Why did Chyna leave WWE?
Even in an industry as mired in as much controversy and backstage politics as Professional Wrestling, there is perhaps no more tragic a story than that of former WWF Women's Champion Chyna. Her narrative follows a very familiar pattern of initial greatness and 'top of the world' success before a dramatic fall from grace following a series of personal demons and old-fashioned bad luck.
For many fans who got to see Chyna's in-ring career, she lies very much within that elite group of people who highly deserve a place in the WWE Hall of Fame but will likely never receive the accolade.
From a personal perspective, Chyna deserves to be considered as one of the WWE's greatest ever personas. Even in the controversial era of mid-90s America, she was an innovator, redefining the role females played in the world of Sports Entertainment. As the company was looking to claw back control of the ratings from WCW with the arrival of the Attitude Era, women were slowly being pigeonholed into sexualised supporting roles with no hope of being taken seriously inside the ropes.
As soon as Chyna appeared on the scene, as part of a feud between Triple H and Goldust, nobody dared doubt her abilities as an athlete and as a wrestler. She would go on to hold the Intercontinental Championship and become the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble. The sight of her taking on male competitors in one-on-one action or as part of the original DX stable never looked unrealistic and for the most part, the crowd would always embrace her as a real force to be reckoned with.
There is much speculation and rumour about Chyna's departure from the company back in 2001, mostly because the players involved, including the woman herself, have never been fully consistent as to what transpired. That being said, here is an approximation of the facts. The rest, presumably, is left to personal opinion.
Chyna's Departure in 2001
Following her successful stint as part of DX and her IC Championship reign, Chyna became involved in a popular storyline involved Eddie Guerrero. The pair were portrayed as onscreen love interests, facing Val Venis and Trish Stratus at Summerslam 2000. After the pair split up, Chyna wrestled her final few matches in 2001, winning the Women's Championship and officially ending her time with the company after retaining against Lita at Judgement Day.
The most collaborated version of Chyna's departure story revolves around an inability to meet mutually favourable contract conditions with the WWF. In the company's eyes, Chyna was an important part of their mid-card division and nothing more. According to various sources, she did not see things this way, claiming that she belonged on the same level as top main event talents like Stone Cold and The Rock and thus deserved the kind of contract that reflected this.
By this time, Chyna had also gone through quite a dramatic image change, going from a masculine, a-sexual bodyguard to a more feminine sex symbol who occasionally modelled for Playboy. This meant that other avenues were being created and as such, she did not have to rely solely on the WWF for work.
Jim Ross claims that part of the breakdown in contractual discussions was that Chyna wanted to be free to pursue other ventures such as acting and modelling. According to this version of events, the decision was made in fairly amicable terms, leaving both parties pretty much content.
There is also a darker version to Chyna's departure that relates to her real-life relationship with Triple H and its subsequent breakdown. The pair parted ways around the same time as Triple H began dating Stephanie McMahon. According to Chyna, Triple H had been cheating on her with Stephanie and therefore felt like a very isolated victim, unable to argue her case in a family owned business of which Stephanie was, of course, an integral part.
Chyna has given two contradictory interviews about this time of her life, originally stating that her relationship with Triple H played no part in her decision to retire. But in 2015, shortly before her death, she claimed that Vince McMahon had faxed her back in 2001 claiming that she was no longer needed, thus precipitating a rather unceremonious parting of ways between employee and employer.
The most recent reference to Chyna's current status in the eyes of the WWE came during Triple H's interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin on his podcast. While appearing hurt and upset at Chyna's death, the COO indicated that due to her history in the porn industry, she would never receive her place in the Hall of Fame and could not be considered part of the WWE family going forward.
Whatever the case may be, Chyna's exit from the WWE was soaked in the kind of controversy that also followed her around in her everyday life. Now that she is no longer with us, the full truth may never come out as to what happened back in 2001.
As fans, we are left with the task of trying to remember her as the great performer who could take on the best the company had to offer, which is the least she deserves.
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