Joan Marie Laurer (December 27, 1970 - April 20, 2016) was an American actress and retired professional wrestler. A former bodybuilder, she is best known for her career with the World Wrestling Federation from 1997 to 2001, where she was billed as "Chyna: "The Ninth Wonder of the World" (with the eighth wonder being André the Giant).
World Wrestling Federation Edit
D-Generation X (1997–1999) Edit
Laurer made her WWF debut on February 16, 1997 at In Your House 13: Final Four; her character emerged as a plant from a ringside seat, choking Marlena while Goldust was in the ring with Triple H, establishing herself as a villainess. Her original role in the promotion was as the laconic enforcer/bodyguard for Triple H and later, his D-Generation X group (which included Sean "X-Pac" Waltman). She often helped Triple H (then, a rising villain) cheat to win by physically interfering in matches by executing her trademark low blow to the groin. She was later introduced as Chyna, a play on words; fine china is delicate and fragile, which was a sharp contrast to her character. Off-screen, however, the male wrestlers were hesitant at first to let a female over-power them on-screen.
On January 25, 1999, Chyna was the 30th and final entrant in the Royal Rumble match, becoming the first woman in history to ever enter the Rumble match; she was eliminated by Steve Austin. The following day on Raw, Chyna became a villainess by betraying Triple H and aligning herself with his enemy Vince McMahon and Kane. Chyna laughed evilly and stated that she joined The Corporation for fame and money, and continued to taunt Triple H after her villainous turn. Chyna teamed with Kane at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre pay-per-view in a victorious effort against former DX allies X-Pac and Triple H. At WrestleMania XV, the evil Chyna turned on Kane in his match by helping Triple H defeat him, appearing to rejoin DX. Chyna and Triple H, however, turned against DX later that evening when they helped Shane McMahon defeat DX member X-Pac. The duo then became part of The Corporation (and later, Shane McMahon's Corporate Ministry). Following the dissolution of the Corporate Ministry, Chyna remained at Triple H's side.
Intercontinental Champion (1999–2000) Edit
In June 1999, Chyna became the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament. She was also the first female to be the number one contender for the WWF Championship, but lost the spot to Mick Foley before SummerSlam in August. Later that year, Laurer became a fan favorite again during her long feud with Jeff Jarrett. At Unforgiven, she had a match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship against Jarrett, which she lost. She defeated Jarrett for the title at No Mercy in his last WWF match, a Good Housekeeping match, on October 17 at No Mercy, in the process becoming the only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship. She also gained the services of his valet, Miss Kitty. Laurer claims that Jarrett demanded (and received) $300,000 from Vince McMahon in order to lose the title cleanly to a woman. His contract had expired on October 16, and he was therefore not contractually obligated to appear on the pay-per-view. If he had not appeared, the WWF would have been criticized for false advertising, and the lineage of the title would have been broken.
Chyna then feuded with Chris Jericho over the belt, defeating him at the Survivor Series, but losing the title to him at Armageddon. The two faced off again in a match on the December 28 edition of SmackDown!, which ended controversially with both wrestlers pinning each other. As a result, then "head of authority" Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley declared them co-champions. At the Royal Rumble, Jericho and Chyna defended the title against Hardcore Holly in a Triple Threat match to determine the Intercontinental Champion, which Jericho won. Afterwards, Laurer briefly teamed with Jericho.
Eddie Guerrero; Women's Champion (2000–2001) Edit
Chyna turned into a villainess on the April 3 edition of Raw, when she attacked Chris Jericho and caused him to lose the European Championship to Eddie Guerrero. Shortly after her heel turn, the villainous Chyna claimed that she sided with Guerrero because she couldn't resist his "Latino Heat." Guerrero and Chyna, originally villains, later became fan favorites during the summer of 2000, with Guerrero dubbing her his "Mamacita". The couple faced Val Venis and then-rookie Trish Stratus in an intergender tag team match at SummerSlam with the Intercontinental Championship on the line. Chyna won the match, but lost the belt two weeks later to Guerrero in a Triple Threat match with Kurt Angle. They officially split in November 2000 after Chyna, in storyline, found Eddie cavorting in the shower with two other women.
At the same time, Laurer posed nude for Playboy magazine's November 2000 issue. Her Playboy modeling was also worked into a WWE storyline, in which it drew the ire of the Right to Censor (a group of morally conservative and self-righteous wrestlers). Shortly after, Laurer began a feud with Ivory, a member of the Right to Censor, over the Women's Championship. This culminated in a storyline at the Royal Rumble where Laurer appeared to reinjure her neck while performing a handspring back elbow. In order to better convince the audience that she was injured, color commentator Jerry Lawler left the commentators' booth and entered the ring to check on Laurer's condition, something he had not done since the in-ring accident that killed Owen Hart in 1999. When Laurer returned from the "injury", she won the Women's Championship from Ivory atWrestleMania X-Seven in a squash match, a short match where one performer defeats the other with ease. Laurer also defended her title against Lita at Judgment Day in 2001. Although she won the match, she soon vacated the Women's Championship, as this was Laurer's final WWF match. The relationship between Triple H, her former real-life boyfriend, and Stephanie McMahon (with whom Laurer claims he had an affair and then left her for), was a major factor in her departure. She left World Wrestling Federation on November 30, 2001, several months after she had been taken off of television. Jim Ross later claimed that she was not fired, but rather chose to leave for personal reasons.
Independent circuit and New Japan (2001–2004) Edit
Laurer's in-ring career after WWE was limited. In 2002, Laurer joined New Japan Pro Wrestling and made her first appearance at the New Japan Thirtieth Anniversary Show, refereeing a bout between the Steiner Brothersand Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kensuke Sasaki. In September and October 2002, she wrestled four matches for the promotion. After losing to Masahiro Chono on October 14, 2002, Laurer performed her final match on October 26, teaming with the Fake Great Muta in a loss to Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenzo Suzuki. Laurer also was scheduled to appear with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, but she did not appear due to having pneumonia.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2011) Edit
During the May 3, 2011 tapings of the May 12 edition of Impact!, Chyna made her TNA debut as Kurt Angle's business associate and tag team partner at Sacrifice, where they will face Jeff Jarrett and Karen Jarrett. Also during the taping, Chyna also took part in a battle royal, from which she eliminated Jeff. At Sacrifice, Chyna and Angle defeated Karen and Jeff, when Chyna made Karen submit for the victory. Chyna would leave TNA shortly after her appearance at Sacrifice.