WWE Women’s Champion Becky Lynch: Grunge + Metal Is the Soundtrack of My Life
“'Do the Evolution' would be such a great soundtrack to this pay-per-view!” Becky Lynch exclaims while gushing about her love for Pearl Jam. With WWE's first ever all-women's PPV, Evolution, coming Oct. 28, we got on the phone with the Smackdown Live Women's Champion to talk about how rock and metal has been the soundtrack of her life through times good and bad.
Beginning her career at age 15 under the name Rebecca Knox, the star of WWE's Smackdown Live women's division almost never made it to WWE at all. After suffering an injury at age 19 and facing pressure from her family, Lynch quit the wrestling business and stood on the sidelines for seven years. She threw herself into scuba diving, martial arts, sword fighting, stunt driving, bodybuilding, surfing, and even went to clown college, but the thrill of pro wrestling could never be outmatched. Just a few years after her return to the squared circle, Lynch competed in her first Wrestlemania fighting for the Women's Championship.
In this exclusive interview, Lynch explains how Pearl Jam got her through tumultuous times growing up, expressing her teen angst through heavy metal, blasting Rise Against and Rage Against the Machine during her ferocious workouts and much more.
You tweeted in 2015 that your favorite song of all time is Pearl Jam’s "Black." Is that still your favorite song?
You know what, that’s the thing about Pearl Jam, right? It’s so hard to have a definitive song, and yes, “Black” is right up there, but you can go through different things in your life and Pearl Jam always have something to resonate with you.
I went to see Eddie Vedder pay live at Ohana Fest, and oh my goodness, absolutely amazing. He played "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" on an electric ukulele. I had never heard an electric ukulele before! My goodness, what an experience. He played “Good Woman” by Cat Power and ever since that show about a month ago, I’ve just listened to that song on repeat — by him. I’ve listened to the Cat Power version, and it’s wonderful, but there’s something about Eddie Vedder and his soulful voice that’s just… uhhh, stop the lights.
I know Pearl Jam was one of the definitive bands that got you through a lot of hard times, but was it also your soundtrack for the good times?
Absolutely. I think Pearl Jam is the soundtrack to my life, really. That’s the thing about them; they’re constantly evolving and they’ve also been responsible for a lot of the relationships in my life. I’ve made friends or become best friends with people by bonding through our love of Pearl Jam. They have so many uplifting songs.
Do you remember the first time you ever heard Pearl Jam?
I can’t remember the first time I heard them, but I remember the moment they became my favorite band. There was some stuff going on, some family stuff and personal stuff when I was 14. I was at home in Ireland and I was living in this dreary house. We had just moved in and it was freezing outside, it wasn’t really well-heated inside.
It was a Saturday night, my friend Amy was over. I had these bunk beds and I had another bed because my family had been uprooted. My mom had gotten me two beds in my room so my friends could stay over. I just remember lying there and listening to “Oceans” and for some reason it just felt like, 'These guys get me,' you know? In the angst of being a teenager and everything that was going on, there was something about listening to that song and lying there in that freezing bed… I remember my feet being wet [laughs]. I was like, ‘This is my favorite band,’ and they’ve been my favorite band ever since.
I’m sure if the opportunity came for Pearl Jam to play you down the ramp at Wrestlemania, you would jump at that.
Oh, stop the lights. Don’t even tease me with talk like that!
Sorry! [laughs] I know you grew up a grunge fan. Which other bands from that world have been important to you?
Soundgarden got me through some stuff. I got to see Chris Cornell, thankfully, before he passed. I saw them at the Olympia Theater in Dublin — my goodness, what an incredible voice. Alice in Chains was another big one. Nirvana was a big one, but I wouldn’t say I’m the world’s biggest Nirvana fan. I might have been when I was younger, but not so much now. Then it’s just rock like Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, and more modern bands like Rise Against.
I read you listen to Rise Against especially during workouts.
Yes, Rise Against is my workout band. Rise Against and Rage Against the Machine are my two workout bands. I wouldn’t listen to them, say, on a road trip when I’m trying to relax and zone out, but to get hyped, they’re the bands.
When you’re at the end of a workout, your body is hurting and you need to push through those final reps, what song is essential?
"Bullshit" by Rise Against. That’s it.
I read you get a little into the metal side too with bands like Korn and Pantera.
That would’ve been more in my youth. Not so much now, but when I was a teenager. Back in Ireland there was a place called the Central Bank and it was where all the little rocker kids would hang out and talk about music and bond over our angst. Around that time I was a big Pantera and Korn fan — Machine Head too.
How has music set the background for your rise to the top of WWE?
Music is so important, isn’t it? It reflects everything that’s going on. Sometimes I’ll just be driving and listening and feel so grateful. When things weren’t going so good, a song like "Bullshit" would really motivate me and you’d get into that zone and sing along with it and, for the lack of a better term, raging against the machine. Wanting to prove yourself, that motivates you.
Sometimes, everything is going great and you listen to a song like "Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam. It relaxes you — I can just breath through this. I know it’s more of a love song, but it’s just about appreciating everything that’s going on in your life. When he says, ‘I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love,’ I feel like at this point in my life I’ve got such a great support system, I’ve got such great friends outside of the business and inside of the business, and all the amazing fans that I have. It’s hard to not sit back and think, ‘I’m a lucky woman.’
‘Guaranteed’ by Eddie Vedder — it’s on the soundtrack to Into the Wild — ‘I know all the rules but the rules did not know me.’ I love that, because that’s one of the things with the rise of Becky Lynch. She followed all the rules, right? She knows all the rules, so nobody expected this to come out of her. I know all the rules, but the rules do not know me.
Who in the WWE do you have the best conversations about music with?
Oh, that's a good question. I will say, in our women’s locker room on Smackdown Live, I can’t say I can talk about music. [laughs] Generally, I’m hearing the gossip about Beyonce and whatever’s going on with Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, which I don’t have a clue about.
Who do I have the best conversations about music with? Jeff Hardy. I don’t have a musical bone in my body, so I’m so interested in what goes into writing songs and things like that. He’s got his own band and he sings and everything — and he’s a big Pearl Jam fan — so getting to talk to him about how people write songs, I’m always curious.
Sometimes Eddie says words in such a way that you can’t understand it and I’m like, ‘Why did he say it like that? Is that purposely to fit with the melody? Is that just the way he wants to sing it?' Just random questions that I always have and Jeff is good at answering them, even if he doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about.
Do you ever listen to music right before a match to get you in the right mood?
I generally put music on in the locker room if I can, just to get centered. I wouldn’t be one to walk around with headphones right before or anything like that, but there’s always music going on in my head. [laughs] I could talk about music all day!
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