Fans of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) TV would have noticed some hard hitters showing up in its Divas division in the past year: women wrestlers who can really lay the smackdown on their opponents, delivering and taking shots that make even the guys wince.
Possibly the greatest impact was made by three newcomers to the company’s main roster from its NXT wrestling development branch. A quartet of women had made waves in NXT as the “Four Horsewomen”: Charlotte, daughter of 16-time world champion Ric Flair; the Boss, Sasha Banks; the hard-working everywoman Bayley; and a certain Irish Lass Kicker, Becky Lynch.
Since Charlotte, Sasha and Becky got the call-up to WWE, its Divas division has never been the same – and as recent developments showed, it has changed for good.
At just 29, Becky has been wrestling almost half her life, training from age 15 and appearing all over the world, from her native Ireland (she was born in Dublin) to other parts of Britain, Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States. She had some memorable matches with Sasha in NXT, and in WWE she was involved in an intense feud with reigning champion Charlotte earlier this year.
Most recently, her Triple Threat title match with Charlotte and Sasha was hailed as one of the highlights of WrestleMania 32 (no spoilers for those who have yet to catch the extravaganza). And in honour of the ability and sacrifices of the current crop of women wrestlers, WWE has announced that the Divas championship belt, which has been contested for almost six years, has been retired.
The Women’s Championship – a belt with a proud 50-year history from the days of the Fabulous Moolah through Wendi Richter, Alundra Blayze, Lita, Jacqueline and Trish Stratus – has returned!
No longer just “Divas”, the company’s current women athletes have been acknowledged for their ring skills, passion and dedication and can now take their place alongside their male counterparts as full-fledged WWE Superstars.
During a recent international conference call as part of the Road to WrestleMania (which was on April 3), Lynch spoke about what it feels like to be part of the resurgence of the Women’s division: “It’s just an incredible time … being with the girls, with Sasha and Bayley and … creating what we’ve created, that has kind of led to this revolution – for lack of a better term – and then to be with two of the Four Horsewomen at WrestleMania is something I always dreamed about.
“Having this respect for women in the spotlight and to have the crowd be as excited about seeing a women’s match as for any of the guys’, which is the feedback I’m getting at the moment, is a dream come true on many levels.”
1. What sets today’s Division apart from, say, 10 to 15 years ago?
We’re being highlighted more and … getting more time to showcase what we can do. There’s a clear, common vision of … how we want to be seen and portrayed.
Right now, it’s all about our athleticism, strengths and abilities, personalities, and what we can do with that: with having a strong voice, being a good role model to younger girls, guys – to everybody, basically, showing that heart and determination make a difference. The exposure hopefully will change how women are looked at in the sport.
2. You’ve wrestled around the world – what makes WWE unique?
The crowds are a lot different. There are times when I’ve wrestled in front of 10 people, 30 people, and it’s a whole different ball game here in WWE because you have that support, travelling with the same people, you get a family atmosphere.
On the independent circuit, I’m by myself, I have to look for bookings on my own, obviously you’re not paid the same. There were times when I’d be sleeping on floors in my friends’ houses, living off protein shakes, just trying to get my name out there.
Now I’ve got this global platform where I can share my message with people – it’s night and day, really, from where I started to where I am now.
3. What’s one career highlight since moving over from NXT?
There’ve been a few but I would say probably, getting to wrestle at the Royal Rumble. When I was a kid, that was always one of my favourite pay-per-views.
I never got WrestleMania, the Rumble was one of those they showed on the local TV stations. I’d stay up from 1am untul 4am watching it and then go to school the next day, exhausted.
To be there and be in one of the most anticipated matches on the card, that was a dream come true. (Plus) getting to work with Charlote, one of the Four Horsewomen … I respect her like nobody’s business for how hard she works.
4. Anyone you haven’t wrestled yet that you’d like to have a match with?
Peyton (Royce, of NXT) is one of the newcomers who is absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to step in the ring with her. You’re going to see big things from her in the next few years, mark my words. And Asuka (spoiler alert: the new NXT Women’s champion) – I would love, love love love to wrestle her because she’s got incredible style, incredible speed, I think she’s something the WWE Universe has never seen before. Those are two girls I’d absolutely love to be in the ring with.
5. What does the Irish Lass Kicker do when she’s not kicking lass?
Just regular day-to-day things … I love going to coffeeshops and just sitting there and writing. I write a lot. It helps keep my mind together and in place and focused, and makes me reassess what I want, my goals. I do yoga, watch a lot of movies, go to the gym. And go out and be with nature, whether it’s on hikes or sightseeing, travelling … that’s what I like to do on my downtime.
(On the charitable activities that WWE is strongly involved with:) Being around kids that have gone through so much … Just being able to meet them and get strength from them. They’re the real heroes, the ones who are really fighting. I think we get more from them than they get from us.