Hong Kong isn’t known for its wrestling – but, according to possibly the most popular female grappling star on the planet, our city could be set for greatness in the near future as the world’s biggest sports entertainment company, WWE, prepares to conquer China. Charlotte Flair tells Time Out Hong Kong when we meet that she would ‘just love’ to perform in our SAR – and that ‘WWE has a plan’ when it comes to future shows in the Middle Kingdom.
Charlotte speaks to us at a resort in Shenzhen over the weekend as she promotes an upcoming WWE show, ‘WWE Live China’, in the Mainland city on Sunday September 17 – a show she's performing in alongside some of the best wrestlers in the ‘universe’. She’s also promoting big news on the Mainland – this coming Friday sees the launch of the award-winning WWE Network in China in partnership with sports media company PPTV. It means, in short, that the world’s biggest sports entertainment company is tapping into the world’s biggest previously untapped market when it comes to televised wrestling. It’s, as Charlotte puts it, ‘a big deal’.
But the major reveal during our interview is that WWE ‘doesn’t need tempting’ when it comes to future shows in Hong Kong. “I think WWE has a plan,” she says. “WWE always has a plan. To travel to different cities in the Asian market.”
Charlotte, who’s learning Cantonese, has previously only flown into Hong Kong. “We travel all over the world and we travel to multiple cities within one country,” she says, “so I think having the WWE Network in China, that will open doors to having more shows in more cities across the country and obviously Hong Kong would be a place where I’d like to have a show. Hong Kong is probably one of the most talked-about cities in the world and to know that I have performed there, I think would be a check-off the bucket list. I’d love to perform in Hong Kong. I’ve wrestled in Tokyo, I’ve wrestled in Shanghai and I feel like, if I’ve wrestled in those places, Hong Kong would be one of those cities that I must perform in.”
Charlotte, the daughter of WWE legend Ric Flair and already a huge superstar in her own right due to her incredibly athletic style, her work on the microphone and her championship wins to date, tells us it’s her first visit to Shenzhen, a ‘beautiful’ city. “So I was in Shanghai last year and I wrestled [fellow female WWE superstar] Sasha Banks,” she says. “It was amazing but I think what’s more exciting is knowing that the network is about to launch and it’ll be a second show in China and, maybe, by the time we come, the fans will be even more connected with us because they’ll have an opportunity to watch [WWE shows] Raw, Smackdown, Total Divas and NXT, and maybe catch up on storylines that they might not be able to stream. I can’t imagine how they get it now...” Charlotte also calls tapping into the Chinese market a ‘huge’ move and ‘exciting’. “I can only imagine what the fanbase and the following will be like,” she says, “once we’re here on a regular basis.”
The show on September 17, at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre Arena, features Charlotte alongside other WWE superstars like WWE champion and India’s finest, Jinder Mahal, Japanese global sensation Shinsuke Nakamura, international icon John Cena and the ‘Irish lass kicker’ Becky Lynch. It also features up-and-coming Chinese star Tian Bing, who wrestles Aiden English on the card. Charlotte says Bing ‘opens the door’ to Chinese men and women who want to get into the WWE as performers.
So, Charlotte’s looking forward to the show and to, hopefully, coming to Hong Kong to perform soon. But she’s also quick to let us know her top ambition – to headline WWE’s flagship event, Wrestlemania, some time ‘over the next three years’. “I’d like to wrestle Stephanie McMahon,” she says, referring to WWE boss Vince McMahon’s much-despised (in the world of the show) daughter. “Queen vs queen. We’ll probably need a cage...”
Charlotte, who tells us she would love to fight the ‘phenomenal’ AJ Styles or the ‘big dog’ Roman Reigns if men battled women in the WWE – although she doesn't see the need for that to happen – says she wants to see more mixed-tag matches in the WWE in the future and would partner with one half of the ‘Fashion Police’, Tyler Breeze, if she could. She also tells us she has a book co-written with her father called Second Nature coming out on September 19. “I always want to be on top...,” she concludes, “of the women’s division, of course!”