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By Mike Johnson on 2015-11-19 18:12:11
There has been a lot of discussion and blowback to the angle that closed Monday Night Raw this past Monday where the late Reid Flair was referenced during the contract signing between WWE Divas champion Charlotte and Paige as part of the build to their title bout at the Survivor Series this Sunday.

Based on what sources have told us (and as we reported in the Elite section of several days ago, which you can subscribe to by clicking here), the idea was something that was presented to Charlotte and the angle was something she was able to give feedback on, both in terms of the verbiage she felt comfortable using and with the way the angle was presented.  The angle was designed as a way to give Charlotte some sympathy from the audience going into the Paige bout.

I am told the original idea came from a mention Charlotte made to WWE Creative at some point that her entire career was a tribute to her late brother.   That somehow gestated into the verbiage that was used.  Over the course of the day, certain aspects (I am not sure what) were dropped and others evolved.  It was not a situation where she was handed a script and told what to do but something she was presented and likely asked if she was comfortable going forward with the story, given the chance to give feedback and to prepare herself for the segment.  Any idea that she was ambushed or forced into the segment are fantasy.

Sources have also claimed that the entire angle was something that was greatly discussed over the course of the day at Raw with some of the senior members of the creative team being against it and voicing that opinion to Vince McMahon.  At one point, the angle may have been pulled (I am not 100% on that) but before Raw went on the air, McMahon made the decision to go forward with it.  At the end of the day, it was his call.

The fallout of the angle, specifically the idea that Ric Flair and his ex-wife Elizabeth Fliehr (Reid and Charlotte's parents) were not aware, has been a much debated subject.  To be fair, in my opinion, there's no excuse for Ric and Elizabeth Fliehr not being told in advance, even if the company didn't want to give either of them the option of shooting it down.    This is not a death from a decade ago or even a situation like Eddie Guerrero, who's widow was working with the company, where they could get approval (not that Guerrero's situation wasn't something equally sad and unsettling in execution).    This was someone's son who hasn't even been gone four years. There's no way the usage of him in that manner could be anything but raw and unsettling, at best, to his family, even if they've been around wrestling for generations and get the idea of using heat to draw money.   It was unfair to his parents in my mind.

A lot has also been made of Ric Flair's comments on his podcast, Woo Nation.   Flair was very measured in his comments and noted that when he watched the angle, he didn't know it was coming and that he cried.   "I was very sensitive to it obviously, its a very sensitive issue.  It's still very new," said Ric, who added that his ex-wife was "on fire" she was so angry.  There's no doubt Flair was picking his words carefully when he, who's always pushed the virtues of the company, says he doesn't want to give his his honest opinion.    He said that even if it wasn't something he was personally involved with, he wouldn't have liked it, noting that he didn't even like the 1993 storyline where Jerry Lawler was mocking Bret Hart's parents Stu and Helen Hart. He noted that everyone he was on the WWE European tour with were "on eggshells" and theorized that his daughter, having only been on the roster three months, might not have felt comfortable with saying no. He noted that at the end of the day, it was one man's call. Flair said by the time Survivor Series rolled around, "It will be old news," and noted that compared to what happened in Paris over the weekend, it was not important. Flair did note that when he watched the angle, he cried, but with someone as emotional as Ric, it wasn't clear whether he cried over how WWE used Reid's name or whether he was emotional watching his daughter's promo, something he greatly praised on his podcast.

When contacted by regarding the nature of the storyline earlier today, WWE issued the following statement:

"Subject matter this personal is only approved as a result of the strong advocacy of the talent themselves. Notwithstanding that, WWE is ultimately responsible for what airs in its programming."

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