WWE superstar and current women’s tag champion Charlotte Flair recently spoke with Sports Illustrated to hype up this evening’s Royal Rumble pay per view, and discuss a number of topics like her chemistry with Asuka, how the company has no off-season, and what she thinks of her storyline with Ric Flair. Highlights are below.
How she tried to decompress while recovering from injury but the fear of losing her spot was on her mind:
It was most beneficial just to decompress and not be on. I left my robe, I left my gear, I left my boots, and just tried to be human instead of being so wrapped up in every second and every moment. I’m always so overcritical of myself. Here’s the thing—if people ever think they’re hard on me, I’m 10 times harder on myself. It took me a few weeks. When you’re so used to that lifestyle and the go-go-go, at first it was like, ‘I don’t need to be somewhere? They don’t need me? The show still goes on?’ I’ve never really talked about this with other performers, so I don’t know if they feel this, but everyone is replaceable to an extent. You know what I mean? There will never be another Charlotte, but there will be a place for another Charlotte. Does that make sense?
How WWE does not have an off-season:
I think more and more people are becoming more knowledgeable about the grind it takes to be a sports entertainer. Think pre-COVID, when we were on the road doing live events, people don’t realize how gritty the business is. There is no offseason unless you’re hurt, and who wants to be hurt?
How there is room for individual achievement but the women’s division as a whole has worked together to grow:
It’s unique. This is an individual business, but it’s also not that way. No one would be they are, and the division as a whole wouldn’t be where it is, without everyone collectively working together. You have to look out for your character and the nuances and keep yourself in shape, but it takes multiple people to make it happen. I’m very grateful to be part of this division.
Her thoughts on the ThunderDome:
I think back to Mania, with no audience, with Rhea, and then comparing that with the ThunderDome. It definitely adds another element that helps us as performers, and helps the fans feel as connected as they can to their favorite superstars. And, as a whole, the innovativeness of the ThunderDome is just incredible.
Working with Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley in NXT:
Our triple-threat [at TakeOver: In Your House in June] was one of my favorite matches of the year. I want to be selfish and have the opportunity to work with Io more. I also know that, with how Rhea and I finished, our story still isn’t finished. There is a lot more that needs to be told. Whenever that comes full circle, I know it’s going to be a major moment. Rhea and I aren’t done. I had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for two different rivalries with Rhea and Io, and the saga will continue.
How much last year’s Royal Rumble win meant to her:
Especially coming off the Rumble the year before, being in the last two with Becky and having the win so close to my grasp, it meant a lot to pull off the win the next year. I wasn’t a fan favorite, so I think it shocked everyone. The thing that makes the Rumble so unique is that you need that endurance and the ability to work around so many moving parts. And you get to be in there with so many different women, highlighting the past and looking at the ones who are going to be stars in the future.
On her current storyline with Ric Flair:
It’s funny. In 2015, I was so nervous, like a little stress ball, wanting so badly to prove myself and make it. Not that some of those same things haven’t changed, but I am now in a much more confident place. The camera guys laugh when they see us together backstage, and I’m saying, ‘Dad, you need to be here. You need to do this, right here, stop that!’ [Laughing]. Part of that promo my dad did where he was like, ‘Hey, I know you’re a big star, but I’m a big star, too,’ there was a lot of truth to that. I never thought that we’d be on camera again on opposite sides, so I’m interested to see where the story goes.
On her chemistry with Asuka:
I think it’s just the mutual respect. That’s how it all started. When we squared off at WrestleMania 34, I don’t know if she felt pressure, but I sure as hell did. Having that one match, and putting on an instant classic, it meant a lot to us. And there wasn’t really a story behind the match, which ended up making it more special. It was two warriors going at it, The Empress vs. The Queen. Asuka has always been my mountain. We’re always shoulder-to-shoulder, no matter where we are in the division. I’m proud to be her tag partner. No matter what she’s doing, or what she’s given, she always finds a way to rise. That’s a true performer, and that’s what Asuka is.