In the year of 2019, there is arguably no bigger WWE star than ‘The Man’ Becky Lynch. The Irish badass has surpassed all expectations of what it means to be a female wrestler. What started as a groundswell movement soon transformed into unanimous mainstream popularity; from mainstream support came a small place in pop culture thanks in part to the star’s excellent social media presence. The Connor McGregor/Steve Austin inspired star might be one of the most popular stars since the latter left the company.
Austin and Lynch certainly share some recognisable characteristics but what is not as obvious is just how many parallels run throughout their careers. Both superstars at first struggled to gain real traction on the independent circuit. Austin would move from territory to territory failing to properly prove himself in companies such as WCW or ECW, despite turning in strong work. Lynch meanwhile, would compete around the world in various promotions, but would momentarily leave wrestling after an injury. Despite each of their setbacks, the two would eventually make it to WWE. As we know success would soon find both wrestlers though it wasn’t always easy, Lynch was briefly tagged with an Irish dancing gimmick whilst Austin was known as ‘The Ringmaster’. Neither were exactly what the company was looking for in a main-event star, but this is where the parallels between the two would momentarily diverge. The doubt wouldn’t linger around Austin for long, for Lynch, however, this feeling would be much harder to shake off. The Irish native was seemingly devoid of a complex personality who seemed destined to be a footnote in comparison to her other ‘WWE four horsewomen’ stablemates. She would slowly gain a following before turning heel on Charlotte at last year’s Summerslam; thus ‘The Man’ Becky Lynch was born.
Becky Lynch is easily one of the most enjoyable characters on the roster and the fact the gimmick feels such a natural fit makes it even more of a pleasant surprise. It is here though, that the Austin parallels return. There might be some debate about whether this is a good thing. Lynch was recently screwed out of her Wrestlemania shot by Vince, though it seems likely that it will be Stephanie secretly pulling the strings. WWE once again has looked to the past for inspiration: Lynch is the screwed crowd favourite who rallies against the hierarchy; Stephanie is the misunderstood, yet, untrustworthy authority figure who will descend into villainy (despite being a bad guy for so long); and Charlotte is the chosen corporate champion. It is the same main event dynamic that contained Vince McMahon, Austin and The Rock in 1998 following Survivor Series: Deadly Game. It is a great storyline that had new developments occurring every week. Tt is refreshing in comparison to the slow pace of many of today’s programs. The individual vs the corporation has been a storyline regurgitated by WWE so many times to diminishing returns, but for whatever reason (perhaps because of the talents involved), the story is working; how long will it last though? When fans start to realise the obvious parallels between now and the attitude era storyline will they embrace the program or reject it? Only time will tell, but one would hope for the women involved that it will be a success.