Pro Wrestling

11 Historic Moments From The Incredible Life of Chyna Source:

The life of the woman known to wrestling fans around the world as Chyna has been one full of ups and downs. At one point, she was an inspirational figure, a pioneer for women in professional wrestling, and one of the most unique characters from one of the hottest periods in WWE history. At others, she was a tragic figure, a woman erased from history, a cautionary tale of celebrity gone sour. But through the highs and the lows, Chyna created a memorable figure that crossed over from professional wrestling and into mainstream popular culture, from the moment she burst onto the scene in WWE in 1997, until her tragic death in 2016, at the far too young age of 45. Whether good or bad, Chyna was responsible for a large number memorable moments over her life, and these are the ones we’ve chosen to highlight.

11. Before She Was A Star

Before her wrestling career was even on the radar, Chyna was already living an extraordinary life. She graduated from the University of Tampa in 1992 with a degree in Spanish Literature, and was fluent in the language. In addition, she learned to speak both conversational German and French, in preparation for a career overseas. Yes, despite Triple H claiming years later that he might be a lot of things, but “bilingual” wasn’t one of them, it turns out his bodyguard actually was. In fact, due to her proficiency in languages, she was seriously considering joining either the FBI or the DEA, a decision that was heavily supported by her father, who was allegedly incredibly upset when she instead chose to join the Peace Corps. Chyna was stationed in Guatemala for two years, before returning to America and attempting to become first a flight attendant, and then, eventually, a pro wrestler. Source:

10. Killer Kowalski

Chyna is one of a long list of well-known wrestlers trained by the legendary Killer Kowalski, a Polish-Canadian wrestler who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996. Among the names to come from Kowalski’s school are Kofi Kingston, Damien Sandow, Fandango, independent star Eddie Edwards, and some guy named Triple H, who would become very important to her career. Chyna would often speak positively about Kowalski’s influence on her career, remaining closely affliliated with the school up until his death in 2008. Kowalski claimed that it was his influence which got Chyna noticed by WWE’s Shane McMahon, resulting in her signing with the company in 1997. However, things nearly took a very different path. Source:

9. First Female nWo Member?

Yes, apparently Chyna nearly made her debut with World Championship Wrestling instead of WWE, and was set to be introduced as the first female member of the New World Order faction, a high-profile spot to say the least. In retrospect, this probably isn’t a huge surprise, as the Monday Night Wars were well underway at that point, and both WCW and WWE were scouring the world for any available talent that could give them an edge, and someone as unique as Chyna certainly would not have gone un-noticed by both sides. It’s been reported that Chyna had an agreement in place to sign with WCW, and even had a contract in her hands and was ready to sign, but a last-minute call from Shane McMahon made her change her mind, and she went to the WWE instead. Had she actually followed through and joined the nWo, however, it’s likely that many things about her career, and WWE in general, could have turned out very differently. In fact, it’s possible that WCW’s decision to offer her such a huge spot as an nWo member is what led to her highly visible role in WWE, first as the bodyguard for Triple H as part of what was set to be a massive main event push, then as a member of the original D-Generation X. Source:

8. Founding Member Of D-Generation X

That’s right, newer fans, there was D-X before the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac came on board, and despite what WWE’s highlight packages will tell you, the original D-X was not just Triple H and Shawn Michaels, as Chyna was also an important member of the group. Frankly, most of the time, it seemed on TV like the only reason the original D-X got anything accomplished was when Chyna took matters into her own hands, while Triple H and Shawn Michaels would have been happy to goof off forever. At any rate, Chyna was an integral part of both the original incarnation of D-X, as well as the more well-known version that was created when Shawn Michaels retired. Seemingly secure in her position due to her relationship with Triple H (which was actually kept secret for a long time, out of fears she’d be accused of “sleeping her way to the top”), Chyna was in a position to receive opportunities that no woman had ever been given in WWE before. Source:

7. First Woman To Compete In The Royal Rumble

Due to her size and physique, once Chyna eventually started getting into the ring, she was portrayed as being on equal footing with the male Superstars (and clearly far above the swimsuit models and non-wrestling valets that made up most of WWE’s female contingent at the time). As a result, she broke a lot of ground for women in the industry, the reverberations of which are still being felt today. In 1999, Chyna qualified for the Royal Rumble match by winning a mini-Rumble between D-X and Vince McMahon’s Corporation (which was actually set up by Vince so he could get out of being the #2 entry) that also earned her the #30 spot, making her the first female wrestler to enter the Rumble match. While she did not last long in the Rumble, she also became the first female to eliminate someone from the Rumble, tossing Mark Henry shortly after entering. Chyna would enter the Rumble again in 2000, surviving even longer. In the years that followed, two other women, Beth Phoenix and Kharma, would follow Chyna’s path and enter the Rumble, with both also managing to eliminate male Superstars. Source:

6. Only Woman To Win The Intercontinental Title

Building off her Rumble appearance, Chyna began wrestling against men on a more regular basis. While this did lead to backlash from many Superstars who didn’t want to lose to a woman, several wrestlers were more than willing to work with her, and she began to move up the ranks of the company, culminating in a feud with Jeff Jarrett that would see Chyna win the WWE Intercontinental title, the first and only woman in wrestling history to do so. While the match itself is shrouded in controversy, as Jarrett “held up” Vince McMahon for a large cash payment to do the match, that was due to Jarrett’s contract with WWE actually having expired the day before the match, and had nothing to do with him losing the match. Chyna would go on to win the title a second time, as well as a third, unofficial reign as co-champion with Chris Jericho as part of an angle, a reign that WWE does not recognize. Source:

5. Playboy

During her time in WWE, Chyna took many steps to make herself look more feminine, including cosmetic surgery. In fact, there is a legendary story about one of her breast implants rupturing during a match, leading her to have custom versions made that would stand up to the physical demands of the wrestling ring. These custom implants eventually came to be designated “Chyna 2000’s” in the cosmetic surgery industry, and were specifically designed for larger-framed women and bodybuilders. Eventually, after months of proving herself against men, Chyna was moved into the new WWE Women’s Division, which had seen an injection of some actually talented female wrestlers (including Ivory, Lita, and eventually, Trish Stratus), and was expected to be the central star. As part of this new push, Chyna was given a photo shoot for Playboy, and portrayed as both strong and feminine. WWE heavily promoted her photo spread on TV (which seems incredible in the modern PG era), which would lead to it becoming one of the highest selling issues of the magazine. Source:

4. Sudden Departure From WWE

Unfortunately, Chyna’s relationship with Triple H ended badly, and he began dating Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of Vince McMahon. While initially, this did not affect Chyna’s career on-screen, as she continued to receive a very strong push, behind the scenes it led to a strained relationship, as one would expect. In mid-2000, Chyna very abruptly left WWE, with the explanation at the time being that she had asked for a new contract that paid her “main event level” money, which WWE was not willing to do. It’s commonly believed tension between her and Stephanie McMahon also played a part in her departure. For a while, Chyna was the hottest free agent in wrestling, but with WCW and ECW, the biggest North American companies aside from WWE, both circling the drain, opportunities never arose, although she did receive a second Playboy photo shoot in 2002. Additionally, she was prevented by WWE from using her “Chyna” name for several years, before having it legally changed. Source:

3. One Night In Chyna

At some point, celebrity sex tapes started to become a thing, mostly thanks to Paris Hilton and her infamous “One Night In Paris.” While Chyna was no longer on TV screens every week, she still remained in the public eye thanks to her second Playboy shoot and various small roles on TV and in film, including a much-publicized stint on The Surreal Life, where she got into a public fight with her then-boyfriend X-Pac. Privately, Chyna was suffering from issues with substance abuse, and claimed that her life was spiraling out of control. In a sign of her desperation, she made a sex tape with X-Pac, which was then released for sale by the same company that had released Hilton’s. The tape was actually incredibly popular, winning an AVN award for Best Selling Video of the year, and actually resulted in a sequel. This wouldn’t be Chyna’s only venture into the world of adult film, as years later, she would sign with Vivid Video and appear in two “parody” movies based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as a personal film titled Backdoor To Chyna, which won another AVN Award for Best Celebrity Sex Tape. Source:

2. English Teacher

Following several public appearances that portrayed her in a negative light, Chyna literally left the country, choosing to move to Japan for three years. where she finally put her linguistic abilities to good use, teaching English to Japanese students. While she was out of the public eye, a groundswell of support began to rise for her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. While such an honor seemed very unlikely, given her rocky relationship with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who had risen to power in WWE over the previous decade, there is no doubt that her many legendary accomplishments were more than enough to warrant an induction. The support for her cause was actually so noticeable that Triple H addressed it on the Stone Cold Podcast, saying that while Chyna was definitely deserving of being a WWE Hall of Famer, her questionable career decisions, including her pornographic film career, made it hard for WWE to justify her inclusion at a time when they were portraying themselves as family-friendly. The fact that the WWE Hall of Fame includes convicted rapist Mike Tyson, alleged murderer Jimmy Snuka, and Hulk Hogan, whose racist statements and leaked sex tape were front page news in 2015, was not brought up. Source:

1. The Reconstruction Of Chyna

After returning to America, in the months before her sudden and tragic death, Chyna was actually filming a crowd-funded documentary titled The Reconstruction of Chyna, as part of an attempt to rebuild her reputation in the public eye. The film was apparently intended to look back at her life and wrestling career from her perspective, and was even backed by legendary wrestler Mick Foley, who had been a long-time friend of Chyna, with the trailer expected to be released in what turned out to be mere weeks after her death. While the documentary had not been completed at the time this article was created, it almost certainly will be, and promises to be a fascinating look at what has certainly been an incredible, if not always happy life, by anyone’s measurement. Perhaps it might even be a way for Joanie “Chyna” Laurer to finally receive her just due from WWE, and earn her a spot in the Hall of Fame. Source:

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.