This weekend for WWE superstar Charlotte Flair is a little different than the rest.
Instead of competing in the ring, Charlotte, WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon, Big Show, and others will travel to Seattle for the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. It marks the 50th anniversary for the sports organization that spotlights and supports children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and it’s the second time the former women’s champion has participated in the origination’s marquee U.S. event.
And oh yeah, she recently posed naked in ESPN’s The Body Issue, which hit newsstands Friday.
“Well, doing a moonsault naked is totally different,” Charlotte joked earlier this week when talking to Yahoo Sports.
Jokes aside, this was a bucket list item for the personal trainer turned wrestler who was a fan of the yearly magazine issue and the narrative that being strong didn’t mean you couldn’t be sexy.
Nine issues had come and gone and zero featured anyone from the world of professional wrestling.
“I think just the message that being who you are in any shape, any size, no makeup, completely raw, is just so important and that’s what I just kept thinking about,” Charlotte said. “It was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders. This is who I am. I’m so proud of my body. I’m so proud to be an athlete. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Charlotte spoke to Yahoo Sports about her involvement at the Special Olympics, the story of why she’s sporting a black eye in her photos, watching “Raw” with her father and Ronda Rousey’s progress in the WWE.
How did you get involved with the Special Olympics?
This is actually my second opportunity to go to the Special Olympics games. WWE has a special relationship with them and I’m honored to be one of the WWE superstars to be part of the games this year.
What does the Special Olympics mean to you?
I know as a talent and someone who performed, it means a lot to have people who support us and cheer us on and for me to take time out of my schedule to go give back, and I have so much respect for the athletes who compete at a very high level at the Special Olympics games, and support them and let them know that they have encouragement and they also have fans from the WWE.
I saw you’re walking in Team Florida, not Team North Carolina. How did that decision come about?
You know what’s crazy? I just moved back to North Carolina recently and I just flew back to Orlando a couple of weeks ago for work and I was like ‘Gosh, I was here for almost six years, it feels like home.’ So I guess I feel like a Floridian as well. Don’t tell Team North Carolina that. But yes, I am walking Team Florida and I’m very much looking forward to it.
You’re also speaking at the coaches rally. Who’s the one person in the locker room that is most likely to rally the WWE superstars?
I think we all cheer each other on to be honest, especially in big matches before we go out. I think everyone is a cheerleader, it just depends on the match. I know that Natalya is very much a staple for both locker rooms and you can go to her for anything, so I guess you can say she is.
ESPN’s The Body Issue comes out on Friday …
I keep looking at my Instagram and I’m like, ‘Is this appropriate?’
A post shared by Charlotte Flair (@charlottewwe) on Jun 25, 2018 at 9:04am PDT
So, we can start there. What has that been like sharing those photos and what does it mean to be the first WWE performer to be featured?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the issue and growing up as an athlete, it was very encouraging to see that strong was being shown as sexy. So, the athletes very much inspired me and I guess almost helped me full comfortable in my own skin. I’m an athlete, I am sexy. It was obviously a bucket list but a WWE superstar had never been in the issue, so when I found out that they were going to have me in the 10th anniversary issue, I was like is this real? I kept annoying our talent relations department like, ‘I really am picked, they aren’t going to change it? For sure?’ Up until the shoot, I kept checking in. I was just so excited and the fact that the women have worked so hard for WWE for so many years to be more than just eye candy, more than just the women are divas. Just to show the world that we are athletes and have so much to offer.
The Body Issue reaches a whole different demographic in that they can see wow, women’s wrestling has come this far and she’s an athlete. I hope this opens doors for more women to be represented in years to come in the issue to a whole new demographic. I was very honored and very excited and it also made me feel proud to be an athlete because I know when I first started, I had such a hard time. How do you do your makeup? How do you look like a star? How do you dress like a diva? And here I am almost six years later and I am so proud I grew up playing sports and that I have an athletic body and I just hope it sends that message all over.
How nervous were you to be at your most vulnerable on set?
Well, doing a moonsault naked is totally different. But no, I completely committed to the project and told them I wanted to do it without makeup. I actually had a black eye from Asuka from “WrestleMania” that I do not regret. I wanted it to be shown because we shot the week after “WrestleMania.” I was kind of excited about it. I get to show off my battle wound. I think just the message that being who you are in any shape, any size, no makeup, completely raw, is just so important and that’s what I just kept thinking about. It was almost like a weight lifted off my shoulders. This is who I am. I’m so proud of my body. I’m so proud to be an athlete. I wouldn’t change anything.
You are not on the road. What was it like to watch “Raw” with your father Ric [Flair] and your sister at home?
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) June 26, 2018
I haven’t been able to do that in a long time and I just love hearing my dad’s … not his critiques but just his opinion on things. Obviously when you’re on the road, night after night, you don’t take the time to really watch the show and sit back and relax … you do but I knew I wasn’t going to be on at 10 o’clock or I didn’t have a segment. Just having that bonding time … I don’t think there’s anything else in the world that my dad loves talking about more than wrestling. And knowing who his favorites are. He was totally pumped for the Dolph Ziggler-Seth Rollins match. All the girls’ segments. He’s known Sasha [Banks] and Bayley since I started. He always loves talking about where that might go or seeing Bayley beat up Sasha and the evolution of what’s been going on in their story since starting in NXT together. And how well Alexa Bliss is doing on the mic as a heel and all of the previews from the Ronda segment. It’s just fun to talk to him about it instead of texting or over the phone. And then my sister is probably getting annoyed because she’s like, ‘Well I have nothing to talk about.’ It’s fighting over dad’s attention while we’re sitting there eating and watching wrestling.
How would you grade Ronda Rousey’s run in the WWE so far?
I’m blown away. How fast she has picked everything up, especially with her match against Nia Jax at “Money in the Bank.” I know my dad texted her and said the same thing, just Roddy Pipper would be so proud of her. She gets better every time she’s out there and it doesn’t look like she’s going to slow down at any point. I know she will become the Raw women’s champion at some point and it’s an honor to have her part of our division. She’s blown my mind with how fast she’s picked this up.
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