On October 18, 2018, following her absolute evisceration of Edge two nights prior, Becky Lynch tweeted four simple words: “I am the man.”
Four words that would come to define her championship reign and the character she has since cultivated. Four words that went on to make Becky Lynch the premier commodity in WWE right now. The one who is arguably the face of the company, appearing in mainstream commercials, magazines and as the first woman to be a 2K cover star. But none of that came because of Lynch’s extra X chromosome. It came because of four words that served as a definitive statement, a motto for the rise to the top that Lynch was about to experience:
“I am the man.”
I am the man. pic.twitter.com/7OXMD9vtJq
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) October 18, 2018
Now, when it comes to catchphrases in wrestling, they really are a dime a dozen. In fact, most fans would be able to identify a wrestler simply if they heard their catchphrase.
Can you dig that, sucka? The champ is here! DAMN! Devon, get the tables! We’ve got two words for ya: suck it! Oh, it’s true, it’s damn true! The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be! Rest in peace! Whatcha gonna do, brother, when Hulkamania runs wild on you! If ya smellllll, what the Rock, is cookin! And that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so! WOOOOOOO!
One year ago today I said the words, “I am The Man” and it started the greatest 12 month ascent in WWE history. I was trying to turn on you, but you wouldn’t let me. You were all right. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/oquxwDQoJ1
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) October 18, 2019
Lynch’s catchphrase is no different. Well…Except that is. See, when Becky Lynch began calling herself the Man it was more than just a catchphrase or a slogan. It was a defining moment. It was her telling the fans that her gender didn’t matter. That she simply was the best among all her coworkers. And being the best meant being the Man.
Building to the Man
When Becky Lynch began “the Man” character, it was in the midst of her feud with Charlotte Flair. Lynch had just turned heel a few months prior, tired of being trapped in Flair’s shadow and watching her so-called best friend get opportunity after opportunity while Lynch just sat in wait. But Lynch was tired of waiting and what emerged from that frustration was a character who was ready to take her career into her own hands.
The moment happened on August 19, 2018, at SummerSlam, when after Lynch had Carmella locked in the Dis-Arm-Her, Flair hit her best friend with a Natural Selection allowing herself to get the pin, regaining the SmackDown Women’s Championship in the process. It was a match that Flair wasn’t even meant to be in. But she pulled the right cards and was added to what had been Lynch’s title match. And when Flair stole the pinfall, that was the last straw.
After feeling overlooked for far too long, Lynch snapped. Everything that had been starting to eat at her internally, reached a boiling point as Lynch attacked Flair, noting two nights later that she felt Flair was holding her back and that if she really had been her friend, she would have been happy for Lynch having a title opportunity and not insinuated herself into the match. Flair was supposed to be her best friend, but she couldn’t even Lynch have her opportunity.
While this was a heel turn, it was one that got ridiculously over with the crowd. As Forbes noted when examing all of WWE’s heel turns from 2018, Lynch’s turn symbolized “the moment that launched her into rarified air as a top star in WWE.”
At the following month’s PPV, September’s Hell in a Cell, Lynch took one step closer toward solidifying her spot as for the second time in her career, she won the SmackDown Women’s Championship, this time by beating Flair. On October 9, nine days before the catchphrase heard round the wrestling world, Flair and Lynch battled to a double count-out after a 23-minute fight.
Their rivalry was meant to continue and helping it along was Edge, who may not have realized truly what he signed up for. Edge had Lynch on The Cutting Edge during SmackDown’s 1000th episode, a segment that was interrupted when Flair attacked her former bestie. This set up a last man standing match at WWE Evolution where Lynch once again retained her title. This was 10 days after “the Man” was born.
The Evolution of the Man
You can call yourself a queen, or a boss, or even a goddess – but if you want to see narrow minds explode, call yourself The Man. pic.twitter.com/YEtqDBZuqL
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) December 2, 2018
The origin of Lynch’s nickname was simple. She was taunting Flair with a line that Flair’s two-time Hall of Fame father had coined decades prior. As Ric Flair said, “to be the Man, you’ve got to beat the Man.” Back then, Flair was the man and that’s something no one will argue even to this day given the record 16 world titles to his name, a mark that still stands. But a new man had come onto the scene in 2018 and her name was Becky Lynch.
And it was quite simple. Alexa Bliss was the “Goddess,” Carmella was the “Princess of Staten Island,” Natalya was the “Queen of Harts,” Asuka was the “Empress of Tomorrow,” Dana Brooke was the “Total Diva,” Billie Kay was the “Femme Fatale,” Kairi Sane was the “Pirate Princess,” Ember Moon was the “War Goddess,” Ronda Rousey was the “Baddest Woman on the Planet,” and Charlotte Flair was the “Queen.”
One year update: my t-shirt might be different, but I now run the whole damn business. https://t.co/aGviPjeBXP
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) October 12, 2019
Amidst it all stood Becky Lynch, whose nickname was certainly not in the tradition of how WWE names its female superstars. But they didn’t pick that name for her, she did, and she’s since ridden it to incredible success.
Not long after Lynch began calling herself “the Man,” did WWE get on board, releasing new merchandise for the champ, a t-shirt that simply read “the Man.” Within weeks, the shirt catapulted Lynch to the top-five of WWE’s t-shirt sales. Which is saying something considering her competition were a quartet of wrestlers who were constantly having new merch churned out for them including Rousey and Roman Reigns.
— WWEShop.com (@WWEShop) November 23, 2018
Sensing the star they had in Lynch, WWE became building to a marquee program at Survivor Series that would pit Lynch against Rousey, champion vs champion, at November’s big four PPV. There was only one problem. In an attack on Raw, that Lynch led, Nia Jax broke her nose, meaning she wouldn’t be able to compete. In her place, none other than Flair, who lost to Rousey, something Lynch made sure to remind her of after the fact, as WWE began building to WrestleMania 35 and what would become a historic main event.
After losing her title to Asuka in a triple threat, also featuring Charlotte, at TLC, Lynch went on to win the 2019 Royal Rumble and was quick to call her shot. She didn’t want Asuka’s title, she wanted Rousey’s and the match that was robbed from her a few months prior. As it would turn out however, Lynch once again had to watch as Flair insinuated herself into the story. In storyline, Lynch/Stephanie McMahon were put into an angle meant to, at least in spirit, mirror that of the legendary Stone Cold Steve Austin/Vince McMahon angle from the Attitude Era. Lynch was kayfabe suspended and had her WrestleMania match stripped of her as a result, and it was given to none other than Flair. But after pleading from Rousey, Lynch had the opportunity to get back into the match by winning at Fastlane which she did.
The match was set to be a triple threat and after Flair won the women’s title from Asuka in March, it became a match where both belts were on the line and the winner would take all. This was the perfect stipulation to set up the showdown between these three. They had built to a program worthy of a WrestleMania main event and were rewarded with such. And at the end of the night, Lynch, doubled down on her history-making main event by becoming the first woman to hold both the SmackDown and Raw women’s titles simultaneously.
The Man had come around.
The Man’s Man
By the time WrestleMania ended in April, the character of “the Man” had hit new heights. Now also going by “Becky Two Belts,” Lynch appeared on both Raw and SmackDown leading up to Money in the Bank. At the PPV, Lynch defended both her titles, one against Flair, the other against Lacey Evans. She dropped the SmackDown title to Flair but retained her Raw title, the belt she still holds to this day. This allowed Lynch to return to her new home brand, unquestionably as the face, the Man.
Though, as it would turn out, there was some friendly competition to who had the rights to said nickname. Lynch, who made it what it was, or real-life boyfriend Seth Rollins, who had first used the term back in 2014-15. At the end of the day and the end of the Twitter banter, Rollins ceded the nickname to Lynch and happily allowed himself to be referred to as “The Man’s Man.” If ever there had been a doubt to Lynch’s claim over the nickname and the status that came with it, it was gone after that.
Becky Lynch made her position very clear when in an interview with PinkNews, she said, “It’s walking into the locker room—the male locker room—it’s like, ‘Sorry, lads, none of you are cutting the mustard. I’m the man now. I’m taking over the ship now…I’m the most victorious of all Superstars, both on Raw and SmackDown, in 2018. I’ve won the most matches. Therefore, I am the man of not just the women’s locker room, but also the men’s locker room.”
Both in the ring and on the mic, week in and week out, Becky Lynch continued to prove that she was indeed the Man and that no one, no matter their gender, was on her level. Lynch and Rollins teamed briefly to take down Evans and Baron Corbin before moving into a program with “The Boss,” the returning Sasha Banks. Banks and Lynch felt like a natural feud and the two have already had some epic battles including inside Hell in a Cell this past October.
The Impact of Becky Lynch as the Man
One year ago, Becky Lynch uttered four words that have since come to define not just her career, but a good portion of WWE over that span. Lynch has been thee star of the company, gender aside. In fact, the character of the Man has always transcended gender. It was never about a woman not being happy with being a woman. It was about a woman embracing a role where she was the best of the best. Better than the men she worked with and better than the women.
The year of the Man has been one that has transformed the understanding of what a wrestling character can be and its all been thanks to Becky Lynch. The Man has taken on a life of its own and its paid dividends for the woman who has been behind it all. Just look at the most recent WWE Draft where it was Lynch who was chosen with the first overall pick to go to Raw where she is the current women’s champion. At 195 days with the title, Lynch is also just 36 days shy of Rousey’s record reign of 231 days. It’s a record that Becky Lynch is poised to break, because in the words of Brandon Flowers from the Killers, “I’ve got news for you baby, you’re looking at the Man.”
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