Chyna: If They Only Knew Book Review | Smark Out Moment

Chyna: If They Only Knew Book Review

Posted by Ross K Foad Sunday, July 6, 2014
Joanie Laurer Book Triple H WWE Autobiography Mick Foley
Released in 2001 during the heyday of her WWE career, Chyna's "If They Only Knew" book details the Diva of D-Generation X's early life and the rough road she took to get to the ring.

For most wrestlers, it would seem a little premature to write an autobiography on a wrestling career this early on (I'm looking at you Batista). But Chyna's journey and career was anything but ordinary.

She was the first woman to ever enter a Royal Rumble, the first and only female Intercontinental champion, and how many women can say they have battled the likes of The Undertaker, The Rock and Stone Cold? (His exes don't count).

It was only in the latter stages of her WWE career that she actively entered the WWE Women's Division,  which unsurprisingly, she dominated.

At 316 pages long, the book is spread across 13 chapters. There is a decent amount of photographs scattered throughout, both from her early years and courtesy of WWE. The book also contains some guest writing segments from Triple H and Mick Foley.

No Mercy 1999 Jeff Jarrett Chyna Miss Kitty Good Housekeeping Match
Chyna details her early years from childhood to late teens, with memories of her chaotic upbringing in a fair amount of detail. It is interesting, if not a bit depressing. Her relationship with her mother was far from picturesque.

Chyna does not hold back in expressing her dislike for her. With the stories she tells, it is not hard to see why. From her mother forcing her into a drugs rehab clinic (despite the tests coming back negative), being banished from the family home, to chasing her down the road in a car minutes after Chyna had awoken from abdominal surgery, it definitely paints a picture.

It is fair to say the happy childhood memories are few and far between in this book. The handful there are mostly come from the complex relationship she had with her father (now estranged). But be ready for some melancholic reading for the majority of the early part.

The book is fairly devoid of wrestling talk until we reach the point she is in her early 20s. She accounts a tale of seeing wrestling on TV one night and deciding she could do that. This ultimately leads her to getting into Walter "Killer" Kowalski's training school.

It is here where Chyna obviously feels she has hit a turning point. The writing becomes slightly less bitter (but only slightly), and it has some fonder memories such as humorous stories about Kowalski's cheapskate nature, and his impossible to understand accent.

She talks in far too little detail about her independent circuit days, and as a result, we do not get the full feel of the struggle she no doubt endured. A few more road stories and bookings of who and where she fought would have been nice here. Before too long, she has met Shawn and HHH by chance, shown off her portfolio, and is in WWE.

Triple H HBK Rick Rude Attitude Era Chyna WWF European Champion Two Words
Once we reach the point she is actually in WWE, there is sadly scant detail of her DX days in 1997-1999. Things like HHH taking over as the leader of DX and Owen Hart's death, even the Montreal Screw Job don't get a look in! Given her relationship with Triple H and Shawn Michaels, she must have had some insight.

Moving into late 1999/2000, aside from the coverage of the Jeff Jarrett/IC feud, it too feels a little brief. Surely, there were more key moments here she could have spoken about, as well.

Thankfully, there are mentions to her onscreen relationship with Eddie and the Mama Cita angle, but this too is devoid of detail. It also has no real sense of chronological order to it. Given how large a part of her work this was in 2000, it would have been nice to have had more depth here. But it is disappointing to learn how little sentiment or interest she places on the angle; that it was just another job to her.

Those looking for dirt, gossip and a deep insight on her thoughts about certain wrestlers are also going to be a tad disappointed. Triple H, Mick Foley, Jeff Jarrett and Vince McMahon are those who get the most attention, but most only get a brief passing mention.

In both Bob Holly and Jericho's autobiographies, it is clear they did not think much of her. Jericho despised working with her in the co-champion story line (which is not even mentioned here), and found her very difficult to work with. But what about her side of the story? We may never know. Possibly being released while still under contract limited her speaking out on this, but it is still a shame all the same.

Sadly, a lack of going into detail is not just reserved for the wrestling sections though. For instance, she mentions how her father made her join the Peace Corps, gets deployed abroad, hates it, and then returns home — all within the space of a paragraph. Want to know about the time Chyna went through the FBI recruitment process? Well you are in luck! It's all here — all half a page of it.

Another failing of the book is her WWE research. It is is spotty at best when it comes to dates and the finer details. She claims when she arrived, Kane was wrestling in the WWE as The Dentist. As many will know, he was in fact Issac Yankem DDS, whose gimmick was a dentist. It is a minor niggle, but something trivia buff WWE fans will pick up on.

Half-complete stories, poorly executed chronological order, and a lack of factual context aside, what really disappointed me was how bitter she seems throughout it (be warned she swears a lot). She does goes out of her way to say how grateful she is to Vince McMahon, but the overall tone does not resonate this. It is hard to enjoy tales of her experience, when she hardly seems to be enjoying it herself.

Ivory Steven Richards Goodfather WWE Val Venis RTC
I love wrestling autobiographies. The best of them illustrate never giving up, believing in yourself and achieving dreams against all odds. This book should have been able to make me feel that; she had the potential tools and story to do so, but her execution of it makes it a let down.

"If They Only Knew" what Chyna? How terrible the book is? How disappointed they will be after they read it? How bitter you can be?

Come on Chyna. This could have been "so much more than that".

HIGH SPOTS
  1. Learn something of her backstory
  2. Detailed information on the Jeff Jarrett story line
  3. Amusing tales about Kowalski's training school.

LOW BLOWS

  1. Lack of information on key moments of the attitude era
  2. Incorrect wrestling trivia.
  3. If you liked her before, you may not now.
  4. Hops between chronological order in a confusing manner.

CRITIQUE RATING SCALE: 1-COUNT (Kick Out)

Have you read this book? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section down below.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ROSS K. FOAD

Ross K Foad is a writer, actor, YouTuber and founder of the Sherlock Holmes website No Place Like Holmes. He has been a published writer since age 13 with a comic strip in a regional newspaper and a wrestling fan since the Rock 'n' Wrestling era. You can follow him on Twitter

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