Charlotte Flair excited to make history in first women's Money in the Bank match

Three weeks ago on SmackDown Live, an otherwise pedestrian episode of WWE's Tuesday night show broke out into mass chaos. 

A scheduled Fatal 5-Way match for the No. 1 contendership of the SmackDown women's title never officially started as a brawl broke out. Natalya was powerbombed through a table. Carmella landed a splash off the barricade. Charlotte Flair connected with a moonsault onto the arena floor. 

The physical and intense standoff served as the perfect infomercial for the historic announcement that would follow. Flair, Natalya and Carmella will be joined by Becky Lynch and Tamina Snuka in WWE's first women's Money in the Bank ladder match at Sunday's pay-per-view in St. Louis.

The winner will inherit the title of Mrs. Money in the Bank, capturing the coveted briefcase complete with a world title contract that can be cashed in at any time over the next 365 days.  

"I think we needed to show that we are going to give it our all, that we are capable of being able to be put in a ladder match because there is an element of danger when you add the ladders," Flair told CBS Sports on Thursday. "With going through the announce table, Becky Lynch coming off the guardrail and a moonsault, it's pulling out all the stops. That's what this group of women is willing to do."

Big fan of WWE? Be sure to subscribe to my podcast In This Corner with Brian Campbell where you can listen to my entire interview with Charlotte Flair.

When it comes to WWE's women's revolution, the 31-year-old Flair has been no stranger to firsts as she closes in on the two-year anniversary or her main roster debut. 

The daughter of two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair won the company's new women's championship at WrestleMania 32 in 2016, as WWE made a pointed effort to transition away from the Divas era. Seven months later, in the midst of an incredible feud with Sasha Banks, the two women made history in Boston at the first women's Hell in a Cell match. 

Flair knows full well the pressure that comes with these type of "firsts" for WWE women. Can the match live up to the expectations set forth by the men? 

"Honestly, I think it gets harder every time," Flair said. "There was the first-ever Hell in a Cell, and not only that, Sasha was performing in front of her hometown. So that was pressure of being a singles and always wanting to outdo what we have done before. 

"We want to keep that momentum going so on Sunday. We want to nail it and that pressure, Tamina has to feel it and Natalya has to feel it, especially Carmella probably being the newest in the mix has to feel that. I know Becky does. Plus, there's not two people, there is five people. I'm sure everyone is saying their prayers for Sunday that it turns out well."

Flair admits she naturally puts an incredible amount of pressure on herself to "always want to hit a home run" and probably spends too much time obsessing over what's wrong with her character and what she needs to do better. 

But the former collegiate volleyball star, born Ashley Fliehr, who didn't have her first televised match until 2013, has found a way to stay calm during the day of a big performance. She has developed a process of essentially bottling up her swirling emotions so she can release them as fuel when the time is right. 

"The nerves and excitement and anxiety all kind of snap on each other, and when I walk through that curtain I can feel all of my emotions," Flair said. "I don't show anything until the bell rings. I think it's a matter of trying to harness every emotion that I feel and keeping it under control. I don't show whether I'm nervous or want to cry. I just try to harness all of that emotion so I can put it into the match."

Flair believes the success of Sunday's match will come down to the "story within a story" that the five participants end up telling. In the end, it's all about the execution. 

"Obviously, [ladder matches] are memorable just because of the high risk and the oohs and aahs," Flair said. "You have one person going up the ladder to get the briefcase and they don't get it, and then somebody else tries. What makes ours different is it's the first ever women's ladder match and this will be the first ever women's Money in the Bank. The creative opportunity is limitless."

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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