WWE’s Becky Lynch discusses her new book

NEW YORK — Becky Lynch needed coffee. A lot of it. She had already been losing sleep over how she should have ended her new memoir differently, but then she had to travel from Chicago to New York last week, landing at 2:45 a.m. and waking up a couple of hours later to start hair and makeup for a “Today” show appearance. Fans were waiting for her outside 30 Rock. “We love you, Becky!” one yelled as she walked into the building. And then it was showtime.

“Should I have worn the sparkly jacket?” she asked in her Irish accent, second-guessing her wardrobe selection as Al Roker and the crew prepared to welcome her. But it was too late; the shiny black-and-gold jacket would have to do.

Lynch, 37, may be one of the biggest stars in WWE history — an eight-time world champion who can rip an opponent’s arm out of its socket and fly off a ladder to deliver a leg drop through the announcers table — but she’s not above the everyday neuroses of mere mortals. Her rise as “The Man,” which includes winning the first-ever women’s main event at WrestleMania, has been made even more special because she’s doing it alongside her husband, WWE world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins, and their 3-year-old daughter, Roux, who travels the world with her parents. But her openness over insecurities, regret and guilt, which is captured in her memoir, “Becky Lynch: The Man: Not Your Average Average Girl,” has made Lynch one of the most relatable characters in the history of pro wrestling.

Later in the day, Lynch attended a book signing at a Midtown Manhattan Barnes & Noble. Among the roughly 400 fans standing in line — people of all ages, many in shirts adorned with Lynch’s face — some tell her they’re pulling for her to win another championship at WrestleMania XL, and some compliment her on the very real punch she delivered to the jaw of a nemesis the night before in Chicago. But a few hug her and break down; they thank Lynch for talking about issues that are not usually discussed in the pro-wrestling world: eating disorders, postpartum depression, the loss of a parent, impostor syndrome. Part of what makes her resonate in such a profound way is her willingness to give voice to heavy issues. And she’s found an audience for it: Her memoir, released March 26, is already a bestseller. She’s helped make it okay for modern pro wrestling, an art form that’s traditionally served as an escape from reality’s hardships, to get real about the difficulties that millions of fans face.

“I think in my life the thing that has crippled me the most as a person is shame, and maybe that’s my Catholic upbringing,” Lynch said. “Shame only exists when you hide it. When you are able to be open about it and talk about it and own it and say, ‘Yeah, I’m struggling, I had a really hard time after I had my child,’ then that shame goes away.”

In some ways, she’s come a long way from the Dublin suburbs, where she grew up as Rebecca Quin, a chunky kid who was teased at school and found solace in pizza. In other ways, she is still that kid, and always will be.

As weird as it may sound now, Lynch used to be allergic to just about any form of physical activity. As a teen, she drank a lot of Dutch Gold, a cheap Irish pilsner. And when she was high, as she often was, the last thing she wanted to do was exercise. Somehow, she managed to fail P.E.

“I watched too many American TV shows because I thought you passed just by showing up,” she said. “I just thought it was silly when I ran, and I didn’t want to look silly.”

Everything changed in 2002, when, at 15, she started training with her brother, Richy, to become a pro wrestler. Their mother thought pro wrestling was some kind of depraved pornography, but Lynch fell hard for the craft, and eventually traveled all over Europe, Japan and North America in hopes of making a steady living on the independent circuit.

But after four years in that life, she thought she was done. At the time, she claimed that a concussion forced her to step away, but the truth was more complicated. The burnout was real, and she couldn’t escape her fear of failure. Then there was the obsession over her body and what she could and couldn’t eat. After she left wrestling, she bounced around for seven years. She tried to be a flight attendant, a bartender, an aspiring actor — but nothing could match that first love.

“What I felt more than anything was regret and guilt because I felt like I had a talent and an ability — and a spark,” she said. “I don’t even know what to call it, but it was a certain something that could only be released in the wrestling world.”

With each new unfulfilling occupation, she kept asking herself: “How do I move on?”

The answer: She couldn’t.

Lynch had downed a flight of coffee to get through a 3.5-hour signing, but no amount of caffeine could prepare her for the fan who proudly showed off his right forearm adorned with a tattoo of her face. Or at least a face that kind of looked like hers.

Lynch couldn’t look away from the arm of the man who traveled from Mexico to meet her. This kind of thing isn’t entirely new for Lynch, but she finds herself dumbfounded each time someone shows off her face on their skin. Another fan wanted Lynch to sign her body so she could turn it into a tattoo, but security interceded.

“My signature isn’t that cool,” Lynch said, trying to reassure the woman that it was for the best.

It was a long day on little sleep, but Lynch was a good-natured and comforting presence for her fans, reminding them that she has a full life and a very different personality outside the ring.

“She’s more than just a wrestler,” said Bianca Belair, a top WWE performer and former women’s world champion. “We’ve had many talks about being a mom, a wife and a WWE superstar, and I wonder, ‘How does she do it?’”

Lynch and Rollins, whose real name is Colby Lopez, were married in 2021 and have served as models to their colleagues who wonder if it’s possible to have both a career and family. The couple got together in 2019, but there had been chemistry before that. Rollins, 37, remembered thinking to himself: “Maybe we just hook up and it’s nothing serious.” But that’s not exactly how things turned out. “The minute we sort of got together, it was like, ‘Oh shoot, there are a lot more feelings here,’” he said. Roux was born in 2020, and the couple have raised her, in part, on their bus, with the help of drivers and a nanny.

The couple try to find some consistency on the road by taking Roux to parks everywhere they go, and Lynch puts the 3-year-old to bed every night she isn’t in the ring. But there are challenges. One was the television character Peppa Pig, who Lynch said was making Roux go a little wild. Rollins, 37, agreed: “Peppa had to go.”

“The joys just far outweigh the hardships,” Lynch said. “She’s just having a great time — and we get to do that together.”

The stretch of joy has also been punctuated by sadness. When her father, Ken Quin, would tell her to “enjoy the journey,” Lynch didn’t think her dad understood her stress. But when he died of cancer in 2021, three months after she had Roux, Lynch finally got what he was saying. One of the most powerful scenes in the book is when Lynch reflects on how she woke up at 4 a.m. to live-stream her father’s funeral in Ireland, which she couldn’t attend due to covid restrictions.

“You think the people that you’ve left behind for their birthdays or Christmas, weddings or funerals, you kind of think that they’ve stayed static. It’s very easy to stay busy and think I’ll just see them down the road,” she said through tears. “I have so much guilt when it came to my dad, and just not being there and him never getting to meet Roux.”

After Roux was born, and Lynch suffered from postpartum depression, she found that sharing her struggles helped her get through them. The reaction from fans was heartening. The memoir, a natural extension of that openness, came from years of journals she kept. Chelsey Goodan, the author of “Underestimated: The Wisdom and Power of Teenage Girls,” met Lynch through their writing group, and had no idea who she was, until they became friends.

“A lot of people just put her into this wrestling category, but to me her story is so impactful for any woman who has a vision that’s outside of a box and wants to do something different,” Goodan said.

Added Rollins: “She is insecure, and it’s tough for her to talk about these types of things. For her to go out and put that on paper was such a ballsy move.”

Lynch did indeed come off as an open book. Over lunch — which she got to have, finally, at 4 p.m. — she was willing to discuss just about everything except her historic 0-fer on “Jeopardy!” last year: “Keep ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’ out of this.”

At one point, she looked across the street into the office of a man who was seated with perfect posture at his desk. She has a hard time envisioning a version of her life that looks like that, she said.

And yet, she has no intention of wrestling forever. She knows that once Roux starts school, the bus life will no longer make sense. Her contract is expiring in the next couple of months. While she has not announced plans to retire, she does say she has done everything she set out to do.

Lynch knows she’s a long way from Dublin and the angsty girl who was told she wasn’t good enough or pretty enough.

“When you’ve accomplished all of the things that you wanted to take off your list, then you get down to: Why do I do this?”

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