Joan Marie Laurer aka Chyna was born on December 27, 1969 in Rochester, New York. Chyna was a professional wrestler, bodybuilder, model and author. Chyna debuted as a wrestler in 1995. However, she would get her rise to stardom when she signed with WWF now WWE in 1997.
She was known as the “Ninth Wonder of the World” and held the WWF Women’s Championship once. She also held the WWF Intercontinental Championship twice. She was the only woman to do so. Chyna was also the first woman in the Royal Rumble and the first to be in the King of the Ring tournament.
Chyna was also the first woman to become the number one contender for the WWF championship. She was one of the founding members of DX (D- Generation X) as the first woman enforcer.
Chyna left WWF in 2001, but also made some appearances with TNA and NJPW. Her last match was in TNA in 2011. I believe she was the only woman to wrestle in New Japan Pro Wrestling at the time.
Chyna was in Playboy twice and did some reality shows such as The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. While she struggled over the years, Chyna was one of the most dominant women of all time in WWE. She was put in the 2019 WWE Hall of Fame as a member of DX (being the first woman to be inducted as part of a team).
Chyna unfortunately passed away at the young age of 46, in Redondo Beach, California on April 17, 2016 from an accidental drug overdose.
Vice Versa Documentary
In the very first scene of the documentary, we see Chyna in Japan. She lived there for 3 years by that time. She, along with her management team was starting a documentary project called The Reconstruction of Chyna. This was supposed to be her detailing her way back to America and getting herself together. However, as the documentary was never finished, this is the footage used for Vice Versa.
Chyna says the happiest she been was when she was training as Joanie Lee in 1995 with her trainer Killer Kowalski. She wanted to be an actress, but saw wrestling on TV around the time. That was when she decided to go to Killer Kowalski’s school to train. She always wanted to be an inspiration to girls who didn’t quite fit in.
Chyna did start dating Triple H, but as he developed a relationship with Stephanie McMahon, she was left in the cold and very hurt. The fact that she also went from beating up men to having matches with women disappointed her as she felt it was a step backwards for her.
One of her runs included the team up with Eddie Guerrero which happened to me one of my favorite pair ups of all time.
She left WWE and then began the erasure of her. They show clips of Triple H making comments about her porn history and saying how it looks bad on the company or having to explain to his children about Chyna’s actions.
Erik Angra (director) and Anthony Anzaldo (manager) were the ones handling the documentary and you could see there as she slowly starting spiraling. Her problem with drugs and alcohol and her being very depressed. They also talk to people like Vince Russo, Mick Foley, Billy Gunn and X-Pac as they discuss different aspects of her life.
By the end of documentary, they show Chyna’s last footage of her answering questions a bit agitated, but asking for help. She was clearly tired of her life and heartbroken. This footage was from April 3, 2016. Chyna would pass way on April 17, 2016.
Watching this documentary was extremely hard for me. I’ve been a fan of Chyna as a child, loving her dominant she was and her she did so in such a larger than life way. She was bad a** and amplified that every time she took steps in the ring. While, I know some complain about how she wasn’t that great in the ring, my response to that was at the time she didn’t need to be super athletic. She was there to be dominate. To be a showcased superstar and that she was.
Watching those around her partying and treating her like she was just a paycheck with no concern for her and her health bothered me. It made me wish that I knew her just so I could be a friend and give her the help she needed. It was especially hard watching the last footage of her doing the interview and she was asking for help. She asked for it so many times and all they cared about was filming. They didn’t care about her in the slightest.
I felt her mother failed her as well. She said she was hurt, but she also didn’t seem like she tried hard enough to find her daughter and help. Yes, I’m aware some people are harder to help than others. But as a parent, the whole way her family seemed just rubbed me the wrong way because it felt like they just gave up on her.
Another thing that annoyed me were the Triple H comments. Personally, I thought his comments were absolute nonsense as if X-Pac who is a 2 time Hall of Famer wasn’t in a porn movie with her. Or the countless others who made it to the Hall of Fame with shady actions and backgrounds. I think Triple H just felt a way because of Chyna’s public statements about him.
I also truly felt sickened by her manager Anthony as I felt he was using her. It was in the way he talked. It was in the way he handled things. At no point did he manage her career properly. It was disgusting. The director Erik was no better saying in the documentary he did drugs with her to share something with her. His comments afterwards seemed so dimissive.
VICE is known for the series Dark Side of the Ring which has stories that are difficult to watch. While this wasn’t part of that series, this too was hard to watch and made me sad for Chyna. Sad that she was unhappy for such a long period of time. There were moments where Chyna was talking and she seemed almost childlike and in a way that was sad too. She just wanted to be happy. She most certainly felt alone and the ones around her didn’t seem to care about that too much.
I do hope that WWE will include Chyna one day in the Hall of Fame by herself as she was a trail blazer and opened the door for the different types of women seen in wrestling today.