the title.
Is that something that's important to you, to main event Evolution?
Absolutely. But it's important to me that I main event every show. I want to be the main event of all shows. That's what I came over to do — to be the main event of WrestleMania, to be the main event of SmackDown, to be the main event of Raw, to be the main event of every single pay-per-view. And especially for something that's this historic, I feel like myself and Charlotte have had such a storied history that it only seems fitting that we main event.
Part of that is the first-ever Last Woman Standing match. Charlotte has had a number of these “first-time” matches, while you haven't been able to compete in many. How special is that to you to wrestle in a first-time match?
It's pretty awesome. Eventually there aren't going to be any firsts anymore, because we're going to have done them all. It's just going to be part of history. So it always feels like you're going down in the history books, whether it's the first ladder match or the first last woman's standing, or SmackDown women's champion, or whatever it is. You feel like you're going down in history. In WWE, it's all about making moments and cementing your legacy. That's what we're doing.
Absolutely. But every time I go out there, it's always about cementing my legacy. It's always about doing something that would go into my Hall of Fame package. I think that with something as big as a Last Woman's Standing match, I definitely have that opportunity.
Obviously the other possibility for the main event is the RAW women's title, with Ronda Rousey facing Nikki Bella. Looking ahead a little bit, with Survivor Series coming up, last year we saw the champions face each other. Have you thought about that, and how much would you like a match with Ronda Rousey?
I would love to. I look at Ronda Rousey as a slot machine. The harder you kick her, the more money that comes out of her. She's incredible. What a natural that she is. She's done so much for women's in sports in general, especially women in MMA. There wouldn't be women in the Octagon if it wasn't for Ronda Rousey. But I'd like to prove to her that I'm better, and that my armbar is better.
Have you been surprised at all at how quickly she's taken to wrestling?
Absolutely. I thought she'd take like a fish to water when it comes to athleticism. She gets the nuances so incredibly well. She gets the timing so well. For somebody that is so strong and so dominant, she is able to display such incredible vulnerability, which is spectacular. Those are the things that are impressive. Of course she's an athlete, she's an Olympic athlete. She's an MMA champion. To be able to that strong and display that vulnerability is spectacular.
SmackDown 1000 is on Tuesday. How excited are you for this historic show?
It's incredible because when I was young, I never got to see Raw. I would get to see the highlights, because there were shows like Superstars that would recap Raw, but SmackDown was the only show that I watched. So I've always had a special place in my heart for SmackDown. Also, as the first woman drafted to SmackDown, what I wanted to do was make it the greatest show. I feel like everybody on the roster has that ambition and somewhat felt like the underdogs. It was just coming together to make something special and to see where it's gone from the brand split to now is amazing.
What does it mean to you to walk into a milestone SmackDown with the SmackDown women's title?
It means everything. It's what I left home at 15 to do and to accomplish. I'm so proud of what the SmackDown women's division has become. To be the champion of that is incredible. I feel that we have such elite athletes and incredible talent on the roster. I'm better than them all, so that's wonderful.
We're expecting a lot of big returns, some announced, some surprises, at SmackDown 1000. Are there any that you're particularly excited about?
I'm excited to see everybody. Batista obviously, and of course Rey Mysterio. It's going to be great seeing Evolution reunited. Ric Flair better not pull any funny stuff just because I've been beating up his daughter. He better not get involved. Edge is one of my favorites of all time. That's something I'm very excited for. It's just going to be an incredible show. And we already have such an elite roster that when you mix in those legends, it's going to make for a spectacular show.