FanPost

Moments of 2016: The Lasskicker - Grand slam

Moments of 2016 is a series of articles that detail the year in review for WWE, whether it be specific moments, matches or superstars who've stood out on the WWE main roster and NXT, one way or another. You'll see this series of pieces go through to the end of December. In a special sub-series, here is the fourth and final of four articles focusing on The Four Horsewomen of WWE.

(There may be an epilogue)

In September 2006, when Rebecca Quin - then known as Rebecca Knox - suffered a serious head injury to the point of being seriously busted open during an independent match in Germany (the match in question is here - if you're squeamish, you probably shouldn't watch), it left her with serious side effects. Some of the effects were, according to a blog Quin did (since long gone, but pulled up recently - thanks to Wreddit for the background on this) were "extremely painful headaches, loud buzzing in my left ear and my vision in my left eye is completely blurred."

She added: " The doctor has told me it may be damage to the 8th cranial nerve and I am waiting for a ct brain scan and have been advised to stop wrestling for the next few months. It could be permanent or it could go away by itself. but until all signs have been alleviated I will not be able to engage in any heavy physical activity.

"This breaks my heart as the main reason I am in Florida is to wrestle and I am so upset that I have to cancel my upcoming dates, This is the first serious injury I have had and I am disappointed that I have to let you down! I apologize sincerely and hope you have great shows, I am so sorry I wont be there! Yours sincerely, Rebecca."

As it turned out, it was enough to force her to retire. She had been due to return in 2008, but by that point, she had lost the drive and passion she had for wrestling she held two years earlier, noting wrestling was not the right career choice for her at that time.

It'd be safe to say that night changed everything for Rebecca Quin, for the worse in some ways. Forced to retire, dealing with a massive head injury with lasting effects, let alone the obvious concussion. If you were forced to retire because of serious injury from the thing you love doing, it'd surely upset anyone. Case in point: Bryan, Daniel.

For a few years, Quin did everything to fill the void that wrestling had left in her. She was a stunt woman for Season 1 of TV show Vikings, was an actress in plays across Ireland between 2011 and 2012 and was for two-and-a-half-years an air stewardess with her mother on Irish airline Aer Lingus.

At an awards show in my actual profession of writing about games in October 2011, my boss at the time was giving a speech at an awards ceremony for games media. And there's one thing I remember very well about that speech, one quote in particular: "once you're in, you're never out." While he was referring to games journalism and games media, the same creedo could be applied to Quin and wrestling - once you were in, you were never out. Quin eventually returned to the wrestling world as a manager in all-female promotion Shimmer in 2011 for Saraya and Brittani (Paige) Knight.

And thus started the journey of not only Quin's return to wrestling, but her journey to WWE and subsequently being one-fourth of the group that changed women's wrestling in the company forever.

Starting in NXT in 2014 with the most stereotypical Irish character booking ever (no, I'm not even going to dare link to it, it's too cringeworthy - plus, regardless of whether North or South, we Irish like to deal with our embarrassments in private), Becky Lynch, as she was now known, beat Summer Rae in her televised debut. But after a dark period, Lynch was encouraged to reinvent herself - and did so by turning heel on Bayley and aligned with Sasha Banks to form Team BAE.

2015 was Lynch's coming out party to a wider audience, though. She had evolved from that stereotypical Irish leprechaun gimmick to someone who was nailing down her heel aspects and knew how to go in the ring. The Fatal 4 Way held at NXT Takeover Rival was the first time I took notice of the Four Horsewomen and even right away, I could tell there was something special about them. Everything about them clicked. From that night on, I was hooked and had gotten me back into wrestling as my interest was starting to wane.

Lynch, meanwhile, would subsequently break away after a while from Banks and would become the number one contender to the newly-crowned NXT Women's Champion in Sasha Banks, who she'd face at the following Takeover, Unstoppable.

What followed was, until a few months later down the line, arguably the best women's match in WWE history and is worth of a place of the top ten women's matches of all time in WWE. And it would also be the night Lynch's career changed forever with one of the most personal moments in NXT history.

After that, her callup to the main roster with Charlotte and Banks happened. And while afterwards there was a semblance of things being in purgatory, come the end of 2015/2016, she'd engage in the women's division's most consistent feud yet, facing off against Charlotte for the then-Divas Championship at the Royal Rumble. The build was nothing short of incredible and was honestly the first time I felt so excited for women's wrestling on the main roster in a long time at that point.

It's a shame, then, someone had to ruin it by having Ric Flair plant a kiss on Lynch during what was other was a fantastic match at the time - and take that out of it, it still is a great match - that really took me out of it at that point.

It seemed like at the time the women's match WWE was looking to set up for Wrestlemania was Charlotte-Sasha for the Divas Championship. And while that would have been great in its own right - as we'd subsequently found out - the fans were going to make sure Lynch wasn't forgotten. Thankfully, she earned her rightful place in what was to be a defining night for women's wrestling in WWE.

Afterwards, after a bit of floating around, Lynch teamed and then subsequently feuded with Natalya through to just before Backlash. The week after SummerSlam, in a post-draft era where the old WWE Women's Championship was now on Raw, a six-pack challenge elimination match was announced to determine the first Smackdown Women's Champion at Backlash.

In a match where it was highly expected Nikki Bella would be the first women's champion on Smackdown, when Bella was eliminated from the match by Carmella to have the final two be between Carmella and Lynch, it was immediately obvious what was about to happen. I was already in an 'OMG, this is actually going to happen' state of mind. And when Carmella finally tapped to Lynch's Dis-arm-her, the marking could begin.

Ten years to the month since Rebecca Quin had to retire from wrestling the first time thanks to a serious head injury, Becky Lynch had captured her first championship in WWE - and thus completing the grand slam of all four Horsewomen holding a title in the WWE (Charlotte, Sasha and Bayley's NXT Championship wins, not to mention the former two's respective WWE Women's Championship wins beforehand) - and one that she was truly deserving of. The tears on her face said it all afterwards.


How much worse off would wrestling have been without Becky Lynch in our lives? The talent, the charisma, the sweet lovable personality, the awful puns, everything about her? I'd say wrestling would have been a much poorer, poorer place without her.

It'd be safe to say that night had changed everything for Becky Lynch, the character. And for Rebecca Quin, the person. This time, in stark contrast to that night in Germany a decade earlier, for the better.

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In writing about these four amazing women, I've found myself on a bit of a personal reflection on my wrestling fandom this past while and how they've made me fall back in love with wrestling in many different ways as said fandom was starting to wane towards the end of 2014.

When I first watched their Fatal 4 Way match from NXT Takeover Rival (I wasn't watching Takeovers live that time - Brooklyn would be my first live one), as I made note of above, there was already something special in the air about them and how they would go onto revolutionise women's wrestling in WWE. And they have come a long way since that February night of 2015. For all the snark we (sometimes rightfully) like to give to WWE about pushing history in our faces as a promotional thing instead of telling us engaging stories with feuds, the truth is they've made a lot of that history in giving us overall MOTY candidates and first-time-evers.

WWE Women's Championship reigns, NXT Women's Championship reigns, Iron Women matches, Hell in a Cell matches, Falls Count Anywhere matches, no DQ matches, table matches, main eventing several Raws (and normalizing it for the women in doing so), headlining Takeovers and WWE main roster PPVs, being front and centre of Wrestlemania with a maquee match, the first NXT Takeover, Takeover Rival, Takeover Unstoppable, Takeover Brooklyn, Takeover Respect. The list goes on and on and on.

They've also helped in the push to drop women as some catty diva caricature and be represented as something more, something better, hence the dropping of the Divas Championship/the Diva moniker and picking up with the WWE Women's Championship/being given equal status to the men with the superstar label.

Now, make no mistake, step outside the bubble and there are still women in the WWE who can and will lead the charge as much as the Horsewomen themselves. Alexa Bliss has the brightest of careers ahead of her and is, for my money, the one outside the Horsewomen who will be a massive leader in the WWE women's division. Not to mention Carmella, who's recently been killing it in her feud with Nikki Bella, and Nia Jax. Plus the experienced hands in Nikki, Natalya and Naomi.

And of course, we can't forget those currently in NXT who will be part of the push, including Asuka, who will surely get her due sometime in 2017 with a main roster call up.

But without the Horsewomen, would there have been so many eyes on the product? Would there be so much support for women's wrestling in WWE? It's hard to understate how much of an influence they've made on the main roster in the year-and-a-half since three-quarters of them were called up. They've honestly changed the game big time over the past eighteen months - all four of them - between NXT and the main roster.

While WWE have made missteps of various sizes since starting the Divas/Women's Revolution, the positives right now are currently outweighing the negatives.

Speaking personally, I've taken a bit of a break from watching stuff like Raw/Smackdown live because of various reasons (aside from the fact I do not have it in me as much to watch two or three hours of live wrestling over two, sometimes three, consecutive nights from 1am in the morning), but I still try to keep up when I can, but especially on each show's women's division. Not to mention, there's not much in the male divisions right now that entices me to tune in for a PPV. In fact, the only reason I intend to watch Roadblock live next Sunday is for Sasha-Charlotte's Ironman match (when I said at the top of this we may have an epilogue, we're definitely going to have an epilogue on this - stay tuned for it).

And as I said earlier this week, much as I love all of the Horsewomen, it's Bayley who holds a special place in my heart. Much as she is my favourite wrestler right now and has given me my favourite match ever against Sasha at Takeover Brooklyn 2015, she was also the one who has given me cheer and happiness in wrestling at a time when I really needed it, as I mentioned with her main roster debut at Battleground with Sasha against Charlotte and Dana Brooke. That's the pull of Bayley. As Becky said herself about her, Bayley is "a perfect role model for little girls, little boys, grown women, grown men."

It's why many see her as the future face of the company in the same vein of John Cena or Roman Reigns if they give her the chance to do so. She has so much potential and if WWE give her the chance to shine, the sky is honestly the limt for her.

But I digress. All four of the Horsewomen have truly changed the game. And for that, we can't be more thankful to them for doing so and continuing to do so.

2016 has truly been the year of The Four Horsewomen.

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Day One: The Phenomenal Year (AJ Styles)
Day Two: Grateful (Daniel Bryan)
Day Three: Here Comes the Money (Shane McMahon)
Day Four: The Rising Sun (Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn)
Day Five: The Queen - Making history (Charlotte - 1/4)
Day Six: Fight Forever (Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens)
Day Seven: The Boss - A new era (Sasha Banks - 2/4)
Day Eight: Shootin' from the lip (The Miz)
Day Nine: The Hugger - Our girl, Bayley (Bayley - 3/4)
Day Ten: Believe in The Shield (The Shield)

Johnny Cullen writes about games for a living and has written for the likes of Eurogamer, VG247 and Official PlayStation Magazine UK and also podcasts about games for My Favourite Game. You can follow him on Twitter - for mostly games hijinks but also WWE tweets (and be a bit obsessive over Bayley), The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Jonsi & Alex) - @JohnnyCullen.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.