With the usual caveats about Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair match at Survivor Series this Sunday (namely: there are parts of this that we’ll never know if they’re the thoughts/feelings of the performer or the character or both, and while the set-up for this program seems to have involved real issues between the two former friends, a significant amount of what we’re getting now is fictional), the interview Flair did with The Masked Man Show is worth diving into.
Hosts David Shoemaker and Evan Mack, the latter of whom serves as Flair’s hype man at times during the podcast, lead off by asking if Charlotte feels it’s unfair that Lynch has done numerous interviews this week while she’s only doing one or two.
“I feel like the only adult in the room. I’ve never used media as a platform other than to talk about my success, and about what I want. Everyone knows that I want to be the best. And that’s how I look at — when I get the chance to do these sitdown interviews, I use them just to — I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain myself, that people would want to understand that I want to be better, that I didn’t come this far to come this far, but I’ve never used these opportunities as an outlet to tear down someone else’s career.”
Mack wonders why Becky spent so much time talking about her Survivor Series opponent this week. He doesn’t mention that Lynch was asked about the issues with Flair by interviewers, and minimizes the promotional value of the worked shoot with the debatable claim that another Charlotte vs. Becky bout “sells itself” without the possibly real drama.
“Well I always go, ‘Number one doesn’t talk about number two.’ And I think Charlotte Flair is an easy target, I’ve always been a target. Since day one I’ve been a target. I’m used to it. I have been on top since 2015. I know the pressure, I know the criticism that comes with it. Most importantly, I have to stay true to myself, and I didn’t get to where I am without the help of others. Without facing Nikki Bella, without Sasha Banks and Becky at WrestleMania 32. Then Bayley coming. But I know that in every feud I’ve had, I am a target. There is a lot that comes with the Flair name, and I have never need to compare myself to someone else on my rise to the top.
“Do I take it personal, at this point? I take it personal that the audience can’t see the passion that oozes out of me every single Friday, or Monday, or pay-per-view. I just main evented the UK Tour every night with Sasha Banks. You can’t rise to the top with short-lived attention. And I have spent the last seven years earning this spot. I don’t get hot one minute, cold another. I am the consistent diamond of this division. And what I mean by that is, I am unbreakable.”
Shoemaker attempts to drill down on those comments about the audience, but while she later will, Flair isn’t ready to expand on them at this point.
“I feel like it’s WrestleMania 35, or the feud in 2019. Like here you have Ronda and Becky tweeting God knows what they were tweet, and here I am just over here like, ‘Okay, do your thing,’ the only adult in the room. Or just being attacked for everything I’ve accomplished in 2019. I said what I said. Next question.”
The transition out of that is the former host of The Bump offering that he believes Charlotte is the greatest of all-time.
“But you know what’s funny? People say that and I’ve never — I still want to be better... What people think, what people have a hard time going — yes, I am also a human being. My real name is Ashley Fliehr. Charlotte has been the focus point since 2015. We’ve told the audience that she’s entitled, we’ve told the audience that she’s Ric Flair’s daughter, we’ve told the audience all these things, constantly. And Charlotte is the 12 times women’s champion. Ashley, the human, just wants to live her dream for her brother and succeed. And I think people can’t turn that off.
“As a character, what people aren’t realizing, ‘Wow, Charlotte Flair is doing a damn good job.’ So all of a sudden, well, Charlotte’s the only heel in the room, isn’t that what we want? To have the best good guy, you have to have the best bad guy. So what do you want Charlotte to be? So I’m confused here. Because if anything, Charlotte’s doing a really good job.”
“I’m not here because of Ric Flair, though it’s weird to say that as I go ‘Dad’. I’m here because of my brother, not any other reason. The reason I don’t put down others is because I know what it’s like to be torn down every single day. Every single day, someone wants to take away my success. ‘Oh, it was handed to her. Oh, it was given to her. Oh, she’s Ric Flair’s daughter. Oh, she politics.’ All these things. No one can accept the fact that if my last name wasn’t Flair, I would still be the best athlete in this company, man or woman... Not even close. But I still live with that every day, so I don’t take down somebody else’s success to make myself bigger or feel better. I just go, ‘You know what, I need to work harder. How do I get there, or how do I get there again?’
“You know, I really needed to work on my promos since 2019 I’ve taken the opportunity to work on my promos. I feel like they’ve gotten better. Are they where I want them to be? No. I’ve worked on my in-ring. If someone looks at my work from 2015 to now, they can’t go, ‘Damn, she’s right. She’s changed, she’s evolved.’ But if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. That’s why I am still The Queen. I don’t need to be anything else...
“I don’t think people appreciate me right now. I think not until something or someone is gone do they realize what they have. And when I’m gone, I will go down as the greatest ever, man or woman.”
As the subject moves on to rumors of her backstage behavior, Charlotte says she doesn’t even know what “politicking” means.
“I don’t even know what that term means, but I read it... What I think people mean is, because I am a Flair, they automatically think I just walk into Vince’s office because I’m Ric Flair’s daughter, and be like, ‘This is what I want to do today.’
“If that was the case, don’t you think I would have had a longer title run than eight seconds a couple years ago at Money in the Bank? I don’t know. I don’t like the short title runs. I wish I could hold on to the title a little longer, but when I lose it, I want to get it again. When I lose it, I want to prove — that’s what keeps me motivated, is getting better to be that champion. The 80s is different. Here, you might be able to state your opinion, but I don’t know how much say the talent really has... that’s Charlotte’s label.
“It’s easy to like, ‘She’s been the 12 time Women’s champion. Why is she the 12 time Women’s champion?’ Because they needed Charlotte, the 12 time Women’s champion. That’s why. Like, because Charlotte worked that hard to become that champion. Every time they go, ‘Nope, she’s done,’ she’s coming back for more... After this past WrestleMania, when I missed WrestleMania because of COVID, I came back with ‘The Opportunity’ promo, and I meant every single word. And they go, ‘Oh yeah, she’s ready to go.’ That’s how I just come back to show them. It’s about hunger, it’s about my drive, and they see it. I know the right people see it.”
Before moving on to more general issues about women’s wrestling, Flair takes a different approach to her theory that she’s judged differently because she’s a woman. Here, she seems to be saying that her issues with others on the roster are treated differently because of gender stereotypes.
“It’s easy, ‘Oh women are catty. Women are this, they talk behind each other’s back...’ That’s how you label women. ‘Ah, that’s girl drama, that’s the girl’s locker room’ ... that’s the perception regardless.... if two dudes have the same problem, they go, ‘Wow, who’s gonna win. I got him,’ It’s not, ’Look at them,’ or they put the blame on one... it’s easy to say women are catty. It just is what it — I don’t even know how you change that. No, you know what it is? Actually, it’s not catty. I’m using the wrong word. ‘Women are emotional.’ That’s what they like to say.”
Overall, it’s a very curious interview. Shoemaker and Mack never bring up specifics of the infamous SmackDown belt exchange with Lynch, or the reports of what happened backstage afterwards. From the start, they tee things up for Flair to deliver her usual remarks about being unappreciated and/or misunderstood.
Which, as she says, is great heeling! And if this appearance is a work designed to further that by making it seem like she wants interviewers to sing her praises and toss her softballs, then it’s a brilliant piece of kayfabe.
But Charlotte’s been pushed as a babyface for decent stretches of her run, and not too long ago was talking about how important getting over as a face was to her. It would be much more interesting - and effective in making her a sympathetic figure - to hear her talk about if there’s been a disconnect with creative on how she’s presented, and to hear her side of the belt exchange story.
Again though, maybe that’s not the point. We can’t know if (to use her distinction) Ashley Fliehr didn’t want to talk about that with any specificity, or if it was avoided to serve Charlotte Flair’s character.
Let us know what you think, Cagesiders, and check out The Queen’s entire appearance on The Masked Man Show here.