There are several performers that were vital to the growth of women’s wrestling but few are as important and well-known as Chyna. With what would have been her 52nd birthday this week, it’s important to honor everything she did in the ring and the path that she helped carve during the Attitude Era.
Chyna was different from other women of the era, and being different has its challenges. She didn’t fit Vince McMahon’s mold of women at that time, and Mr. McMahon was hesitant to share a contract with her despite Shawn Michaels and Paul “Triple H” Levesque. In an era where bra and panties matches were norms for women’s wrestling, Chyna’s presence made people stop and pay attention to what she was doing in the ring.
Chyna was a major free agent with both WCW and then WWE making a play to sign her. It would be McMahon that made the best offer, bringing her into the company, but it wasn’t a quick push to the main event. She made her TV presence during In Your House 13: Final Four on February 16, 1997, where she choked Marlena while Goldust was in a match with Triple H. That was just the moment needed that would catapault her career to becoming the icon she was for most of her tenure with the WWE.
She is a series of firsts, the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament. Chyna became the first female to become the number one contender for the WWF Championship. Jeff Jarrett decided to talk her down, but little did he know that The Ninth Wonder of the World would take him down and become the first and only 2-time Women’s Intercontinental Champion. She is the first woman to enter a Men’s, Royal Rumble. Not only was she the first, but she was booked as a believable threat along the way.
She is also the WWF Women’s Champion once in her career and was posthumously given a place in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2019 alongside her fellow DX members. The Trailblazer still awaits her induction as a solo WWE Hall of Famer, which is an accolade she deserves and fans want to see.
Her impact on professional wrestling goes well beyond the WWE and it’s important to recognize what she’s done to help set the path forward for many of the women’s wrestlers that are seen on television today.