A group of women made history during the last decade within the Women’s Division of WWE. Ever since the WWE discontinued calling the women wrestlers ‘Diva’ at WrestleMania 32 (on April 3, 2016), the women wrestlers are referred to as Women Superstars.
While several Superstars have contributed to the evolution, there’s one name that stands out and that is of Charlotte Flair. The 33-year-old American professional wrestler Ashley Elizabeth Fliehr aka Charlotte Flair is a second-generation wrestler, daughter of legendary WWE wrestler Ric Flair.
Ever since her debut on NXT in 2013, the young woman has given some serious competition to her rivals. Some of her face-offs have been noted as the most brutal matches in the history of WWE and she is a 10-time Women’s Champion since joining WWE’s main roster in July 2015. In fact, Charlotte was the first woman to headline the WWE pay-per-view event – Hell In A Cell match opposite Sasha Banks (in October 2016).
Earlier this year, she became one of the three women (alongside Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey) to headline WrestleMania, WWE’s flagship annual event, in April 2019. In August at WWE’s 32nd SummerSlam 2019, Charlotte defeated the legendary Superstar Trish Stratus with her 8-leg lock in a dream match and went on to earn ‘The Queen of All Eras’ title.
It is such an impressive career graph that makes the Superstar one-of-her-kind. The Queen was in India for a promotional tour and also made an appearance at Maruti Suzuki Arena Bengaluru Comic Con 2019. In a candid chat, Charlotte opened up about the pressures of being a wrestler, what she likes doing when she isn’t at the matches, her relationship with champ Andrade and her love for Bollywood music.
What are your earliest memories of wrestling?
I would sit in the front row during my dad’s matches. His music would play, and he’d make his entry, I’d be like, ‘Dad, look at me, hug me, kiss me, I want your attention.’ I wasn’t interested in the match or his opponents, just seeing him come out and knowing that this is dad made me happy. My earliest memories are of jumping up and down thinking, ‘I’m just so proud that he’s my dad.’
Since your father was a wrestler, was this career a natural choice for you?
No! I played sports. I started gymnastics, jazz tap and ballet. Then when I got to middle school, my parents and I decided that I would start basketball and volleyball. But I fell in love with All-Star Cheerleading, which I don’t talk about very often. And I did All-Star Cheerleading and played volleyball until high school. I didn’t like basketball. I wasn’t very good at dribbling.
Umm, but I gave up cheerleading because I am so competitive, I wanted to be on a co-ed squad. So anyway, I ended up playing volleyball in high school and then played incollege. I never really thought about wrestling. It was my two brothers who were going to continue the Flair name, who wanted to wrestle and cared about it. I was just like my dad’s a wrestler, I get to take my friends to the show and that’s really about it.
How challenging was it to establish your brand name and come out of the shadow of your father?
It’s still a challenge to keep proving myself. It’s a mixed blessing to be his daughter. I don’t think I’d be the talent I am today if my dad wasn’t who he was. I always have this chip on my shoulder that nothing is good enough. Sometimes, I feel I’m just here because of who my dad is or I get championships because of my dad.
How did you deal with the pressure of being a woman wrestler in a male-dominated sporting event?
My dad was always pushing me to be competitive when I started wrestling. I had no idea how hard it was for women. I knew that they were mostly looked at as eye candy or secondary storylines. But when I started, I was like, well, I’m just as good as he is. I never felt that I am just a female and that I’m not going to get these opportunities. It just really depends on the storyline, the match or the talent that I am facing.