Attitude Era icon and occasionally controversial media personality Joanie “Chyna” Laurer shuffled loose the mortal coil on April 20th, 2016 at the age of 45. While her cause of death remains officially unknown as of this writing, the odds that she lost a well-publicized, ongoing battle with substance abuse seems likely. If this is indeed the case, it places her on a tragically growing list of wrestling greats who were taken too soon by drugs, also including “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, Eddie “Umaga” Fatu, Axl Rotten, and too many others to name here.
But Chyna left a legacy totally incomparable to any other pro wrestler and perhaps going beyond that, a legacy unlike any other professional athlete or celebrity before her. From one perspective, Chyna was a groundbreaking figure in the WWE - who accomplished feats in the company no other women had or has since. From another perspective, she was a casualty of a celebrity culture that props people up, often for dubious reasons, and tears them down, sometimes for equally dubious reasons. Plenty of wrestlers become famous, some become legendary, but Chyna was relevant.
In the years preceding her death, fans and Chyna herself petitioned for her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Popular wisdom indicated that her history with Triple H, who she was once in a serious relationship with, and Stephanie McMahon, who Triple H allegedly left her for, precluded any chance of that happening. Rumor has it, there also may have been some concern about Chyna’s ability to deliver a Hall of Fame induction speech without showing up too drunk and/or pilled up to remain coherent, or perhaps more pertinently, what she might say during such a speech should she have the opportunity to deliver one.
Or maybe WWE just used that as an excuse to keep Triple H and Stephanie McMahon happy.
However, as wrestling fans, our obligation is not to preserve the squeaky clean image WWE wants to project in order to sell more TV shirts to children. Our obligation is to cheer when things we want to happen happen, boo and/or post snarky comments on the internet when things don’t go out way, and, when we really have a good reason, our obligation is to riot. What follows is a list of reasons why if Chyna is not inducted into the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame, we should all start breaking windows and looting stores, preferably in the vicinity of the building formerly known as Titan Towers.
15 15. Chyna’s HoF Induction Would Probably Annoy Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
At this point in their lives, things are going pretty well for Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. They’re poised to take over a multi-million dollar company when Vince McMahon either retires or dies. They’ve got daughters who will be WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions for life when they grow up. Trips is an Infinity-Time World Heavyweight Champion. Isn’t it high time those two were taken down a peg?
14 14. Without Chyna, There Wouldn’t Be a Triple H
Paul Levesque was certainly no slouch when he first debuted as “Hunter Hearst Helmsley” in 1995. But there had been plenty of other snobby rich guy characters before and he didn’t have the charisma to make his iteration of the archetype memorable or unique. Trips wasn’t remotely interesting or different until the amazonian Chyna arrived as his new valet. Without the 9th Wonder of the World, Triple H may have never risen up the WWE ranks and, today, he might be remembered mostly as Shawn Michaels’ onetime close friend.
13 13. Chyna Was A Legit Crossover Star
The WWE very much wants its stars to succeed in mainstream entertainment, for obvious cross-promotional reasons. But how often has a former WWE standout retained any of their notoriety after they’ve flown out of Vince McMahon’s proverbial nest? The Rock pulled it off. So did Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Then there’s Batista, who will stay in the public eye for as long as Marvel keeps making Guardians of the Galaxy films, CM Punk if he can hold his own in UFC, and aside from Chyna, that’s about all.
12 12. Hypocrisy
When asked on a Stone Cold Podcast if Chyna deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, Triple H famously said Yeah, but “I’ve got an 8-year-old kid, and my 8-year-old kid sees Hall of Fame, and my 8-year-old kid goes on the internet to look at Chyna. What comes up?”
The answer is “Well, a lot of stuff,” but we’re pretty sure Trips was referencing Chyna’s forays into adult entertainment. As Jezebel pointed out, Triple H’s 8-year-old could just as easily google her dad’s old buddy X-Pac, who appeared at WrestleMania 31, and co-starred in the 9th Wonder’s inaugural 'tape', 1 Night In Chyna. Trips’ daughters could also look into Snoop Doggy Dogg, a class of ‘16 inductee, and director of the wildly successful adult film Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle.
11 11. Chyna: By Default, The Best Live-Action She-Hulk of Her Generation
Sadly, Marvel has yet to produce any female-led additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of films. But if they plan to continue releasing two or three new movies every year indefinitely, eventually, they’re going to have to when they run out of male characters who haven't already had their own movie!
We’ll probably get a Captain Marvel flick first, but somewhere off in the distance of the 2020s, there’s a definite She-Hulk movie, or at least a Netflix series, in the works.
10 10. Why Is Chyna’s Adult Entertainment Career a Bad Thing?
In 2006, 1 Night In Chyna was the year’s best-selling adult entertainment video featuring a celebrity. Six years later, Backdoor To Chyna won Best Celebrity Tape of the Year at the AVN Awards. Before that, she posed nude in Playboy twice (and WWE certainly didn’t try to keep that quiet).
9 9. Corporate Damage Control
8 8. It’s Probably What Eddie Guerrero Would Want
7 7. It’s Probably What Mick Foley Wants (Or, at Least he’d be Cool With It)
6 6. They Let Jimmy Snuka In When It Was Common Knowledge That He Killed Somebody
Back in 1986, police found Nancy Argentino - “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka’s girlfriend - dead in his motel room, with multiple cuts and bruises. Inexplicably, Snuka faced no charges until 2015. During the years in between, he engaged in his legendary feud with Roddy Piper, was the first ECW Champion and, of course, was induced into the WWE Hall of Fame, class of 1996. All the while, it was more-or-less common knowledge that he allegedly beat his girlfriend to death years prior, though he was removed after he was formally charged.
5 5. The Real Reason Why She Was Originally, Supposedly Kept Out No Long Matters
If we’ve determined that her side-career in adult entertainment either wasn’t or shouldn’t have been the real deal killer, then what other legitimate reason was there to keep Chyna out of the HoF? She claimed WWE owed her royalties and obviously had a rocky history with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. But let’s not forget The Ultimate Warrior got inducted despite a much nastier track record with dealing with his former employers. So if the real problem was simply that WWE didn’t trust her to make a speech without embarrassing herself or the company, tragically, that’s no longer an issue.
4 4. Chyna Was a Better Wrestler Than Sable
3 3. Maybe Calling Attention to Wrestling’s Drug Problem Would Be A Good Thing?
2 2. Wrestling Fans Need a Real Reason To Riot
1 1. Chyna Was The First Person To Do A Whole Bunch of Stuff
Chyna was the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament,the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble, the first woman to be the number one contender for the World Title, and the first female Intercontinental Champion. She remains the first and only woman to accomplish all of those feats - except for the Royal Rumble thing, as of Beth Phoenix’s participation in 2010, and Kharma’s in 2012.
And if all that wasn’t enough, she’s also the only former WWE Intercontinental Champion to win an AVN award. Plenty of wrestlers have made 'tapes', but Chyna was actually good at it.
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