If you’ve been following the pro wrestling fandom, you know that things are in a constant state of ups and downs when it comes to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The booking has been stale, storylines have been recycled in what seems to be an endless loop, the same people are getting pointless pushes, some of the top talents are out due to some pretty substantial injuries, and a lot of the remaining top talent keeps getting passed over.
These are just a few of the many problems that plague this particular promotion. There is another in particular that really grinds my gears, that I want to address.
I’ve written before about the poor treatment of the Divas (the female talent of WWE). The time has come, yet again, to address a facet of that: Charlotte’s Divas Championship and Ric Flair’s involvement in it. Charlotte is WWE‘s reigning Divas Champion.
Charlotte climbed the WWE ladder, starting out in their developmental program, NXT, as a part of The BFFs (Beautiful Fierce Females) heel stable, alongside former NXT Women’s Champion, Sasha Banks, and obsolete “wrestler,” Summer Rae. She also is a former NXT Women’s Champion, winning the title on May 29, 2014. She made her main roster debut on July 13, 2015, as a part of the Divas Revolution.
And of course, Charlotte is the real-life daughter of 16-time World Champion and two-time Hall of Famer. Ric Flair. Sadly, the Charlotte story line seems to be a lot less about Charlotte and a lot more about her father.
Is Charlotte the first professional wrestler to have story lines that have ties to their family’s wrestling legacy? Not at all. Hell, we can’t go a week without making a nod to the legendary Anoa’i Family in some way. Charlotte’s not even the first female professional wrestler to do this. It’s very well-noted that Natalya comes from the Hart Dungeon, with famous pro wrestler family members like Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart (her dad), Owen Hart, and Bret Hart (her uncles).
However, it is the level of involvement in Charlotte’s story lines that bothers me about Ric Flair. It started as him occasionally appearing in the crowd or ringside for some of her matches. However, it has evolved into something much more annoying and recurring.
When Charlotte was in NXT and even when she was first called up to the main roster, she said that she wanted to make a name for herself. Now, I know she can’t change who her father is, and I know that Ric is still under contract with WWE. However, I don’t see why his role within the company has to be basically his daughter’s bodyguard.
I get that sometimes, in professional wrestling, you have to accept really awful gimmicks to pay your dues and work your way up.
However, this is not okay. Charlotte was pretty relevant in NXT. She’s always been a fantastic wrestler, and anyone who says otherwise, is apparently blind. And when she came to the main roster, for the Divas Revolution, things started out great. Then, WWE made that whole thing blow up in their faces. They turned Paige into a entitled, fit-throwing spoiled princess stereotype. They kept the Mean Girls games alive in the entire roster. They let an unqualified female wrestler break A.J. Lee‘s Divas Championship reign record, just to get back at CM Punk (A.J.’s husband and former WWE Superstar). Then, they insert an old-timer; a former male talent infiltrate the Divas division, to try to make his daughter be more popular than she was.
It backfired, because honestly, most of us are really sick and tired of having to see Ric Flair’s drunk ass on our televisions, week after week, doing stupid things. It reached maximum “NOPE” level for me when, to distract Becky Lynch at Royal Rumble 2016, Ric kissed her. Aside from that probably tasting like a walking full bar, it was completely disgusting and I think it it makes a complete joke out of the Divas division. Along with all of the other stuff, that is.
I don’t know what WWE is thinking, or if they even are, at this point. It just baffles me, the difference between how the females are handled in NXT (with more seriousness and respect) than they are on the main roster (like complete jokes). It makes me fearful for the women who will be eventually called up. They have spent all this time, trying to work their ways up to the “big leagues,” and for what? To see what was supposed to be a symbol of feminist hope in this male-dominated fandom be crushed within a matter of a few handfuls of episodes? So that they have to fight Ric Flair’s drunken uncle-like story line antics, instead of having an actual match with Charlotte? Or to perpetuate negative female stereotypes in general? I mean, what’s next? Are they going to have Paige drive a car into one of the turnbuckles of the ring one night? I wouldn’t put it past Vince McMahon to make that happen.
I don’t want fresh and barely seasoned talents to ditch their family heritage. They can be proud of where they come from, and what their family members before them did. However, they need to make their own legacy, and not rely on their dad’s (in Charlotte’s case) or their uncle’s… or whomever’s – especially the female talent.
The Divas already struggle for relevancy within the company. They don’t need to have to compete for that against a retired male wrestler, who literally enters with his daughter, every damn week. And people like Charlotte should really voice themselves more, about wanting to create their own legacy. Hell, if your family’s name can be used to pull these story lines, then how come they can’t pull a say in what those story lines entail? Use your name for positive change.
And lastly fans, build up fresh talent and also judge them on their own merits, and don’t just base your opinion of them on who they’re related to. Charlotte isn’t her dad. Natalya isn’t her uncles. Bo Dallas certainly isn’t his brother or his dad. Also, bringing out legends is cool and all, but only for special occasions, like during the Road to Wrestlemania. But let’s not perpetuate seeing the same retired wrestler every week, just because he has a family member still competing – especially not when it’s Ric Flair. He’s just really annoying.
Everyone, make your own legacy.