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  1. #1
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    Hardtime: Debunking The Myth That Charlotte Is Only Successful Because Of Ric Flair

    Hardtime: Debunking The Myth That Charlotte Is Only Successful Because Of Ric Flair




    Ever since Charlotte Flair won the then Diva’s Championship from Nikki Bella, she has been the on again, off again face of WWE’s “Women’s Revolution” that started in 2015. With a record 8 Women’s Championships on the main roster, she has seemingly been in and out of the title picture since she, Sasha, and Becky were famously called up from NXT. While many would attribute the debut of a women’s only pay per view and the debut of women’s wrestlers in the main event of WrestleMania to the contributions of Ronda Rousey, Charlotte has been the one receiving the most kayfabe accomplishments and has, along with others, helped set the stage for Ronda to take WWE women’s wrestling to the next level. However, despite how much Charlotte has accomplished in WWE, and no matter how much she will accomplish in the future, when her career is over there will be a dark cloud hanging over it. There are many wrestling fans who believe most of her success has been handed to her because of who her father is, and that she hasn’t really earned most of her kayfabe accomplishments. While I believe she owes a very small percentage of her success to her last name, I strongly believe the very large majority of it has been earned on her own merits.


    While Charlotte has a different character than Ric Flair, she very much employs several of his trademarks. Her theme music is a remix of Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, the famous song Ric used for his entrances. Her stage name comes from the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, in Ric’s famous home state. She comes to the ring in fancy robes, she uses knife edge chops, does the strut, her finisher is a modified version of the figure four, and she always uses Ric’s famous catch phrase “Wooooo!” She doesn’t display the wild energy in promos that he had, nor does she really try to convey that she lives the party lifestyle that Ric did. For the most part, her character is someone who pretty much idolizes and emulates her famous and very successful father as a performer. As a heel she thinks she is better than her adversaries because her father was such a great wrestler.


    However, simply playing up the trademarks of Ric Flair has not been what made her successful. Every wrestler needs the right character in order to allow them to be successful. But the right character doesn’t automatically make them successful. Steve Austin was not on pace to become a huge draw until he found the version of his Stone Cold character he is best known for. Rocky Maivia had to change his name to The Rock, become extremely arrogant, wear $500 shirts and start referring to himself in the third person before he found himself on a path to super stardom. If they stayed as The Ringmaster and Rocky Maivia, respectively, they probably wouldn’t have become nearly as successful. However, while a bad character can prevent success, a good character does not automatically guarantee success. Austin and Rock became mega stars because of their great characters and more importantly, their overwhelming charisma.


    Now I’m not saying Charlotte is nearly as charismatic as Austin or Rock. What I’m saying is she has enough charisma to be over with the fans and it’s not just because she promotes herself as Ric Flair’s daughter. She has a marketable character, and it would be stupid for her not to use Ric’s trademarks. But no matter what your character is, you need charisma and talent in order to make fans care about you. There have been many WWE wrestlers who had fathers or uncles who were big stars in the wrestling business, yet never managed to have nearly the amount of success that Charlotte has had, despite employing their trademarks the way Charlotte does with Ric.


    Natalya’s uncle is Bret Hart. Her entrance music is a remix of his theme music, she wears his famous colors of pink and black, and she even uses the sharpshooter. She’s had a respectable career, in my opinion. But she didn’t possess enough “it factor” to warrant stronger pushes. Curtis Axel’s father and grandfather are “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig and Larry “The Ax” Hennig, respectively. His stage name is a combination of their names, he used to use a remix of Mr. Perfect’s theme music, said the word “perfect” in his promos like Curt did, and even uses his perfect plex. He initially got a strong mid card push, gaining cheap victories over Triple H and Cena, and won the Intercontinental Championship, the title his father was famous for holding. However, in time it became clear that Curtis Axel was nowhere near as entertaining as Mr. Perfect, and he soon became a jobber. Ted Dibiase Jr. is the son of the great “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, the evil millionaire who thought money ruled everything. Ted Dibiase Jr. used the catchphrase “Priceless”, obviously paying homage to his father, and used a version of the Million Dollar Dream as his finisher. Ted Dibiase Jr. spent a good amount of time as a henchman for Randy Orton in the stable “Legacy”, but after the group was disbanded, he soon found himself at the bottom of the card, very dissimilar to where his father was. He didn’t have the “it factor”.


    Why has Charlotte Flair succeeded when so many second generation wrestlers whose fathers were major stars have failed, basically borrowing their trademarks the way Charlotte has with Ric? It’s because she has more to offer than those wrestlers did. She’s charismatic and elicits good crowd reactions, as you can hear many fans yelling “Wooooo!” when she comes to the ring. Charlotte’s 5 ‘10”, which is kind of tall for a woman, and she towers over many of WWE’s women’s wrestlers. She’s muscular for a woman, but not to the point of looking masculine. Size and a good physique has always been important to Vince McMahon. Charlotte has good ring presence and carries herself like a champion. She’s a great athlete for a woman, probably the most athletic woman on the roster. Charlotte has a lot of creative, thrilling moves in her repertoire, some of them only being possible because of her great athletic ability. I wouldn’t say she’s particularly good at carrying lesser workers to great matches, as can be seen by her boring matches with Nikki Bella. But when she wrestles more skilled workers, like Asuka, Paige and Sasha Banks, she can really shine and certainly carries her end of a very good match. Charlotte’s acting was below average at first, which hurt her promos, but she eventually got the hang of it. Overall, Charlotte is very talented.

    I believe WWE saw these qualities in Charlotte back in NXT and because of that, she was selected long ago to be the on again off again face of the women’s division, seemingly always in the title picture. Being a Flair probably helped, but only to a small degree. Just like Charlotte was chosen, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins were chosen by Vince to become big stars before they even broke away from the Shield and had real single’s careers. At times there were women’s wrestlers who got bigger crowd reactions than Charlotte and sold more merchandise than her, yet she was still getting a stronger push than those women. This is no different than when Dean Ambrose was consistently getting better reactions and selling more merchandise than both Roman and Seth for a long time after the Shield broke up. Despite how the fans reacted to Dean, Roman and Seth were the ones who kept getting the spotlight, and Dean had to stay in the upper mid card for a long time because he was not one of the specially selected ones. Alberto Del Rio was another of Vince McMahon’s chosen ones and received many World Title reigns and title shots, and he wasn’t as over as Charlotte is.


    And while Charlotte was chosen by Vince McMahon, I don’t believe she was chosen only because she was Ric Flair’s daughter. While her connection to Ric Flair certainly hasn’t hurt her career, I’d say at least 90 percent of her success comes from what she herself brings to the table, and no more than 10 percent is because of her last name. Without being a Flair, would she have beaten Asuka at WrestleMania 34? Maybe, maybe not. Would she have 8 Women’s Championships? Maybe, maybe not. At least 6, in my opinion. Would she still have been the face of the Women’s Revolution? Yes. Even without being a Flair, Charlotte seems like an ideal wrestler that Vince would want to build his women’s division around.

    Vince has shown time and time again, he gives any second-generation wrestlers whose fathers or uncles were big stars little more than an initial opportunity with the company. Scott Putski’s father was Ivan Putski, a star from the WWWF era. And because you probably don’t remember Scott Putski, needless to say he had a brief, underwhelming career. Cody Rhodes was a decent worker with decent charisma, so Vince allowed him to have a decent career as a midcarder in WWE. But he wasn’t nearly as successful as Dusty Rhodes because he had considerably less charisma. D.H. Smith had nowhere near the career that The British Bulldog had. Tamina was never the star Jimmy Snuka was. And while this wasn’t in WWE, this next example shows this isn’t a stance that is specific to Vince. During the Monday Night War, Hulk Hogan had a nephew on the WCW roster, Horace Hogan. While Horace did have the same size and, unfortunately, the same receding hair line as his famous uncle, he did not possess any of the charisma that Hulk Hogan had. Thus, he never main evented a pay per view, was never in the title picture and is remembered mostly as being part of the N.W.O. B-Team. Even Hulk Hogan couldn’t pull strings in the back to make him a star in WCW. It doesn’t make sense for Charlotte to be handed everything because of her last name when so many other second generation wrestlers were handed hardly anything.


    Now I know what you’re thinking. Triple H is now the Vice President of Talent and is close friends with Ric Flair. And because of this, you think Triple H has influenced Vince McMahon to give so much success to Charlotte. While I don’t doubt Triple H is rooting for Charlotte in part because she’s a Flair, this is still something I disagree with. While Triple H was always great at influencing Vince McMahon, even before he had an executive role with the company, in some areas Vince is very much set in his ways and can’t be influenced by Triple H, like thinking that Roman Reigns should stay a face, despite being booed so heavily. I doubt Vince is going to change his long running stance on only giving success to wrestlers who either have earned it, or just thinks could be a big star on paper just because Triple H is good friends with Ric. Vince believes in Charlotte.


    In May of 2001 David Flair, Charlotte’s half-brother and Ric Flair’s son, signed with WWE and started wrestling in Ohio Valley Wrestling, then WWE’s developmental promotion. In late 2002 David was released from WWE without ever getting a promotion to the main roster. Ric Flair was part of the company at the time and had started an on-screen relationship with Triple H, so it’s fair to assume their real-life friendship had started by that point. As I said before, Triple H was always great at influencing Vince even before he had an executive role, and at the time was dating Stephanie McMahon and was even sitting in on creative meetings. Couldn’t he have persuaded Vince to keep David a part of WWE if he really wanted to? Why didn’t Triple H go to bat for David Flair back then the way he’s gone to bat for Charlotte today? Either he did and couldn’t change Vince’s mind, or he just agreed David wasn’t that talented and had no real potential. Because Charlotte has qualities that make her much more valuable to women’s wrestling than David was to men’s wrestling, she was the one who received tremendous success. And plus, Triple H is a huge fan of wrestling history. Don’t you think he’d want guys like David Flair, Ted Dibiase Jr., Cody Rhodes, etc. to be main eventers?


    Vince McMahon may give someone a roster spot because their father was a big star and think it would be marketable for them to carry on their legacy. But all he does is give an initial opportunity. He won’t give wrestlers sustained success unless they either earn it or he sees something special in them and is persistent on trying to make the fans see it too. If they don’t have the “it factor”, Vince is not afraid to demote them the way he did Curtis Axel. Much the same way Charlotte’s half-brother, David Flair, was released from the company before he even got past developmental. Charlotte has something special to offer and David didn’t.


    Charlotte Flair is undoubtedly a Hall Of Famer. She’s had a very successful career in WWE so far, but many critics say she’s been handed everything because she’s Ric Flair’s daughter. This is something I strongly argue against and history agrees with me. So many second generation wrestlers whose fathers or uncles were big stars have fallen flat in WWE because they didn’t have as much to offer to the wrestling business as Charlotte does. Why would Vince give Charlotte Flair so much success because of her last name when he fired David Flair while he was still in developmental? It doesn’t make sense. It’s just a shame that, in the eyes of many, Charlotte’s WWE career will forever be tainted.

  2. #2
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    In the eyes of WWE, Charlotte will always be their number one woman, no matter who is the most over. In the beginning you have to say that her last name gave her an opportunistic edge over her rivals. However, I feel like she grew beyond that and is now creating a legacy of her own. Still, we all should know the favour WWE shows toward 2nd and 3rd generation wrestlers. But once that opportunity is given it is in their hands to show that they deserve that favour. And just like The Rock and Randy Orton before her, Charlotte used the opportunity that her last name provided her with and is now on course to chart her own legendary career. All in and all I think it's absolutely insane that anyone could attribute Charlottes overall success to her last name.

    Nice point you made with this column Rip.

  3. #3
    You really hit every example of 2nd generation failures...theres a dissapointing amount, thats for sure...but the most glaring evidence that being second generation didnt get Charlotte over is David Flair. Nice job hitting that one...Also, Ric Flair didnt exactly go back and win a bunch of titles either. He was used ok, but we're not talking Mcmahon-Helmsly kind of privilege that Charllotte would have....all she got, she got on her own in my opinion. If there was some kind of politics involved, its of her own connections...Either way, shes a very talented, reguardless...

    Good read.
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 1 Week Ago at 01:57 PM.

  4. #4
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    I'll do feedback later, but I want to make something clear. In the column I only used examples of second generation wrestlers whose fathers or uncles were major stars in wrestling. It's reasonable to think Vince McMahon might care about the legacies of Ted Dibiase, Mr. Perfect, etc. Randy Orton is not an example of a second generation wrestler in Charlotte's circumstances because Bob Orton was not a major star and Ric Flair was.

  5. #5
    The Brain
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    Did being a Flair give Charlotte advantages she wouldn't have had otherwise? Very likely. Is it the only reason she was successful? Definitely not. Nice job laying that out, I'm a big fan of Charlotte so I definitely lean your way here. I think she would have risen in the company no matter what, though that last name probably greased the wheels a fair bit.

    Nice column here. I will say, regarding your last feedback, I actually do see some comparison between Charlotte and Orton, because both had last names which helped them in the door but both also brought enough to the table on their own merit to build a big career out of it. Cowboy Bob isn't in the same stratosphere as Flair as a name, but worth remembering he was around a lot when Vince first took over the company and they've known each other for a very long time, so it's not hard to imagine the relationship at least helped Randy get in the door.

    Also, based recent happening, seems like WWE using Cody as a midcarder may have been underselling his potential!

  6. #6
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    Nice column, hard to argue with the overall content. Yes, her name almost certainly got her a step ahead during the early years of her career - same for all the other second (and more) generation wrestlers. It opens doors to opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be there, providing access to a level of training someone on the outside may not find initially.

    Her continued success is all her own though.

    I do however find it unreasonable (possibly a bit too strong a word, but it'll do fr now) to compare the likes of Cody Rhodes, Curtis Axel and Ted Dibiase to her. Those guys were joining an overloaded male roster where established mid card acts were struggling to break through the glass ceiling, one which is really only just being broken 10 years later.

    For me the best comparison in the column is Natalya. She was a solid hand and a top talent at a time when business in her division was down. She came along after the high point of the Lita/Trish era, but before the next high point of the revolution. Much like her Uncle. He was a solid hand and a top talent at a time when business in the WWE was down, between the high point of Hulkamania and the next high point of the Attitude Era. Natalya may not have become a big star as Charlotte has, but then Bret never became a big star like Hogan or Austin did.

    Charlotte came along at a time when the women's roster was at it's thinnest, but also at a time when a revolution was long overdue. Patterns in wrestling have always followed the real world attitude to a certain extent. (Probably the potential for a whole column in that sentence). The real world has a big movement towards equality and empowering women in recent years, so WWE were most certainly going to follow eventually. Whether the Four Horsewomen had been there or not, I think it would have happened with whoever was there at the time.

    Having the right name certainly got her started, but Charlotte got lucky at being there at the right time, with the right look and the right ability to be the one at the forefront of the revolution that society had made inevitable.

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  7. #7
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    Don Franc- I agree, Charlotte will always be seen as the number one woman, but that's not because she's a Flair. Her last name got her an opportunity but she earned her success.

    Benjamin Button- In Flair's run in WWE from 91-93 he was treated like a major star. When he returned after WCW closed he was such a shell of himself that Vince just couldn't give him World Titles. But he was champion in 1992. But you're right, David Flair is a huge example of why Charlotte had to earn her success.

    mizfan- Bob Orton may have had a good relationship with Vince, but Bob himself wasn't given much success. Why would anyone expect Vince to give Randy undeserved success?

    Dynamite Billington- My point about Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase and Curtis Axel was that they didn't get any special treatment at all, so why would Charlotte get any? It may have been hard to break through at the time, but still, I feel it debunks the argument that second generation wrestlers, men or women, get special treatment.

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