Reid Flair and His Impact on the Women’s Revolution in WWE

Reid Flair was only 25 when he tragically passed away on March 29, 2013. It’s been over five years now and Reid would’ve turned 30 back in February, and yet, not many people talk about his legacy and the impact he had on WWE’s Women’s Evolution.

Now we all know Charlotte Flair is one of the leading forces in the Women’s Evolution and professional sports in general. She’s already become a 7x Women’s Champion in WWE (1x Divas Champion, 4x Raw Women’s Champion, and 2x SmackDown Women’s Champion). The question is: where does she get her dedication from?

Black and white photo of Reid Flair resting against the ring ropes
Reid Flair (courtesy of Charlotte’s Instagram page)

From a young age, Reid Flair always loved the world of professional wrestling. From holding a vertical suplex that the world would stand still for, to being the stylin’ profilin’ jet-flyin’ kiss-stealin’ wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun, Reid wanted to be his father. So naturally, Reid trained to become a wrestler and he did this under the tutelage of Harley Race.

Related- Harley Race: Tales of Toughness and Tenacity in the Squared Circle

Richard Reid Fliehr made his wrestling debut on December 6, 2008, under the name Reid Flair, teaming with his elder brother David to defeat The Nasty Boys in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Hulk Hogan as the special guest referee. For the next few years, he would wrestle for many independent promotions such as Big Time Wrestling and Northeast Wrestling as well as Lucha Libre USA and the NWA. Reid was awarded the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heritage Championship belt to which he held for one show.

When the time came, Ric arranged a dinner meeting for Reid to meet with John Laurinaitis, who was head of WWE’s talent relations at the time. From there it was history. For his sister Charlotte, that is.

For this meeting, Reid brought along Ric and his sister Ashley (known today as Charlotte in the WWE) and in this meeting Laurinaitis asked her, "Why haven’t you gotten into this?"

Charlotte was completely surprised. In her and her father’s autobiography, Second Nature: The Legacy of Ric Flair and the Rise of Charlotte, she explained that she originally thought Laurinaitis was joking around or just trying to be nice to include her in the conversation. When she realized that he wasn’t joking around, she wondered why Laurinaitis would ever think that she could do this. She was in a volatile and abusive relationship at the time, so she found this as a possible way out. She went with the idea and would find herself going to FCW in Tampa, Florida not long later.

While getting her start in FCW in May of 2012, she often received criticism for being Ric Flair’s daughter. She also didn’t know much about the business. Her only experience in the ring up until this point was spent hitting the ropes with Reid, their father, and ex-WCW Superstar Lodi for the two days before leaving for Tampa.

Charlotte and Reid Flair

When Charlotte first got her start in the business of professional wrestling, she would often text her brother Reid Flair for emotional support.

Due to her inexperience in the ring at the time, she wasn’t doing a whole lot in FCW except for ring crew, ring announcing and driving five hours out of the way to hand out flyers and promote upcoming FCW house shows.

For a few years leading up to this fateful meeting with WWE’s Laurinaitis, Reid was struggling with his demons. He had a few arrests and brushes with the law, though his father was able to arrange a meeting with WWE with the hopes that Reid could sign a developmental contract with them. After Reid failed the initial drug test, Ric begged Triple H to give him the test again in hopes to give his son a second chance. Triple H allowed this favor, though this time, he failed it even worse.

Reid Flair ended up moving to Japan to start work for All Japan Pro Wrestling. He made his in-ring debut for All Japan on January 26, 2013, when he replaced his sick father in a tag team match.

At the end of March, he came back to America to see Charlotte compete at the WrestleMania 29 Axxess show. It was then that tragedy struck. On March 29, 2013, Reid Flair relapsed and tragically passed away. This left the entire Flair family shocked and in despair.

On May 29, 2014, at the very first NXT TakeOver and fourteen months to the day after her brother passed away, Charlotte Flair defeated Natalya Neidhart for the NXT Women’s Championship with father Ric and Bret Hart looking on. She later recorded in her book what was going through her head after that match.

"I wouldn’t have been there were it not for [Reid] being an advocate to give wrestling a shot. I went to dinner with him and our dad to speak with a WWE executive about what Reider wanted to do. No one seated at that table knew how lost I was, how much pain I was in, and how much help I needed. Now, two years removed from that night, I was holding the NXT Women’s Championship. It was so hard accepting that I couldn’t call the one person I knew would’ve been there, the one person I wanted to be there. I knew that after that match I was going to live his dream for the both of us.”

Reid Flair's sister Charlotte is overcome with emotion as Natalya raises her hand in victory after winning the NXT Women's Championship at the inaugural NXT TakeOver on May 29, 2014
Charlotte overcome by emotion as Natalya raises her hand in victory after winning the NXT Women’s Championship at the very first NXT TakeOver, May 29, 2014

Charlotte on her brother Reid Flair and carrying his legacy, “[I’m] going to live his dream for the both of us.”

On July 13, 2015, Charlotte Flair made her main roster debut on Monday Night Raw. She debuted with Becky Lynch and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. From there she went on win the WWE Divas Champion on September 20, 2015, from Nikki Bella at Night of Champions.

On April 3, 2016, Charlotte led the Divas Revolution into a Women’s Evolution when at WrestleMania 32 it was announced that the winner of the Triple Threat match between Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and herself would be crowned the inaugural Women’s Champion. Charlotte went on to win the match by tapping Becky Lynch out with the Figure Eight.

Charlotte and Sasha Banks have since gone on to have a long rivalry with back-and-forth victories for the title. The most important moment of this rivalry was on October 30, 2016, when Charlotte Flair successfully captured the Raw Women’s Championship from Sasha Banks in the very first women’s main event of a WWE pay-per-view at Hell in a Cell. It was a moment that everyone who supported the movement had waited so long and worked so hard for.

The momentum hasn’t stopped there. Charlotte has since become the first female Grand Slam in WWE, with the Divas, NXT Women’s, RAW Women’s, and SmackDown Women’s Championship. Within three years on the main roster, she has become a 7x Women’s Champion, the second most overall behind Trish Stratus and The Fabulous Moolah (who both have both held the title eight times).

Had it not been for Reid’s influence, Charlotte wouldn’t be where she is today. In fact, it is safe to say that the Women’s Revolution would not be where it is at today.

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Mason Epeneter is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories.