X

Comparing Charlotte Flair's WWE Career so Far to Ric Flair's Early Years

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterJune 22, 2018

Credit: WWE.com

Fresh off powerbombing folks on to ladders at the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Charlotte Flair lengthened her list of history-making accomplishments.

ESPN the Magazine revealed on Tuesday that the second-generation pro wrestler would appear in its upcoming "Body Issue." She is the first WWE Superstar to do so. 

This kind of news isn't a surprise at this point. She has made a habit of trailblazing.

WWE @WWE

An honor fit for a Queen. Congratulations to @MsCharlotteWWE who will be featured in @espn The Magazine’s #Body10 on Friday, June 29! https://t.co/OOYfhNcyb7

She has raised the profile of the women's division, spearheading a revolution in women's wrestling.  As WWE.com noted, The Queen is "the first female Superstar in WWE history to main-event a singles match on Raw, SmackDown Live and a pay-per-view."

Thanks to feats like those, she has long gone from being simply known as all-time great Ric Flair's daughter and begun to create a legacy of her own.

It doesn't feel like it when she's tearing it up in the ring, but Charlotte has only been wrestling for five years. Already, she's been a champion several times over and become one of WWE's go-to talents. 

Five years into Ric's career, he was a headliner in the making. Is she as good now as he was then? The two-time Hall of Famer himself might argue that.

Ric told the Daily Star last year, "She (Charlotte) already is the greatest, by far. I don't know who to compare her to." 

The conversation has to eventually shift from where she ranks among the best female wrestlers ever to all-time wrestlers period. Of course, that's a discussion Ric has long been a big part of. 

Putting his early work side by side with Charlotte's career to this point is quite the revealing exercise.

       

Accolades, Championship Gold

Like her father, Charlotte didn't waste time in loading up her mantel with trophies.

She has been champion for much of her career thus far. WWE clearly recognizes her potential and has shown that by crowning her again and again.

WWE @WWE

"@MsCharlotteWWE could be Women's Champion FOREVER!" - @WWEGraves #RoyalRumble https://t.co/qsJXGrpKrp

The Queen has claimed seven championships to this point, per her WWE.com profile:

  • Raw Women's Championship (4)
  • SmackDown Women's Championship
  • Divas Championship
  • NXT Women's Championship

That's quite similar to what her dad did by his fifth year in the business. The Nature Boy cleaned up in the NWA Mid-Atlantic territory in the '70s, nabbing six titles by the end of 1976, per CageMatch.net:

  • NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (3)
  • NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship
  • NWA Mid-Atlantic Television Championship 
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship

Ric Flair won a treasure trove of championship throughout his career.
Ric Flair won a treasure trove of championship throughout his career.Credit: WWE.com

One has to figure Ric might have added another title or two to his name were it not for the 1975 plane crash that left him with a broken back. He didn't miss a ton of time, though. By May 1976, he was back in the ring.

As for accolades from the media, Charlotte is ahead of where her father was at this stage in his career.

A look at Pro Wrestling Illustrated awards history is a reminder of the amount of acclaim she has received to this point. Charlotte has won the magazine's Rookie of the Year (2014), Feud of the Year (2016) and Woman of the Year (2016) awards. Plus, she was ranked No. 1 on the magazine's Female 50 list. 

PWI @OfficialPWI

It wasn't easy getting @SashaBanksWWE and @MsCharlotteWWE to do this for us! They both got A+ Reports Grades from @OfficialPWI. https://t.co/GTUCSiu1Il

Ric won the Rookie of the Year award, as well, back in 1975.

The Nature Boy didn't win the Feud of the Year prize until 1988, 16 years after his pro debut. But he went on to claim it three times. Charlotte will have her work cut out to match that number. 

And while Charlotte has been step for step with her father in terms of championships so far, paralleling his longevity is going to be tough. His total 16 world title reigns remain the gold standard. For her to equal that with Raw or SmackDown women's title wins, she will have to add 11 more to her collection.

Her father was winning gold as late as 2006 when he was 57 years old.

        

On the Mic 

You don't have a discussion of wrestling's great talkers without a Ric Flair mention. 

His catchphrases were gold. His swagger was top-notch. The influence of his cocky, materialistic shtick on wrestlers after him is clear.

Flair hadn't mastered his mic skills by 1976, but he sure looked and talked like a star back then. During his Mid-Atlantic Wrestling career, Ric had great energy and charisma. 

He has Charlotte beat there so far.

The Queen has developed into a solid talker. She's plenty charismatic herself, but she's not at her dad's level yet.

Her delivery is often too measured and she overenunciates. 

With added experience and continued work on her craft, it's easy to foresee Charlotte refining her verbal game. The inevitable feud with Ronda Rousey and clash with her friend Becky Lynch will provide big-time opportunities to shine there.

If she's never as memorable as her father on the mic, that's not exactly a failure. That's like faulting LeBron James Jr. should he never get as good as his dad in terms of court vision.

     

On the Mat

Ric's classic matches against Sting, Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham didn't come until the '80s. He was a star on the rise in the late '70s but hadn't bolstered his resume quite as well as Charlotte has already.

He was the same master crowd manipulator in those days, able to garner a big reaction without even really exerting himself. The showman could rile up the crowd by simply stepping out of the ring to avoid his foe. 

The Nature Boy's rivalry with Wahoo McDaniel in 1976 produced some excellent matches and hinted at what was to come for him.

Charlotte boasts a similar presence in the ring. It took little time for her to grow into a bonafide star.

She's still evolving as an overall performer, but her physical gifts are superior to her father's. Charlotte is faster and more athletic, able to do things he never did between the ropes. The moonsault, for example, was never a move in Ric's arsenal. 

WWE Universe @WWEUniverse

What a MOONSAULT!!! @MsCharlotteWWE #WomensTitle #WWEClash https://t.co/WINEHfuUTO

Those skills have helped her deliver a number of standout matches.

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t the Internet Wrestling Database) has handed out plenty of stars when it comes to rating her matches. So far, eight of them have received a four-star rating or higher.

She's flourished against Banks, Asuka, Lynch and others. The Queen was a part of three of WWE.com's top 25 matches of 2016, including the No. 3 bout.

WWE Universe @WWEUniverse

It's ON! @SashaBanksWWE. @MsCharlotteWWE. @WWE #WomensChampionship. LIVE on #RAW! https://t.co/fZEHpMRmv6

Peers like Big Show are certainly impressed. On Steve Austin's podcast (h/t Wrestling Inc's William Windsor), the former WWE champ said of her work: "Thank God I'm not following her right now. She is just laying it down."

Should Charlotte remain on the trajectory she is and should she toil on the mat anywhere near as long as her father did, she's going to compile a career for the ages. As nutty as it might have seemed when she was a wide-eyed rookie adjusting to a new world, it's conceivable that she eventually moves past her father on the all-time rankings.

Years from now, when fans sit down to have their usual "greatest of all time" discussions, the younger Flair's name will be brought up as much as the older Flair's.