While WWE does not have a great track record with introducing real life relationships into storylines, the pairing of Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins surprisingly subverts expectations.
Not a lot of people are fans of introducing the real life relationships of couples into WWE storylines, it seems. Personally, I don’t hate the idea myself, but at the same time, I’m not anxious to see a wrestler’s personal life injected onto my television screen just for the fact that I don’t care about their personal lives. However, I do understand why fans don’t want to see it happen in WWE, given their track record with stuff like this.
Let’s not forget how they exploited Lita’s affair with Edge to call her a “ho” every week. Or the fact WWE practically defined Nikki Bella’s character by her then-relationship with John Cena, often by having heels (and even babyfaces) insinuate that Nikki’s success was solely achieved due to her partner. To say that WWE has a tendency to write problematic storylines out of real relationships would probably be an understatement.
With that said, I’m happy to say that the onscreen storyline between Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch may just be a happy exception to the norm.
Prior to this, a relationship between the Raw Women’s Champion and the Universal Champion had been strongly rumored for months before the latter finally confirmed they were dating in an Instagram post that his character onscreen claimed he “broke the internet” with. It seemed only natural that WWE would want to capitalize on their two top champions dating by putting them in a storyline.
That they did, although not right away. Well, they did, but it started off in small, subtle doses. We got segments where the two would walk past each other in the backstage area, or in one case, Lynch leaving with Rollins in an ambulance following The Beastslayer’s fatal encounter with Brock Lesnar. WWE merely acknowledged what we already knew, but without throwing it in our face just yet. This company’s rarely been known for subtlety, but this was just that – subtle – and well done.
It wasn’t until WWE Stomping Grounds that WWE actually pulled the trigger on bringing this storyline to the forefront, but they waited for a moment where fans were actually begging to see it. As the Universal Champion was struggling to hold onto his title thanks to some nefarious tactics from Lacey Evans and Baron Corbin, the audience was uproariously chanting for “Becky! Becky! Becky!”
They erupted in cheers when The Man finally stormed down, cleaned house and exchanged knowing glances with her partner.
On that note, critics of meta storylines like this must commend WWE for still pulling back somewhat on how they portray the power couple onscreen. Again, WWE is rarely ever subtle with their storylines. If they have an onscreen couple – whether they’re a couple in real life or not – WWE have been known to make sure audiences know it with several lip locks and segments centered strictly around romance.
And yet, we have yet to even see Lynch and Rollins kiss onscreen. Their most intimate moment was an impromptu butt slap in the ring. As far as romantic angles go, that’s surprisingly refreshing.
Also refreshing is that WWE hasn’t digressed into tired tropes we’ve seen in previous romantic angles, like forcing the woman to be a damsel to be saved by her partner. Interestingly enough, so far at least, it’s always been Seth Rollins who needed saving from his woman, or should I say The Man? Lynch not only helped save Rollins’ title last Sunday, but when Lacey Evans attacked Rollins from behind on Raw, it was the former Becky 2 Belts coming to the rescue.
WWE have really subverted expectations on this storyline and it’s been surprisingly refreshing to see how it all plays out in real time. I like to think that Rollins and Lynch have enough leeway and say-so in this storyline to prevent this from going south, which helps, but I also like the fact WWE have showed an uncharacteristic amount of restraint with this storyline. So far, so good, I say.
WWE have done everything right in their portrayal of Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins’ relationship thus far with nothing problematic to speak of; save an insinuation from Evans that Rollins must wear “an apron” in the relationship. Maybe the execution hasn’t been perfect – neither is any WWE storyline – but based on previous romance stories, this one’s ahead of the curb.
Now, as Lynch and Rollins head into Extreme Rules for their Mixed Tag Team bout with both of their titles on the line, here’s hoping WWE don’t do anything stupid with this pair onscreen.