She remembers growing up watching this woman. In awe every time she walked down the ramp, for every match featuring the Queen. She remembers the one house show she'd managed to go to, at 14, without her father's knowledge. Managed to get front row by the time the main event was underway.
It was a four way match. And just as the match seemed to be going to hell on the outside. Josie watched in awe as Charlotte went to the top rope and did a moon sault, wiping out the other three women in the match. It was a thing of absolute beauty. That solidified her dream of wanting to fly just like that.
That night Charlotte Flair stood tall grinning to a booing crowd, smug and unapologetic in victory. Josie unlike most of the crowd was utterly starstruck. That was her idol in all her glory.
Now six years later she's watching said idol yet again. In place of a sold out Arena a crowded training room within the performance center. Gone was the iconic ring gear, she stood tall in active wear staring down everyone in the room.
In the ring didn't stand her idol Charlotte Flair, in the ring stood Ashley Fliehr. A woman who had sweat, bled and cried in this very room - hell she probably still did to this day. A woman that helped usher in a new era into WWE, determined to usher a new era into the industry as a whole. This woman far more intimidating than her idol, but she was everything Josie wished she had the guts to be in her own life.
"Welcome to the newest stage in the Evolution ladies."
Charlotte greeted the women in the room. She eyed them down. Some faces completely unknown, some faces she recruited personally and some were already her colleagues. Each one of them hanging on to her every word.
"Each one of you here has at the very least one thing in common. You all bleed this business - atleast I hope you do, because if you don't you won't be here long. I want people- no I want women who love this business that will leave everything on the mat. Their sweat, tears and blood. Because it's time to change the game. We are no longer looking to carve a seat at the table and have a five to two match ratio on a card anymore. We are looking to make our own table where we all eat at all times."
She paused. Letting everyone soak in what she was saying. She was essentially selling them a dream, her dream. This had to be one of the most compelling promos she'd ever cut, she needed these women to buy into her. It was just easier selling a character to the masses than it was to sell herself and her dreams.
"These next two weeks are essential for all of us. You are all some of the best wrestlers in the world right now. The demand for female wrestlers has never been higher, take this time to see if you want to be apart of this vision and journey or as an opportunity to gain more exposure for your career. As you know this isn't a guaranteed contract, we're looking for people that will help shape us and be willing to be shaped by us. You all have your schedules we'll reconvene later."
She dismissed them and stepped out the ring. She didn't stick around to chat with anyone. There would be enough time for that later, she needed to prepare for the activities that would follow.
Josie watched as Charlotte left the ring. Her speech was short but conveyed everything it needed too. She watched as many of the other wrestlers seemed to hang on to every word. She could tell everyone was hungry for an opportunity, ready to be apart of the tagline 'the first ever'. She wasn't sure if she was right for this, but she had made the decision to see this through. And she would.
She had stayed at the back near the doors, which was where Charlotte was headed for. She saw a look of surprise cross Charlotte's face, before it was replaced with a self satisfied smile.
"I did." Josie shrugged.
Charlotte motioned for her to follow her out. They walked in relative silence to Charlotte's office -rather soon to be office once she gets everything out of boxes and the way she liked them.
Josie looked around the office impressed with the large glass window. From the office there was a bird's eye view of the training room floor. It was like a box seat, perfect really.
"Why?" Charlotte questioned.
"You were pretty adamant about not wanting to be here." And it was true, a part of Josie still didn't want to be here.
"You asked me why I started this sport."
"You told me it was complicated." Charlotte repeated back.
"It still is, but a big part of it was because of you. I remember watching you do a moonsault off the top rope live, and the crowd went wild. I wanted to be like you in that moment. To feel seen like that. I had never felt seen, but watching you that night made me want to feel what it was like to be looked at as something larger than life."
"Then why the mask?" Charlotte questioned slightly confused.
"Complicated. But for awhile the mask was enough I'd do a move and leave the crowd in awe. A part of me gets seen and I get to stay undetected in every other aspect of my life."
Josie had kept her eyes trained on what was going on outside as she spoke. Charlotte was struck with how young and unguarded she looked. Gone was the girl always wearing the mask, literally and figuratively. Unfiltered honesty and it was kind of sad to think that went unseen for so long.
Josie turned to Charlotte, finally making eye contact with the blonde.
"To answer your question, I started in part because of you and I came because of you. You strolled in to the gym looking for me. Not a gimmick or the newest flash in the pan. You saw me right away, that doesn't happen a lot. It helps that you knew exactly what to say. So I'm here to give this a shot, because you seem very willing to give me one."
"That's a lot of trust. Thank you. Now let's talk about on what you want to do and get the process for to get you signed." Charlotte spoke, motioning for Josie to have a seat.
"I thought contracts weren't guaranteed."
"Yours always was. Welcome to Evolution Josie." Charlotte said with a smile. Offering a handshake.