American professional wrestler Charlotte Flair prepares to climb into the pace car to lead the field to the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Flair says John Laurinaitis asked her why she wasn’t wrestling while she was attending the 2012 WWE Hall Of Fame ceremony, but she thought it was more to light a fire under her late brother, Reid, to get him to get on the right track. Charlotte says she ended up heading to NXT three months later and knew who ‘Ric Flair’ was, but didn’t understand the weight the name carried.
“I was like, ‘maybe if I do this my brother will get on the right path and I can help him.’ So literally three months after that, I reported to NXT having, yeah my dad was Ric Flair but I had no idea about the business. I didn’t even really understand what my dad meant to the business until I got there. It’s true. [laughs] I was like, ‘why don’t people don’t like me? What do they mean that I’m just here because I’m Ric Flair’s daughter?’
Charlotte continued, saying it was a learning process to see the other girls like Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch because they’d always dreamed of being a wrestler, and she saw it as a world she’d been missing out on. She said she spent a lot of time trying to find herself and worked as a ring announcer and had random matches, but Dusty Rhodes was really the one to help her find out who ‘Charlotte Flair’ really was.
“100% And it’s like all four of us. It was just Dusty finding something that was true to us, something that was authentic and then making that larger than life. So it was like first started with my athleticism and then the legacy. So it was just believing and that confidence of you know, ‘you can carry yourself like a queen’ and you can see that in each one of our characters.”
Bayley agreed with Charlotte, saying wrestlers will always try to find a way to hide themselves in a character, but it was Dusty who helped them be themselves and just make it a larger than life extension of who they were.
“It’s crazy because we try to hide our true self because we think that’s not good enough for our fans or [you think] ‘they’re not going to really like me.’ But Dusty said, ‘No, that’s what’s special to you.’ It’s who you really are Charlotte, a athletic.” Bayley said. “Your family, you’re wrestling royalty and same with me, ‘you’re a fan, make it larger than life.’ We’re really just who we are and that’s he made us feel confident in ourselves and that’s when everything like blew up. That’s when NXT blew up is because Dusty made us see that. Dusty believed in everybody and who we really were and who we were afraid to show.”
Charlotte says her ‘Queen’ character is really just an extension of herself, and it took her some time to really find her way and embrace the ‘heel’ side of what people were saying about her. Charlotte says she started playing up the ‘wrestling royalty’ aspect more, but feels like she’s grown to the point where she’d still be a ‘queen’ whether she was a Flair or not.
“Really up until the last two years, it was just creating this character that I wanted to be like in real life and then finding that. When I first got to the main roster debuting as a babyface and having to face Paige and Nikki [Bella] and the arena is booing me and I’m like, ‘why does no one like me? I’m blonde. I’m smiling. I’m happy.
I’m athletic,’ and I just don’t get it. So it was like turning that into like fuel to the character. It was like, ‘Ok, you don’t like me? I’ll give you a reason not to like me.’ So then it was like accepting, ‘Okay, my dad’s Ric Flair’ and then they made him my manager and it’s like ‘oh, you think I’m handed everything? I’ll show you that I’m handed everything’ and it was building that confidence each step at a time and just owning it instead of being like ‘no, no, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I’m a Flair’ and then wanting to be a feeling like a queen.”
It’s a mixed blessing. I said when I first debuted with my Dad, I was like ‘oh, this is going to be bad.’ How am I supposed to go to the ring every night with Ric Flair? How am I going to shine in his presence? I just took every opportunity that I was on TV to be like ‘no.
People aren’t going to pay attention to him, they’re going to pay attention to me.’ Then I think sometimes it still gets to me to this day.
It’s that chip on my shoulder that I think makes me who I am, and how much I’ve grown is because I constantly want to prove to people that I love this business and the passion I have for it. No matter who my Dad is, I’d still be the ‘Queen.’”