Becky Lynch understood the rare challenge she was tasked with and needed just 26 seconds to begin unraveling nearly everything she had previously built to meet it.
Lynch had one of the most torrid babyface runs ever in pro wrestling. Then, after more than a year away from WWE due to the birth of her first child, Lynch was asked by the company to turn heel upon her short-notice return last August at SummerSlam. Lynch, who was replacing Sasha Banks, knew that in order to succeed she would have to say goodbye to the on-screen character that made her a star.
“It’s a process of, how do I do the exact opposite of what I’ve been doing my entire career?” Lynch said in a phone interview.
That night at SummerSlam she used a sucker punch to beat fan favorite Bianca Belair in 26 seconds to become the SmackDown women’s champion. The moment was hard for fans to process. What did they just see?
What they saw was the end of Lynch as the “The Man” and the beginning of a new heel character: “Big Time Becks.” Lynch has rode that rivalry with Belair to a match for the Raw women’s championship on the first night of a two-night WrestleMania 38 on April 2 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (8 p.m., Peacock).
“The heel’s job is to take away what the fans want, so that’s why I looked at it as, ‘Well if they want The Man back then let me be the opposite of that,’ so that I’m not giving them what they want,” said Lynch, who in 2019 won the first women’s match to main event WrestleMania. “They want Bianca to be their babyface champion, I take that away.”
By doing so, the 35-year-old began the process of turning the majority of the WWE audience against her after they couldn’t wait for her to return — couldn’t wait to celebrate her and see her pick up exactly where she left off. Turning heel while at the top as a hero is something few main event wrestlers have been asked to do. Though Lynch isn’t on their mega-star level in pop culture, think Hulk Hogan joining the nWo in 1996 and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin siding with Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania 17 in 2001 as the closest examples of what she was asked to do.
It’s why everything had to change if Lynch was going to truly make it work. Her Big Time Becks character dresses more extravagantly than the more plain attire she donned as the The Man. There were little GOATS on the shoulders of her ring jacket, over-puffy collars, plenty of bling and a variety of glasses Elton John would be proud of. Lynch, who said she bounces ideas off her husband Seth Rollins, as well as WWE legends Triple H and The Rock, began cheating to win nearly every match. Rollups and grabbing the ropes became her thing.
She technically hasn’t lost her title in a match since winning it in April 2019. She relinquished the Raw women’s championship to Asuka in May 2020 after announcing she was pregnant. Lynch switched titles with Charlotte Flair after getting drafted to Raw last October. So, unlike The Man, Big Time Becks has nothing left to prove – only to reaffirm her greatness.
“I think that’s the story told through time,” Lynch said. “It’s the easiest thing, once you get to the mountaintop then you believe you’re untouchable and then you dress in such a way. I think it’s very commonplace. Once you’re the champion that nobody can touch. I start acting like you are untouchable.”
Making these major changes professionally while also being a mom after her daughter Roux was born in December 2020 has been a blessing in Lynch’s eye, calling it “the best of both worlds being able to balance the two things that I love more than anything.” She and Rollins have often taken Roux on the road with them.
Lynch said there’s “no time for slacking” at either job and the biggest challenge is sleep “because I don’t get much of that anymore.” That, however, has fostered greater creativity. Lynch joked that she has been “Googling wacky space outfits” in the early hours of the morning.
“I’m coming up with some of my best promos at like 4 o’clock in the morning, so I think that helps,” Lynch joked of the lack of sleep.
The 32-year-old Belair has been the perfect foil for Lynch. The former Division I track-and-field star solidified herself as a main eventer by winning last year’s Royal Rumble and defeating Sasha Banks for the SmackDown women’s championship at WrestleMania 37. She’s become someone the WWE audience is truly behind as a babyface, eliminating some of that gray area that might have caused a larger portion of the audience to stay behind Lynch.
After two failed televised attempts to regain her title — winning by disqualification at Extreme Rules and losing a triple-threat match with Banks and Lynch at Crown Jewel — Belair earned another crack at Lynch by winning an Elimination Chamber match in February. They have ramped up the physicality and animosity each week, culminating this week on “Monday Night Raw” with Belair returning from a storyline injury at the hands of Lynch, beating up the champ and cutting Lynch’s hair in the middle of the ring.
“I just use her as a target for my hatred of the audience I feel has turned on me more than I’ve turned on them,” Lynch said. “That they were so outraged that I came back and I won so quickly, that I was so good, that I was so smart that I was able to beat her that quickly. And instead of saying, ‘How great is Becky,’ they go, ‘Poor Bianca’ and I resent that. She’s the target of my resentment.”
She encapsulated everything fans have seen from her character in a promo last week, among the best she’s ever delivered. Lynch said in the segment that she’s already sold her soul to stay on top and would sell it “every day of the week and twice on Mondays” to remain Raw women’s champion. In many ways, Lynch’s character is saying she’s OK selling off all the past goodwill she has built with the audience if it means keeping that belt.
“It’s kind of the narrative we tell in society almost, certainly a lot of the time, is that being a nice guy doesn’t pay off, that you get trampled on, that you get walked over,” Lynch said. “You have to be ruthless. You have to be the Logan Roys of this world, to use a reference from [HBO show] ‘Succession.’ You have to be that ruthless to do well in business and this is the wrestling business.”
Ironically, while “Big Time Becks” is trying to say on top by any means necessary, Rebecca Quin quite possibly hasn’t had a stretch where she’s given more to others around her. During this reign, she has worked with a number of WWE’s young stars such as Belair, Liv Morgan, Doudrop and Rhea Ripley. Instead of being the one others are trying to prop up, as a heel it’s her job to sell and take bumps that highlight her opponent and leave them in better standing with the audience. It’s a task Lynch said she is “truthfully” enjoying.
“When you’re a heel you have to make sure that the audience loves the right person,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been doing a good enough job of bringing up the people who haven’t gotten the shine in the past and it’s been good and rewarding, and seeing them take their moment and really make the most of them has been incredible.”
Being in the role also added to what was already a special match for her, squaring off against her idol and mentor, Lita, at Elimination Chamber in Saudi Arabia. It was Lita’s first true singles match since 2006 and it was Lynch’s job to help make her look good.
“To get to go head-to-head with her, I wanted to be able to give her the best match possible and the match she deserved as the legend that she is and I think we did that,” Lynch said.
Her match with Charlotte Flair, her former real-life best friend, at Survivor Series in November was certainly less feel-good after the two had a backstage spat over how their title exchange went down prior to the contest. Flair tossed the Raw women’s title to the side as Lynch went to grab it. Lynch has been open about the tension between the two. She went into the Survivor Series match feeling things could good go off the rails a bit at any moment.
“I definitely had those worries and any moment it could have gone [awry],” Lynch said. “But we had a fight and that’s what you saw on Survivor Series was a fight. It wasn’t a pretty wrestling match. It was a fight and it was a scrap and I suppose that was what needed to happen.”
It’s all been part of a more-than-seven-month journey that’s seen Lynch meet the difficult challenge WWE placed in front of her. She had to abandon so much of what got her to this point. Lynch is extremely proud of executing the story with Belair so successfully and having it set to culminate at WrestleMania. In her eyes, it shows she can succeed as both a hero and villain in pro wrestling. Her goal has always been “to be great at every aspect of this business, not just one role, not just one character” and to craft the best stories possible.
“This is my art, you know,” Lynch said. “Maybe you like to paint fields and then you’re like, ‘Well, let me paint the skyline.’ You should have the freedom to be able to do that and now I feel like I’m painting skylines.”