Charlotte Flair is arguably the most hated woman on the RAW brand in terms of storylines, and that’s a testament to her ability to play a villainous character. But it wasn’t always that way for the daughter of pro wrestling legend Ric Flair. As a key part of WWE’s transition from the old “Divas branding” to the new “women’s revolution,” Charlotte debuted on the main roster in July 2015 as a babyface. And, at that time, it turned out that some people once felt she didn’t have what it took to be a WWE “Diva.”
In a lengthy interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Charlotte Flair talked about how she wasn’t always pleased with the boos she would receive from the WWE Universe. Nowadays, if she isn’t getting booed, that’s a sign she isn’t playing her role well enough. But when she feuded with the extremely popular Paige late in 2015, she was receiving boos despite playing a babyface character, and despite Paige making a scripted, yet controversial comment on Monday Night RAW about her late brother Reid Flair not having enough fight in him. According to Wrestling Inc, the remarks had upset Charlotte and Reid’s mother, who accused WWE’s creative team of generating “cheap heat” by having Paige insult Reid, who had died in 2013 of an accidental drug overdose.
Even with all that in mind, it was Charlotte Flair, then known only by her first name, getting the boos at Survivor Series 2015. And she wasn’t comfortable with the negative fan reaction, as she told the Orlando Sentinel.
“It was really hard for me. Why are they booing me? I remember the feeling when I first walked through the curtain when I wrestled Paige at (Survivor Series 2015) in Atlanta. It really got to me — deafening boos. Here I am, this hot-pink gear babyface….So I went home that night and I was like, ‘I don’t care anymore. I don’t care what that guy thinks, what she thinks.'”
Taking the unexpected boos into account, WWE Creative turned Charlotte heel early this year, and she’s been the company’s top female villain since then, focusing mainly on the fact that she’s Ric Flair’s daughter, and therefore “genetically superior” to WWE’s other women.
Since her WWE debut, she’s been a three-time Women’s Champion, and she and Sasha Banks had made history in October, becoming the first women to fight in Hell in a Cell’s titular steel cage match, and even main-eventing the pay-per-view, another first for female competitors in WWE. And while she recently lost the RAW Women’s Championship to Banks, their long-running feud has received great feedback from fans as well as industry figures like EVOLVE co-founder and booker Gabe Sapolsky, as reported on recently by 411Mania.
And, as she’s turned out to be more natural in a heel role, Charlotte Flair also explained that this came easy to her in both NXT and WWE due to her height and her father Ric’s status as one of pro wrestling’s most iconic heels.
“I never wrestled, I’d never done the (independent wrestling scene), never dreamed about it. I just knew my dad was Ric Flair and I really loved watching him. At my size (5-foot-10), it was easier to be a heel.”
In an especially interesting note, Charlotte told the Orlando Sentinel about how it was like when she first debuted on the main roster. At that time, WWE still used the “Divas” branding for its female wrestlers, and a good number of fans still thought of Divas matches as “bathroom breaks” due to the perceived notion that these wrestlers, while good-looking, didn’t have too much talent in the ring. And with Charlotte getting over in NXT due to her skills rather than a conventional Divas look, she wasn’t thought of as “Diva material” by a lot of media sources.
“Before I debuted, there was a lot of media saying Charlotte wasn’t diva material, she had a different look,” she related. “But the same people who now (praise me as) the three-time women’s champion were the same people who said, ‘Does she have the Diva look?’ So you can’t get caught up in people’s opinions. What is the Diva look? You know? I’m 5’10” and I’m blonde! How much more Diva (can one get)… I took that (criticism) to heart.”
Going forward, Charlotte Flair hopes to continue creating her own legacy in the world of professional wrestling, as someone who didn’t grow up idolizing some of the top female wrestlers of the late-1990s and 2000s, such as Trish Stratus and Lita. She told the Sentinel that she will push forward as a key figure in the women’s revolution of pro wrestling “until someone says no,” and as she sees it, nobody has said “no” yet when it comes to pushing the boundaries of what female wrestlers can do.
[Featured Image by WWE]