There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the use of Reid Flair’s death in a WWE storyline last year, where Paige said he obviously hadn’t fought “hard enough” else he’d still be alive.
At the time it was criticized for being tasteless and confusing, as fans who didn’t know Charlotte had a brother who died of a drug overdose were not sufficiently informed during the segment on RAW to get fully behind it, while those that did know mostly found it offensive and put their heat on the company, not Paige.
The siblings’ mother Beth took to Twitter to call the company out for the “disgusting” move and Ric Flair said on his podcast that they never asked for his blessing beforehand. He suggested Charlotte went along with it because as a young talent she has no “stroke.”
— Elizabeth Fliehr (@EFliehr) November 17, 2015
In a PR move WWE made a statement suggesting everything was fine because it was Charlotte’s idea, then this changed to Charlotte hearing the idea and insisting it go ahead.
“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.”
Comments made be Charlotte last week on the Sam Roberts pocast deifnitely suggest it was WWE’s idea not hers:
“I think they needed heat. I think they needed heat because, I mean, in my eyes, I look at Paige, looking at her as a fan, not a talent, I’m like, ‘yeah, she’s freaking cool! She’s a badass! I can relate to her. She’s one of us!’ And I knew, I mean, I think the Reid storyline came because they needed heat and they needed to get me some kind of sympathy.”
She did however completely defend the storyline, saying that great angles need elements of realism.
“Honestly, I was [surprised by the backlash] because I already get it. Like, before this storyline, people think that being a [second] generation kid, everything is handed to you, but, honestly, it’s that much harder. Could I have walked on set and been whoever I wanted to be? No. And then, people knowing about Reid’s death, knowing the story behind it, knowing [what] my dad’s private life has been in the media for years, so I’d already gotten backlash from social media anyway, saying negative things about my brother and father and it’s like, I think, just the general public, is able to say their two cents anyway. Any great storyline came from a little bit of realism. I’m not saying it was good [or] it was bad. I don’t know anymore just because once it was hashed and then getting the backlash, I was like, ‘am I a bad person? How is this making me look?’ But you know what? People were talking.”
Ultimately we’ll probably never know exactly how this came about, but it’s still very odd considering the company’s current PG corporate image, with the anti-bullying and avoiding of anything controversial.