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How Life As Ashley Fliehr Shaped Charlotte Flair’s WWE Career

The Week in Wrestling: Charlotte Flair discusses the impact of her father’s immense legacy on her own career, AEW’s first cage match and more.’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.

Ashley Fliehr’s challenge of performing as Charlotte Flair

Charlotte Flair has accomplished a litany of firsts during her outstanding run in WWE. She was the first-ever Raw women’s champion, part of first women’s match to headline the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in its quintessential cage match and one of three women in last year’s first women’s main-event match at WrestleMania

She will make WWE history again at WrestleMania this year when she faces Rhea Ripley for the NXT women’s championship, which will be the first time that title is defended at WrestleMania

Though Flair has faced her fair share of elite competitors on the road to superstardom, her toughest opponent has never been the person standing across from her in the ring. Ashley Fliehr, the real-life daughter of the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, constantly fights the notion that she is in her spot only because she is the daughter of Ric Flair, the greatest living pro wrestler in the world.

Flair’s toughest opponent has yet to change. And she will attempt to prove her skill again when she steps inside the ring with Ripley at WrestleMania 36 on April 5, which will be Flair’s 34th birthday. But her job this year is to elevate Ripley, doing everything possible to ensure that the 23-year-old Australian phenom is skyrocketed into the elite tier of the wrestling hierarchy reserved for only the biggest and brightest stars.

The charismatic, athletic Ripley will share the ring at WrestleMania with the right opponent: a performer hell-struck on carving out her own stand-alone legacy.

“I never have a hard time motivating myself,” said Flair, who spoke with Sports Illustrated while highlighting WWE 2K20. “Being known only as Ric Flair’s daughter fuels my fire to keep working harder and becoming stronger.”

This never-ending struggle presents an interesting conundrum.

Without her father, would Charlotte Flair have had the fire or desire to even enter pro wrestling? Had Ric Flair opted to finish his degree at the University of Minnesota instead of pursuing a new life in wrestling, would Ashley have aspired to become a wrestler herself?

Charlotte is one of wrestling’s biggest attractions, though all too often is referred to solely as the daughter of Ric Flair.

Her father’s name provided her with a quicker introduction to WWE talent executives, but the reason she has lasted—and thrived—is because of her unremitting desire to train and outwork the rest of the industry. Far more than a surname, her willingness to push and challenge herself is what has kept her in an elite spot.

Anyone questioning Flair’s brilliance is not paying attention to her work. She has flourished as both a villain and a protagonist and continually amazes with each new new variation of her diving corkscrew moonsault. She has put immense time into improving on the microphone, and she is now one of the most comfortable performers on the stick, especially in front of certain antagonistic live crowds intent on shouting “What?” to the performers in the ring. Her ability to tell a story in the ring and on the microphone helped Charlotte become a memorable part of the past four WrestleManias, including the red-hot main event with Lynch and Rousey. 

Although known as her most fierce rival on screen, Lynch is Flair’s best friend and most trusted confidant. Flair is ecstatic for her friend’s continued success, including Lynch’s spot on the WWE 2K20 cover.

“Having Becky on the cover, the way she’s positioned in front of Roman, wearing her ‘The Man’ shirt, that sends such a positive message,” said Flair. “I couldn’t be more excited for her, and I think it’s amazing.

“People need to realize that if one woman is doing well, then we’re all doing well. Becky being on the cover is just as important to her as it is to us as a whole. Knowing how hard we have all worked collectively to get women in WWE to where we are, it’s a reward for everyone.”

Lynch shares the 2K cover with Roman Reigns, someone Flair rarely interacts with in WWE story lines. Their lack of on-screen time together does not alter her respect for Reigns, whom she has watched deal with cancer, as well as serve as a backstage leader and role model for the entire roster.

“There is such a calm, collective presence about him,” said Flair. “Knowing the pressure he has to be under to be ‘The Big Dog,’ he handles it with grace. Everyone wants his spot, obviously. But there is a reason why he has that spot, and you see it in him, day in and day out, backstage. He leads by example, and that’s why he has so much respect from his peers.”

Nonstop pressure is an everyday part of the Charlotte Flair story. But the only time she wants someone’s sympathy is when she is working an angle in the ring. She trains, performs and lives under an internal constant demand to be the best, leaving no stone unturned in her passionate pursuit of greatness.

Flair was tremendous in this year’s Royal Rumble, winning the third-ever women’s edition of the fabled 30-person match. The win marked the first time a Flair had won the event since Ric strutted his way to victory in 1992. Naturally, everything she does seems like her father already did it first.

For last year’s WrestleMania, Flair flew in to MetLife Stadium in a helicopter. The visual was breathtaking, especially as she stepped off the chopper in her elaborate robe, and it was an ode to her father flying on a helicopter to make it to his NWA World Heavyweight Championship match at the Great American Bash in 1985.

“That was definitely not my idea,” said Flair with a laugh. “Do you think I actually went to the boss and asked for a helicopter?

“I didn’t even know about the entrance until our last go-home show before ’Mania. They were like, ‘Hey, we have this idea. What do you think?’ And I was like, ‘That is incredible.’ With so many playbacks to my dad, it was very cool.”

But Ric Flair, even in all his greatness, never closed out a WrestleMania, which is a feat Charlotte has already accomplished.

“I showed up in a helicopter to main-event WrestleMania,” said Flair. “That’s an extension of what I’m creating with my own legacy.”

Flair now looks to create another unforgettable piece of wrestling history this year at WrestleMania. Against Rhea Ripley. In the shadow of her father’s greatness. And she is embracing the challenge.

“Being my dad’s daughter is a huge chip on my shoulder,” said Flair. “I think that’s why I’ve had so much success—nothing’s ever good enough. I’ll continue to prove the haters wrong.”

Cody Rhodes faces Wardlow in AEW’s first cage match

MJF hits Cody Rhodes with a belt during AEW Dynamite

Cody Rhodes wrestles Wardlow in a steel cage on Dynamite, a match that is pivotal for AEW’s Revolution pay-per-view in 10 days.

Rhodes needs to defeat Wardlow—who is making his in-ring debut for AEW—to get a one-on-one match with MJF at Revolution.

The venue is the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, which should be a hot crowd supporting Rhodes, whose roots to Georgia are well-documented. And as far back as All In in 2018, which led to the creation of AEW, the crowd has served as an integral element in the new promotion’s success. Part of the reason that Dynamite is so engaging and exciting on a weekly basis is the reaction of the crowd, and the fans in Atlanta should play a big role in the success of tonight’s show.

Personally, I would open the show with the cage match. As great of a show as NXT produces, I am not sure anything they air in that slot can match the intensity or electricity of Cody Rhodes wrestling in a cage match in Atlanta. Plus, the broadcast team can deal with the fallout from that match throughout the entire show.

Rhodes should emerge victorious, but there is still a lot to watch for this matchup. AEW should certainly tease the inevitable Arn Anderson heel turn, but it would be foolish to turn Anderson on Rhodes this soon. And maybe this is the night that Rhodes gets some revenge on MJF, as the outcome of their match at Revolution should belong to MJF. It is also possible that Rhodes will get the win, but that he'll take a beating in the post-match.

This is one of the most compelling stories in wrestling, and Wednesday night plays a significant part in its development.

Will Ospreay wins RevPro British heavyweight championship

Across the pond from the United States, Will Ospreay defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to win RevPro’s British heavyweight championship last Friday at York Hall in London.

The match main-evented the “High Stakes” show and marks Ospreay’s first-ever run with RevPro’s top belt. With the win, Ospreay officially moves up to the heavyweight division, in both RevPro and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Revolution Pro Wrestling founder Andy Quildan spoke to the enormity of the moment, which saw Ospreay finally overcome Sabre, the epitome of a world champion for RevPro, in a one-on-one affair.

“This was the culmination of a seven-year journey for Will,” said Quildan, whose promotion has a working relationship with New Japan. “It was a coming-of-age story for Will, returning to the venue where he was greeted like a superstar for the very first time after competing in the Best of the Super Juniors, the venue where he competed against AJ Styles, and a venue that is literally a stone’s throw away from his house. It was a special night in terms of the atmosphere with him and his journey, and that story wouldn’t be as perfect without a foil in Zack Sabre Jr.”

The match is available to watch on the RevPro streaming service, and part of its beauty is the work of Sabre, who just finished his fourth reign with the title.

“When you think of British professional wrestling, you think of Zack Sabre Jr.,” said Quildan. “Stylistically, there is no one who exemplifies that British style more than Zack Sabre Jr. He’s been able to modernize the British style of professional wrestling, and you can’t think about the British heavyweight championship and you can’t think about British wrestling without thinking about Zack Sabre Jr. The pure emotion of the whole situation stood out as Will went up against one of the best wrestlers in the world.”

Ospreay’s move to heavyweight now becomes a major talking point, especially in Japan. New Japan planted the seeds by placing Ospreay, even though he was still competing in the junior heavyweight division, in this past summer’s G1 Climax.

Ospreay is deceptively tall and he has bulked up, yet still moves with grace and precision. His move to the heavyweight division is brilliant because it opens up an endless array of new opponents and exciting matches.

“It’s been clear that Will’s path is going to be as a heavyweight,” said Quildan. “He’s added on a lot of size to his frame, and he’s done it the right way–slowly and gradually. There are always question marks when someone makes the move from junior heavyweight to heavyweight, but Will will answer each and every one of those questions.”

Ospreay’s first title defense of the British Heavyweight Championship is set to take place at RevPro’s “Epic Encounter” show on May 8, and his new heavyweight status in New Japan ultimately provides him with a chance to chase the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Pro Wrestling Tees auctioning off the boots from Eddie Guerrero’s final match

In addition to serving as one of wrestling’s most innovative stores, Pro Wrestling Tees is auctioning off a pair of the late Eddie Guerrero’s boots to raise money for charity.

The idea for the charity auction started with a conversation between Guerrero’s widow, Vickie, and Pro Wrestling Tees founder Ryan Barkan.

“Vickie had mentioned in the past that she had a lot of Eddie’s old gear and memorabilia,” said Barkan, who is also Pro Wrestling Tees’ CEO. “She was always meaning to sell it and had offers to give it a better home. After we spoke, we decided that instead of selling to the highest bidder, we would create a charity raffle so that everyone had a chance to own a piece of history, even for just one dollar.”

Per Vickie Guerrero’s request, the proceeds will be donated to the Salvation Army in San Antonio for the Family Emergency Shelter. The drawing will take place in the Pro Wrestling Tees store in Chicago on March 18, and it will be streamed on social media.

Pro Wrestling Tees is a unique entity, having business relationships with AEW, New Japan, Impact and practically every major star to ever grace the wrestling business. Barkan shared that Pro Wrestling Tees purchased an 11,000-square-foot warehouse next to its store to house all of the AEW event merchandise.

“That happened earlier this month,” said Barkan. “We’ll also package our monthly Pro Wrestling Crate subscription boxes and use some of the space for the Freelance Wrestling Training Academy.”

Barkan will also have CM Punk at the Pro Wrestling Tees booth at the upcoming C2E2 Comic Con in Chicago with two new T-shirts.

“With the new Second City Saint shirt, Punk helped come up with the overall concept for it,” said Barkan. “We wanted to do something similar to his Second City Saint shirt that he had in WWE.”

Pro Wrestling Tees is known for its T-shirts, but Barkan and his team continue to introduce new products.

“We’ve got new toys in the works, and new collabs coming with large non-wrestling mainstream companies,” said Barkan. “We recently just launched to offer a large collection of collector’s pins for fans. We always stay busy. Literally every day is something new for us.”

The (online) week in wrestling

  • Randy Orton’s attack on Matt Hardy this past Monday on Raw was brilliantly executed. Hardy has three decades in wrestling and has an incredible history with the fan base, which allowed Orton’s attack to have some extra meaning, and the violent segment seemingly went on and on with no end, highlighting Orton’s cold-blooded nature. There is genuine curiosity as to where we will go next in the story. Will Hardy be “broken”? And will Christian be Orton’s next target? 
  • One of the most exciting parts of last year’s build to WrestleMania was watching Kofi Kingston excel every week in his pursuit of the WWE title; unfortunately, he does not appear to be part of any significant singles program for WrestleMania 36
  • The Rock is constantly able to add compelling content to his social media page while staying true to his wrestling core. 
  • The new “Ruthless Aggression” series on the WWE Network is worth watching, though it needs to be mentioned: As evidenced by the narrative told that Vince McMahon decided on his own to change his company’s name from the WWF to WWE, and the omission of some people who played important roles in that era, this is certainly WWE’s version of history. 
  • Keith Lee put on a nice match at this weekend’s NXT TakeOver and becomes more of a star every day. 
  • Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne are phenomenal together. They put on a tremendous tag match against Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish at TakeOver, and it should be a lot of fun to see their title run before the inevitable split. 
  • Instead of moving to Raw or SmackDown, I would prefer Bianca Belair remains in NXT and puts together a long-standing reign as champion. 
  • Finn Balor could be champion in any promotion in the world (including WWE, where he was never given the chance after dropping the Universal belt due to injury), and he would give NXT a different feel as champ.
  • Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano, with Ciampa as the babyface, is going to add a lot to the TakeOver during WrestleMania weekend. 
  • The Velveteen Dream–Roderick Strong feud has an odd setup; the babyface, Dream, is the one flirting with a married woman and talking about her child. Could this be a build to make Strong a babyface?
  • Jeff Cobb, who is also wrestling with New Japan and Ring of Honor, makes his AEW debut Wednesday night in a must-see match against Jon Moxley. 
  • Cathy Kelley, who added a tremendous amount of passion and energy to WWE programming, finished with the company this past Sunday. 
  • Whoever thought Hulk Hogan would be in a video with I.R.S.’s son? I thought “The Fiend” came off well here, and I liked how he interrupted Hogan with a “Paid For” open like the NWO made so famous. 
  • Ivan Putski teaming up with Bret Hart, with Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino on commentary? The internet is a magical place. 

Conrad Thompson previews Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard

A new edition of the Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard podcast drops this Friday, as Prichard and cohost Conrad Thompson discuss the No Way Out pay-per-view from February 2005.

This was the final pay-per-view before WrestleMania 21, and featured a John Cena–Kurt Angle match to decide the number-one contender for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, as well as a barbed wire steel cage match for the belt in the main event pitting John Bradshaw Layfield against the Big Show.

But one of the more fascinating parts of the show took place in the opening match, as Eddie Guerrero teamed with Rey Mysterio to win the WWE tag team titles.

“We’ll talk a lot about Eddie,” said Thompson. “Eddie lost the championship in 2004, and now he’s in the opener in a tag with Rey Mysterio. We’ll also talk about how Eddie took it personally that his job was to help get folks over, specifically John Bradshaw Layfield.”

As a longtime confidant to Vince McMahon, Prichard will also share some of McMahon’s feelings on using barbed wire, as well the decision to build to Cena-JBL and Angle-Shawn Michaels as the top attractions at WrestleMania 21.

“There’s also a lot of characters in here that we haven’t spent enough time talking about,” said Thompson. “That’s including the Basham Brothers, JBL’s Cabinet, and all the rumor and innuendo behind what’s happening in the WWE, and we’ll get Bruce’s full side of the story.”

Tweet of the Week

That is a fantastic New Japan shout-out on ABC’s Black-ish.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.