WWE star Becky Lynch has broken multiple barriers and milestones in her career, but now — as she embarks on another run in NXT — her goal is to set up the next generation of talent to be main event stars of the company.
After a months-long feud with WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus and Zoey Stark, Lynch, who joined the main roster in 2015, jumped back into WWE's developmental show where her career began nearly 10 years ago. She challenged NXT Women’s Champion Tiffany Stratton for the title and won it on Sept. 12 for the first time, while also becoming the sixth Women's Grand Slam champion.
Lynch will defend her title against Stratton at NXT No Mercy in an extreme rules match on Saturday, and she told USA TODAY Sports why she came back, what she envisions during her time in NXT and why she wants to get stars over.
“You're trying to make the best of the future now,” Lynch said.
‘I wanted to put a spotlight on the brand’
It’s no secret NXT has benefited from a viewership standpoint since Lynch returned. In her championship match with Stratton, NXT got a boost in viewership it hadn’t seen in years, and the program’s overall numbers continue to climb. WWE says NXT has seen a 4% jump in all viewers and 26% jump in viewers ages 18-49 from 2022.
With more eyes on the brand, Lynch figures this is a good opportunity to showcase rising stars while pushing them to that next level.
“I wanted to put a spotlight on the brand, I wanted to elevate it, I wanted to work with the future of the business,” Lynch said. “I wanted to go down there, see what it looks like and push them a little further.”
It’s become common in recent years for main roster stars to venture into NXT. The current NXT North American Champion is Dominik Mysterio of The Judgment Day. Baron Corbin is also reinventing his career with NXT. Main roster stars competing in NXT could create fewer opportunities for up-and-coming talent to make names for themselves, but Lynch hopes the competition gives NXT stars "a little bit of a chip on their shoulder."
“I imagine it would for me. It would be like, ‘Oh, you're on the main roster. You come on down here. You're taking our title, but that's good,’” she said. “I want people to be angry.
“Competition is usually stiffer the hungrier you are.”
Competing with younger WWE stars
Whether it’s a newbie or veteran, Lynch aka “The Man” has shared the ring with all sorts of performers in 2023. When less-experienced stars face off with Lynch, it's sometimes the biggest match of their time in WWE. No matter who it is, Lynch said she tries “to bring out the best of everybody,” but there is a difference when going against younger talent.
“When you are newer to this, and you haven't worked in the main event picture, there's a different pace that needs to be considered and different emotions and different elements that come into the picture,” Lynch said. “Showing them that aspect, I think, is very rewarding because that helps them, that helps them improve, that helps them grow.”
Working with younger talent is part of her plan to continue to grow the women’s division, because she wants women “main eventing shows and Wrestlemanias for the future.”
Lynch hasn’t gotten in the ring with many other stars since coming back to NXT, but she has liked what she has seen. She was really impressed with how “phenomenal” her fellow Irish star Lyra Valkyria was during their tag team match on Sept. 19. But she still has a message for everyone on the NXT roster if they want to become a main event star: don’t be a flash in the pan.
“It's about playing the long game. It's not about doing well and having shine for two months or six months,” she said. “It's about being more than an Instagram post. It's being ahead, it's being a thinking head, so that you can connect with an audience so that you can find a reason that they care.
“Everybody's athletic, everybody looks great, everybody's wonderful. Show me why I care. You see a lot of people that are hungry down there that love this, that want to be better at this, and so time will tell how great they can be. There is no limit."
Becky Lynch’s future plans
Lynch is excited for her extreme rules match Saturday because she loves how creative she can get in the stipulation match, like thinking about how much pain she can inflict or take. She plans on retaining the NXT title, but after that, she’s already thinking of the road to WrestleMania.
The end of the calendar year is a big stretch for WWE. The Survivor Series in November leads into the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber before WrestleMania 40 takes place on April 6-7.
Since it will be eight years since her first WrestleMania match, Lynch says she wants the upcoming flagship event taking place in Philadelphia to be a big one. The name she brought up as a possible opponent? Women’s World Champion Rhea Ripley.
“Maybe it will be championship for championship, winner takes all," she said. "We'll see."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: WWE's Becky Lynch wants to spotlight NXT brand, elevate young stars