She Did That: Becky Lynch Continues Her Improbable Journey

There’s no such thing as destiny. There are no guarantees in life. No matter how appealing the story of certainty, a divine guiding hand, such a narrative remains just that: fiction. The world is an incomprehensibly large place, and literally innumerable things occurred in history to get any of us to this point. It’s not fate—it’s just circumstance. Beautiful, absurd, wonderous circumstance, but still circumstance.

That Becky Lynch is over is an understatement. But why her, why now? Why does “The Man” arouse such passions that the Royal Rumble crowd in Phoenix, a random bar in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, and who knows where else erupted in joyous celebration when Finlay acceded to her demand to be added to the Women’s Royal Rumble match last night?

It’s quite simple: Becky Lynch is all of us. She is the Every Man, little-d democratic hero we so desperately need in these times. And it’s that h-word, hero, that sticks out the most. Like Daniel Bryan or Stone Cold Steve Austin, she best represents what “hero” means in this cultural zeitgeist. She foundered for years, not because she wasn’t good enough, but because a larger system that she had no control over had decided her place for her. She did everything she could, but others got the goods. As she famously noted one night on Talking Smack, “Everybody that’s attacked me has always gotten rewarded. They’ve always gotten rewarded, they’ve gotten pushes, they’ve gotten top spots, they’ve gotten title opportunities... They’ve gotten pushes, they’ve gotten put on posters, in commercials, whatever.” Still she soldiered on, not because it was part of some larger masterplan the universe had in store for her, but because that’s who she is. Not the recipient of handouts or favors, just a struggling artist trying to produce great work. Never born to be the champion—she fought to be the champion.

There is no “progress narrative” for Becky Lynch’s career path. There is no inevitable “long arc” bending toward justice and victory. She was out the game for years—her dream not apparently just deferred, but deleted all together. She was a flight attendant. She was a literal clown. She was a prodigy, cut down due to injury well before her time, like so many other prodigies in sports and entertainment. Never to be a household name, never to be a champion, never to be “The Man.”

It is impossible to separate Becky’s current status and her journey to get there. The former is not imaginable without the latter. We feel such deep devotion to the character not because of her success, but because in a world that far too often fails to dole out deserved punishments and rewards, she battled long enough to see her efforts pay off. Becky Lynch outlasted the failure and regret that so easily could have been her path.

Even after returning to her true love, the road was anything but certain. Coming out of NXT, not a soul believed that Becky Lynch would turn out to be the biggest star of the Four Horsewomen. The booking of the four in NXT certainly didn’t reflect that possibility—she did a literal Irish jig on her debut. Nor did Paige famously calling her “the most irrelevant of all of us” mere weeks into her main roster run. While her instant classic versus Sasha Banks at TakeOver: Unstoppable hinted at an untapped starpower, she was largely forgotten in the “Divas Revolution” and then served as a mere stepping stone on Charlotte’s journey to Big Bad in late 2015. (The Unstoppable bout holds up as still probably the greatest match of her career, and certainly the most important—imagine that, Sasha Banks giving a fellow competitor their best match.)

Becky Lynch surely does not believe in moral dessert: that if one commits good acts, they will be met with good fortune in life. She has struggled too hard, for too long, to believe any beneficence will surely reap rewards. There was every chance that all her striving would not have meant a thing, that the years away would have ruined her chance of ever making it on a global stage. That her journey now appears such a joyous one is a happy accident: for all of us, but also for herself. In her post-Rumble victory promo, one can hear in her voice legitimate wonderment that this is now her life: “I did, I did, I did that.”

That Becky’s character progression is so unbelievably connected and whole (something completely unheard of in professional wrestling) is not random. During her travails she learned that yes, all the pieces matter, that everything one does should reflect and espouse their core truths. A lot of wrestling has the feeling of filler, and yet somehow with Lynch that never seems to be the case.

So here we are, in 2019, and Becky Lynch is main eventing WrestleMania. Her feminism has always been less tell and more show, and it’s hard to imagine a more obvious “showing” than deservedly headlining this coming April. There’s no hamfisted tokenism here; no faux-woke “empowerment” speeches. There’s only the obvious fact that Becky Lynch is the biggest star in wrestling, and so she’s received top billing for wrestling’s biggest show.

Becky was handed a raw deal, a setback that by all rights should have ended her career. Yet she persevered in spite of it all—perhaps, frankly, to simply spite the bogus hand she was dealt. She could have so easily retreated from the forces confronting her and found another life. She in fact tried to do just that! Instead, her ostensibly tragic narrative of “what if” propelled her to the biggest stage in this wild and wonderful art form.

She’s done a lot of things in her wrestling career, and will go on to do even more. But most crucially, Becky Lynch has made it mean something.

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