Characters, personas, roles, gimmicks. This is what got me into professional wrestling and, to this day, it’s what keeps me fascinated with wrestling.
So I began to think about what steps it takes to become a fully formed character, after all Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t the Texas Rattlesnake the first time he laced up a pair of boots.
So, how does a wrestler get to the point where they find their ‘endgame’ character? How much trial and error is involved and how often is a single moment the turning point?
In this series I am going to study some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, looking at what led up to the change in character; the spark that led to them being able to transition from good to great and beyond.
I thought of no better place to start than with a woman who has changed the landscape for female professional wrestling, breaking gender barriers and main eventing the biggest shows of the year in WWE, Becky Lynch.
As she now embarks on a new journey into motherhood, let’s take a look back at some of the early moments that allowed her to become “The Man”.
Looking back at some early Becky Lynch footage it is immediately apparent that she has that same spark and determination as she does today but in raw form.
In a segment from a 2005 edition of TSN (Canadian sports channel), the young Becky Lynch (known at the time as Rebecca Knox) on her first tour of Canada says: “Expect me to kick some ass, expect to see the best damn female wrestler in Ireland”.
This is the kind of statement you could imagine Lynch saying on a 2019 episode of Raw, perhaps giving credence to the famous saying: the best characters are your own personalities tuned up to 11.
In 2005 and 2006 she was becoming well-versed in the art of professional wrestling, traveling around the world and staking her claim at ECCW as the inaugural Supergirls champion, developing her character at the time as a hard-hitting, trash-talking badass, again quite reminiscent of her eventual fame.
However her momentum ground to a stop when she suffered a debilitating head injury while wrestling in Germany in late 2006. Thereafter she only wrestled three matches in six years until she was eventually picked up by WWE in 2012.
On June 26th 2014 she made her NXT television debut in a winning effort versus Summer Rae, in what was truly a fresh start. We see early glimpses of what was to come, high energy, exciting and even a Bex-ploder suplex.
Her gimmick, on the other hand, was not at all reminiscent of today.
Clad in emerald green attire with gold strips, using entrance music you’d easily mistake for Hornswoggle’s, Lynch attempted traditional Irish dance on her way to the ring and during the match.
The character obviously didn’t have longevity. However, what became apparent was that Becky Lynch had a certain charisma you cannot teach.
Beneath all the four leaf clovers and pots of gold there was a natural likability. The crowd took a shine to the young Irishwoman with chants of her name resonating around Full Sail University.
She appeared the very next week in a tag team match but then seemed to disappear from television. At that time the NXT women’s division was dominated by Bayley, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair, all of whom were more established. The rising Alexa Bliss debuting around the same time as Becky Lynch was someone else taking TV time away.
In fact, the next time she was seen on TV was the July 31st edition of NXT but what an impact she made on this show.
Gone were the Irish music and dancing, replaced in stark contrast by a heavy rock theme and a headbanging Becky Lynch. The only evidence remaining of her Irish gimmick was her ring attire, still green and gold but her trousers were now hotpants.
This was a much edgier, less stereotypical character. It wasn’t long until that attire was replaced by black and checkered ring gear, fully condemning her old character to the past.
Renne Young would say on commentary that ‘she is a breath of fresh air’ and she was. Lets face it, not many female wrestlers, especially at the time, would enter the arena to a hard rock theme, headbanging and screaming at the top of their lungs.
Even more impressive is what this did to her in ring work: a new intensity was apparent, her technical abilities were plain to see and that explosive streak capped it all off.
In early November, Becky started teaming with NXT’s top female heel Sasha Banks, becoming her number two. Commentary suggested they were the new BFFs (Summer Rae, Sasha and Charlotte were the originals) after Becky betrayed Bayley the week prior.
While this arrangement overshadowed Becky – coupled with the likes of Banks, Charlotte and Bayley nearing completion of their own developmental journeys – it did allow for her to be on the Network almost weekly throughout the winter of 2014/15, honing her new character and raising her profile with the loyal audience.
On December 18th, a familiar piece of music was heard: Celtic Invasion, the theme Becky Lynch uses to this day. That same night she picked up a submission victory over Bayley.
However, there was a problem. This new theme and the energy of Lynch did not lend itself well to being a heel. Becky is so naturally likeable and charismatic it seemed that if she were to break apart from Sasha, that heel persona would not be able to carry itself. In fact she was dangerously close to being too cool to hate.
It took only seven months for Becky Lynch to earn her first title opportunity in WWE. On 21st January 2015, General Manager William Regal put Becky in a Fatal 4 Way match versus Bayley, Banks and the champion Charlotte, set for NXT Takeover: Rival.
At the same time, Team B.A.E (Becky and Sasha) were starting to show cracks. Becky hinted she would try and take the victory from Banks and then the next week The Boss cost Becky a victory in her contest against Bayley. In frustration, Lynch shoved Banks to the canvas.
With the heel commentator Corey Graves no longer in the corner of Becky, a more colourful titantron and brighter in ring gear at NXT Takeover (red and grey, reminiscent of a superhero), it was obvious that this was the true start of one of the most pivotal points in Becky Lynch’s career.
So far, for the most part, the evolution of Becky Lynch had been gradual but that was all about to change.
A single match at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable became the day when Becky Lynch’s hard work would start to pay off. It would only be a few months until that all important call up to the main roster.
And while there were many twists and turns in her first two years on the main roster before that fateful night at Summerslam 2018 set her on course for greatness, this was truly when Lynch really began to piece things together and lay the foundations for what would come.