RondaRousey.com’s Wrestler of the Week series profiles significant wrestlers from the past and present.
Pro wrestling is full of second and third-generation performers, but few legacies loom as large as Ric Flair. Simply put, he’s Ric Flair—a 16-time world champion with a cultural footprint like few others (“Ric Flair Drip,” anyone?).
So going into the pro wrestling business with Ric Flair as your dad means a lot of expectations—but not only has Charlotte Flair lived up to them, she stands on her own as WWE’s most accomplished women’s wrestler of the current era; truly “doing it with Flair,” as multiple versions of her t-shirts have proclaimed.
Before her current reign as “The Queen” of WWE, she made a much more inauspicious pro wrestling debut on WCW Monday Nitro at the age of 14 as part of an otherwise forgettable storyline feud between Vince Russo and her father, which saw the rivalry taken directly to the Flair family household. It wasn’t until 12 years late that she entered into the world of wrestling as an active performer, making her TV debut on NXT in a July 2013 match against Bayley.
Charlotte really started coming into her own in November of that year when she joined the villainous BFFs—”Beautiful, Fierce Females”—alongside Sasha Banks and leader Summer Rae, showing a more vicious side of her personality in targeting the likes of Bayley, Emma, and Paige. They were the resident “Mean Girls” of NXT.
But while that alliance was ultimately short-lived, this era saw Charlotte take on Natalya in the finals of the tournament to determine the fate of the NXT Women’s Championship, which had gone vacant following Paige’s debut on RAW. The excellent, nearly 20-minute match took place on May 29, 2014 at the very first NXT TakeOver event, and the athleticism and fighting spirit shown by both women—Natalya with her uncle Bret Hart in her corner, Charlotte with her dad in hers—helped further the cause of the blossoming “Divas Revolution,” in a time when women performers in WWE (especially on the main roster) were still struggling for time and recognition. Charlotte won the match with her signature somersault cutter, the Natural Selection.
The following year, Charlotte and the rest of NXT’s women’s roster reliably provided much of the black-and-yellow brand’s best matches and moments. Specifically, the rivalry between Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley saw the four women dubbed by fans and observers the “Four Horsewomen,” patterned after Ric Flair’s legendary stable (and, of course, sharing a nickname with the quartet of Ronda Rousey, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir, who all happen to be under WWE contract now, too). Charlotte defended the NXT Women’s Championship in a four-way match against her fellow Horsewomen at NXT TakeOver: Rival on February 11, 2015, with Sasha Banks pinning Charlotte for the victory.
Even before Charlotte landed on WWE’s main roster, she had an impressive run. But of course, her story was just starting: In July 2015, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch all debuted on RAW, with Charlotte and Becky joining with Paige to form a trio dubbed “PCB” (named after, wait for it, their first names). It was another ill-fated alliance for Charlotte, as Paige turned on her partners a couple months later, but what’s life on the WWE main roster if you don’t have friends beating you up?
Just two months after Charlotte debuted on RAW, she defeated Nikki Bella at Night of Champions on September 20, 2015, to win what was then still called the WWE Divas Championship: tapping out the Total Bella with the Figure-Eight Leglock, which, as she’s put it, is “twice as good” as her dad’s Figure-Four.
Turns out, Charlotte was the final Divas Champion—as before WrestleMania 32 on April 3, 2016, it was announced that a new version of the WWE Women’s Championship would supplant the ol’ butterfly belt. Charlotte defeated her familiar opponents, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, at the event, resulting in her becoming the first WWE Women’s Champion under the new lineage.
Charlotte continued to make history in 2016, facing Sasha Banks in the first (and still only) women’s Hell in a Cell match at the eponymous event on October 30 of that year. Not only was it the first women’s match inside the infamously unforgiving cage—something that would have seemed impossible just a couple of years earlier—it was also the first women’s match to go on last at a WWE pay-per-view, in the true “main event” slot. To top it off, Charlotte won, regaining the Women’s Championship.
In 2017, Flair moved to SmackDown and participated in another history-making match: the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank match, which was won by Carmella under controversial circumstances (the polite way of saying James Ellsworth grabbed the briefcase and tossed it to Carmella).
Following Ronda Rousey’s WWE debut at the Royal Rumble 2018, a clash with Flair seemed inevitable—and that dream match happened at Survivor Series on November 18. Even though Rousey was technically the winner of that match, there’s no doubt it was the roughest night of the Baddest Woman on the Planet’s WWE career up to date, with Charlotte snapping and blasting Rousey repeatedly with a kendo stick, culminating with a Natural Selection onto a chair. (Rousey got some revenge a month later by pushing Charlotte and Becky Lynch off a ladder at TLC.)
Charlotte Flair’s entrance music and ring robes take cues from her father, and so does her penchant for winning titles: In less than seven years as a pro wrestler, Charlotte Flair has notched seven championship reigns in WWE, eight if you count her 258 days as NXT Women’s Champion. While it looks like things between her and Ronda Rousey are far from over, her next big move is likely her Royal Rumble match debut on January 27 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
WWE Royal Rumble 2019 takes place January 27 on WWE Network.