Ever wondered what it was like to grow up as the offspring of one of the greatest performers of all time? NXT Diva Charlotte knows the feeling all too well. As one of the newest additions to the NXT women’s division, the second-generation athlete looks to follow in the footsteps of her father, WWE Hall of Famer and 16-time World Champion, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. In part one of this WWE.com exclusive interview, Charlotte peels back the curtain on her life in and out of the ring.
WWE.COM: What was it like growing up with one of the greatest performers of all time as your father?
CHARLOTTE: Honestly, I grew up very privileged, and I am so thankful for the opportunities my dad’s career was able to provide. I have had the opportunity to travel the world, and I’ve met so many incredible people from all walks of life. I truly believe growing up in Charlotte, N.C., which was once a very small city, is what kept me grounded. I am still friends with the kids I went to kindergarten with.
Yes, our family is extremely well known in North Carolina; at the same time when you have lived in the same place your entire life, everyone gets to know you. When Dad and I would walk into a restaurant, it wouldn’t be the same reaction as we would get somewhere else, because the community as a whole knew us.
WWE.COM: During the course of his in-ring career, there’s no question that your dad spent considerable time on the road. What was it like to have a father always on the move?
CHARLOTTE: I have to say this: No matter what time of night his flight got in, my dad was always up in the morning to make us oatmeal, waffles or a protein shake, and then drive my brother and I to school. Later that day, my dad would be right back at lunchtime to bring us our favorite meal. Yes, I was extremely spoiled! Dad once told me that he was so depressed when I got my license, because our rides to and from school and sports was our bonding time.
I think my mom and dad collectively did a great job at teaching me how to treat people and how to work hard. In terms of how difficult it was, I can only say it was a mixed blessing. I played a lot of sports growing up, and it was always hard at tournaments because people always had certain expectations for me. A lot of times, my team or I would be heckled by our opponent’s fans, but my dad pushed me as hard as he could when I started to become active in sports. I think his biggest fear was that my accomplishments would be overlooked because of who he was. So whatever sport I was tackling at the time, he would make sure I had the best training and enrolled in the best camps so I could be given every opportunity to succeed. I always felt pressure because I was always under the microscope, but I am grateful for this because it either molds people into who they’re supposed to be, or it breaks them. My dad instilled in me the importance of never giving up and showing respect to everyone we come in contact with.
WWE.COM: What’s the earliest childhood memory that you have of wrestling?
CHARLOTTE: There is not a period of time where wrestling wasn’t a part of my life. However, the earliest memory I have is when my dad took me, my sister, Megan, and my two brothers, David and Reid, to WCW Halloween Havoc in 1994 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. I was 7 years old at the time and it was my dad against Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage Match with Sensuous Sherri as my dad‘s valet. Mr. T was the special referee, too. I remember my dad was extremely honored to be able to introduce the four of us to Muhammad Ali afterward.
WWE.COM: Did you really grasp at such an early age just how big of a name your father really was?
CHARLOTTE: At that age, I wasn’t old enough to understand what my father meant to the industry, but he has always been, in my eyes, the greatest. Whenever my siblings and I were able to attend a show, my dad would always find us in the audience and blow a kiss. To this very day, when my dad’s entrance music hits, an array of emotions still come over me because I have never known my dad to be or do anything else.
WWE.COM: How much of a difference existed between the Ric Flair that the world knew compared to the Ric Flair you grew up with?
CHARLOTTE: None. The sport of professional wrestling was and is my dad’s life. I truly believe he is loved and hated by so many because he is one of a few in history that can take an audience through an array of emotions. My dad has never been afraid to show emotion in public or at home. At sporting events he would be the first to tear up when I hit the stage. I think he was also the first inductee to cry on stage during the 2008 Hall of Fame Ceremony, when Triple H inducted him. My dad did everything he could to put food on the table.
WWE.COM: How true are all the stories of Ric Flair’s generosity?
CHARLOTTE: About three years ago I remember riding with my dad the day before Christmas Eve, and he was giving out gifts to people he knew at our local grocery store, favorite restaurants and even our local hair dresser. If I asked him to bring me a Gatorade to volleyball practice, he would bring four. On the other hand, when Dad was on TV talking about owning $800 alligator boots, he wasn’t kidding.
Some people criticize because they think my dad still wants to be active because he still wants the limousines and jets. The truth is, he does still want to be active and in the public because his life has been dedicated to our industry. Dad loves his fans and constantly wants to give back.
WWE.COM: Is there one funny story that sticks out?
CHARLOTTE: On the way to one of Dad’s shows, the lady at the security gate entrance of the coliseum asked for his name to check the list and let us through. She said, “Sorry, Ric Flair, I can’t find your name on the list. I cannot let you through. Can you spell your name for me?” My dad isnothappy when this happens. He said to the lady, “Ma’am, it is ‘F – A – M – O – U-S.’”
In part two of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” Charlotte speaks about her family’s reaction to her in-ring career, the pressure to succeed and more. Return to WWE.com next Wednesday to read the continuation of this exclusive interview with the NXT Diva!