Friday, May 27, 2022

Becky Lynch discusses controversial SummerSlam match, wrestling in Saudi Arabia for WWE Crown Jewel

When Becky Lynch stepped away from WWE in May 2020, she was on top of the wrestling world. After finding out she was pregnant, Lynch relinquished her Raw women’s championship in the middle of a record-setting reign.

After the birth of her daughter, Roux, with now-husband Seth Rollins on Dec. 4, speculation immediately turned to when Lynch would return to the ring. That came at SummerSlam in August, with Lynch, a long-time fan favorite, turning heel and winning the SmackDown women’s championship from Bianca Belair in just 26 seconds.

The return — and more specifically, the match — was largely a critical failure, with many fans and media members believing both women deserved considerably more than they were given on WWE’s biggest stage since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking with CBS Sports, Lynch pushed back on the idea that the short match should be seen as a disappointment.

“So, look, the thing is, people are not happy with how it went down,” Lynch said. “That’s a good thing when we want people to want somebody to overcome something. It’s better in the long run if people are not happy. If they’re happy and they’re happy with the match and she loses, then we have a problem. We want people to want the good guy to come out on top. If we see somebody we like do something that’s a bit underhanded, then we are displeased with them and don’t want them to win. That’s what we want.”

Lynch has continued to play the heel, holding onto the SmackDown title while also being drafted to Raw in the recent WWE Draft.

Any worries that Lynch’s time off had left her with “ring rust” that would take a considerable amount of time to shake were lost when Lynch put on a spectacular match against Sasha Banks in the main event of this past Friday’s “Supersized SmackDown.”

“It went from zero to 100 real quick,” Lynch said. “I will say that I’m loving it. Not doing it is a bit painful for me. I missed it so much that I couldn’t wait to get in the ring and get a chance back on top. I’m back in the swing of things and I’m loving it.”

Lynch is now set to defend her title on Thursday at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. She faces a challenge from both Banks and Belair, giving the opportunity for either woman to take the SmackDown title from Lynch before she moves to Raw following the event.

Like all of WWE’s events in Saudi Arabia, Crown Jewel is drawing criticism for being part of what many consider to be “sportswashing” by a regime that has repeatedly been called out by international organizations for a litany of human rights violations. WWE’s partnership with the government was part of the “Saudi Vision 2030” program announced in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man who would be linked to the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, just a month before that year’s WWE Crown Jewel event.

One area where WWE shows have made progress in the company has been the presence of women on the cards, which was initially forbidden but began with Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss at Crown Jewel in 2019, with the women wrestling in oversized t-shirts.

The match between Banks, Belair and Lynch is the biggest women’s match WWE has put on in the country, which Lynch believes to be particularly significant.

“I think that’s the thing, is that this is how things become progressive, by allowing women to see what’s possible,” Lynch said. “If it’s not something they get to see often, it’s not something they get to be aware of with the things they can do. So, I think that’s why this is so important. This is probably the biggest match you could have in women’s wrestling right now. The fact that it’s happening there just allows them to see what is possible for hopefully them one day, too.”

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