Charlotte Flair has been selected as the face of the women’s division by WWE. But does someone as talented as her deserve all the hate she gets?
Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Charlotte Flair. All of the aforementioned talents share some remarkable similarities. For example, they all typify Vince McMahon’s ideology of what a main event talent should be, they have all shared prominence on show cards despite the superior talent of their peers and they all have a shared attraction to the company’s top gold.
It’s no secret that higher-ups in the WWE have an ideal vision for who makes a WWE Champion. We have seen this presented to us with various assortments of “big men” with little-to-no wrestling talent given prominent storylines and favourable booking.
Once upon a time, this was the perceived norm of wrestling. Larger than life characters like Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior were favoured due to their superhuman physique. But when we get down to it, they couldn’t put on a really good wrestling match, instead relying on bravado and charisma to get the crowd pumped.
Like many before, the wrestling industry has evolved and fans share a different viewpoint on what should make a worker a top star. This has been a point of conflict for a while with WWE, as various brilliant workers come up short in the race for gold and fortune, due to having a stature or physique deemed by McMahon and company as not main event material.
Disappointing as it may be, we have seen this point proven time and time again with the likes of Cena and Reigns. The fans aren’t fickle and are actually more reasonable than we get credit for. We understand the talent of Cena and Reigns, but it’s WWE’s insistence on handing them title win after title win while portraying them with a corporate babyface gimmick, especially when you look at the current heel work of Reigns, which has made him the best character in wrestling. The issue has not been the pushing of Cena and Reigns, but rather when they’re pushed to meet an ideology at the expense of damn good talent who have climbed their way to the top.
I get asked by fellow MMA and boxing fans all the time whether or not a title in wrestling means anything to the wrestler, and I always reply with yes, because every title should be a symbol of their hard work and a reward for their ability as a worker. It’s like receiving an Oscar or BAFTA: Yes they work in a pre-meditated sense, but it’s the reward for their work in putting on a show for the audience.
The issue with my response is that cannot be true when corporate champions are selected to go over their harder working and more popular peers.
Charlotte Flair is the latest corporate champion to be selected by Vince and the selected face of the women’s roster. She is insanely talented and has the ability to put on spectacular matches with her contemporaries, and she has a superstar aura about her. This is why Flair had the fans legitimately behind her on the route to her first Divas title win against Nikki Bella.
The fans weren’t as pleased when she won at WrestleMania 32 to unify the Divas and returning WWE Women’s Championship a few months later, or when she consistently beat Sasha Banks for the title on PPV, building Flair up and making Banks look like a secondary challenger.
In fact, the main reason why Becky Lynch become so over in the first place was that Flair was interjected into any title feud she hadn’t previously been part of, and Lynch was a symbol of change in the women’s division.
What makes Flair so intolerable to many is how she lingers at the top and threatens to demean and squash any worker that has legitimately made their way up the mountain. She ended Asuka’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, which made the whole NXT roster look weak. She was somehow injected into the WrestleMania 35 main event, even though Ronda Rousey vs Becky Lynch carried more than enough intrigue. After winning the Royal Rumble match this year, another result fans weren’t too pleased with, she challenged NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania 36.
The hope was to use Flair as the main event rub that Ripley would use to burst onto the main roster as a legitimate contender. What happened instead was Charlotte beat Ripley at Mania, to win the title and squash another insanely talented peer. Worse yet, Flair had the chance to transfer her momentum as NXT Women’s Champion to the woman who ultimately beat her. Flair instead was unpinned in a triple threat match; Io Shirai scored the deciding fall the already shamed and beaten former champ, Ripley, to dethrone “The Queen”. Not long after, Flair disappeared from TV altogether.
She returned in December as a “surprise” replacement for Lana in the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match alongside Asuka against ShayNia (Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler). It was in this match where she captured the one title that alluded her and completed the Women’s Grand Slam: she has now held the Raw, SmackDown, NXT, Divas, and the Tag Team titles. She walked in a champion to her last match before leaving, and out a champion in her first match after.
Understandably, fans are jaded and want Flair’s continued prominence to end.
Does she deserve all the hate? Not at all. She is an immensely talented worker and possesses both the in-ring and the mic skills to develop and deliver brilliantly worked rivalries with her peers. Unfortunately for her, she is the target for frustrations that should be delivered to management and creative since, at the end of the day, they are the ones who make the decisions.
What doesn’t help her case is the convenience of her hiatus, she appears to disappear every time she drops a title or has to work outside of the title picture. And although everyone deserves a break, it does appear that whilst other stars are breaking their backs over the course of a year to even get into a position where they might possess gold, Charlotte has come back and immediately won a championship. WWE has a hard enough job as it is trying to treat its immensely talented roster accordingly, with everyone fighting for a bite of the cherry, but when you’re recycling the same talent at the expense of new and refreshing alternatives, it becomes a kick in the gut.
All in all, Charlotte doesn’t book herself, but she does disappear when the booking isn’t favourable. Blame needs to be put at both herself and the higher-ups doors, and let’s hope WWE finally makes use of Charlotte’s insurmountable talent to put someone else over.