WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair is the queen of pro wrestling. The 14-time Women’s Champion has not only been a pioneer in carving out a path for women, but she’s elevated the sport as a whole with a level of athleticism, skill, and personality that very few have been able to match.
The Queen (who also happens to be the daughter of 16-time World Champion Ric Flair) opens up about her family legacy, what WWE means to her, how she’s evolved, and the sacrifices she’s made to rise and become one of the leading faces of pro wrestling. Flair, who seeks to defend her SmackDown Women’s title, also gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how she’s preparing for WrestleMania 39 and the message she has for Rhea Ripley ahead of this weekend’s match.
WWE’s WrestleMania 39 streams live on Peacock this Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2 at 8:00 PM ET (5:00 PM PT). Live coverage begins at 6:00 PM ET (3:00 PM PT) with a special kickoff you won’t want to miss. See below for additional information on how to watch the WWE’s biggest event of the year.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
NBC Sports: This is going to be your seventh WrestleMania, what does this WrestleMania mean to you?
Charlotte Flair: I want to say it gets easier with experience, but it doesn’t. I think pressure and expectation–all of it kind of adds up. You’re having to rise to the occasion that many times and on the grandest stage. I’ve always either been a contender, or a champion and here I am going into my seventh with the performances and the rivalries I’ve already had.
With experience, I know what it’s like to be out there. But with my own personal pressure, my own goals, and my own expectations for myself and my performance–I feel like the weight of the world is on my back right now. I love proving people wrong so I love the pressure.
What are some of those expectations that you have for yourself going into this the seventh time around?
Flair: Well, for instance, I have an A&E biography coming out next week and it’s the for Legends series–which I didn’t know it was for at the time. So here I am, an active performer with the title, “legend.”
That means I’m at the top of my game. I’m there. I’ve made it. But personally, I feel like I still have so much further to go. I still want to grow, learn, and get better. I still want to have that “greatest performance of all time” moment. All of those things weigh on me on a professional level, but it’s good things. It’s not bad. It’s a good thing to have.
Who is Charlotte Flair now? How has your character evolved?
Flair: The People’s Queen. For so long, I told everyone else to bow down. Whereas now I’m just embracing the journey. I wouldn’t say that Charlotte is good. I wouldn’t say she’s bad. I think she just knows that she’s given her all for so many years and this is what she loves. She just wants the audience to know that, whether she’s acting up–whether she’s being bad or whether she being good–she’s here to be the greatest of all time. She’s going to give you that consistency, that passion, that love for the business every time she goes out there. And I think that’s very likeable.
Being a superstar is in your blood. You mentioned your love for this business. Can you talk about what WrestleMania and WWE mean to you? I know it’s your family legacy and business but most importantly it was your brother’s dream. Tell me about that and how that fuels you every day?
Flair: Specifically, what WrestleMania means to me… obviously, to the world, it’s a pop culture extravaganza. It’s our Super Bowl. The biggest show of the year, the biggest rivalries, and the biggest stars. But for me, when my brother Reid died in 2013, it was the day before WrestleMania, and he was coming home for the first time to see me wrestle. I wasn’t on WrestleMania [at the time], I was still in developmental, but I was at Axxess where we put on exhibition matches.
Every WrestleMania week, all those emotions are hitting me where I’m walking into WrestleMania and I’m here because of him. 100% it was for him in the beginning and now I will always carry him with me. But now it’s still like how did I get this far? How do I get this opportunity? I guess I feel closest to him around this time because WrestleMania is such a big deal to the superstars. Everyone dreams of a WrestleMania and I’m living his dream so when I’m out there WrestleMania I’m like, we did it.
Thank you for sharing that and my condolences to you and your family for your loss. Switching gears – Where does your confidence come from? Earlier on in your career you mentioned that you watched Nikki Bella and noticed that she walked and talked like a champion. You had moments where you second guessed yourself, but now it’s the complete opposite. What changed for you and how did you get from that to who you are now?
Flair: Fake it till you make it right? There aren’t moments now that I’m faking it because now I know how good I am and I’m proud of it because I know what it’s taken to get there. I know the dedication that no one sees. I know the hours that I’ve spent that no one knows about. I think that’s what I hold so dear to me. That’s why I have all that confidence–it’s knowing I put in the groundwork. I also know that there will never be another talent like me because of how consistent I have been these last 10 years.
I don’t even know how I got here but I’m proud of that. I went through this weird phase where I felt like I had to apologize for having opportunities. Now I’m like, wait, it took me like three years after that to be like, “Why am I apologizing for having opportunities?” Why do we as women feel like we have to say sorry? We don’t need to say sorry. Don’t dim your light to make other people feel comfortable.
Why did you feel like you had to say sorry for those opportunities that came your way?
Flair: I think that I took the criticism to heart and being an athlete when you’re MVP or team captain–the camaraderie that comes along with sports, that’s what I was raised in. With gymnastics, basketball, I played volleyball in college, diving, softball, track–in all those sports there’s no one telling you that you’re only good at something because of your last name… I can’t lose my last name. I am, who I am.
I felt like so many people felt that doors open for me because of my lineage. I always felt like I had this chip that I had to apologize for being Rick’s daughter. I didn’t think it was true but it was my own pressure that I was putting on myself. Even today, when you hear your opponents say, “Well, why is she in the title picture so many times?” like it’s a choice. Why aren’t you asking yourself why you aren’t in the title picture that many times? Ask yourself that.
I think it takes age, experience, and personal growth. It’s taken a long time to feel that way. Basically my whole career.
You talked about how you know how much time and effort you’ve put in. You are the queen of WWE, a 14-time Women’s Champion, and you have been one of the pioneer’s in making women’s wrestling what it is now – what kind of work do you have to put in behind the scenes to get to this level individually? What kind of work do you have to put in to elevate this sport for Women as a whole?
Flair: So here’s an example. When you are the face of the division, you’re not just wrestling, you’re doing media, you’re doing signings, you’re doing all of the above extras, plus being the champ and making extra shows. That also means working on every single live event. Because I’ve been [the face of the division] for so many years, I’ve done that for so many years.
Plus, when we go overseas, I don’t stay out all night. I’m eating my grilled chicken and vegetables. It’s making those sacrifices at the right time. Now, do I have fun? Yes. But I made the sacrifices early on to get to where I am today and I can’t thank myself enough for being so disciplined early on, because I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for being so hungry and knowing what it takes.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
Flair: Male or female, it doesn’t matter, she was one of the greatest of all times, I want to be in the conversation, gender aside. This applies to men too, but I want women in any industry to know that you can make it to the top and stay at the top and be at the top in any boys club and it’s so important.
I love that. Thank you. So switching gears – How do you prepare for WrestleMania? You talked about chicken and veggies, what’s your diet like?
Flair: Ugh, it’s miserable right now. No, actually, for like this past week, it’s been super high carb, so I can lean out [the week before WrestleMania]. So it’s been easy. But this week, breakfast is chicken, asparagus, two tortillas.
Chicken for breakfast?
Flair: Chicken for breakfast. My favorite meal though for breakfast is oatmeal mixed with chocolate protein or an omelet. The next [meal] is salmon and a potato. The next one after that is steak and rice and then chicken, lettuce, cucumber for the last [meal] with a protein shake mixed in there.
What I’ve learned over the years, is that it’s all about moderation. I try to follow this [diet] but it’s not necessarily perfect all the time. I might get it right two days or like I’ll add in a protein bar or salad or smoothie. It’s just about having some kind of layout or format that works. The week before WrestleMania, I’ll probably be more like to the tee.
How do you prepare physically for WrestleMania?
Flair: An hour in the gym daily. That’s it. If I can’t get it done in an hour and 15 minutes, go home. Listen to your body. I isolate muscle groups so maybe one day is glutes, the next day is shoulders and triceps, or back and biceps. I just alternate every day.
When do you practice all of the stunts and flips?
Flair: Oh no, that just comes with the territory now. What you see is what you get!
On the actual day of WrestleMania, what does your schedule look like? Walk me through the full day.
Flair: I don’t know yet but sometimes I could have a [media interview] in the morning and then call time. We’re going to be in L.A. so it’s probably 10:30 or 11:00 due to West Coast time. After that, makeup, walkthroughs, camera angles, entrance practice just to get the timing because the ramps are usually longer, and then getting glammed up because it’s usually the most glamorous–the biggest robes, the biggest and brightest gear you have all year. So making sure all of those are tweaked. Sometimes there might be some signings in between.
WWE has such a loyal fan base, what has your experience with the fans been like and what has their support meant to you?
Flair: My personal fans are as loyal as they come. They’ve been with me through it all. What’s so great about the WWE Universe is they’re going to let you know if they like you or if they don’t like you. They’re not going to be quiet.
What is it like being on the road 24/7?
Flair: I don’t know anything else now so when I’m home for more than two days, I’m like, okay, what’s next? But I love being home. It’s just finding a schedule that works for you. Getting a routine, knowing how it goes–hotels, rental cars, meals, all of it. I’m so used to it now.
Looking ahead to your WrestleMania match up – What did you think of that disrespect from Rhea Ripley, telling you, a 14-time Champion, that you’re going to learn to call her champion and learn to fear her and then taking a cheap shot? What was going through your head?
Flair: Exactly. Talk is cheap. My legacy is cemented. What I’ve done is done. What I mean to this industry… she has a long way to go to be be thinking that. I will have respect [for her] but the last thing I will do will be calling her champion.
You guys went back and forth a few nights ago but do you have any other words for her ahead of the match?
Flair: Good luck and you better bring your all.
Who else are you interested in facing in your career and why?
Flair: Well, first Bianca Belair and then Liv Morgan. I’ve never had a rivalry with Bianca and we always said with the athleticism and very similar backgrounds, we can make magic. I’ve seen Liv from her start till now and seeing how much she’s grown, I just would love that opportunity with her.
Are there any specific types of matches that haven’t done yet that you would want to do?
Flair: Yes. Mixed tag!
Who would be your partner?
Flair: My husband [Andrade El Idolo].
Speaking of your husband, you recently got married this summer. Congratulations! What has married life been like for you and how does having that relationship add to your life personally and professionally?
Flair: When you’re doing well in your personal life, it makes everything better. So just having that one person, your person, at home after a good day or bad day just makes it easier.
WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year but WWE never slows down. What’s next after for you after this?
Flair: I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to see. The sky is the limit and I’m not slowing down. I’ve got to get to 16 and beat my dad’s record.
Yes! Name it and claim it! Is there anything else you want the world to know about Charlotte Flair that they don’t already know?
Flair: I embody pro wrestling with class, with dedication, with blood, sweat, and tears. I hope when people think of pro wrestling, they think of Charlotte Flair.
How to watch WrestleMania 39:
*All times are listed as ET
- Where: SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
- Live Stream: Exclusively on Peacock
Friday, March, 31:
- WWE Hall of Fame: 10:00 PM ET
Saturday, April 1:
- NXT Stand & Deliver: Kick off at 12 PM ET; Main Event at 1 PM ET
- WrestleMania Saturday: Kick off at 6 PM ET; Main Event at 8 PM ET
Sunday, April 2:
- WrestleMania Sunday: Kick off at 6 PM ET; Main Event at 8 PM ET
How do I watch WrestleMania 39 on Peacock?
Sign up here to watch both packed nights of WrestleMania 39 on Peacock, April 1–2 8pm ET. With Peacock Premium, you’ll also be able to watch every other WWE Premium Live Event, including Crown Jewel, Survivor Series, SummerSlam, and Royal Rumble, plus every WCW and ECW Premium Live Event in history.
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