Before Becky Lynch takes on former champion Tiffany Stratton in an extreme rules match for the NXT women’s championship at No Mercy on Saturday (8 p.m., Peacock), she took time for some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski
Edited for clarity and length
Q: What did it mean for you to finally become NXT women’s champion and check that box along with being a Grand Slam champion?
A: It’s very much wasn’t about checking boxes. It was one of those things where there was a little bit of proving to myself how far I’ve come along, writing those wrongs of the past, being very much seen as the fourth Horsewomen. Being in line for title shots in NXT out of circumstances, but not because I was actually the one, but because I happened to be there at the right time. So being able to go back and win that and feel like I vindicated my younger self is very very nice. But really I think the main thing for me is elevating the NXT title, elevating the NXT brand and being able to work with the younger talent that will have the opportunity to go for a main event of WrestleMania, things that weren’t in place when I was in NXT.
I feel like when I’m able to do that, when I’m able to work with these women that want to go there then it only brings them up. It only elevates them. It only shows them what they’re missing, that they have to do. And then it shows me how good the future is and that makes me excited and at times puts a little bit of chip on my shoulder and lets me know I’m still the top dog around here and I’m gonna fight all of y’all.
Q: What’s been your impression of working with Tiffany and do you feel like she’s come up to your level and met you there? You are someone who is kind of a measuring stick when people see talent interact with you.
A: My level takes a long time to get to, my friend. It takes experience, it takes ups, it takes downs. But the girl has so much natural talent. I don’t know nothing about having natural talent. If she wants to apply, if she wants to put her all into this and become a student of the game, she can be great. She can go on and do wonderful things in this business. I think getting to work with me she’s seeing that. She’s seeing how much she doesn’t know and that’s a good thing.
Because when you look like her and you’re athletic like her and you come in with a character and you’re easy to package to the moon — ‘Here ya go, here’s everything handed on a silver platter. This is gonna be easy.’ Then you realize that this is actually quite complicated and there are gonna be people like me who come along and love this and want to put you in your place and you’re gonna have to rise to the occasion. So we are gonna see how much she rises to the occasion. She has everything in her toolbox to do that. If she wants to do it, the world is her oyster.
Q: What do you hope to learn about her going through this extreme rules match?
I want to know how tough she is, how much she is willing to put her body on the line, put her brain on the line. How much pain is she willing to take and push past? I’m not talking about physical pain. I’m talking about mental pain. That’s where the fighting is done, especially in this game.
Q: There was a report out there that you asked to wrestle Tegan Nox last week on Raw and that was changed to Natalya. Is there truth to that and is there going to be a push from you going forward to maybe get some of the NXT women on Raw and get them that exposure there?
A: There is full truth in that. That was one of the things that I wanted to do with this title. I wanted to have open challenges for the women who haven’t been getting opportunities, women that have been in the back that love wrestling and that want an opportunity and haven’t been able to get it.
Q: What are you most proud of with your story with Trish Stratus and Zoey Stark?
A: I’m very proud of the fact that it was a very long story and it was maybe six months, which is a very long time considering we (Trish and I) only had two full matches [together]. So I think everyone wanted it to be over, but the last [cage] match we pulled out all the stops and it was the greatest match of her career and one of my favorite matches and it stole the show that night. To have a story that goes on that long, but to still be able to hook people at the end — and the end is the most important because that’s all people are gonna remember.
Q: Did you two go into that cage match with a little chip on your shoulders after not being on SummerSlam? You talked about lemons and lemonade.
A: I very much had the old chip on my shoulder as I often do. I think both of us had it because of that. I didn’t want to just have five minutes on SummerSlam and not have the blowoff that we’re were capable of at Payback. In that way, I’m very grateful. But I think there obviously should have been the priority for the SummerSlam card and have us have that match on SummerSlam. But it’s one of those things where the chips fall where they may. You have to make lemonade out of the lemons you’re given and we did just that.
Q: Is Jade Cargill someone you followed and is there some intrigue for a potential match with her or something down the road?
A: I watch all the products. I think it’s great. More women with more platforms. I think she has a lot of work to do when she gets here, but if she is willing to do that, just look at her. She’s a star. It’s more people for me to get in the ring with and kick their asses.
Q: It’s not something a lot of people get to do, to go back somewhere that helped make them to try to make it better. What does it mean on that level to be back in NXT? It’s like going back to college and teaching.
A: I love being able to be in that position. I love getting to work with different people and people that are hungry, people that are trying to come up and be great and trying to impart whatever knowledge that I have.
When we were coming up, myself, Charlotte, Sasha [Banks], Bayley, with all credit to the women who had been here as great as they were they have never been in the spots that we have been in. Seth Rollins was able to work with John Cena. John Cena was able to work with Edge and all these people got to learn from people that have been in the spots that they want to get into. We never had all of that. We were kind of learning as we go, learning from each other. I think getting to be in the ring with people who have been where you want to go accelerated that process.
Q: What’s the biggest question younger talent comes to you with?
A: I think a lot of it is positioning. ‘I feel like I’m in this rut or I feel like I want to go there, but I don’t know how. I’m not getting this time and I want to do this.’ I think that’s one of those things that I can relate to very well. There is a lot to be said for patience, although I don’t have much of that myself. This business is like surfing. You got to catch those waves. You got to paddle and be ready to get on that wave. I don’t know nothing about surfing so maybe this analogy doesn’t work. But it’s about catching the waves and being OK in the downtime.
But being OK in the downtime isn’t just sitting around waiting for your spot. Being OK in the downtime is preparing and planning and doing what you can do so that when the opportunity comes you’re ready. For me, that was always going to the digital team, doing things on social media that I found entertaining. Because when nobody else was gonna give me a shot well then let me at least bring my audience in. Let me communicate with them and tell them my frustrations or why they should care about me.