In part two of “Daddy’s Little ‘Nature Girl,’” NXT Diva Charlotte speaks about her decision to follow in the footsteps of her father, Ric Flair, her family’s reaction and the most difficult obstacle she faces today.
WWE.COM: Did your father ever suggest the possibility of you following in his footsteps?
CHARLOTTE: It was something he always said I would be phenomenal at, but not something he pushed. Dad always pushed me to pursue college sports and a degree. He said wrestling would always be there. When I finally told my dad I wanted to give it a go, he said, “OK, kid, let’s get you in ring shape.” I’ll never forget the first day I hit the ropes with my dad and little brother. He’s always believed in me, no matter what I wanted to do.
WWE.COM: You weren’t the first of your siblings to step inside the ring. How did the family react when your older brother, David Flair, joined the ranks of WCW?
CHARLOTTE: Our family really had no time to react; we were not prepared for it. WCW wanted to use David in a tag match with Dad, but it was on extremely short notice. David had almost no experience before being thrown to the wolves. My brother did the best he could, but things just went south. After the collapse of WCW, David went on to work in the U.K., Puerto Rico and then WWE Developmental territory OVW to gain the experience that he didn’t get while he was in WCW.
WWE.COM: Before you joined NXT, I understand you amassed an impressive resume of athletic achievements.
CHARLOTTE: I really have tried it all. My parents put me in gymnastics at a very young age, and I competed until the 7th grade. My favorite events were vault and floor. As I got taller, my parents wanted me to make a decision. Dad wanted me to start basketball and volleyball, while my mom wanted me try competitive cheerleading, so I did them all.
From 7th to 9th grade, I was on an all-girls senior squad for the Charlotte All-Stars. In my two years with them, we won three national championships. While cheering I was also playing basketball and volleyball. Dad would send me to Nike camps during the summer because that was an off-season for all-star cheerleading.
[During] my junior year of high school, I verbally committed to a Division 1, full-ride volleyball scholarship to Appalachian State University as an outside hitter. I ended up graduating from North Carolina State University with a degree in Communications. While growing up, I also took tap, ballet, diving and little league softball.
WWE.COM: How did you decide to finally start wrestling?
CHARLOTTE: I was personal training at the time and had been doing it for two years. I’ve always been competitive, and when the opportunity came up last year I jumped to the challenge. I was getting older and knew if I didn’t at least give it a try, I would always regret it. I want to defy the odds. I feed off that.
WWE.COM: What was the biggest concern your family had with your involvement in wrestling?
CHARLOTTE: My parents were more worried about how I would handle the pressure because I’ve always put a lot on myself. I think my mom was worried about how I would handle bad criticism, and my dad was worried about my safety.
WWE.COM: How much pressure have you felt to achieve great things?
CHARLOTTE: Imagine your toughest opponent is actually the shadow of your father. That’s what I feel every day. I know how athletically gifted I am, but Dad wasn’t the greatest because he had all these crazy moves, it was because he could connect with his emotions and mannerisms. I want to be able to do the same.
I worry that my accomplishments or failures will always be compared to my dad in certain critics’ eyes, but I have to understand I can’t and won’t please everyone. At the end of the day, my driving force is wanting to be compared to my dad as one of the greatest in history, and I know with patience and the amazing talent I work with today that nothing will stop me.
WWE.COM: Describe the experience of being able to pave your own legacy.
CHARLOTTE: I am not the same person I was a year ago because I have learned so much in WWE’s developmental system. Words cannot explain what we do. It is the toughest obstacle that I have ever tackled. Not only do you have to be an athlete, but you have to be an entertainer as well. I’ve always been a natural performer, but being an entertainer was foreign to me. I try to incorporate some of my dad’s signature moves in with mine just because it is sentimental to me. Yes, I am my own person, but I will never want to go through my career without a part of him with me.
WWE.COM: Speaking of which, your father was on hand for your debut match at NXT. What did that mean to you?
CHARLOTTE: Surreal is the only word I can think of. … My dad will be proud of me no matter how grand the stage is. Having him there was so special, but some of the most joyful moments that night were getting to introduce him to all the talent, coaches and staff that I work with. I was proud to show Dad that I was doing well in a business where he is idolized as one of the greatest of all time. The entire night was unforgettable to me. Obviously doing the “Flair Strut” at the end was pretty amazing, too!
WWE.COM: As we stand here today, what is your current goal?
CHARLOTTE: To be the next NXT Women’s Champion.