The wrestling ring called to Becky Lynch at a young age, but she didn't answer right away. The Dublin, Ireland, native ventured to a variety of other worlds, from movie stunts to serving customers drinks on flights, until the lure of the WWE stage finally pulled her in.
The Irish Lass Kicker left the squared circle behind a number of times. It didn't matter what kind of backup plans she tried to follow through, though.
Her journey continually brought her back to the ring, where she thrives today as one of the top wrestlers in WWE's surging women's division.
As she told John Hyland of Totally Dublin, Lynch (real name: Rebecca Quin) and her brother Richy would watch Mick Foley, Lita and other WWE stars on TV.
Little did the skinny, junk food-loving Lynch know, it would eventually be her appearing on TV, inspiring a new generation of kids slipping headlocks on each other.
The young Irishwoman loved wrestling but couldn't foresee a path for her to that industry. She failed physical education, was in poor shape and the world's wrestling schools were all miles and miles away from her home in Dublin's Baldoyle area.
But that was about to change, and so was Lynch's life as a result.
As she told SlammingLadies.com, Lynch's brother, who would go on to wrestle as Gonzo De Mondo, had his eyes set on training at NWA UK Hammerlock in Kent county in Southern England. Just 15, she didn't believe her parents would allow her to follow Richy that far, she explained on Unique Lives.
She didn't have to. A school soon opened in Ireland.
Fergal Devitt (known today as NXT's Finn Balor) and fellow Irish grappler Paul Tracey opened NWA Ireland, a promotion and school. Lynch lied about her age to get in and train alongside her brother. She instantly fell in love with the business.
She started training in 2002, and five months later, she wrestled her first match.
Devitt introduced Lynch to a supply of mat-based and high-flying moves. And as Lynch told SlammingLadies.com, "They never treated me any differently from any of the lads which I think is a key element in girls succeeding in wrestling."
This was no easy time. Lynch and her brother trained in a bare-boned environment at home or else traveled to England to toil in the ring for long stretches of time.
"We'd go down there every Sunday and that's how we learned, on the mats. We'd go across to England and do these summer camps where you'd train eight or nine hours a day in a gym. You'd sleep on the mats in the ring or under the ring," she recalled in an interview with Kara Rota of Irish America.
Lynch took to the medium in a hurry.
Not only was her vibrant personality on display, but wrestling provided her a focus she believed she needed. In a 2005 interview with Shiai Mata of Lady Sports, Lynch said she was drinking booze and smoking marijuana before a new life took over.
Lynch explained, "I started working out, eating a good diet, and just did everything I could that I thought would benefit me. I also started studying a lot harder in school. It matured me a remarkable amount and made me completely focused."
She would soon fill her passport with stamps as she traveled the globe courtesy of the wrestling ring. Championships were on their way. But so was injury and self-doubt.
Long, Winding Road
As much as she enjoyed performing in the ring, Lynch wasn't sold on making a career out of it.
She attended University College Dublin, studying history, politics and philosophy, as she told Rota. Her plan at the time was to become an attorney. That didn't go as she envisioned.
A restless Lynch dropped out and moved to Canada. She still had wrestling on her mind.
In 2005, she was a key figure in the British Columbia Supergirls promotion. The all-female wrestling company featured some of the most talented women's wrestlers in the world, including Natalya Neidhart.
Lynch (known then as Rebecca Knox) served as the Supergirls champion. She defeated LuFisto and Cheerleader Melissa in successful title defenses to headline the promotion's first shows.
The action didn't disappoint. Fred Johns wrote for Slam! Wrestling, "Supergirls Champion Rebecca Knox took several suplexes outside of the ring and the hardcore veteran LuFisto was sent crashing through a table."
A vagabond life followed.
Lynch wrestled in California for All Pro Wrestling, Italy for International Wrestling Zone and in Tokyo as part of the International Women's Grand Prix. Her resume was filling up fast. She was tagging with big names like Aja Kong, competing for Shimmer Women Athletes and facing some of the best female talent around.
And then in 2006, a head injury derailed a career that was going upward at that point.
Diagnosed with possible damage to her cranial nerve and suffering from headaches and vision issues, Lynch retired from the ring, as per Rota.
She took the opportunity to pursue a more conventional career path. In an RTE Ireland interview, Lynch recalled, "I was 19 and I thought I should settle down and get a real job and what was I doing living this dream world."
Personal training was one of her post-wrestling gigs. Lynch also became a flight attendant for over two years.
To get her fill of performing again, she found a new avenue. The former grappler studied clowning at Columbia College Chicago, as she mentioned on Twitter.
Her new plan wouldn't go as expected either. Wrestling again took hold of her life.
From Sidekick to Star
Seven years removed from the ring, Lynch was looking for acting work when she instead earned a gig as a stunt woman for the Vikings series. Her resume was all over the place at this point.
As Bobby Melok noted for WWE.com, it included, "Wrestling, mixed martial arts, sword fighting, stunt driving and juggling."
It was that first item on that list that most moved her, the one she kept thinking about. Even with her mind set on moving to New York to be an actor, she ended up un-retiring from wrestling, she explained in her interview with Total Dublin. A friend suggested she try out for WWE.
She did, and WWE saw enough promise in her to sign her to a developmental deal.
Reentering the squared circle felt like beginning anew. Lynch recalled in a conversation with Totally Dublin's Hyland, "I wanted to start off as a blank canvas, my confidence wasn't there. It was really an amazing growing process, trying to rediscover myself in the wrestling world, knowing that with everything that happened this was one hundred percent where I wanted to be."
At WWE's developmental territory, NXT, Lynch experimented with her gimmick and her look.
She wore emerald green ring gear, then plaid rocker outfits and then steampunk-inspired attire. She began as a dancing comedy act of sorts, morphed into a high-energy head-banger before finding her voice as a warrior that looked plucked from a Jules Verne novel.
Early on, she was the second banana.
She aligned with Sasha Banks to form Team B.A.E. (Best at Everything). Banks was the star; Lynch was the muscle and The Boss' support system.
That kind of dynamic continued once she moved to the main roster in the summer of 2015 when she, Charlotte and Paige joined forces as Team PCB.
Paige was the established one of the group. WWE was clearly behind Charlotte, giving her high-profile opportunities from the get-go. Lynch stood in the background.
During a championship celebration on Raw in September 2015, Paige called Lynch "the least relevant of all of us."
There was truth to that. Banks, Charlotte, Nikki Bella and Paige were all more prominent. But Lynch's skills forced the spotlight onto her.
During a feud with Charlotte in late 2015 and early 2016, Lynch looked like an absolute star. She was the kind of babyface who created pathos, who had the audience rooting for her, who made the crowd feel gutted when she failed.
WWE may have had other plans for her, but the increased support likely led to the company deciding to have her Banks and Charlotte all compete for the brand-new Women's Championship at WrestleMania 32. The women tore down the house, putting on arguably the night's best match.
Lynch has since been at the forefront of a women's division on the rise. And the more she performs, the more she pulls in fans with her pursuit of gold and glory, it's clear she made the right choice by returning to wrestling.
She knows that. This is where her passion lies.
Lynch told WWE.com, "[Nothing] captured my heart the way wrestling did. I did all these things that were separating the aspects of wrestling and trying to make it fit."
Who knows if she would have been a great flight attendant, but that wouldn't have been the right home for her. She was clearly born to serve dropkicks, not drinks.