Chyna was responsible for one of the most interesting World Wrestling Entertainment careers in history. She began her WWE career as a valet and also a bodyguard for Triple H, and nobody could have guessed, at the time, that Chyna would become a member of one of the most famous factions in all of sports entertainment. Regardless of what anybody may say on the matter, there is no denying that Chyna was an important member of the original edition of D-Generation-X. Chyna, along with Shawn Michaels and Triple H, changed the WWE for the better during the “Monday Night Wars,” and one could easily argue that the promotion would have lost that battle to World Championship Wrestling if not for that famous trio of performers.
It is also well known that Chyna experienced plenty of personal and professional hardships and setbacks over the past two decades. Chyna’s story unfortunately had a sad ending, as she passed away in April 2016 at the age of 46-years-old. One cannot help but wonder if things would have gone differently had Chyna avoided some of the mistakes that she made during and after her run in the WWE. Perhaps Chyna could have remained in the WWE up through the 2000s and eventually received a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame, an honor that Chyna deserved when she was alive. Then again, maybe Chyna was never a good fit in the WWE and in the pro wrestling world, in general. Whatever the case, it’s a shame that Chyna left us far too soon.
Any piece about alleged mistakes that Chyna made throughout her career would be lacking without mentioning that maybe Chyna would have been better off had she avoided the business entirely. We know that Chyna pursued several other careers before eventually landing a spot in a wrestling school. Fame, life in front of cameras and a career as a pro wrestler is not for everybody, and history has shown that some are not able to handle the travel, physical pain and stress that comes with working in sports entertainment. Chyna found plenty of success during her first several years in the WWE, but the cost of that success may not have been worth it to her in the long run. Per stories that Chyna spoke about and wrote about during her life, we know that she had her demons before the start of her WWE career. That does not, however, mean that pro wrestling and the WWE did not make life even harder for her.
The pro wrestling industry was different 20 years ago than it is today, as the WWE did not have a stranglehold on the North American business as it does in 2016. Back in the 1990s, WCW also existed as a legitimate company that provided performers a place to work and also solid pay. WCW expressed interest in Chyna before she ever worked for the WWE, but Killer Kowalski, who trained Chyna, pushed her to sign with the WWE. Had Chyna not taken that advice and instead signed for WCW, she likely would have been inserted into the New World Order stable. We can only guess what would have been for Chyna had she taken that career path. Looking back at all that happened during her WWE career, though, it could be said that her days in WCW could not have gone much worse, all things considered, than what she went through in the WWE.
13 Relationship with Triple H
The famous saying teaches that one should not mix business with pleasure. That was ultimately the case for Chyna as it pertains to her WWE career. While the heart wants what the heart wants, it is not a stretch to suggest that Chyna would have been better off professionally had she never embraced a romantic relationship with Triple H. Those of us who were not in the WWE locker room at the time likely will never know exactly what happened, but the perception is that the breakup of Chyna and Triple H began the sequence of events that caused her and the WWE to part ways. While performers such as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, The Ultimate Warrior and so many others were welcomed back by the WWE at different stages, Chyna never received that offer. Would her career have gone much differently had she simply remained friends with Triple H and other male members of the locker room? We can’t answer that for sure.
12 Going Over Male Wrestlers
There is no reason to believe that Chyna was going out of the way to make enemies within the WWE locker room when she accepted storylines that involved her wrestling and even defeating men. Chyna was merely attempting to further her career just as anybody else in her position would have done at the time. These types of matches helped Chyna get over with varieties of audiences, but they also made her unpopular among some of the male wrestlers on the WWE roster at the time. The WWE, per respected wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, eventually believed that a mistake was made in having Chyna beat men, and thus the company changed course and turned her back into a women’s wrestler. Looking back, Chyna beating men and holding the Intercontinental Championship did not do her many favors in that those victories did not earn her the type of money she hoped she’d make working in the WWE.
11 Money Demands
Chyna’s importance to the WWE during the 1990s should not be undersold, nor should it be overstated. Was Chyna a revolutionary who was a favorite among pockets of WWE fans throughout portions of the “Attitude Era?” Of course, and nobody can take that away from her or remove that from her legacy. Meltzer reported after Chyna’s death that she wanted to be paid a salary similar to what the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock were making when she attempted to negotiate a new contract with the WWE in 2001. No disrespect meant to Chyna, but she was not a draw to the same level of Austin and The Rock. Austin is the biggest single draw in the history of the company, and Rock remains a once-in-a-generation superstar who went on to become one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Chyna, on the other hand, never would have been in a WrestleMania main event.
10 Confrontation with Vince McMahon
Per the story that Meltzer wrote after Chyna passed away, Chyna confronted Vince McMahon at some point about Stephanie McMahon dating Triple H. The relationship between Stephanie and Triple H played out both in on-screen storylines and behind the scenes, and it had to be hard for Chyna to watch those events unfold. As understanding as one may try to be about the situation, Chyna had to have known that Vince was always going to side with his daughter regardless of what Stephanie and Triple H may or may not have done. Meltzer explained that the WWE stopped using Chyna after her supposed discussion with Vince McMahon. Thus, it can be said that Chyna confronting Vince was the unofficial start to the end of her WWE career. Many other things resulted in Chyna never being welcomed back by the WWE, but that conversation with Vince was a mistake and a decision that did her no good.
9 Her Book
It made perfect sense back in 2001 that Chyna would release an autobiography. Chyna remained popular and a public figure regardless of her relationship with the WWE, and thus she wanted to capitalize on that fame and make some money. If They Only Knew was a financial success, as it landed on the The New York Times’ bestseller list. That book did not improve her reputation with people in the wrestling business nor with some fans, though, as certain portions of the book made it seem as if Chyna was a bully and also somebody who believed she was a bigger WWE star than was the case. The WWE losing fans following the acquisition of WCW in 2001 was more so because of the burst of the “wrestling bubble” and with the WWE dropping the ball regarding the failed “Invasion” storyline than it was because Chyna disappeared from WWE programming and from the company roster.
Pro wrestlers are workers. It’s part of the business. There are multiple stories out there about the alleged lies and tall tales that Hulk Hogan has told over the years. One difference with Chyna, however, is that her stories have often involved the personal lives of people who work in the WWE and people who have relationships with individuals running the company (more on that later). These stories combined with Chyna’s well-documented issues with substance abuse painted a picture of a person who often seemed to be emotionally unstable. That, along with the next portion of this piece, likely has a lot to do with why the WWE never went out of the way to bring Chyna back before she passed away in 2016. Some wrestling fans believe the situation with Chyna, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon is why Chyna was never welcomed back. That may have had something to do with it, but the WWE had other reasons to remain distanced from Chyna.
Chyna was more than willing to accept a wide variety of interviews and other public appearances during the final 15 years of her life. There were, over the years, multiple occasions when it seemed that Chyna was not, to put it nicely, at her best during certain interviews. The stories that she told in the years after her WWE career, her performances in some interviews and allegations that she made about several individuals all created a perception that Chyna could not be trusted with a live microphone at an event such as a WWE Hall of Fame induction. Would Chyna have been on her best behavior had she received the honor that she truly deserved? Hopefully, but there was no guarantee that would be the case. That is the kind of risk that a billion-dollar company such as the WWE does not need to accept. It’s unfortunate things worked out as they did, but the WWE cannot be faulted for not welcoming her back.
6 TNA Wresting
Much has changed in the wrestling business over the past couple of years, thanks largely to the popularity of the WWE brand NXT. It is, as of June 2016, hardly a surprise when the WWE pursues and even signs talents who previously worked for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. AJ Styles, arguably the greatest worker in TNA history, is currently one of the top performers on the WWE roster today. That was not the case back in 2011 when Chyna made appearances for TNA. Back then, it was believed by fans and suggested by journalists that wrestlers signing with TNA would be spurned by the WWE for making that career decision. In fairness to Chyna, the WWE likely did not need any additional reasons to avoid having a relationship with her. Chyna going to TNA provided the WWE with additional ammunition whenever any fans would suggest that the company was being unfair in not signing Chyna to a deal that would include her having her night at a WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
5 Adult Films
Chyna absolutely had every right to pursue the career paths of her choice after her run in the WWE came to an end at 2001. One of those paths led to Chyna accepting roles in adult films. While there may have been a time decades ago when those running the WWE would not have cared about such a thing, the WWE is now very much so a PG organization. It is believable that Triple H, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and others would not want somebody who starred in adult films to be featured on WWE programming. The possibility exists that the company would not have given Sunny a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame had it been known ahead of time that Sunny would go on to be in adult movies. If being in adult films was not enough to close the door on Chyna returning to the WWE, there is one specific movie that likely locked that door for good.
4 Queen of the Ring
Fans upset that Chyna was never inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame before her tragic death should remember the Queen of the Ring movie. This adult film featured Chyna and also parodies of people such as Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H among others. Is it really surprising that the real people currently running the WWE would want nothing to do with this woman after that movie saw the light of day? Odds are that Chyna and the WWE would have never again had a working relationship had she avoided getting involved in adult films of any kind. This movie, however, was yet another nail in the coffin holding a WWE career that died back in 2001. Just as Chyna was well within her rights to accept this type of movie role, the likes of Vince McMahon and others within the WWE also cannot be blamed for not wanting Chyna to have any association with the company following Queen of the Ring.
3 Allegations Against Sean Waltman
Chyna said a lot of things about a lot of people over the years. One of the most damning allegations involved Sean “X-Pac” Waltman, who Chyna dated years after she and the WWE parted ways. Chyna basically accused Waltman of drugging and then sexually assaulting her, and she also accused him of releasing a sex tape that featured the two without her knowledge. Waltman has strongly denied these accusations and Meltzer reported that the former WWE superstar even threatened legal action over the matter. Accusing somebody of sexual assault is not some throwaway line that is part of an overall conversation. Doing so is downright disturbing if those allegations are false. Waltman has remained close with Triple H over the years, and both Waltman and Triple H were on the receiving end of accusations made by Chyna. Assuming that Waltman and Triple H are innocent of any wrongdoing, the stories Chyna told about those two were senseless and did not help her career one bit.
2 Confrontation with Triple H
Stories about what exactly happened between Chyna and Triple H at the funeral for “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in the summer of 2015 have varied per the person speaking. Meltzer took to the Wrestling Observer message board to explain that Chyna attempted to approach Triple H to apologize for things that had happened in the past. Triple H was apparently not all that interested, however, as Meltzer stated that the exchange between the two lasted about 20 seconds. There is a time and a place for a person to approach somebody from your past to have such a discussion. A funeral, let alone a funeral for a public figure such as Piper, was not the place. That Chyna used that opportunity may have been an additional turn-off for Triple H. As you will see in the final portion of this piece, Triple H did not need any additional reasons to want nothing to do with Chyna in 2015 or at any point in the future.
1 Allegations Against Triple H
Perhaps the worst thing that Chyna ever said about Triple H was her claim that he hit her while the two were dating. Triple H currently serves as an executive with the WWE as well as an on-air performer, and the WWE responded to these claims by releasing the following:
“The false statements and reckless allegations Joan Laurer (aka Chyna) continues to make about a physical dispute are a complete fabrication. As I’ve said in the past, while Joan has had significant struggles in life, this does not justify making such claims.”
Regardless of any and all personal problems Chyna dealt with during the final 15 years of her life, she had to realize making this claim about Triple H would be the final blow that buried her WWE career for the rest of her life. Whatever may or may not have happened with Chyna from 2001 up through the spring of 2016, we hope that she found the peace she seemed to lack for many years.