Another Charlotte Flair Reign. If you’ve just rolled your eyes, you’re not alone; once a fan favourite in the immortal Four Horsewomen of NXT and a genuinely awe-inspiring competitor, it’s fair to say Flair has fallen from favour in the last year or two. But it’s not all negative, and even in her latest title runs, The Queen has delivered some standout matches. If you can’t remember them after all this time, though, I get it – that’s why we’re here to run through them!
#1: NXT Women’s Championship:
19th May 2014 – 11th February 2015
Across the wrestling interwebs, this is often seen as one of Flair’s best runs as a champion. During her NXT run, she was a genuinely likeable fan favourite and a dominant component in the credibility of the Four Horsewomen. This was still the Divas era of wrestling, and the fight to be taken seriously as a female competitor was an arduous one. Despite looking the most like a classic Divas Champion out of the Four Horsewomen, Flair was physically imposing and undeniably powerful. Her matches against Natalya during this time treated the two as serious competitors and established a precedent for women’s wrestling in the WWE inching towards equality with the blokes.
#2: Diva’s Championship/Inaugural WWE Women’s Championship:
20th September 2015 – 25th July 2016
Flair’s longest title reign is also perhaps her most interesting from a narrative standpoint. In her first heel run on the roster, Flair initially positioned herself against the Bella Twins, and by extension the culture surrounding the Divas that they represented, but swiftly turned on fan favourites Paige and Becky Lynch. Flair was a formidable heel in this era, using both her athletic dominance and her nepotistic connection to her father Ric Flair to intimidate the rest of the women’s division. In this era, she’s the archetypal heel: the arrogant figure you love to hate, rather than one you’re just a bit sick of.
#3: RAW Women’s Championship:
21st August 2016 – 3rd October 2016
Drifting away from the support and interference of her father during this championship run was one of the best decisions made for Charlotte Flair’s character. Retaining her heel flavour on her own two feet without risking fans viewing her as just buying her way into the championship, Flair continued feuding with the Four Horsewomen to…whatever the opposite of diminishing returns is. Matches with Sasha Banks felt more important and kickass at every pay-per-view.
#4: RAW Women’s Championship:
30th October 2016 – 28th November 2016
A lot of what I’ve said for the previous championship run holds here. Some of the matches in Flair’s continued feud with Sasha Banks didn’t feel as substantial, often due to the lack of screentime women’s matches were (and still are) given. However, the start of this championship run for Flair at the first-ever women’s cell match in Hell In A Cell is one of my favourite Flair matches. Every inch of the ring was used for a match that genuinely felt vicious.
#5: RAW Women’s Championship:
18th December 2016 – 13th February 2017
After that Hell In A Cell match, the Flair-Banks feud could only really go downhill, so it was wise to end it here with a roadblock match won by Flair. This allowed her to move onto a feud with Bayley, another of the Four Horsewomen, whose hugger gimmick balanced well with the regal disdain of Flair’s character.
#6: Smackdown Women’s Championship:
14th November 2017 – 10th April 2018
In the interim between this championship run and the last, the title was passed around a few worthy competitors in the women’s division. Flair came back into the picture as a face for the first time in a while, and she returned with a vengeance. Her run saw her end Asuka’s undefeated streak within the WWE and get cheered for it – can you even imagine her doing something like that this year, with all the negative energy built up around her right now? Flair eventually lost the title to Carmella after a Money In The Bank cash-in, and while I actually kinda love Carmella, this loss to a competitor widely considered to be very annoying also aided the perception of Flair as a worthy championship holder and a likeable superstar after over a year of heel status.
#7: Smackdown Women’s Championship:
19th August 2018 – 16th September 2018
This is the moment I truly started following the Charlotte Flair story. Hell, this championship run is basically the reason I watch wrestling now. During an infamous triple threat match at Summerslam in 2018, Charlotte Flair beat Carmella and Becky Lynch by unexpectedly pinning Lynch, who she was allied with at the time, to win the Smackdown Women’s championship. This kicked off the feud between Lynch and Flair that got me hooked on wrestling. The WWE initially tried to run their storyline as a pretty standard face-versus-heel thing with Flair portrayed as an innocent, but fan support of Becky Lynch’s underdog persona led to both superstars coming across as deeply nuanced characters. While I was always firmly in Camp Becky, I can admit that without Flair’s mic work in particular at this time, the storyline wouldn’t have had the impact it did. Audiences truly felt like they were watching a stalwart friendship fall apart, and they couldn’t look away.
I don’t think I’d be able to mention this title reign without adding that Flair’s loss to Becky Lynch that ended the reign is one of the best women’s matches I’ve ever seen in the WWE, just because of how utterly convincing their performances are. There’s palpable tension in the ring at all times, and both women show off their technical abilities in a way that would only build as the feud went on.
#8: Smackdown Women’s Championship:
26th March 2019 – 7th April 2019
For her eighth title reign, Flair won the Smackdown championship from Asuka and promptly lost it at Wrestlemania. Yes, this reign is short, but it’s incredibly memorable. Not only did Flair’s win do a brilliant job in raising the stakes for the triple threat at Wrestlemania, in which Flair fought Lynch and Ronda Rousey in a winner-takes-all battle for both the RAW and Smackdown titles, it also solidified Flair’s position as a dominant threat, a true superstar. The Wrestlemania match where Flair lost this title was also unforgettable, as it was the first time that a women’s match had ever main evented the showcase of the immortals. Looking back, the match itself had its flaws including an infamous uncertain ending, but it still meant an awful lot to me as a women’s wrestling fan.
#9: Smackdown Women’s Championship:
19th May 2019 – 19th May 2019
Clocking in at just under five minutes, this is Flair’s shortest reign. She won the title off Lynch at Money In The Bank 2019 due to underhanded assistance from Lacey Evans, who was already one of my least favourite women’s wrestlers for the gaslight-gatekeep-girl boss vibes she gives off. After this match, though, Bayley cashed in her Money In The Bank contract and swiftly pinned Flair for the title. Short and the exact opposite of sweet. Moving on!
#10: Smackdown Women’s Championship:
6th October 2019 – 11th October 2019
Once again, this is another pretty short title run. There’s something to be said for these shorter championship spells and their ability to keep other competitors on their toes. However, the quick succession of short championships Flair has held is probably what has led many to believe the WWE are trying to push higher numbers of championships on her, essentially astroturfing a record capable of matching her father’s. Flair’s feud with Bayley in this run and surrounding it, however, is one of the more engaging she’s been in; the Four Horsewomen may be given too much screentime at the expense of the rest of the women’s division, but they’re famed for a reason.
#11: NXT Women’s Championship:
5th April 2020 – 7th June 2020
Absolutely not. Whose idea was it to set up a princess-versus-underdog storyline, on NXT no less, and have the scrappy underdog of Rhea Ripley lose the fight and all momentum that came with it? This championship run was awful for two reasons. First, it dimmed Ripley’s star for absolutely no reason and delayed her arrival to the main roster that she’d deserved for months. Second, Flair’s needless NXT run really started turning the public against her; despite her proven skills as a wrestler, the overexposure to The Queen on a brand full of underrated fan favourites felt like an invasion of the brand rather than a promotion of it. I do love the fight where she lost the championship to the fearsome Io Shirai, but one good match does not a good reign make.
Flair Reign #12: Women’s Tag Team Championship: 20th December 2020 – 31st January 2021
There are so many reasons why this title run was painful to watch. The lack of buildup for Flair entering the tag team division, her unnecessary inclusion in a division typically designed to build hype for unsung heroines of the roster, and her non-chemistry with tag partner Asuka all spring to mind. But really, to me, this championship is defined by that awful Lacey Evans and Rick Flair interference storyline. Very gross did not enjoy.
Flair Reign #13: RAW Women’s Champion:
18th July 2021 – 19th July 2021
Flair’s most recent championship reign was the culmination of another feud with Rhea Ripley, a cocky competitor that Flair’s arrogant, ambiguous-heel persona seems to bounce off of brilliantly. After a genuinely brilliant match at Money In The Bank this year, Flair won the championship, making her a record-tying five-time RAW Women’s Champion. And it absolutely didn’t need to happen. Again, the WWE’s obsession with making Flair a consistent title holder puts the brakes on the storylines of so many other competitors. I will say, though, that having the semi-serious Nikki A.S.H rock up and cash in her MITB contract to beat Flair was one of the most intriguing things they could have done with this reign. It was unexpected and fresh, and it’ll definitely be interesting to see how the triple threat at Summerslam resolves this feud.
Flair Reign #14: RAW Women’s Champion:
18th July 2021 – 19th July 2021 [WWE.COM Insert]
Flair hoped to prove that her Money in the Bank cash-in loss to A.S.H. on July 19 was a fluke. To do so, The Queen not only had to go through the champion but also the hard-hitting Rhea Ripley.