February 18, 2019
WWE Superstar Charlotte Flair spends over 300 days a year on the road. Being away so much makes the rapid pace of her hometown city’s evolution all the more apparent.
Often it’s a conversation with her Uber driver on trips to and from the airport, discussing the ever-growing dearth of native Charlotteans encountered around town. Other times it’s the shock of seeing the bustle of South Charlotte’s Waverly, a mixed-use retail community in an area which Flair remembers as humble farmlands during her childhood. Like so much of Charlotte today, it barely resembles the Queen City of Flair’s youth.
Flair, who attended Providence Day before transferring to Providence High School, recently returned to live in Charlotte after spending many years in Florida, though she’s hardly ever in town long enough to enjoy more than a meal and a workout.
“Usually we fly out on a Saturday morning,” Flair said, detailing her hectic road life. “I find a gym in whatever town we’re performing, find a grocery store, maybe run some errands, then get to the arena by 5:30 at the latest.”
After the show, Flair will hop in a rental car, drive anywhere from 100 to 300 miles to the next city and, as she describes it, “do the exact same thing Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, until we fly home Wednesday.”
With a schedule that grows in concert with the rise of her star, Flair’s schedule usually leaves Thursdays and Fridays as her only full days to spend in Charlotte.
Frequently her father, wrestling legend Ric Flair, will drive up from his home in Georgia and the two will bond over steaks and wrestling talk at some of their regular uptown haunts. Occasionally, Flair will see her few childhood friends who still live in town or visit with her beloved high school volleyball coach, current Ardrey Kell coach and recent national coach of the year honoree, Zoe Bell.
And while Charlotte is one of America’s fastest growing cities, it was the pull of family that drew Flair home, even if only meant being there for a few days a year. Tired of missing out on the lives of her young nieces and nephews, all of whom live in and around Charlotte, Flair decided to return to the city of her youth to again surround herself with family. When Flair is in town, she and her brother each take turns visiting the other and Flair tries to attend as many important family events as possible.
“Right now it’s my time,” she said. “I’m in the middle of my career. And if I can make it to see (my niece and nephew) or my brother can bring them to me, that’s great. To be around them, that’s why I moved back to Charlotte.”
Her public homecomings are far more eventful than her private ones, of course. For Flair, to perform in Charlotte is always a treat, as it was how she witnessed her father perform most often when she was a young girl.
It’s also been great for her career.
“Every time (WWE’s nationally televised program) SmackDown is in Charlotte, I do really well,” Flair said, citing the night she won the SmackDown Women’s Championship after which her father surprised her with a ringside appearance. “I’m a Charlotte hometown girl and knowing this is where I was born and raised provides such a strong sense of pride.”
Flair plans to have over forty friends and family in attendance for the February 26 Smackdown event at the Spectrum Center, one of whom will be celebrating his own special night.
“The irony of us being in Charlotte on February 26 is that it’s my little brother’s birthday,” Flair said with a laugh. “So at least we can be together.”
For Charlotte Flair, that connection with her family and the ability to spend what little precious moments they may have together during the zenith of her career is the very reason she moved back to the city of her youth, even if she can barely recognize it anymore.
WWE Smackdown comes to Charlotte on Tuesday, February 26 at Spectrum Center.