To little girls all over the world, Chyna was a super powered woman—someone who could hack it with the boys and keep them in their place. She beat world champions, never listened when someone told her no, and she was a fierce, severe, strong character who pushed through glass ceilings like they weren't even there. To women who watched wrestling, she became an icon—a star—someone we wanted to be like. She inspired us to be strong and fearless and to take every opportunity given to us, whether it was done with honesty and integrity, or the sneers of a man who thought we were no competition.
Chyna changed the sport of wrestling for the better, giving us a woman who could be respected in her own right, could and did keep up with the boys, and held herself to the highest standard available - her own. That she's the only woman to have ever held the Intercontinental Title - and she technically held it three times, even if WWE only acknowledge two - and she also held the Women's Championship, to have fought against the men and beaten them soundly. In a time when WWE was a sexist mess of bra and panties matches, women wrestling in mud and jello, and never being taken seriously. She should have been a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, much like fellow wrestler Sunny, who was inducted in 2011.
As part of D-Generation X, on-screen she was seen as one of the boys, one of the gang, and it was heartening see a camaraderie build up between the group. She was an enforcer, a bodyguard - her strength was never forgotten about or left unmentioned. One of the few women to compete against the men, she was tough and brutal, the first woman ever to enter the Royal Rumble, and an incredible women who paved the way for those who came after her. So why isn't she in the Hall of Fame?
Aside from Playboy covers and centerfolds, which were, at the time, encouraged by the company, Chyna moved into adult films in 2004, starting with the now-infamous One Night In China, where she and then-boyfriend Sean Waltman - X-Pac - filmed themselves in a variety of scenes. Laurer left the company in 2001, in part, she always said, because of the relationship between Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, as Chyna had previously dated the man who is now the heir to the whole business. When spoken to about her entrance to the Hall of Fame, Triple H said that the reason she wouldn't be included was because of her adult entertainment work, in case a child who knew nothing about her Googled her name and came across her pornographic work.
Now, let us not forget that Sunny went on to do adult work after she was already in the Hall of Fame. Let's remind ourselves that Shawn Michaels, who once posed nude but for the belt for - of all things - Playgirl, will no doubt be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and that Chyna's ex-partner X-Pac will no doubt go in there too, despite his part in their 2004 sex tape. The Fabulous Moolah, who by all accounts pimped out young female talent after getting them hooked on drugs, is in the Hall of Fame. So, too, is Jerry Lawler, who was accused of rape of a minor, though the charges were later dropped. As is Donald Trump.
The feeling is certainly that Laurer was snubbed for the Hall of Fame not necessarily because of her sex work, but because she was a strong, highly-visible woman and that she was using her body and her sexuality to her own ends, rather than for anyone else. The company doesn't seem to have a problem with Lita, who had a live sex celebration with Edge in 2006, where one of her breasts was clearly visible on screen. It certainly feels like the boys' club didn't like Laurer because she worked in adult entertainment on her own terms, that she shouldered her own career, and that she remained a well-known and treasured name within the wrestling industry, despite leaving their company.
Right up until her death, Laurer and her supporters were campaigning for her space in the WWE Hall of Fame, but she was continuously snubbed by the company, locked out of her legacy, and kept away from the business. X-Pac has a Legend's contract, meaning his image rights and naming rights are owned by the company, and he has to do a few appearances a years, despite the sex tape with Laurer and the domestic abuse history between the two of them. Chyna never came back as a legend, never took the younger talent under her wing, never helped get the new girls over. Instead, she was abandoned, left outside the wrestling world, and exiled.
This is why it hurts those of us who followed Laurer's life and her career to see the company heads coming out on Twitter and stating their respect and sadness at her death. To see them making this a PR stunt wounds us, like it would have wounded her, that these people cared nothing for her, her legacy in wrestling, or how she was until it was too late. Twitter is ablaze with speculation that Chyna will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year, and it's all so desperately sad, and makes me utterly furious that something she wanted so badly, that was denied her, will likely be handed over posthumously, when it's too late to mend any fences. In summation, I think my tweets from my personal Twitter said it all, and as such, I'll leave you with those.
We'd love to hear some of your fondest memories of Chyna's in-ring work, so drop us a line in the comments, and help us to remember her the way she should be thought of.