Joanie “Chyna” Laurer: Gone Way Too Soon
Last week wrestling lost one it’s most iconic, unique and memorable talents. Joanie Laurer, known to fans worldwide as Chyna, passed away to shock and great sadness of the wider wrestling community.
Having earned the moniker, “The Ninth Wonder Of World” due to her imposing and impressive physique that has never been seen before, or since in a woman in the wrestling industry. When HHH introduced Chyna to the WWF back in the late nineties having become aware of her through weight training and their mutual trainer Killer Kowalski, Joanie created an instant impact with Attitude Era writer Vince Russo speaking on his podcast today at how the mere appearance of this amazon backstage would stop men in their tracks and caused jaws to drop.
In her early WWF career, Chyna was little more than a muscular valet, saying very little, interfering on behalf of her D-Generation X teammates and generally cutting an imposing figure at ringside and in the back of shot during promos by HHH and Shawn Michaels. Chyna became a more prominent character during the second incarnation of DX with Hunter at the helm and even started to see some in ring action. Unlike any other female talent in the history of WWE Chyna was used almost exclusively as an inter-gender star. As a physical match for the men on the roster, she could be legitimately used as a viable partner for the men in her faction, or an opponent for anyone who dare oppose them.
The real breakout moment for Chyna came post DX when she would go on a two-year run as a woman existing, and excelling in a man’s world. She became the first woman to compete in the King of the Ring, the first woman to enter a Royal Rumble match and of course, and most notably, she became the first woman to win a male title in WWE history when she defeated Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental title in 1999. At one point Chyna was even the number one contender for the WWd World Heavyweight Title. Imagine that in this day and age?!? That title win and a new alliance with Miss Kitty (later known as The Kat) gave Chyna a new lease of life and she would do battle with her former DX teammates, Jarrett himself and the newly debuted Chris Jericho.
There will never be another Chyna for multiple reasons. The modern day PG Era WWE does not allow inter-gender action, and with good reason but if another woman with the physical capabilities, stature and ability of Joanie Laurer came along would you really be able to use that exclusively in women’s matches? If Chyna had only ever competed against women, especially the bikini models of the Attitude Era, then the Women’s title couldn’t have changed hands for a number of years with even an ounce of realism. No one could have beaten the Chyna character, as was demonstrated when Chyna would finally win the Women’s title from Ivory in her later years with the company.
I am a massive fan of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Paige and Bayley all these young women are incredibly talented and bring a level of wrestling ability that has never been seen before in WWE. The Fabulous Moolah, Alundra Blayze and Trish Stratus all rightly have their place in history as great champions but none of them could compete on a wrestling basis with the girls of today. The levels that these beautiful young women have taken the industry too is electrifying and worthy of all the admiration and respect in the world. But if you put the 1999 version of Chyna in that division how can you have any of them beat her with any ounce of believability? Essentially a man in terms of size, strength and stature but with the very female elements of beauty, sex appeal and attitude Chyna would run rough shot over even today’s division, she would have to. If Sasha Banks beat Chyna clean fans around the world would be going crazy with how much of a joke the booking was etc. Like Kalisto taking out the Big Show clean. It is not believable.
The fact that Chyna is not in the Hall of Fame is nothing short of a disgrace, and actually shows the Hall for what it is, a club for friends of the WWE, not those deserving of it regardless of their relationship with WWE. Chyna is/was the greatest attraction, character and specimen in the history of women in the wrestling business. That is undisputable. Whatever Joanie Laurer decided to do with her life after finishing her run as Chyna should not make any difference as to whether she is honored with an induction into the Hall of Fame.
There are people in the Hall that are convicted criminals, active porn stars, drug addicts, alcoholics and who knows what else you can’t use the reasoning that Chyna is not worthy on that basis like HHH has previously. If you that then you need to have a clear out of its current alumni.
I also believe that we could well see her in the Hall of Fame now within five years. If I was WWE and I still don’t want to acknowledge Chyna for whatever reason then I would induct DX into the Hall of Fame as a faction ala The Four Horsemen. You can honor one of the greatest factions in history, you can have Shawn Michaels join only the Nature Boy as a two-time Hall of Famer and you can honor Chyna’s contribution without giving Joanie Laurer a spotlight that she desperately deserves.
I hope the tortured soul that is Joanie “Chyna” Laurer is now at peace and that whatever demons had taken over her life in recent years are now at rest. She should be remembered as a pioneer, an icon and someone truly special that changed wrestling for the better. RIP Joanie.
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