Throwback Tribute: Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer (1969-2016)

April 28, 2016 by Brock Allen

WWE Network Throwback Thursday - Logo

Long before WWE’s “Diva’s Revolution” or the Four Horsewomen of NXT, one woman single-handedly changed the role of women in wrestling from eye-candy to bad asses. Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, who passed away last week at the age of 46, shattered barriers and re-wrote the rules for women in wrestling.

To honor the life and legacy of one of wrestling’s true pioneers, Throwback Thursday on once again turns Throwback Tribute as we take a look back at some of Chyna’s greatest moments and matches, with the help, as always, of the WWE Network.

Chyna Tribute on WWE Network
WWE - Chyna with Intercontinental Championship Belt

Trained by the late “Killer” Kowalski, Joanie Laurer very nearly signed with WCW before the WWF finally stepped up. Laurer made a memorable debut at In Your House 13: Final Four on February 16, 1997, joining forces with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, a partnership that went far beyond the ring and would help make Laurer a superstar.

“8-Person Intergender Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH)
D.O.A. (Skull & 8-Ball) & Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) w/Sunny vs. D-Generation X (WWF European Champion Triple H, Chyna, & WWF Tag Team Champion Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) w/X-Pac
WWF Monday Night RAW #258 ? May 4, 1998 (TAPED: April 28, 1998)

Chyna’s in-ring TV debut marked the first match featuring the entire “new” DX. Chyna’s timing and skill were on full display in this match, proving the “Ninth Wonder of the World” was anything but the typical female valet/manager. Chyna’s showing in this match added a depth to DX that raised the stature of the faction to new heights.

“10-Person Corporate Rumble: Winner Enters 1999 ‘Royal Rumble’ At #30” (WATCH)
Special Guest Commentator: Shane McMahon
Featuring, in order of entry: WWF Intercontinental & Tag Team Champion Ken Shamrock (Corporation). Billy Gunn (DX), WWF Tag Team Champion The Big Boss Man (Corporation), Test (Corporation), WWF European Champion X-Pac (DX), WWF Hardcore Champion Road Dogg (DX), Kane (Corporation), Triple H (DX), Mr. McMahon (Corporation), & Chyna (DX)
WWF Monday Night RAW # 294 ? January 11, 1999

WWE Network - Chyna Wins Corporate Royal Rumble

While Chyna made history as the first woman to compete in the “Royal Rumble”, it was this match that put the “Ninth Wonder” in the “Rumble”. A classic example of Attitude Era WWF, this match made a bonafide superstar out of Chyna, whose pop on this night was second only to Stone Cold Steve Austin.

— “Intergender Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:19:03)
Special Guest Commentator: Shane McMahon
The Corporation (Kane & Chyna) vs. D-Generation X (Triple H & WWF European Champion X-Pac)
WWF St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House 27 ? February 14, 1999

One night after making history in the 1999 “Royal Rumble”, Chyna turned on DX and joined The Corporation. It was a week later, during a “Steel Cage Match” between Triple H and Kane on the February 1st edition of RAW, that X-Pac and Chyna’s interference set the wheels in motion for this match. While this match wasn’t quite a classic, it marked the arrival of Chyna as the alpha female of the WWF.

Quarter-Final Match of the 1999 ‘King of the Ring’ Tournament (WATCH – 30:52)
Chyna w/Triple H vs. Road Dogg
WWF King of the Ring 1999 ? June 27, 1999

WWE Network - Chyna vs. Road Dogg, King of the Ring

After reuniting with Triple H at WrestleMania XV, Chyna continued to be one of the centerpieces of The Corporation. In June, Triple H gave up a spot in the ‘KOTR’ tournament to go after the WWF title, giving the spot to Chyna. Chyna defeated Val Venis on the June 6th edition of Sunday Night Heat (currently unavailable on the Network) to become the first woman to ever qualify for the tournament. This match was the longest and arguably best of the tournament matches that night.

“No Holds Barred Falls Count Anywhere Triple Threat Number One Contender’s Match for the WWF Championship at SummerSlam ’99” (WATCH – 1:26:17)
Special Guest Referee: WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels
Special Guest Commentator: Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura
Triple H vs. Chyna vs. The Undertaker
WWF Monday Night RAW #324 ? August 9, 1999

After Triple H took WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin out earlier in the night, WWF Commissioner Shawn Michaels turned the anticipated Triple H/Undertaker/Austin main event into a Number One Contender’s match, replacing the injured Austin with the “Ninth Wonder of the World” Chyna. In an exciting brawl Chyna would become, for the moment, the number one contender. Though Chyna would lose the contendership to Mankind a week before SummerSlam, history was already made.

WWF Intercontinental Championship – “Good Housekeeping Match” (WATCH – 40:39)
Chyna vs. Jeff Jarrett(c) w/Miss Kity
WWF No Mercy 1999 ? October 17, 1999

WWE Network - Chyna vs. Jeff Jarrett, Good Housekeeping Match

This match is as famous as it is infamous. Jarrett, whose WWF contract actually expired the day before the PPV, allegedly held Vince McMahon up for a hefty payday to drop the title to Chyna and prevent another “Madusa incident” on WCW TV. For many years the backstage drama overshadowed the very real history that Chyna made by becoming the first and only woman to win the prestigious Intercontinental Championship.

WWF Intercontinental Championship (WATCH – 1:17:13)
Chris Jericho vs. Chyna(c) w/Miss Kitty
WWF Survivor Series 1999 ? November 14, 1999

A month after defeating Jeff Jarrett, Chyna entered the ring with Chris Jericho, who was determined to restore “dignity” to the Intercontinental title. One of Chyna’s greatest matches, this vicious, personal story not only elevated both wrestlers but the Intercontinental Championship as well.

WWF Intercontinental Championship – “Mixed Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 25:20)
Eddie Guerrero & Chyna vs. Val Venis(c) & Trish Stratus
WWE SummerSlam 2000 ? August 27, 2000

WWE - Chyna Gorilla Press Slam to Trish Stratus

One of Chyna’s most enduring angles was the “Ninth Wonder’s” partnership with the late Eddie Guerrero. “Mamacita” and “Latino Heat” took the WWF by storm in the summer of 2000, reaching their zenith in this match. Chyna’s second and final Intercontinental Championship win ended Val Venis’ second reign at 54 days. Chyna would end up losing the title to Eddie Guerrero a week later on the September 4th RAW in a “Triple Threat Match” (also involving Kurt Angle) that spelled the beginning of the end of the Chyna/Guerrero saga.

WWF Women’s Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:16:42)
Chyna vs. Ivory(c)
WWF WrestleMania X-Seven ? April 1, 2001

After Chyna appeared in the November 2000 issue of Playboy The Right to Censor made it their mission to take Chyna out, nearly doing so with a viscous assault on the December 11, 2000 edition of RAW. Chyna “re-aggravated” the injury at the Royal Rumble in a Women’s title match against RTC’s Ivory, keeping the “Ninth Wonder of the World” out of the ring until WrestleMania. This match, Chyna’s 2nd and final WrestleMania match, was to be the start of Chyna’s Moolah-esque dominance of the Women’s division, it instead turned out to be Chyna’s pro wrestling swan song.

WWF Women’s Championship (WATCH – 1:01:02)
Lita vs. Chyna(c)
WWF Judgment Day 2001 ? May 20, 2001

WWE - Chyna & Lita Hugging, Chyna's Final Appearance

After WrestleMania X-Seven Chyna worked Trish Stratus and tags with Lita against Ivory and Molly Holly en route to this title match with Lita. This match was supposed to be the beginning of a larger angle in the Women’s division, but turned out to be Chyna’s final appearance ever in the WWF, grinding the Women’s division to a halt for nearly 6 months. Ever the pro, even with an uncooperative top Chyna never lost a step.

Final Thoughts

A pioneer, an innovator, a trailblazer, Joanie Laurer didn’t just shatter wrestling’s “glass ceiling”, she nuked it. Nothing like Chyna had ever hit the scene before and likely never will again. Chyna wasn’t just a “ladies wrestler” and she sure as hell wasn’t a “diva”. Chyna was one of The Boys; a bad ass; a legend; a Hall of Famer. No matter what happened to Joanie Laurer post-WWF, nothing can tarnish the legacy of one of the most important and popular stars of the Attitude Era. sends our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Joanie Laurer. Rest in peace.

WWE - Chyna & Eddie Guerrero Celebrating
Chyna Tribute on WWE Network

That’s all for this week’s TBT – thank you for reading! Are you subscribed to the WWE Network? If so, check out these classic Chyna matches and moments, or discover them for the first time, and help celebrate the life and legacy of a true wrestling pioneer.

And on the subject of Chyna and the Network, reported earlier today that the service is about to add a new Chyna-themed Collection, so look out for that.

Until next week, see ya at ringside!

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7 Comments left on this article...

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  1. James says:

    I wonder when WWE will release a Chyna DVD… I think its long overdue… Also Beth Phoenix getting into the HOF before her is BS… Chyna needs to be in the hall and a nice 3 disc set of her career.

  2. Joe Young says:

    Chyna’s favorite match was against Jarrett and I can see why after watching The Good Housekeeping match. It was a really fun brawl that the crowd was into.

    Also, Double J didn’t hold up anybody. He was stiffed on his pay by McMahon and was getting back the $300,000 that they owed him. It was similar to what happened with The Ultimate Warrior.

  3. Brad Attitude says:

    Wasn’t Chyna born in 1970?

    • Brock Allen says:

      Every reputable source has the year at 1969. TNA is getting some heat from IWC for using the 1970 date in their graphic for Chyna. I can tell you I looked into the year of her birth more than any other thing for this article, and more than a few times at that. I could find no reputable source stating the year at 1970. In the beginning I found a site listing the birth date as 1972. Either way, I honestly believe it’s 1969. Thanks for reading.

  4. Anan says:

    As accurate a list as any as a tribute to Chyna. Well done 🙂

    DOA/LOD vs DX – Don’t really remember this match to be honest so not really sure why X-Pac wasn’t in the match, but feel if he was, Chyna would not have been.

    Chyna vs Road Dogg – This was a clear illustration of Chyna being a trailblazer for women in the industry. First entering the Royal Rumble, then the KOTR tournament, both thought to be “men’s only” before Chyna entered them and apparently since then too (the only exception to this is Beth Phoenix entering the Rumble that one or two years.)

    Taker vs HHH vs Chyna – When I first saw this, I thought the men would dominate the woman. Glad that wasn’t the case. She didn’t win the match, but this further demonstrated that she could hold her own in a wrestling ring with men.

    Chyna vs Jarrett – A woman wins the IC Title, yes!

    Chyna vs Jericho – Seeing this match on the list made me wish Jericho was able to have Chyna on his podcast or better yet, on his short lived WWE Network podcast. Had WWE answered Chyna’s call, it’d pen the possibility of Chyna be on Jericho and/or Austin’s Network podcast, Legends with JBL, etc .

    Eddie & Chyna vs Val & Trish – By this time, Eddie was a proven (in WWE) in ring great, people knew the talent Val Venis was, everyone knew what Chyna was all about and Trish was starting to show her in ring talents too. What resulted was a great tag match on one of my favorite Summerslam events.

    Chyna vs Ivory – Wasn’t much of a match. Really just a squash. Unfortunately, the last WM for Chyna.

    Chyna vs Lita – Unfortunately, the last time under the WWE lights for Chyna. But I enjoyed the match.

    • Brock Allen says:

      Thank you, Anan. I was struck by the fact that her WWF career was just about as long as Goldberg’s entire career in WCW & WWE and that Chyna’s legacy is truly just now being felt. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • aag44 says:

      I watched the 1998 episode of Raw with the 8-person tag recently on the Network. I can’t 100% recall the kayfabe reason why X-Pac didn’t wrestle, but I think it was DX just being rebellious and pulling a fast one on WWF officials.

      In real life, though, if I remember correctly, X-Pac returned to the WWF in ’98 with an injury. Thus, while he was on screen a lot, he didn’t actually have a match until either May or June 1998.

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