At SummerSlam 2021, Becky Lynch answered the collective cries ringing from World Wrestling Entertainment’s newly returned live audiences: “We Want Becky.” It was the chant that dogged Lynch’s longtime rival Charlotte Flair throughout the latter days of her program with Rhea Ripley. The people got what they wanted, but it was not “The Man,” the scrappy brawler who stole the show from Flair and Ronda Rousey in their run leading up to their history-making WrestleMania 35 match that returned. Rather, Lynch’s new heel persona “Big Time Becks” has been in effect since her return from parental leave, an egotistical champion with the braggadocio and wardrobe of UFC’s Conor McGregor, seething with entitlement but a livewire of complicated emotions where Flair is concerned. Fresh off an emotional champion vs. champion match opposite Flair at November’s Survivor Series, the next challenger for Becky Lynch is Liv Morgan.
Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan – Opposites at Play
More Similiar Than They Seem
In many ways, Morgan resembles pre-2018 Lynch: despite a deficit of opportunities to shine to her full potential, she’s managed to strike a chord with the WWE audience as a performer to sympathize with and root for. However, Morgan’s journey in WWE has been even more fraught than Lynch’s. Whilst Lynch struggled to escape the shadow of her former friend, Flair, Morgan’s struggle has been to be seen at all, by successive creative teams that consistently come up empty in terms of marketing Morgan as a singles performer. Her time as a tag team player was also rocky, her tenures with The Riott Squad interrupted by the respective releases of comrades Sarah Logan and Ruby Soho, then known as Ruby Riott.
The nascent rivalry between Becky Lynch and Liv Morgan has drawn deeply off their respective histories with key figures in their pasts, as well as each other, providing the definition that both their characters need. The Lynch/Morgan rivalry began with a snipe that blurred the lines of kayfabe and reality, with Lynch twisting her words of encouragement to Morgan-that she would be a champion by the time that Lynch returned from parental leave-into a dig that Morgan had underperformed. A friendship turned sour is a well-worn trope in pro wrestling rivalries, but drawing on this real-life exchange to insult Morgan brought Lynch the stunned silence of the crowd that has generally been reluctant to see her as a heel.
Matters Become Heated on Raw
On November 29’s Monday Night Raw, broken friendships of the past continued to be the bedrock of the rivalry. Morgan fired back at Lynch alluding to her fraught relationship with Flair, which WWE was eager to capitalize on for Survivor Series 2021. The fourth wall shattered utterly when Morgan accused Lynch, and her inflated contract, of being the reason her “friends were gone.” There was no chance that she meant anyone other than Logan and Soho, and the allusion to WWE’s glut of releases in 2020 and 2021, and their emotional impact, by an active WWE performer during a live broadcast of Monday Night Raw, was in some ways riskier than anything that has ever left MJF’s mouth on a Wednesday night on TNT.
Perhaps unwittingly, friendship has become a weighty theme in the “Big Time Becks” storyline, a defining factor in the characterization of Lynch and her rival, Morgan. Lynch’s real-life relationship with Flair and the way it is portrayed in kayfabe for WWE audiences is a two-headed monster of love and hate. In the annals of pro wrestling history, Perhaps only Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi have told a longer and more complex story of two individuals who exist perpetually on the knife’s edge of love and rivalry, with what is real and what’s a “work” near impossible to discern at key moments, their volatile symbiosis fueling their accomplishments. This bond is Lynch’s weak spot, but also the source of some of her greatest victories: she could not be who she is without Charlotte, even now.
The Proving Ground for Liv Morgan Against Becky Lynch
As for Morgan, with just a few promos on Lynch in the last month, she’s come closer than ever to having transcended the trough her entire WWE career has been spent in, pitched half-heartedly between “vixen” and “ingenue”. Morgan, the amiable tag team player or the baby sister of the WWE women’s division looking for encouragement from trailblazers like Lynch, is gone, replaced with a Joan of Arc figure charging forward waving the banner for her released compatriots even as she learns to stand on her own without the Riott Squad, defying the hypocrisy and self-indulgence of Lynch with fiery, righteous indignation and a touch of sarcastic lampooning. Morgan no longer has the support of Logan and Soho, but they are far from forgotten and loyalty is an appealing quality that sets her apart from Lynch, whose most significant friendship is a total loss of envy and detestation. And whoever scripted them, the allusion Morgan made to the role that paying top-tier Superstars like Lynch plays in WWE’s releases was fan service not soon to be forgotten.
Morgan’s “glow-up” continued on November 29’s Raw as she led Bianca Belair, Dana Brooke, Ripley, and Nikki A.S.H to victory in a 10 woman tag match pitted against Lynch, Zelina Vega, Carmella, Tamina, and Doudrop. The transition for Lynch to a heel character has been met with skepticism, but as short-lived as it will most likely prove to be, her promo battles with Morgan might have begun to clinch the “Big Time Becks” character, while showcasing new depths to Liv Morgan as well.