WrestleMania 36 will mark the first time WWE has no live crowd for its signature show, and it will also be a two-night event. The company has decided the show has to go on, and so did we. WWE offered to media the interviews they couldn’t have done, and we will share them with you all week long. Legends, main roster, and NXT wrestlers, this week is all for them.

Since last year’s WrestleMania, Becky Lynch has proven day after day, match after match, she really is ‘The Man’. She has defended her belt successfully against the whole RAW female roster, developed a more aggressive style of wrestling.

A year after, a new opponent is knocking at the door as WrestleMania is coming. Shayna Baszler had been NXT Women’s Champion for 416 days and took no prisoners there. She bit Becky and made her bleed, attacked her violently over and over. But ‘The Man’ is not ready to let her continue at WrestleMania.

SteelChair took part in a media call with Becky Lynch on Thursday. She talked about her path, her character, but also her Mania opponent, Shayna Baszler, and performing in front of no crowd.

The empty arena effect:

“I haven’t wrestled in empty arenas on RAW, but I have in my lifetime. I’ve come to the independent scene where I’ve wrestled in front of a few people, so that’s not completely unfamiliar to me. I am somebody to feed off the energy of the crowd, and that’s no secret that connection is so important to me. I feel like I have to make that in a different way this time, it’s a different focus, but the thing is that last year, I went into WrestleMania making history, but now I’m going to make history as the first woman to successfully defend her title in WrestleMania in an empty arena.

We need to reimagine how we do shows. Sometimes your ideas are listened to, and sometimes they’re not taken into account at all. But I do think this is an opportunity to grow and rethink how we do shows. Rethink everything. This could be an opportunity if we choose to accept it and go along the right route with it. Of course, everything is changing so rapidly that we don’t know what will happen next and what’s in the cards for the future. So right now, we’re just trying to get a show out there that people will watch and be entertained by. Is there more to do, absolutely. Am I thinking of what to do? Absolutely. Am I going to try and push for it? I am, and I will continue to do so.

Without a crowd, I’d be a mess to say that it puts me at a disadvantage because I know that I’m somebody who is so tied to the crowd, and Shayna doesn’t give a crap of the people or anything like that. She’s here to make Ronda proud, and I try to step out of her shadow. It does put me at a huge disadvantage, but I love a challenge. I’ve always been the one that wants to be challenged and to overcome these obstacles, so it’s just going to be business as usual.”

The importance to provide some sort of escapism in these tough times:

“I think it’s hugely important. I think more than ever people need a distraction and we offer that. We give just that little something else to focus on, and that’s what we’re going out there, we’re trying to give people the best entertainment.”

How hard is it to perform promos without audience interaction:

“It’s not completely new to me because I wrestled on the independent circuit. There you can be wrestling in front of next to nobody. It’s just talking, storytelling, my message. That’s not a problem at all. I do backstage promos all the time where I’m just talking to a camera, so this is no different, it’s just talking. It’s communicating to people why this match is important to me, and why they should care about this match, and why they should not care about Shayna and why she’s a scumbag. That’s all it is, so it’s just about conveying that message and talking directly like me, and you are talking now. Yeah, there’s a little bit of an ego boost when people are calling your name but that’s it.”

Changing her training with less live events scheduled:

“The only thing that’s different is now I’m not defending my title every night like I was before, so it’s a bit different. My training has stayed the same. I’m lucky enough. I have a facility where I can train where nobody is at in LA. Seth (Rollins) has his own wrestling school in Iowa with a full gym, so I can train there privately. Saying staying in shape has been easy for me, and now you just have to train in different ways for wrestling and study more. When you’re wrestling every single night, you can get into a rhythm of that, and it’s helpful. It may look sometimes harmful because maybe you’re doing the same things over and over again that you don’t really think about. It’s been a great time to refocus on everything that I do.

I love being on the road, and my body feels great. I know we’re not robots, and I think a little time off can-do people good and do your body good, and it can do your mind good. I’ve had a break from that now I’m itching to go back. I think there’s a balance there, and we’re getting there a little as time goes on. We’re such a big multimedia company that they’re able to space out live shows and give people breaks and weekends, here and there, which has been happening a lot more often. So, WWE had been doing that recently then this is just a whole different thing altogether.”

Shayna Baszler:

“Shayna’s never really beaten me. I do know she’s tough as hell, I do know that she has an incredible category, and  I do know that she is the one of the longest-reigning NXT Women’s Champion. She is tough, she is dangerous, but I guess we’re going to find out just exactly how dangerous she is, thankfully.”

Was the truck entrance her original entrance for Mania?

“I don’t know. I guess that was supposed to be part of my Wrestlemania entrance, but everything’s changed. I never have had a spectacular WrestleMania entrance, maybe this year was going to be the one time.”

On how last year’s Mania main event has aged well and more fans appreciate it after being shown as part of this week’s RAW:

“That does make me happy. That’s going down in history as the women’s first main event of WrestleMania ever. I want people to appreciate it and enjoy it, and that’s the most important thing of all with any of this. That a story is told and that people appreciate it and that it ages well. I think we’re in a time where everything can be criticised so easily and so effortlessly. Thing is though, I’m always going to go out, always going to take the criticisms on the chin, and try to put on the best match for the crowd every single time. Whether I hit the mark every time or not, that’s always my goal, and that’s what I’m always trying to do.”

NXT talents blurring the lines to the main roster:

“It is. Actually, this year was going to be the testing ground of that, to see what the response would be. RAW and NXT are on the USA Network. I am interested to see that. To whoever it is that’s coming off the machine, it can also be really helpful because if you’re coming up and maybe people aren’t as familiar with you, because, at the end of the day, NXT could have quite a different audience, so you have to reintroduce yourself, and then sometimes you have to almost start from scratch, so it’s going to be an interesting test to see if the people debuting will have to go through that same route.”

The NXT Championship being defended at Mania:

“I wonder if an NXT person should have gotten the chance to fight for it before, and such is the way now. It’s awesome to see that it is defended at WrestleMania and to see where it comes now. There was a lull for women in NXT for a little while, and that has picked up again. It’s super strong, and it makes me super excited. There’s a lot of competitors I could see challenge me for a title, offer me some good fights, and of course, then realize that ‘The Man’ is on hold-up level. Being in NXT and growing that way and changing the landscape of it forever and the women’s wrestling forever is hugely important to me.”

Does main-eventing Mania last year put the business in a position where it’s more of an equal playing field for the men and women?

“I think there’s always more work to be done, but I think we’re getting there. I think we’ve been a little diminished on our female superstars there, especially on the RAW side. For a while, there was maybe four of us that were active, myself, Charlotte, The Kabuki Warriors, Natalya, and Sarah Logan. We need more women. We need everybody chomping it.  I think that’s what usually happens after WrestleMania. I’m hopeful that we go forth here, but then you look at the card at WrestleMania, we have four women matches that are used in their own right. I think we’ll move them in the right way, there’s only still work to be done.”

The Secret of ‘The Man;’ staying popular:

“I’m always trying to be honest with our fans and trying to listen to what they want, constantly considering them. Sometimes we can get so bogged down on what the haters say. My focus is always what all my fans want to see or want me to do. I think it”s just being honest with them, and I think they know that. I hope they know that I love them, and I know that I hope they know that I wouldn’t be able to do this without them and I’m how much I appreciate them, and I think that mutual appreciation and respect really goes a long way.”

A message for the fans:

“I made history last year being Becky 2 Belts, being the main event of WrestleMania. Making history this year is going to be no different. I mean, it’s going to be a little different, walking out one belt instead of two, but I guarantee I’ll make history for all the people that have supported me, and for all the people who say that I can’t. I’ll tell them that I can.

WrestleMania is too big for just one night. Okay seriously, there’s so many great matches, and it’s a whole different way of wrestling. You’re going to be into the intricacies of it a whole lot more than you would have been otherwise. So enjoy it because we need these things right now. WrestleMania is our SuperBowl, and I’m gonna go out there and put my heart and soul into it every second I’m out there and will walk out still RAW Women’s Champion.”

 

WrestleMania airs live on the WWE Network on Saturday, April 4th, and Sunday, April 5th. Check your local listings to see if PPV coverage is available in your area.

Special thanks to DS Communication – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE