Charlotte Figure 8 on Rhea

Last weekend, WWE aired an incredibly unique, and possibly a once in a lifetime WrestleMania event that took place without a live audience, at the WWE Performance Center. The surreal sight of an empty arena was unusual, but thanks to the incredible efforts of the WWE superstars, and two creative, cinematic style matches, the two night WWE extravaganza has received rave reviews. Also, it featured a hard-hitting and captivating bout, which saw Charlotte Flair defeat Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship.

Charlotte has now become only the second two-time NXT Women’s Champion, and she has now returned to the top of the brand she helped elevate five years ago. SteelChair Magazine was fortunate to take part in a media call with Charlotte, where we discussed her WrestleMania match with Ripley, where it ranks in her career favourite moments, and ‘The Queen’ touched on some other topics as well.

You and Rhea did a great job of talking trash during the match at WrestleMania. Was that something you intentionally did more of to fill the void of there being no crowd reactions?

“I think because there was no audience, you were able to hear me better because I pretty much talk trash in every match (laughs). I think the audience was able to hear me more at home because there wasn’t a live audience. I just thought the story, it was a perfect story to talk trash because of how it was set up, me wanting to teach Rhea respect. If I felt in the moment it didn’t feel right to talk trash – it was almost like bragging rights during the match, but I really think it was because of the lack of an audience that you could just hear me more, to be honest.”

Charlotte moonsault on Rhea

You definitely do talk trash in other matches, but I agree it was more noticeable this time (laughs). Where would you rank this year’s WrestleMania match with Rhea Ripley in your career favourite moments, considering the circumstances were so unique?

“Oh, gosh. I guess it’s right up there, but, my number one is my Asuka match (at WrestleMania), but I guess Rhea is a pretty close second or third, just because of how different it was and the fact we opened the show. So, yeah, it’s gotta be top three for me.”

No, it was certainly a great match. Now that you’re going to be a part of the NXT brand, would you like to take part in a WarGames match because that’s something you haven’t done?

“Oh, I haven’t even thought about that. Um, I’ll let you know when that opportunity comes up (laughs).”

I feel like it would be appropriate considering Ric Flair had so many matches in WarGames.

“I know, yes. That’s how I felt at Starrcade (laughs).”

How did it feel being back in the Performance Center under such different circumstances?

“It really made me realise, just how much NXT and the Performance Center as a whole has evolved, especially now with NXT being a third brand, it’s almost like we need another developmental for developmental because it’s no longer developmental. And the classes were so much smaller. It really blows me away. I don’t want to say this, but now when I go, I’m like, “Am I the outsider?” because it’s so different, even though I was the first class there.”

Charlotte WrestleMania 36 Entrance

How did your life change during this time and especially in terms of training and preparing for this year’s WrestleMania?

“(Laughs) A lot more sleep, that’s for sure. No, it really didn’t change. I went into this WrestleMania, not really thinking about what was happening around me, just that I knew that whenever I was going to be in front of the camera, whether it was in Tampa or in Orlando, that I was going to entertain the people tuning in from around the world, and that’s exactly what I did. I never lost sight or thought, “Oh, man, this is disappointing that I’m not wrestling in front of 80, 000 people.” The minute I see that red light on the camera, no matter where I am, my job is to perform. So I didn’t change my mind set. In terms of training, I believe you can train anywhere, so nothing has really altered or changed my daily life, other than not flying every day (laughs).”

How was it performing in an empty arena?

“I think it allowed me to be more in the moment because the fans didn’t dictate my pace. I dictated my own pace and was just enjoying the story I was trying to tell. Obviously, I truly believe the fans in the audience are the biggest part of what makes what we do so special, but under the circumstances, I just went head-on and thought this was an opportunity to show more of your talent by bringing out a certain amount of intensity without needing a live audience.”

How do you feel about the audience recognition your match has been getting, especially considering you didn’t get the immediate live crowd feedback?

“I try not to read too much into what people think because one day people are happy, one day they’re not. But in terms of knowing or hearing that people enjoyed what we did, it’s such a gratifying feeling knowing people were entertained. But I think the biggest compliment and my ultimate goal was when people said, “I forgot that there wasn’t an audience while watching Charlotte vs. Rhea.” That’s exactly what I wanted to do, and that’s exactly what we did. They were that captivated by the storytelling, and the aggression.”

Charlotte vs. Rhea ending WM 36

The upcoming match with Io Shirai is a dream match for a lot of fans, what can people expect from this match?

“I have been so proud and honoured to watch the women’s division grow and evolve after my class left, and after seeing how Rhea Ripley was able to rise to the occasion – I don’t think anyone saw what was coming after the Royal Rumble with the NXT title being defended for the first time at WrestleMania. Now that this has opened the door for these possible dream matches and different matchups, I almost feel like it’s putting more pressure on me because I hope I live up to the expectation and the hype, and knowing that I’m a dream match for her, I’m looking forward to having that moment and especially for NXT.”

For those that haven’t seen WrestleMania 36, what made it so special?

“Watching a company pull together in such a difficult time, and just continue to entertain our fans around the world, and put smiles on people’s faces, which is what we did, and we did it for two nights. If you haven’t watched, you still have the opportunity to watch it on the (WWE) Network. And I hope everyone is staying safe, staying at home, and I’m looking forward to travelling overseas as soon as we can.”

WrestleMania 36 is available on demand now on the WWE NETWORK. WrestleMania 36 will also be shown over two nights for UK fans on Saturday, April 11th, and Sunday, April  12th, at 9 pm BST on BT Sport 1.

Special thanks to DS Communication – All pics and videos courtesy of WWE. 

By Humza Hussain

Humza Hussain is SteelChair Magazine's Interviews editor. He has been a lifelong professional wrestling fan and has conducted interviews with names such as DDP, Aleister Black, and Bayley. He also writes film news, reviews, and interviews!

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