Charlotte Flair Dishes on Hell in a Cell, All-Women's WWE Show, Andrade and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2021

Charlotte Flair Dishes on Hell in a Cell, All-Women's WWE Show, Andrade and More

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    Despite receiving constant criticism from fans, Charlotte Flair hasn't held a major singles title on either Raw or SmackDown in nearly two years.
    Despite receiving constant criticism from fans, Charlotte Flair hasn't held a major singles title on either Raw or SmackDown in nearly two years.Credit: WWE.com

    Love her or loathe her, WWE's Charlotte Flair is without question one of the biggest stars in the wrestling world today.

    With everything she has accomplished inside the squared circle over the last eight years, she has more than earned the right to put herself in that elite category.

    Despite that, though, the second-generation star continues to fight for the respect of fans and to prove her naysayers wrong any chance she gets.

    Her next opportunity to enrage her critics will come at Sunday's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view when she vies for Rhea Ripley's Raw Women's Championship.

    If she manages to emerge victorious, she will become a 14-time WWE women's champion. That's double the amount of titles won by Hall of Famer Trish Stratus during her decorated career.

    Win, lose or draw, she'll still be Charlotte Flair: the unequivocal measuring stick for success in WWE's stacked women's division across all brands. The greatest may be yet to come from The Queen, especially now that she finds herself doing some of her strongest character work to date.

    Ahead of Hell in a Cell, Charlotte chatted with Bleacher Report about her rivalry with Ripley, why she doesn't think an all-women's show in WWE is necessary, her thoughts on her fiance and former WWE Superstar Andrade's newest venture and more.  

    Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide and read on for the highlights.

Challenging Rhea Ripley for the Raw Women's Title at Hell in a Cell

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    Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley have nothing but bad blood simmering between each other heading into their Raw Women's Championship clash at Hell in a Cell this Sunday.

    Their rivalry dates back to February 2020 when Ripley arrived on Raw as the NXT women's champion to challenge Charlotte, the 2020 women's Royal Rumble winner, to a match at WrestleMania 36. The Queen accepted and the bout was made official, but the coronavirus pandemic made it virtually impossible for them to promote the contest properly.

    To their credit, they had one of the better matches of either night at WrestleMania last year, despite it taking place inside of an empty Performance Center. The ThunderDome will still be without fans at Hell in a Cell on Sunday, but it will be a slightly different dynamic between the two of them this time around.

    "I think this year we've actually had an opportunity to tell a story on the platform to do it so people are more anticipated for the match, seeing us go back and forth and trying to have this oneupmanship," Charlotte said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

    The crux of the storyline is that Charlotte wants to see if Ripley has what it takes to be a champion. In the mind of The Queen, she already thinks of herself as a champion and wants to prove why she's the top dog by beating the newcomer for a second successive time.

    Fans have seen her mix it up with just about everyone on Raw and SmackDown over the years, so this feud with The Nightmare does feel fresh.

    When asked about whether she's more motivated going up against new competition, Charlotte said she enters every match with the same state of mind.

    "For me, it's about bringing out the best in the opponent and myself no matter the storyline," she said. "With Becky [Lynch], I was the babyface, but everybody thought I was the bad guy. Bayley, all of a sudden I'm good because she's bad. It just goes back and forth, and with Rhea, I'm really having fun being that bad guy.

    "There's no in-between, wanting to bring this fresh character to Raw and have the platform to tell a story."

Her Booking and Being in Her Element as a Heel

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    Many members of the WWE Universe are quick to complain about Charlotte hogging the spotlight in the top title picture on whatever show she's a part of, and although that may be true to an extent, it's also important to note she hasn't had held a major singles belt on Raw or SmackDown since October 2019.

    The Queen has been chasing Ripley for the Raw Women's Championship since returning from her brief hiatus the night after WrestleMania 37, but you'd have to go back to 2017 for the last time she was a regular in the title picture on the flagship show.

    Her 2020 consisted of sitting on the sidelines, reigning as the NXT women's champion for a brief period and fighting alongside Asuka as WWE women's tag team champions at the its end. Thus, fans tend to forget that she hasn't had a meaningful title reign in quite a few years.

    "Yes, I'm the 13-time champion, but really, in the last couple of years, I have not had a successful title run," Charlotte said. "Yes, I've been in the title picture non-stop, but besides the tag titles, I haven't been the champion, but people just associate me [with that]. So, [I'm thinking], 'Play into that, go with that,' but I have been chasing. At the same time, like I said on Raw Talk, do I need a title to be Charlotte Flair? Absolutely not. Am I going to go into this any different? Absolutely not.”

    Prior to returning to WWE TV as a heel in April, her character wasn't well defined at all. She seemingly went back and forth between being a babyface and a heel, but she feels she's been in her element as an antagonist these past few months—something that has been evident in her impressive promo work alone.

    "I always want to be a heel," she said. "When I came back after WrestleMania, there was no questioning what I am. There's no questioning what side [I'm on]. All that frustration, all that confusion, and laying it all out there. I really feel that has [been] portrayed throughout my promos. You can only do so much in the ring, and having that ability to have the mic has really helped with somewhat of a character wrinkle for me since April."

What She Feels WWE Is Currently Doing Right with the Women's Division

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    A lot can be said about how WWE has handled its women's division in recent years, specifically since the departures of Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch. It's far from what it was in the dark days of the "Divas" in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but women's wrestling hasn't felt like as much a priority as it was in the months preceding WrestleMania 35 when the women headlined for the first time.

    It's not an issue with the talent as much as it is is the booking more often than not. That said, the June 14 edition of Raw featured four matches with the women as well as several segments beforehand, afterward and backstage.

    The heated brawl between Charlotte and Ripley was among them, which was the perfect way to lead into their highly anticipated encounter at Hell in a Cell. Variety is what the 13-time champ believes WWE is getting right with the women's divisions right now on SmackDown and specifically Raw.

    “I think another reason I'm excited to have the fans back is because, like you said, it's so easy to be negative and social media is so negative," she said. "When you hear the audience and a live crowd, you can't deny the positivity, the excitement, the cheers, the boos. What we're doing right right now is adding new characters to the division: Rhea's on Raw, Bianca's on SmackDown. They're both champions and let's see them take the ball and run with it and see how far they can go. You either sink or you swim.

    “So many women across the board [were on Raw]," she added. "I mean, what are we doing wrong? Everyone was featured and that's what we're doing right. You're not going to like every story. You may not like me, but that's the point.”

Why She Doesn't Think an All-Women's Show in WWE Is Necessary

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    Charlotte had the honor of not only competing on WWE's first-ever all-women's Evolution pay-per-view in October 2018 but also being involved in a featured contest on the card against Becky Lynch for the SmackDown Women's Championship.

    Their Last Woman Standing match was the biggest highlight of what was arguably one of WWE's best events of the last decade. Despite its critical acclaim, there has yet to be a sequel.

    Triple H recently made wrestling headlines with his comments during an NXT conference call about why he doesn't think an all-women's show in WWE is necessary. Charlotte noted that she shares those sentiments as well and that she would rather stand out on a card with the men.

    “I think [another Evolution is] more of a when [than an if], but I get asked this question a lot," she said. "Would an all-women's show be great? Yes. Would another all-women's pay-per-view be great? Yes. But I'm in the mindset that I want to be on the card with men. I want to be on the card where there's eight matches and I want to be the best of the night no matter the gender. I don't need an all-women's show or an all-women's pay-per-view to highlight my performance or skill or being a lady wrestler. No. I want to prove, no matter man or woman, I am the best. I think it's great, but I don't need an all-women's show to show I'm a great wrestler.”

    Considering the position of power Triple H currently finds himself in, it'd be silly to think he'd say anything other than WWE being the best place for women's wrestling. That didn't stop fans from getting upset about it online, but Flair firmly believes that the competition is what makes everyone better.

    “Any promotion, any female star, anyone should say they are the best," she said. "You should not be in this business unless you're saying you're the best. Wherever you are in the world you should say you're the best.”

Why SummerSlam Is Her WrestleMania and Appearing on "Most Wanted Treasures"

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    After missing several weeks of WWE TV, Charlotte tweeted on March 22 that she had tested positive for COVID-19. Although she would have been healthy enough to compete by WrestleMania 37, WWE had already changed plans by that point and moved in the direction of doing Asuka against Rhea Ripley for the Raw Women's Championship instead.

    That left The Queen without a match at 'Mania, forcing her to return on the next night's Raw instead.

    She's been both excellent work both in the ring and on the mic since resurfacing on the roster, but it still stings for her to have missed her first WrestleMania since 2015. That's why she's looking at SummerSlam on August 21 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas—with tickets officially going on sale this Friday—as her Show of Shows this year.

    “You have no idea how excited I am," Flair said. "I was devastated when I missed WrestleMania, I'm not going to lie. That was really hard, but I do think ultimately it was the best thing for me because I came back in the best shape of my career, doing the best promo work of my career, adding wrinkles to my character and looking forward to SummerSlam. To me, it's going to be my SummerSlam.

    "I've been a road warrior for WWE since 2015, traveling all over the world for live events and overseas tours," she continued. "Not being in front of the fans, whether they're cheering for me or booing me, I miss that. Just to walk out and feel their presence, I'm excited.”

    In addition to the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Charlotte will be making another appearance on Sunday night on WWE's Most Wanted Treasures on A&E at 8/7c. She, her legendary father Ric Flair, singer Darius Rucker and others will be on the hunt for Ric's long-lost robe that he wore at the 1992 Royal Rumble event when he won the WWE Championship for the first time.

    “I think it's just what the memorabilia means to people," she said about the show and what viewers can expect from this episode. "My dad has lost a lot of robes, boots and tights, so seeing him search for this and tell the story of what he thinks happened to his robe and certain gears from the past, it's great. You even have my brother-in-law, my sister's husband, Conrad Thompson helping search for his memorabilia.”

Her Thoughts on Andrade's WWE Departure and What They Help Each Other With

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    The Queen met her king, former WWE Superstar Andrade, a few years back and the two got engaged in January 2020. Charlotte mentioned that they're currently planning on holding their wedding in Mexico once traveling restrictions are eased a bit more, ideally by early next year.

    “Since we want to get married in Mexico, we've really been waiting for the travel restrictions to where it will be easy for my friends and family to travel to his hometown," she said. "We're hoping now for the spring because it seems like everything is going back to normal.”

    Andrade's departure from WWE earlier this year was well documented. The former NXT and United States champion requested his release and had it granted before showing up on rival promotion AEW Dynamite just a few short weeks ago.

    As his fiancé and his biggest fan, Flair couldn't be supportive of his newest venture.

    “I'm just so motivated and inspired by his decision," she said. "It was his dream to be in WWE, but I think he knew and felt he wanted more. He could get more and maybe going and showing his worth and working on things that he needed to like his English, that's what it was going to take to be where he wants to be. To do that on his own accord and not be scared of the future but to know that he'll succeed and one day come back... I don't know if that's what he'd want to do. But he wants success.

    "He wants the platform," she continued. "He wants to get better. He wants to main-event shows. To see him come out the other night when he debuted, full-blown star. You can't deny him, he is a star. Working on his English, I know things are going to get bigger and better and brighter for him and I support him 100 percent. It's really inspiring to watch. He just went and did it.”

    Having never competed anywhere but WWE, Flair can't imagine the feeling of leaving the company where she started her legacy. Andrade chose to bet on himself and it's paid off fairly well for him so far.

    “I'm WWE homegrown," she said. "I think that's what people forget. I'm a product of the PC. That would be so scary to me to leave my home, which is WWE. To know that he has traveled the world and that he'll continue to travel the world and make a bigger name for himself, I'm so excited for him.”

    As for what they help each other with the most, it's a matter of bringing their two backgrounds together. Charlotte's been able to work on adding new moves to her arsenal while Andrade has made himself more of a star by working on his overall presentation.

    “What I'm helping him with definitely is not what he's helping me with," she said. "With him, he obviously works with me on the moves. I have a style now obviously because I've been on Raw and SmackDown since 2015, but just working with my performance and I work with him on presentation. Half of the battle is being a star. I feel like, which people forget a lot of the time, is that it is presence whether it's promos or... I can't give away the magic, but I work with presentation and he works with wrestling. You swap it.”

Does She Have Any Acting Aspirations?

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    For as big of a star as Charlotte has become in the world of sports and entertainment, it's surprising she has yet to branch out into Hollywood and follow in the footsteps of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, John Cena, Batista and even fellow Four Horsewomen Sasha Banks.

    She made her film debut in 2017's Psych: The Movie, where she portrayed a villainous henchwoman named Heather Rockrear. She was also announced earlier this year to be a part of the remake of 1973's Walking Tall in addition to appearing on an episode of Peacock's Punky Brewster series in February.

    Flair admitted that she has had nothing but wrestling on her mind for the last several years, which is why she didn't entertain the idea of taking up more acting roles sooner. But now that she's achieved a certain level of success in the WWE realm, nothing is stopping her from exploring those types of endeavors more and continuing to build her brand.

    “I've been so focused on my in-ring career that maybe now I'm 100 percent open to doing other projects," she said. "It's just what fits, what works and what the opportunity is. Before I was like, 'Wrestling, wrestling, wrestling!' Now there's so many opportunities out there for talent to do the crossover and transition. Yeah, I'm definitely open to it. I still have the Walking Tall project that will hopefully start this fall, so I'm definitely looking forward to that as well.”

    Whether it's on the silver screen or inside the squared circle, Charlotte Flair's star presence can't be denied.

    Catch Charlotte challenge Raw Women's champion Rhea Ripley this Sunday, June 20 at WWE Hell in a Cell at 8/7c on Peacock and WWE Network.

       

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.

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