Volume Five, Chapter Eight: The Prince of Chyna Memorial Pancake Breakfast, Part One- Ms. Laurer
On April 21, 2016, the world stopped talking about which side to face their $20 bills… in 2020. That same day, people stopped announcing which toilet they should or do use.
That was the day people mourned two of the biggest innovators of their respective fields. Both were notoriously eccentric, revolutionary, and now gone seemingly way too soon.
Prior to February 1997, women in wrestling either competed against each other, or interfered for their man, with the occasional bump from an opponent.
Joanie Lauer, as Chyna, was the not just the mere eye candy/mean woman like Sensational Sherri Martel. She actually competed with men in major matches.
Chyna peaked right as the WWF was becoming THE wrestling company, so such creative booking could be done. And her role in the beloved “Attitude Era” was pivotal.
Physically, she got some work done to look more feminine, but was also taken seriously enough to be in the Royal Rumble, and get the Intercontinental Championship.
Her feud with Chris Jericho for the belt was one of the most fun angles of 1999-2000. But such novelty, even with the WWF at a peak, could only last for so long.
By 2001, Chyna’s real-life relationship with Triple H was crumbling, and Vince McMahon now wanted her to be the Women’s Champion. She was not happy with either situation.
She wound up being released by the WWF that year, and for the next 15 years, the world was privy to one of the saddest downslides this side of Whitney Houston.
She got heavily into drugs, made an infamous porn flick with X-Pac, and made the bitter ex-wrestler talk show rounds after the Benoit murder/suicides.
She had some brief career revivals and highlights. She went to Japan to teach, had cups of coffee with TNA and New Japan Wrestling and was a fairly popular YouTube host.
Joanie Laurer admitted publicly the body-shaming of her youth, the break-up with Triple H at her peak, and the drug abuse plagued her. It finally took her on April 20. She was 45.
When she debuted as Chyna, nobody could have guessed what a revolutionary figure in sports entertainment Joanie Laurer would be.
Sadly, a decade later, the end was all too clear.