From Baldoyle to the big time: Becky Lynch on life in the WWE

The 29-year-old became the Smackdown Women's Champion on Sunday

From Baldoyle to the big time: Becky Lynch on life in the WWE

Becky Lynch

She is one of the most famous Irish female athletes in the world, but remains relatively unknown in Ireland.

Dublin’s WWE Superstar Becky Lynch won the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship on Sunday at the Backlash event in Virginia. She became the inaugural champion, after the title was introduced following the 2016 WWE Draft.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Lynch told Newstalk Sport on Tuesday, ahead of the SmackDown Live event in Philadelphia. Tuesday’s event was her first on television since becoming champion. Despite winning the title almost 48 hours earlier, the 29-year-old admitted it took some time to get used to.

“The next day over breakfast,  I wrote everything down but it still hasn’t hit me. Today, I did a children’s hospital visit, and when the kids saw the title they got so excited. When they were able to hold it, that made it a bit little more real for me, seeing their excitement holding a title belt, because that’s how I feel.”

Lynch, whose real name is Rebecca Quin, was delighted to become the first winner of the belt. She has suffered numerous title losses for the WWE Women’s Championship in 2016, but finally reached the top of the mountain on Sunday night. Her name is now in a unique place in wrestling history.

“It meant a lot that I was the first. You go down in the history books. The big ones have eluded me, but this meant everything to me.”

With a weekly schedule in America, and farther afield, Lynch has few opportunities to perform in Dublin. She hopes to still be champion and defend the title, when the WWE returns to the 3Arena.

“I’d love to, absolutely love to. The last time I was there, I fought for the title, but again, it eluded me. It would be great to go back and hold [the belt] up. The support I got the last time, was incomparable. The Irish fans are the best in the world. I just need to keep it on my waist until then.”

Lynch, along with Finn Balor and Sheamus, have formed a core of the European athletes competing in the company. She feels “The Fighting Irish” mentality has helped all of them perform so well, with all three winning titles early in their WWE careers.

“The thing for Irish wrestlers is, that it’s so new to us. It’s so new. Finn Balor opened up the first [wrestling] school 14-years ago. I was there on day one. We’re not going back too far, and to already have so many champions, from such a small island is unbelievable. Hopefully more Irish wrestlers can join us in the WWE. The possibilities are endless.”

Lynch became the first SmackDown Women’s Champion as a result of the WWE Draft, which took place in July. She was the first woman to be selected for the Tuesday-night brand and feels a sense of responsibility to live up to that honour.

“I feel pressure, but it’s a good pressure. It’s one that I feel I’m ready for and one that I’m destined for... I just want to make SmackDown Live the brand to watch and especially make the Women’s division the one to watch. I will do everything in my power to make that happen.”

Speaking from Philadelphia, where she was to perform in front of over 15,000 fans, Lynch revealed she enjoys life away from the spotlight. SmackDown Live regularly has more than 2.5 million American viewers alone, but she enjoys her home comforts away from the ring.

“I appreciate when people recognise me and come up to me. I find it that when I’m not in the ring, I like to keep a pretty low profile. Outside of wrestling I don’t really like being the centre of attention. I like the quiet life. Apart from wrestling, I work out, I go home, I watch movies and drink Barry’s Tea. Being recognised or not, it really doesn’t make much of a difference.”

In 2013, the Superstar moved to America on a full-time basis. Despite only getting back to Dublin in a professional capacity she keeps in regular contact with those at home.

“I only get back to Dublin whenever we do the tours. Back in November, I was able to stay on for a little bit longer. I hung out with my ma, drank tea and watched telly. It’s been three years that I’ve been over here and I haven’t got home once. I FaceTime the whole time so I'm kept in the loop.”

Lynch spent seven years away from the ring including time as an air-hostess with Aer Lingus. Even her love of travelling could not cure the wrestling itch, and she eventually returned to the ring.

“My ma was an air hostess, so she was so proud when I was flying. When I told her I was going back to wrestling she wasn’t the happiest about it initially. Now she couldn’t be prouder. She’s my biggest supporter. My dad has always known that this is what I want to do. My brother is the main reason I watched wrestling. He’s my main confidant. They’re all so supportive.”

Her success in the WWE, comes weeks after Bray’s Finn Balor was crowned the WWE Universal Champion. She claims she owes her success to the Wicklow star.

“[He] is the reason I’m here. He’s a great trainer. He’s had such an impact on my life. I had given up wrestling for seven years and he convinced me to go back. He had a huge impact.”

Balor had to vacate the title due to a shoulder injury last month, less than 24 hours after winning the belt at SummerSlam. His original injury prognosis was not good, as is expected to return early next year. His progress in rehab has even surprised Lynch.

“He’s going to be back and be better than ever. He was two weeks of surgery and is three weeks ahead of schedule for where he should be.”

While Lynch has fallen in and out of action with being a wrestler. She has always loved the WWE product. She’s now an inspiration for thousands of girls around the world, but she revealed her heroes were men.

“Originally it was Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage when I was a little kid. When I got into wrestling again in the Attitude Era, the reason I started watching again was Mick Foley. I just loved him. I always wanted him to win. He was the hook that got me. Then I saw Lita and thought she was the coolest person in the world.”

Although the 29-year-old is known for her wrestling career, she also has a love of acting, having studied in Dublin IT and the Gaiety School. She feels it’s helped her in her current career,

“I look at that as my craft. It was something that I absolutely loved. It gives me a major advantage here [in the WWE]. It’s all about finding the truth in the script.”

When asked if she could see a walk-on role in Fair City, she joked that she would love to turn up in Carrigstown “if they come knockin'".

It’s been a long road for the Baldoyle star, from starting out as a teenager in Bray. She’s a household name now in America, and will undoubtedly be the same back home very soon.