Charlotte Flair entered the wrestling world more than 10 years ago in arguably the biggest shadow of any second-generation athlete. The daughter of arguably the greatest wrestler to ever lace up a pair of boots, Charlotte has likewise turned into an all-timer over the course of her decorated career.
With more than 1,300 days combined as a singles champion and having held every major title WWE has to offer, Flair has earned the distinction of an active WWE legend, something that will be prominently displayed in this Sunday’s A&E Legends documentary. The following weekend, she’ll step into the squared circle at WrestleMania 39 to defend her SmackDown Women’s Championship against Rhea Ripley.
This path wasn’t something Flair dreamed about. She learned along the way, enjoyed the challenges that came with her rise next to the Four Horsewomen — Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Sasha Banks — and has unquestionably become one of the best to ever step inside the ring.
“If I just walked out on the ramp and no one knew who I was, you can’t deny that I don’t have something,” Flair told Uproxx Sports. “So take away Flair, take the last name away. Would I have the same amount of hate? I’m talking a very small, like, cult group that really follows wrestling. But would you not say she carries her own, like her presence, her demeanor, how people gravitate toward (her)? I know I have that.
“And in terms of physicality, I definitely think that my dad wasn’t big for a guy,” she continues. “I’m not saying my dad was little, but my style has more range than his. If I wasn’t in my head all the time, I could be as good as he is on the mic, but I let things get to me, just being honest. I’m human. But when someone sees me wrestle, they’re not going, ‘Oh, she’s just good for a woman.’ And I think that’s what has allowed me to carve out my own path.”
What makes Flair’s journey that much more compelling is that the expectations were sky high from the outset, and she’s been able to exceed them. She’s managed to create her own standout moments among arguably the most talented women’s roster in WWE history.
Flair exploded onto the scene in NXT. Had she taken a more traditional route of coming up through the independent scene, however, she recognizes that things may have been much different.
“The Four Horsewomen are why I’m here today,” Flair says. “Wanting to be as good as the three of them, wanting to have that passion. Each of them had their own special feel. We’re all in totally different roles right now and are very much apart, but had I been on the indies, maybe I wouldn’t have had the same learning experiences or the same tools or the same coaches. Basically, you’re on your own.”
Flair has had plenty of memorable bouts over the last decade, but she points to her first title win in NXT as the moment that put the wrestling world on notice.
“The match with (Natalya) definitely put me on the map,” she says. “I don’t want to say story-wise or fundamentally it was my best match, but it was my best match that made everyone go, okay, she means business. That has to be the most important match in my entire career. After that, I’d say me versus Asuka at WrestleMania 34. So those two matches, game-changers for where I am.”
Reaching the top of the mountain over and again the way Flair has creates a sense of pressure for her to always outdo herself. She feeds on the pressure, embraces it, and looks forward to challenging herself yet again when she squares off with Ripley at WrestleMania 39 next weekend.
Flair praises Ripley for how comfortable she makes it look each week, her work with Judgement Day and Dominik Mysterio, and how the challenger is soaking in the moment. The build for her match at WrestleMania has been entertaining, with Flair and Ripley brawling through last week’s SmackDown. But if it were up to the champ, she’d have mixed it up with the Dominik along the way, as well.
“I pitched (being in the men’s Royal Rumble) this year,” she says. “I don’t think it made it very far, but I feel like if things were 100 percent going toward (a match with) Rhea Ripley, I thought it would have been a cool opportunity to enter and then maybe have a moment with Dom, then she comes to save him. But I don’t think it made it very far.”
Flair has done basically everything that’s possible in the WWE. But after WrestleMania, when she looks at her future, there’s one thing that sticks out: She wants to work with her husband, Andrade El Idolo, who is currently signed to AEW.
“Wrestling with my husband, getting to manage him,” Flair mentions when asked about what she has left to accomplish. “Whether that’s a mixed tag or just being the mouthpiece. I miss (being on the road with him), but getting to see all the couples able to (travel together), it looks so fun and rewarding. I’ve learned so much from him, so I can’t imagine how much I’d learn being on camera with him.”
For now, Flair’s life and career will take center stage for A&E’s Legends documentary this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.