Built to win: Becky Lynch's incredible around-the-world journey to NXT
If you take one look at Becky Lynch, it’s obvious she was meant to be a WWE Diva. Possessing a chiseled physique earned only through hours of hard work in the gym, rippling biceps capable of tearing an opponent's tendons in her devastating armbar, and the most famous pair of delts in sports-entertainment, it’s easy to see why the Irish beauty is one of NXT's brightest stars.
That’s why it’s almost unbelievable to think she nearly walked away from the sports-entertainment world, never to return.
“If you can believe it, I had no intentions of being a wrestler,” Lynch said.
Becky grew up a wrestling fan in Dublin, Ireland, watching along with her brother. Though she loved the mat game, the thought of actually getting in the ring wasn’t even a dream.
“There were no wrestling schools in Ireland,” she explained. “It was completely unheard of.”
A self-described “alternative kid,” Lynch found herself at a crossroads as a teenager. She was doing poorly in school and eating lots of junk food. Before she went too far down a bad path, Lynch came to a realization.
“I wanted to get fit,” she recalled. “I thought I would do kickboxing, because going to gyms was too mainstream.”
But before she could throw a single kick, though, the unthinkable happened.
“My brother was going to go to England to wrestle, but then we found out they were opening a wrestling school in Bray, County Wicklow,” Lynch said. “I thought, ‘I’ll go along and try that. It’ll get me really fit.’”
Inspired by WWE Divas like Lita, Lynch joined her brother at the wrestling school, where she was trained in part by NXT Superstar Finn Bálor. The school itself was bare-bones. Lynch learned the art of grappling on gym mats rather than inside a squared circle. And though she has no pretentions about her abilities in the early days, she wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything else.
“I was absolutely, diabolically bad,” she chuckled. “But I loved it more than anything.”
Lynch’s love for sports-entertainment only grew from there. She saved her allowance and went to England, training in a wrestling camp while competing in Ireland twice a week. At 17, she enrolled in college, studying history, politics and philosophy. While she loved being in the ring, Lynch was still focused on the idea of having a regular 9-to-5 job.
“I didn’t think [wrestling] was what I was going to do,” she explained. “I was going to be a lawyer.”
Eventually, she left school, and Ireland, heading across the Atlantic to Canada, simply because she figured “they had better wrestling there,” on account of the Hart family’s legacy.
“I was earning 50 dollars a show and sleeping on friends’ couches,” she said.
Lynch’s in-ring acumen improved with every match, and at 18, she caught the eye of a Japanese women’s promotion. At an age when most teenagers are finishing up high school, Lynch was earning her stripes in a place many wrestlers spend a lifetime trying to get to.
“I was completely overwhelmed,” Lynch said of her time in Japan. “One of the largest ad agencies there wanted to take me on and promote me as a celebrity wrestler. I remember having a different kind of fear, an excited fear.”
She continued to compete around the world, but that overwhelming feeling kept creeping up on the teenaged Lynch.
“I was 19 and thought, ‘Maybe I need to settle down and get a real job,’” she said. “I decided to take different avenues.”
After making the decision to walk away from wrestling, Lynch went on a search to find the right career. She may not have realized it at the time, but it became a journey of self-discovery.
“I did personal training and was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right,’” Lynch explained. “I ended up working as a flight attendant for two and a half years, waking up feeling like, ‘This isn’t what I’m meant to do.’ It was a great job for anybody else.”
When she wasn’t pointing out where airplane exits were, Lynch took advantage of the jet-setting life, learning skills like martial arts, surfing and scuba diving. Eventually, the future Diva came to the realization that she needed to perform and returned to college to earn a degree in acting. During that time, she took part in bodybuilding competitions and even went to clown college.
“I did my thesis on clowns,” she said. “It’s a powerful thing when you’ve got this little red nose on. It’s a mask, the smallest in the world, but it unveils you. You stand up there and do these exercises that free you, let you play and see what comes out. What comes out is the truth.”
Lynch began looking for acting work, but with a résumé that listed wrestling, mixed martial arts, sword fighting, stunt driving and juggling, she soon found herself as a stuntwoman on the TV show “Vikings.” Still, an empty feeling crept up on her every now and then.
“[Nothing] captured my heart the way wrestling did,” Lynch said. “I did all these things that were separating the aspects of wrestling and trying to make it fit.”
Slowly, it dawned on Lynch that the ring was still calling her name.
“I’ve kept journals my entire life,” she explained. “During that time, I would always write, ‘I feel like there’s unfinished business. I feel like I should be in WWE, but I don’t know how to get there.’”
When she went to an Irish wrestling school to practice some moves for her stunt work, the trainer there asked Lynch if she had ever tried out for WWE, and urged the Irish beauty to give it a go. Lynch impressed WWE brass when she eventually tried out, earning herself a coveted spot at the WWE Performance Center in 2013.
Upon arriving at NXT, Lynch knew she was finally home.
“You know when people say ‘When you know, you know’?” Lynch said. “I knew. It’s been tough at times, but I’ve never been happier in my life. I just feel like this is what I’m meant to do.”
After debuting as a true Irish lass – jigs and all – Lynch has found her footing in the buzzworthy NXT Women’s Division as a version of that alternative girl who ventured into a bare-bones wrestling academy more than a decade ago.
“I feel like the girls here in NXT are revolutionizing the business, as far as Divas are concerned,” she said. “It gives me goosebumps to talk about it. The work ethic and collective ambition of all the girls here is unbelievable. Everyone is talking about the NXT Women’s Division because of that energy.”
But when talk turns toward Lynch’s future in NXT, the unmatched passion of a woman who is truly comfortable in her surroundings after years of searching for her place in the world shines through.
“My goal is to be NXT Women’s Champion,” she said confidently. “I’m ready to take over.”