Once in awhile, a female performer comes along who transcends the women’s division and stands alongside her male counterparts as a legitimate star in World Wrestling Entertainment. In this, the New Era of WWE, Charlotte has achieved that rarefied air.
Over the last two years, Charlotte has developed into an elite performer in WWE. Not only the face of a women’s revolution, she has also become one of the most visible stars in the company. She appears on marketing materials and promotional pieces and has been an integral part of WWE programming since her main roster debut in 2015.
Her significance to the WWE product and her incredible star has never been more apparent than in the recent Superstar Shake-up.
When SmackDown Live was pillaged by Raw, a handful of its stars stolen to bolster the red brand’s roster, it received only a handful of competitors in return. Many had potential but were not legitimate stars capable of lending credibility to the Tuesday night show.
Kevin Owens was one.
The other? Charlotte.
She strutted to the ring with the confidence of a marquee performer. She looked the part of a star ready to save a brand in need of it. Her arrival to SmackDown signified management recognizing her star was bright enough to help cancel out another major transaction of talent.
How did Charlotte get to that point in her career, though? After all, no matter who her father is, she is still a woman in an industry typically dominated by men. It took hard work, strong booking and a little luck for her to achieve the success she has and in the process redefine women's wrestling.
The Charlotte that first took to the squared circle in NXT is a shell of the trailblazer Ric Flair’s daughter would become. She was timid, nervous and at times uncomfortable between the ropes.
Then she worked with Natalya at NXT: TakeOver and began blossoming into one of the most promising young performers in the industry. Her confidence grew with every passing week, and as opportunities presented themselves, she became a more fearless worker. She would take risks, calculated or otherwise, and deliver matches that inspired fans.
Soon, “women’s revolution” became one of the buzzwords promoted by management on the back of what Charlotte was able to accomplish with Bayley, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. It is a phrase that never would have existed were it not for the desire to get better and the hard work Charlotte put into growing and developing her in-ring game.
Even when she arrived on the main roster, her final destination, she never relaxed on her laurels. She strived to get better, and it showed with every passing performance. She would try something new, develop in other areas such as her character work or promo abilities or throw caution to the wind by executing a moonsault to the arena floor.
She consistently earned the respect of fans and attention of management, who wasted little time rewarding her with one of the most substantial pushes in recent memory.
A star does not become a marquee attraction without a little help from management, especially in the case of female Superstars, who have rarely been given the same attention their male counterparts have received. Wendi Richter, Miss Elizabeth, Sable, Chyna, Trish Stratus and Lita are all performers who transcended women’s wrestling and became essential parts of the WWE puzzle.
Some even became WWE Hall of Famers.
Without management picking up on the connection they had with fans, rewarding their hard work and giving them significant pushes, those women never would have achieved the level of stardom or success they did.
The same can be said for Charlotte.
While she was always tapped for big things because of her father, many a second- or third-generation star has seen his or her career go up in smoke when they could not deliver under the brightest of lights. Charlotte passed every test and got over with audiences to the point that WWE pushed her to the forefront of the women’s division. She was its face, the star around whom all others revolved.
Charlotte won five women’s titles, headlined pay-per-view events with Sasha Banks and consistently made history. Her work directly added to the increased significance of women’s wrestlers in the current WWE landscape. She, along with her coworkers, added legitimacy to the company’s claims that women’s wrestling would be taken more seriously and respectfully than ever before.
With every opportunity, Charlotte rose to the occasion, paying off the promotion’s trust in her.
In Dallas for WrestleMania 32, Charlotte’s image appeared center on AT&T Stadium’s front, eclipsing those of The Undertaker, Shane McMahon, Roman Reigns and Triple H. It was another pat on the back by officials who appreciated the unwavering dedication she had put into becoming the absolute best she could be.
What she did in the ring on wrestling’s grandest stage only cemented her status as the top star in women’s wrestling and justified the incredible push that preceded and, eventually proceeded, the spectacular.
No longer the centerpiece of Raw’s women’s division, she now looks to bring her reign of dominance to SmackDown Live, where she will have the opportunity to work with an eclectic mix of performers.
There is Lynch, with whom she has the best in-ring chemistry of the bunch. Naomi is the division’s champion, the top opposition for the second-generation competitor and a wild card of sorts for Charlotte. A dynamic performer, Naomi's high-risk, high-reward offense should jell with Charlotte’s ground-and-pound, submission-based move set.
Her previous work with Natalya, both in NXT and on the main roster, speaks for itself. In Carmella, she has an unfamiliar foe with whom she has never worked a high-profile match.
The potential for further greatness from women’s wrestling’s greatest spokeswoman is high. Of greater significance is what her move to SmackDown Live could mean for the sport. On Raw, women’s wrestling is but one element of an enormous three-hour show. It has its spot on the show but is rarely the spotlighted division on the bloated telecast.
On SmackDown, Charlotte has the ability to lead a roster that becomes an integral part of the brand’s identity. With a lack of depth on the men’s side of things, there is a realistic opportunity for the women to become a major part of Tuesday nights and for Charlotte to reaffirm her position as one of its marquee attractions.
The future is bright for Charlotte. She has an opportunity to not only become the most decorated female competitor in WWE history but also one of the most prominent women to ever lace a pair of boots.
Given her humble beginnings in NXT, where she was another face in a crowd of talented performers, that is an incredible reality facing the five-time champion.