At this present time, if you’re a talented young Irish sportswoman in a primarily male dominated sport, you won’t be short of role models in which you can look to for inspiration.
From Olympic Gold medallist Katie Taylor in boxing, the most successful person in her sport today, to the spectacular scoring abilities of soccer player Stephanie Roche, young Irish woman are emerging as stars in this modern era of sport.
Along with boxing and soccer, professional wrestling today is still a sport in which men are more successful, but just like Taylor and Roche above, an extremely gifted female is hopefully about to emerge as a dominant force in the sport.
Her name is Becky Lynch.
I’m sure at this stage, Becky has every diehard wrestling fans attention after her epic battle with Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover and there’s not much doubt that her future is bright in WWE. It’s clear that Becky not only has the potential to be a star in WWE’s main roster when she gets called up, but I truly believe she has the tools to revolutionize the landscape of WWE along with some of her NXT female comrades.
Lynch is undeniably gifted and though she is only 28 years old, she has an experienced CV already in her possession.
Real name Rebecca Quin, she began training at the tender age of 15, with her love of wrestling driving her to start training at newly-opened wrestling school in Wicklow, with Fergal Devitt and Paul Tracey showing her the ropes. With a willingness to learn and a passion to perform, Rebecca would slowly begin to pick up the craft that is pro wrestling. She would train for nine hours a day, seven days a week, during her school holidays, something most young Irish wrestling fans could only dream of, myself included.
As a man of similar age and from the same location as a Rebecca, I can’t help but be very jealous of her for having the guts to do what I couldn’t. I admire her bravery to pursue her dream and as a fellow wrestling fan, I wish I had the same traits.
Within five months, Rebecca had made her debut as Rebecca Knox and what followed over the next few years is nothing short of a whirlwind-like story.
It wasn’t long before she developed her in-ring abilities in Ireland and most notably in the famous NWA Hammerlock School in the UK. It wasn’t long before she would be competing with some of the most respected female talents the independent scene had to offer and working all over the world and she was only 18.
Think about that for a minute. She was from a country with an extremely small wrestling following, as well as limited resources to become a professional wrestler, yet here she was in her late teens competing in Canada, America and Japan while rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sweet Saraya, Cheerleader Melissa, Gran Hamada and Aja Kong. It was nothing short of astonishing and a testament to how quickly she picked up the art of wrestling.
In the words of Fergal Devitt, the future Finn Balor in WWE, Rebecca had what it took to become a star before she even began training. Being the ultra modest person she seems to be, I’d hazard a guess to say she had it before she even knew it herself.
She wasn’t just any up and coming young talent, Knox was something more than that. It was like she had a veteran-like presence about her that many wrestlers twice her age have failed to achieve. Many attribute this to her stint in Hammerlock, where she was trained by Andre Baker, known for his legit tough and disciplined teachings. Her mat wrestling technique and chain wrestling ability for her age was exceptional for anyone of her age, male or female.
Don’t take my word for it, just look at her back catalogue in SHIMMER. For those that are unaware of SHIMMER I encourage you to check it out, it’s basically an all female Ring of Honor based in Chicago. It’s very hard to find their shows online but if you can pick up a DVD, check out Becky’s early work.
Rebecca joined SHIMMER in 2006 at age 19 and carved a name for herself in no time. Within months of arriving in Dave Prazak’s promotion, not only did she have matches with Daizee Haze, Allison Danger that were out of this world good, but she was positioned at the top end of the card, which is no small feat for any wrestler joining a new promotion at such a young age.
While it wasn’t just her mat wrestling skills which received praise, her knack of drawing in a crowd and getting them to invest in a match was also something to behold for someone of such a young age. While she was still far from a flawless performer, she was way above average for someone so young. Take her debut for SHIMMER as a great example.
Filmed in Chicago, a state and city with fondness for the Irish, Rebecca Knox debuted as a stereotypical Irish babyface against the fan favorite and co-promoter Allison Danger. Knox came to the ring with a smile that would make a Cheshire cat proud and a spring in her step. The match began and it wasn’t long before Rebecca would be on the losing end of Danger’s offense. Knox would soon go down like a ton of bricks, in what seemed to be a serious situation as she clutched her knee and screamed in pain, bellowing like a young child that had scraped her knee.
At first it looked as if Knox has legitimately blew her knee out, but as Danger let her guard down, Rebecca would spring to life and attack the naive Danger. The crowd was visibly angry and Knox egged them on further by doing a nice Irish jig solidified her heel status and showing she knew how to work a crowd.
Her selling was so good that reports on this night, that some members of the audience were thinking of ringing an ambulance.
Rebecca may have been young, but it was clear to see her future was bright and the capability of becoming better.
Unfortunately for Rebecca injury struck, as in a match for a German promotion, Knox squared off against a Finnish rookie named Kisu.
During the match, the grossly inexperienced Kisu messed up, and landed badly on Rebecca’s head after she had performed a German suplex. Knox was in needed of stitches that night, but the after-effects were more worrying as she complained of headaches and sight problems.
It was soon discovered that Knox had possible nerve damage following the bad bump and she would need to take time off. Rebecca was sidelined for months.
In the lead up to her comeback, Knox was still feeling the toll of her injury. Even though the physical damage was fairly serious and did require a lengthy lay off, the events of that night made Rebecca reevaluate if wrestling was the right career choice for her.
She never wrestled for SHIMMER and began exploring the possibility if other careers.
She was no longer Rebecca Knox the wrestler, but back to being Rebecca Quin and she went on to pursue other avenues other than wrestling, from being an actress to air hostess, from stunt work to bodybuilding, Rebecca applied herself to many different trades and bettered her education with an Acting degree from the Dublin Institute of Technology as well as going to Columbia in Chicago.
Over the years, she would learn that none of these new beginnings were right for her and that deep down she was ultimately unfulfilled. Wrestling was her true love but it took her awhile to come to that conclusion.
Luckily for Rebecca, she was still young when, after some advice from those close to her, made her realize that she still had what it takes to get back into wrestling. Through connections and what I only can speculate was pure reputation, Rebecca had a tryout match for WWE in England and thanks to that match and her previous body of work; she was signed just like that.
Once again, Rebecca Quin was in a whirlwind situation as she would relocate to Florida and join WWE developmental promotion, NXT. Only this time, she was going to work for a company which she idolized as a youngster.
By the time Rebecca got to WWE, she wasn’t rushed into her NXT debut; rather she was carefully training and testing out possible gimmicks. Taking the name Becky Lynch, an homage to one of her former trainers, she was about to pick up where Rebecca Knox left off.
She would eventually debut, underneath a some what stereotypical Irish lass gimmick, Becky was being herself and doing what she did best. While most of her matches were short at first and her move-set was limited, Becky was still showing glimpses of her talent.
Also as time progressed, she slowly shed the Irish-ness out of her gimmick. She began dancing less and losing the Irish dancing look about her attire, to eventually losing the color green from her appearance altogether, thus slowly giving her a persona more rooted in reality and from her love of grunge music. On first glance it was like the second coming of former WWE diva Lita, one of Becky’s heroes, minus the tattoos.
And slowly but surely, Becky soon would begin to be allowed to show the talent that got her signed in the first place. She soon began to rediscover her old self and this was evident in what can be described as her breakthrough match in NXT, a fatal four way at Takeover: Rival. On this show, it was clear that Rebecca Knox was truly back and ready to bring her A game.
This four way match for the NXT women’s title was a fun affair to say the least. Along side Charlotte, Bayley and her good buddy Sasha, Becky showed the WWE universe that she still had what it takes to kill it in between the ropes.
Over the last year, Becky has slowly changed gears and along with Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair and Bayley, she has made the women’s division one of the must see cornerstones of NXT. These girls are given the time and care in which to develop their expertise, cut decent promos and execute entertaining matches worth investing time in.
In contrast, the WWE’s main roster, though with arguably enough talent to have good matches, seems devoid of any real direction or attention. While featured most weeks on WWE TV, the lack of any decent storyline or reason to care in the happenings in the divas division is consistently damaging women’s wrestling.
The current focus on the main roster is a far cry from how it was treated in 2003-04, which peaked with Lita and Trish Stratus famously featuring in the Raw main event. It’s my opinion that Becky, along with the current crop of NXT divas can change that if given the chance.
If the girls of NXT are given the opportunity to continue in their current form and similar attention can be given to them as they are promoted, they can revolutionize the Divas division, and Becky can be the key to not only putting the WWE main roster females on par with the divas of yesterday year, but she can be the catalyst to them surpassing anyone before them.
Her match with Sasha, as I’ve already said, has received high critical acclaim, so much so that it’s rumored that the women of NXT could headline a future NXT Takeover special. When she is called up I personally have high hopes for the former Rebecca Knox.
I don’t have great faith in WWE management though, as she could easily be mishandled and underutilized as so many stars before her.
You have to look no further than current diva Paige as an example of failing to take advantage of what appeared to be a no brainier. WWE arguably failed to capitalize on the buzz surrounding Paige when she was called up and in my opinion they failed miserably to maximize her potential through lazy booking.
I live in hope that when Becky is called up, they learn from their mistakes. I believe Becky in particular can take the main roster by storm if she is given the faith by WWE creative. I would imagine in the next year or so she could be promoted and she could, if used correctly, could be the female equivalent of Daniel Bryan.
With superb submission skills, the ability to perform a perfect suplex and the humbling natural charm, Becky has the makings of a top tier worker.
Hell, I’d go as far as to say with the right booking, attention and character progression, she could headline a WWE main roster special some day. She’s just that good and the potential is sky high.
Now I’m realistic in knowing that a lot of stars need to align for that to happen and a fair amount of luck is needed no matter how good Becky is. If it does happen it will be a most likely a long time into the future and many changes would need to happen from WWEs creative department before I would have faith in them to pull this off. Looking at how NXT is run, and how well presented the Women wrestlers have been in recent years, is it such an insane prospect?
Maybe I am insane and maybe I’m drawn to the fact that she is Irish but she has the same potential as any male or female in the NXT locker room in terms of being a huge star. Either way I’ll be watching and rooting for Lynch no matter what. The more I see of her in the ring, the more I hope she succeeds.
The reason for this is not only because she’s a fantastic wrestler, nor is it because she is Irish and I will back one of my own (I’m not a fan of Conor McGregor FYI). The reason I want her to succeed so much is comes across as a genuinely humble, fun human being and a true wrestling fan. Take a look at any interview or video of her talking about her love of wrestling and you will instantly warm to her. She’s very likable, funny and easy relate to, similar to that of Daniel Bryan.
Make no mistake about it, Becky Lynch is the real deal and hopefully, with a lot of time, a ton of effort and with the luck of the Irish, Becky can be the next pioneer to further women’s wrestling in WWE and the world over.