Joanie Laurer is a wrestling icon. Better known to wrestling fans as Chyna, she had a meteoric rise in popularity with wrestling fans.
Chyna wasn’t your ordinary woman wrestler as she was strong, big, could move in the ring, and more importantly, she could hold her own against the guys. She ws often referred to as “The Ninth Wonder of the World,” burst on the scene as the bodyguard/manager of the villainous Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Triple H) also known as D-Generation X. Her main job during this time was to protect them from fellow Superstars, occasionally fighting in matches, and helping them pick up some of the biggest and most important victories of their careers.
1999 was the year of Chyna.
In January 1999, Chyna was the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble, becoming the first woman ever to enter this match. Also in 1999, WWE decided to split Triple H and Chyna up, they even had a brief feud. WWE decided to give her a push against future Hall of Famer, Jeff Jarrett. Jeff drew the anger of Chyna by proclaiming, “women had only one place in society: the kitchen—more accurately, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.” She would end up challenging Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship (second most prestigious title at the time), eventually winning the title in October 1999 at No Mercy.
Two-time Intercontinental Champion
She would drop the title later to Chris Jericho. Losing the title to him wasn’t big deal at the time because Jericho was new on the scene and needed a push. To give him a harder push, the WWE would have her act as his valet for a few months in 2000.
After another run as Intercontinental Champ, Chyna turned her attention to the WWE Women’s Championship at the 2001 Royal Rumble in a match against Ivory. During the match, Chyna injured her neck and lost. She would get a rematch at Wrestlemania 17; she demolished Ivory in under one minute to claim the championship. Chyna would run rough through the women’s division as expected, since she could hang with the guys. There was no way a woman could beat her. She relinquished the title after a 214-day title reign and left the company later in 2001.
Off to NJPW & TNA
She had a short stint in 2002 with New Japan Pro Wrestling. She later made her return to the wrestling ring as she debuted in 2011 as a member of TNA Impact Wrestling in 2011. Chyna was introduced by the returning Spike TV network consultant Mick Foley as Kurt Angle’s business associate. She won her last match on May 15, 2011 against Karen Jarrett.
She is finally a Hall of Famer
After her untimely passing on April 20, 2016, many fans start clamoring for her induction into the WWE’s Hall of Fame. The WWE had a few concerns when it came to putting Chyna in their Hall as she had become prominent in the adult film industry. The final blow to the Chyna and WWE relationship may have come when she did an adult film that saw her having sex in a wrestling ring. This was looked at as if she were mocking WWE. Some fans will say this shouldn’t be an issue since the company had allowed to her to pose fully in the nude for the November 2000 Playboy edition.
Fast forward to 2019…
WWE inducted D-Generation X (Triple H, X-Pac, Road Dogg, Shawn Michaels, Billy Gunn & Chyna) into their Hall of Fame. Chyna has taken her place amongst wrestling’s immortals. Some have even suggested that the Women’s Battle Royal be named after her. I don’t see this happening as her departure from the company was not on good terms and I think they will always hold her adult film past against her. The Battle Royal is often called The Faboulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal in honor of the Faboulous Moolah because she was the first female wrestling superstar in the company’s history.
For those of us that remember the Attitude Era, will always remember Joanie Lauer aka Chyna aka The Ninth Wonder of the World. May she Rest in Peace.