There’s a commonly held wrestling opinion that Flairs should be heels (okay... it’s my opinion, but I also know more than a few people who share it). Despite that, WWE continues to position Charlotte as anything but.
Like her father Ric, one of the best heel gimmicks of all time, Flair comes out in expensive looking robes. She talks about how she’s genetically superior to everyone else. Sounds like a good way to make people pay to see you get your ass kicked, but The Queen hasn’t been presented as any more villainous than a tweener in years.
Flair herself sounds a bit confused. In talking to Sam Roberts about the feud with Lacey Evans which just wrapped up because of Evans’ real-life pregnancy, Charlotte seems to criticize the angle because she should be “the dirtiest player in the game” thanks to her own connection to her old man.
But Flair also reveals that she wants to connect as a babyface, and hopes the scene she and Ric shared backstage on Raw last week helps her do just that.
Here’s what she said on today’s Notsam Wrestling podcast:
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on Monday’s promo segment. I love the fact that people are throwing around the word ‘shoot’ because that meant it touched home for some people. Where it goes, I don’t know. Obviously, there is going to be a different direction now. My step-mom [Evans] can’t wrestle me. It took a different twist and I’ll be interested to see where it goes after Monday. I hope nowhere near my dad. I know he feels the same way. It’s ‘Mania season. I hope I’m at WrestleMania.
“I definitely thought him and Lacey worked well together. I understood and got it. My struggle was, I’m the daughter of the dirtiest player in the game, why can’t I be the dirtiest player in the game? How or why would I fall for his antics if I’ve already been on camera with him and he was my manager? That was tremendous and I grew as a performer and it took me to the next level, but why am I not the dirtiest player in the game? I was basically throwing a fit. I didn’t understand. I can’t fall for these things. It didn’t make sense.
“Whatever emotions came through on-screen, it definitely brought out a different side of me so it did exactly what it was supposed to. I wear my heart on my sleeve and that’s the one thing I’ve never been able to do with my character. I like babyface promos and I told myself I need to get better at promos and want to get better. “
“Sometimes I felt when I was trying to connect with the audience as a babyface, I felt, ‘Man, they probably just think I’m whining’ because they don’t understand where I’m coming from or the pressure I put on myself or what it’s like to be Ric’s kid. No one puts more pressure on me than I do. I don’t need anyone to criticize me, I criticize myself. People can empathize with an argument with your parents saying, ‘Let me do this on my own.’
“I felt like I was past being Ric’s kid because of everything I had accomplished, but it was a different twist. I’ll never get past it. I tried to explain this to my dad, even on live events, telling him how relevant he still is. Before live events, they have this incredible [video] package playing before the show. Even in 2021, arenas are ‘WOO-ing’ before the show. I never want it to go away but it’s hard to articulate that amount of pressure to people in babyface promos.”
As Charlotte says, the Nature Boy legacy is a blessing and a curse. But I think it’s a tough sell to get people to sympathize with that in general, and especially when her character is based on the same swagger and braggadocio as Ric’s.
If the plan is to have her feud with Asuka now, they might have an additional problem. In 2018, WWE set babyface Charlotte against a freshly-turned wrestler that fans felt the company had been mistreating. It didn’t go well. Or, it did - but not the way it was planned.
Perhaps there’s a window before fans return later this year where they can pull it off. If Flair’s face dreams are to come true, they better hope so.