When I was a kid, 80’s pro-wrestling was filled with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Lex Luger, Kerry Von Erich, Jerry Lawler and so many other amazing superstars who drew large crowds to the arenas for sold out matches and drove up Pay Per View buy rates. When it came to the female wrestlers, names like Wendi Richter, Fabulous Moolah, Jumping Bomb Angles, Sherri Martel and Rockin’ Robin were used as special attractions, and Richter was one of the first non-valets used as eye candy and a role model for young woman around the world as she gave it her all in the squared circle even becoming the Woman’s Champion. By the early 90’s, female wrestlers in the WWF were becoming respected by the fans. Many amazing talents were competing like Alundra Blayze and Luna Vachon, and they paved the way for the likes of Sable, Lita, Trish Stratus, Ivory and the one who made a major impact in female wrestling, the 9th Wonder Of The World Chyna! Wrestling fans in the Attitude Era enjoyed Chyna as she broke the boundaries of what a female wrestler was supposed to be and even was a manager and a role model for young women the world wide. Love her or hate her, Chyna was a major player for WWE in the Attitude Era, and it’s my pleasure to talk about her on this Rotten Ink update. So get a ring side seat as we are going to take a look at the life, career, death and comics of the one and only Joanie “Chyna” Laurer.
Joan Marie Laurer was born on December 27th 1970 in New York and had a rough childhood after her parents separated. Besides moving a bunch, she also had three different stepfathers and no stable life. Joan learned how to play cello and violin and developed an eating disorder as a teen! Joan and her mom had a falling out, and she moved to Spain with her father and finished school there. She went to the University of Tampa and graduated in 1992 and joined the Peace Corps and even was stationed in Guatemala. Back home, she took a few weird jobs like a waitress in a strip club and a phone sex operator for a 900 number line! But in 1995, she found her calling in life, to be a Pro Wrestler. She was trained by the legend Killer Kowalski and started working the independent wrestling scene under the name Joanie Lee. In 1996, while at a independent wrestling event, she met WWF Superstars Triple H and Shawn Michaels who wanted her to come to the WWF and become their bodyguard for DX. At first Vince McMahon was not hip to hiring her until he heard WCW was thinking of bringing her in to be a member of the n.W.o and this made him hire her. She started in 1997 as Triple H’s manager and bodyguard before DX was formed. She spent the next years helping HHH and HBK win matches. Her main move was the low blow, and she was the muscle that helped back up DX’s mouths. She would be the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble as she drew number 13 in 1999 while in DX. She would later turn on Triple H and DX and join Kane and Vince McMahon who at the time was feuding with DX and would jump back to DX and then turn on them again this time with Triple H as they joined The Corporation a group of “company” guys that was being lead by Vince McMahon.
After a while The Corporation split up, and Chyna went her own way leaving Triple H behind as well. She was the first female to enter the King Of The Ring tournament and also was able to earn a spot for a run at the WWF Championship that she sadly lost when she lost to Mankind. She would go on to a feud with Jeff Jarrett for the Intercontinental Championship and would also gain a valet Miss Kitty during this time. At No Mercy in 1999, she won the belt form Jarrett and became the first and only woman to win this belt! She would go on to wrestle Chris Jericho to defend the belt and would lose and win back the belt during this feud. At one time, the two had to be shared champions as they both pinned each other at the same time! After losing the belt to Jericho again, she would move onto teaming with Jericho for a short time before moving onto the next chapter of her WWF career.
In 2000 she would go on to manage and team with Eddie Guerrero who would call her his “Mamacita” and the pair would go onto have a weird angle with the Intercontinental Championship after Chyna won it again after beating Val Venis and Trish Stratus in a intergender tag match at SummerSlam. But she would lose the belt two weeks later in a triple threat match against Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle when Eddie picked up the win! The pair split later in 2000 when she caught Eddie in the shower with two other women! From there, she would go onto have a program with Ivory who was a member of the Right To Censor group who were upset over Chyna posing for Playboy Magazine. She would win the Women’s Championship from Ivory at Wrestlemania X-Seven and would defend the belt later against Lita. Chyna won the match, but this proved to be her final match in the WW. She vacated the belt after being taken off TV and was later let go from the company after she had a breakdown in her personal life when she found out her boyfriend Triple H was having an affair with the owner’s daughter Stephanie McMahon! 2001 was the end of Chyna’s WWF run ,and sadly she would never come back to the company and this also was the end of her major wrestling career.
In 2002, Chyna would show back up in wrestling as she appeared in New Japan Pro Wrestling refereeing and even wrestling a few matches including against Masahiro Chono with her final match for that company being a tag match were she and a Fake Great Muta lost to Hiroshi Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenzo Suzuki. She started with them in 2002 and also ended her run in 2002 giving her less than a year with the company. She took many years away from the ring, and in 2011, she showed up in TNA where she was the associate to Kurt Angle and entered one battle royal and only had one major match with them as she teamed with Angle to take on Jeff and Karen Jarrett. Chyna got the win when she made Karen tap out. This was the final match Chyna would ever wrestle and sadly, both runs in New Japan and TNA were both very short and no other federations wanted to take a chance on her like Ring Of Honor. So while her time in the world of Pro Wrestling was pretty short, she was a trend setter as she was the first female to be Intercontinental Championship, be in the Royal Rumble and King of The Ring as well was the WWF Women’s Championship showing that she was a true WWF Superstar. Sadly on April 20, 2016 Chyna was found dead in her home in California at the age of 46; the cause of death was an overdose of alcohol and anxiety drugs.
Chyna’s biggest Wrestlemania match was at “Wrestlemania X-Seven” where in a squash match she defeated Ivory for the WWF Women’s Championship! The lead up for this match has Ivory, who was a member of the group Right To Censor, trashing Chyna for being in Playboy Magazine and even having Ivory beat Chyna at the Royal Rumble as she injured her neck causing her to lose the match. This rematch was hyped as Ivory made Chyna sign that if she hurt her neck again, the 9th Wonder Of The World could not seek legal action and the rest of Right To Censor was banned from ringside. The match would have Chyna dominate Ivory and “Chynabomb” her, only to raise Ivory at the two count to press her over her head with a massive slam and then go for the three count that had Chyna win the WWF Women’s Championship! This match showcased that Chyna was a force to be reckoned within the women’s division and that she could bounce back from a injury and take the biggest prize in the company for the female wrestlers at the time. This match only also helped seal Chyna’s popularity as Ivory was a major heel at the time who was loud and annoying trying to tell the WWF Universe what they should watch and like. While the match was super quick, it just showed you how powerful and popular Chyna was in the WWF.
Besides being a wrestling superstar, Chyna also appeared in TV shows as well as movies! She appeared in such shows as 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Howard Stern Show, Fear Factor, Hollywood Squares, Robot Wars: Grand Champions 2002, The Surreal Life, My Fair Brady, Larry King Live, Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and Celebrity Boxing where she took on Joey Buttafuoco and sadly lost to the scumbag. She also starred in some low budget films like Just Another Romantic Wrestling Comedy, Alien Fury and Illegal Aliens. She was on reality shows like Cristina’s Court where she went up against a dog breeder. While Chyna never made it in Hollywood and many of her appearances on TV were in bad lights from Rehab to Boxing a convict for low pay, she will best be known for playing Officer Janice on 3rd Rock From The Sun in a total of 3 episodes. While she made cameo appearances in many other shows, she just never was considered a great actress but she was always well liked by her fellow actors.
2004 marked the downfall of Chyna’s wrestling career and the birth of her becoming a full fledged porn actress after Red Light District Video bought the rights and released a homemade porn she had made with her then boyfriend X-Pac that was called “1 Night In Chyna” and this made her become an in-demand actress in such titles as “Another Night In China”, “Backdoor To Chyna”, “Chyna Is Queen Of The Ring”, “Avengers XXX: A Porn Parody” where she played She-Hulk and her last adult film was “She-Hulk XXX that was released in 2013. Many could say that she got her first taste in the world of adult entertainment when she posed nude for Playboy in 2000 and again in 2002. Many people have a theory that her adult film acting is what has kept her from going into the WWE Hall Of Fame, and while this I am sure is partly true, I am sure her odd and erratic behavior, her drug abuse, her outspoken nature and history with Triple H are also major factors on why she is not in. Say what you will, but Chyna should be in the Hall Of Fame as she did lots for the women division in WWE and made her mark on the world of Pro Wrestling. Oh yeah, and do you like the Little Roddy Piper heads I used to cover her naughty bits?
Chyna has had her fair share of amazing merchandise like all great Wrestling Superstars of the past and still to this day have. She has graced T-shirts, posters, mugs, magazines, VHS tapes, books, action figures, video games, DVDs, valentine cards, trading cards, dinner plates, photos, stickers, comic books and so much more! She was one of the first female wrestlers I could think of who had so much merch that she rivaled some of the bigger male superstars in just the sheer amount the WWE made with her image. It’s crazy to think about just how much they pushed Chyna and how fast they dropped her and down played her impact in the WWE after she was upset over Triple H and his affair with Stephanie McMahon. After her release no other merchandise was made nor was she signed to a Legends Deal. Growing up a wrestling fan (keep in mind way before the Attitude Era) I did have much of Chyna’s merch from DVDs, VHS, magazines, her book and video games, and if your wondering, I did indeed have the Playboy of her in it as a friend of mine got it for me as a gift cause he thought it was funny! So I am sure if you loved wrestling in the late 90’s and 2000’s you owned something that had Chyna’s image.
Speaking of video games, I am a mark for buying wrestling games and have picked up every WWE game when released, many of the times even special ordering it so that I could get it on day of release! Chyna has been in many of the games with her first being “WWF Attitude” that was released for N64, Dreamcast and Playstation in 1999. She would also appear in “WWF Wrestlemania 2000” for the N64 in 1999 putting her in two games in the same year. In 2000, she would be in “WWF Smackdown!” for Playstation as well as “WWF No Mercy” for the N64 with her final game, also released in 2000 when Playstation delivered us gamers ,“ WWF Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role”! I owned all these games and while she was in them, I never really remember playing her against friends or the computer as while I enjoyed her in ring work, I was still more into playing as wrestlers as The Undertaker, Essa Rios or Bret Hart. I do however remember my friend Jason Gilmore playing as her in No Mercy and Attitude and being pretty good with her tossing opponents around. So did or do you own any of these games, and do you find yourself playing as Chyna?
So as you can see in her short wrestling career that really only lasted from 1995-2002, Chyna made a major impact and broke the mold of what a female wrestler should be as she won belts held by only male wrestlers up to that time, was the first ever female to enter the Royal Rumble and was a role model for young girls who wanted to be a pro wrestler. She was not a “Diva” and while not ground breaking in the ring, she could hold her own with both females and males in matches. She also broke the mold of women wrestlers at the time having to be super model looking and embraced the fact that she was different and sent the message out for anyone to be who they are. I know that she had many surgeries to make her appearance more feminine after “fans” claimed she looked too much like a man, but that was in real life that she felt the need to change for society to accept her, while her character was more confident in who she was. With female wrestling being very big in the WWE right now with talented wrestlers like Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Naomi and so many other top notch ladies on the roster, all I am sure look at Chyna, Trish Stratus, Ivory and Lita as the performers who paved the way for “Divas” to become wrestlers.
So now that we chatted a little about Chyna and who she was, I am sure many of you friends and readers are remembering her career in wrestling while others who didn’t watch wrestling are learned a little about her and I hope want to learn more. I would suggest reading her autobiography book called “If They Only Knew” if you do want to know more about her. So now it’s time to take a look at the comic series of Chyna that was done by Chaos Comics starting in 2000 and had two one shot issues that make up the series. I want to thank Lone Star Comics and Game Swap Kettering for having these issues in stock. The Ref just walked by and wanted to tell us these rules “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So lets get our ring side seat and see what Chaos Comics has to offer to the legacy of Chyna and her comic book series.
Chyna # 1 **
Released in 2000 Cover Price $2.95 Chaos Comics # 1 of 1
Chyna arrives in Chicago just in time to save Jamie Banks, a young girl who is being kidnapped by masked members of The Death Cult! Chyna uses her fighting ability and takes out the masked goons and meets her father Elliot Banks who wants to hire Chyna as his and his daughter’s bodyguard as he claims that he has very powerful enemies. She decides to take the job and becomes close to Jamie but soon finds that Elliot is nothing more than a rich scumbag. The Death Cult leader Kassandra is upset and sends more troops to the Banks Mansion, and while Chyna deals with them, others come in and kidnap Jamie! Elliot orders Chyna to go save his daughter, and Chyna does as she asked not for money but for Jamie and soon finds out that the reason The Death Cult has kidnapped the young girl is because Elliot screwed them on an illegal weapons deal and they have been priming Jamie into being unwilling killer as her Nanny was a part of the cult! Chyna fights tooth and nail as they take Jaimie back to her father who is given a speech to his backers and just as his young daughter is about to stab him Chyna appears beats up Kassandra and saves the day and warns Elliot to get out of the arms business and be a father or she will kick his butt! Chyna then takes Jamie home to put her to bed and so ends this action adventure of Chyna.
This is a fun and yet kind of bland action comic to feature a WWE Superstar that is not a bio comic but an adventure one that takes Chyna out of the ring and into a battle with a cult. The story has Chyna as a bodyguard to a crooked rich man and his daughter who have crossed paths with a evil cult on a deal gone bad. So the cult wants revenge and has a plan to brain wash the daughter into killing her dad, and Chyna must stop this from happing. Chyna comes off cold as ice and uncaring for human life besides that of the young girl whom she has started a bond with. She is skilled in hand to hand combat and seems to have the power and strength of Hercules as she can toss around many grown men at the same time. So her powers are being cold and strong and have no real personality as she is a woman of few words. Elliot Banks is your typical sleazy corrupt businessman who deals in firearms and don’t care who he hurts or rips off as he thinks money can buy him out of any trouble. Jamie Banks is just a nice young girl who is stuck with a terrible father and has no one to really watch after and is being used to be a killing machine thanks to a cult…wait, is she the female Michael Myers?! The Death Cult and their leader Kassandra are many but seem to be easily beat by one woman…so how dangerous are they really? This comic is a good read but really does lack a solid plot and at no time did I feel Chyna was in trouble nor did I feel that she was all that likable as a comic hero. The cover I have is a photo one and is cool if you’re a fan of Chyna. The interior art is good and done by Eddy Barrows who does his best at trying to capture the look of Chyna. Over all, there’s not much to say besides this is a mediocre comic based on a one time super popular wrestler. So let’s move on and see what Chyna II has in store for us.
Chyna II # 1 **
Released in 2001 Cover Price $2.99 Chaos Comics # 1 of 1
Chyna is at a party and saves a woman named Shelly Marko from a hit that was placed on her by a crime lord Nicky Decampo as she is going to testify against him in court. After she saves her, the police hire Chyna to get Marko to the district attorney so that they can bring Decampo down. Chyna and Marko begin their quest and along the way they find out that some of the cops are dirty and been paid off and that they have been tracking them via Marko’s cellphone. Once into town and after beating up some bad guys, Chyna soon finds that she has been set up as Marko is really there to kill the district attorney and that she herself is to be killed! After Chyna makes short work out of the assassin she is also able to stop Marko from killing the district attorney as it has been a double cross as Chyna knew she was being set up and was hired by the district attorney who knew the hit has been placed on her.
This is another Chyna is a badass bodyguard comic adventure and this time has her acting as a double agent as the bad guys think they have tricked her into helping them and really she is working with the good guys in order to set up them up! Much like the other issue this comic just really is a basic plot with over the top action and one liners that brings us readers a mediocre adventure. Chyna in this one is snarky and a woman of few words besides some terrible lines she delivers to come off tough. Chyna in this one as well is super powerful, has the skill of s stuntman and the wit and smarts of a trained military leader. Shelly Marko is a sneaky young woman who at first comes off as a scared witness who wants to do the right thing, but really is a cold hearted woman who really wants to help her crime lord friend and is willing to kill many to do it. The rest of the bad guys are useless and get knocked around like a crash test dummy. Sadly I can see why this comic series based on Chyna only lasted two issues with both being first issues as it offered nothing new and really fells like a generic comic that you could have added any character into the role of Chyna and it would not have mattered. The comics didn’t capture the nature of Chyna, and I get they were trying to play up on her bodyguard role for Triple H and DX, it’s just they didn’t get her attitude and over all personality right. The cover on Chyna II that I own is the photo cover and I must say that it looks more like a workout video pose and not a pro wrestler one! Mike Deodato Jr. did the interior art and it’s pretty good and in many panels he did a great job of capturing Chyna’s look. Over all this wrestling comic series is mediocre at best and while enjoyable for the most part, I really wish they would have brought a little more of a wrestling theme to this comic series and maybe even added Miss Kitty as a sidekick. Check out some art from this comic series to see what Chyna looks like as a comic book character.
So while Chyna’s time in the world of comics might not have been as memorable as her time in wrestling, she still was able to get her time at being a comic hero. Cool thing is in the coming years, we will be taking a look at more Chaos! Comics based on WWE wrestlers like The Undertaker, The Rock, Mankind and Stone Cold Steve Austin and we will see if these comics hold up to what I remember or if they will be mediocre adventures like Chyna’s was. But our next update will take us out of the ring as we will finally make our way to The Mummy’s Tomb and talk all about the Universal Monster series and the Dark Horse Comic adaptation. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a local wrestling match or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update.