Some of my first memories of professional wrestling involved Chyna. I remember her going toe-to-toe in the ring with men, some of whom were much larger then her. She had it all, the physique, the ability, the charisma and the fans, including 8 year old me, loved her.
She was a trailblazer in an industry, which at the time was more used to women as valet’s and arm candy than wrestlers. Chyna wasn’t having any of that. When she debuted in 1997 to help Triple H beat Goldust, she was his bodyguard, not arm candy.
Over the years Chyna went on to break barriers for women in wrestling paving the way for both the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita and Ivory who followed her to the women of the current revolution in women’s wrestling including four horsewomen.
Chyna was so popular in the Attitude Era that WCW went as far as making their own version of Chyna, a muscular female named Asya (basically Asia). In 1999 it was even rumoured that Vince McMahon contemplated making Chyna the World Champion for a while.
With that being said, its a shame that she was shunted out of the WWE after her relationship with Triple H ended when he left her to date Stephanie McMahon. Even recently, Triple H defended WWE’s decision to not let Chyna into the Hall Of Fame because of her career in adult films even though she was beloved.
However, the fact that Chyna did adult films shouldn’t be a factor because she was a trailblazer in the wrestling industry. She was a role model to young girls and women showing them that they were equal to men.
In this article, I take a trip down memory lane and bring you Chyna’s 5 best WWE moments.
5: Her debut
Like most beloved characters in wrestling, Chyna’s debut was memorable.
She debuted at In Your House: Final Four as Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s (Triple H) enforcer following HHH’s match with Rocky Maivia (The Rock), which Goldust and his valet Marla interfered in to help Rocky win. Chyna came out of the crowd to attack Marlena and choke. Chyna was escorted away by security guards who had to break Marlena free from her chokehold.
Chyna made her Raw debut the night after, once again attacking Marlena, this time with a vicious bear hug. Once again security had to interfere and break the hold. Chyna would later go on to be a part of the first incarnation of DX with Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
4: The Corporate Royal Rumble
At the beginning of 1999, Vince McMahon’s faction, The Corporation, was in the middle war with DX. On the 11th January, 1999, edition of Raw, Vince McMahon announced that the #30 entry of the 1999 Royal rumble would be decided later that night in a corporate royal rumble between members of DX and The Corporation.
Vince McMahon came out as a secret entry at the end of the match and eliminated the Big Boss Man and Triple H who were busy trying to eliminate each other. Just when Vince thought he’d won, Chyna came out as the last member of DX.
After taking out Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, she eliminated Vince with a little help from Stone Cold Steve Austin and making her the first woman to qualify to appear in the Royal Rumble.
3: First woman to enter the Royal Rumble
Chyna broke a lot of barriers for women in wrestling. She stood tor-to-toe with men and got rid of gender division, even it was just for a bit. In 1999, she became the first ever woman to enter the prestigious Royal Rumble match.
Even though Chyna only lasted in the match for 35 seconds before being eliminated by Stone Cold, the moment was historic. Before Chyna, a woman entering the Royal Rumble was unimaginable.
This was one of the highlight’s of Chyna’s career and probably one of the best days of her life.
2: First woman to enter the King Of The Ring tournament
Chyna was a trailblazer. She shifted people’s perceptions about women in wrestling. Following her ground-breaking entry in the 1999 Royal Rumble, she created a new record later in June that year by being the first woman entering the King Of The Ring tournament. She beat Val Venis in the first round before losing to Road Dogg in the quarter-finals.
Even though she didn’t manage to win, just her participation in the tournament, renewed interest in the King Of The Ring concept which had been getting stale. If WWE had let Chyna progress a little more in the tournament she could have become an even huger star.
Side-note: Later in 1999, Chyna also became the first woman to ever be in a #1 contender’s match for WWE Championship.
1: First woman to be Intercontinental Champion
Clearly Chyna’s done a lot of firsts for women in wrestling. Although her entering the Royal Rumble and King Of The Ring were historic, no moment in her career was as important to wrestling history as when she defeated Jeff Jarrett to become to first woman to hold the prestigious WWE Intercontinental Championship.
She had been feuding with Jarrett for months. and her final victory over him for the championship were important to women everywhere as Jarrett had been playing a very sexist character at the time. The title match itself was a ‘good housekeeping match‘, which was in tune with Jarrett’s kayfabe character at the time.
Side-note: Jarret’s match with Chyna where he lost his championship was his last match before his move to WCW. He had forced Vince McMahon to give him $300,000 the night before the pay per view ‘in order to lose the title cleanly to a woman’.