Chyna Did Not Have A Lasting Impact On WWE's Women's Wrestling
On April 6, 2019, at a jam packed Barclays Center filled with long time fans and WWE superstars from the past and present, decked out in expensive designer suits and elegant dresses, we saw legends take their rightful place inside the hallowed halls of WWE’s Hall of Fame. The evening was capped off by the induction of Degeneration X, highlighted by a mixture of over the top comedy antics and some serious, emotional speeches. Of the six stable members who got inducted, it was the one who got inducted posthumously that caught my attention most. While she unfortunately could not attend that night, her former stable mates took it upon themselves to pay tribute her. Triple H said how fitting it was that the woman who had more impact than any other woman in WWE history was being inducted on the night before the first women’s main event in WrestleMania history. And while I do agree that Chyna was a true star in WWE and is more than deserving of a spot in the Hall of Fame, I believe she had little impact on WWE’s Women’s Division.
For a woman in pro wrestling, what Chyna accomplished is outstanding. She had a body builder physique that was comparable to many of her male counterparts. She body slammed Bart Gunn, slammed a steel cage door on Mankind’s head, threw around Marlena like she was nothing… in short , she warranted her moniker of “The 9th Wonder Of The World”. When she began regularly competing in matches against male wrestlers, it looked 100 percent believable, something previously unfathomable for a woman in wrestling. Her biggest highlight was capturing the Intercontinental Title in a “Good Housekeeping Match” from Jeff Jarrett in 1999. Yes, she is the first female Intercontinental Champion.
But as of today, she is the ONLY female Intercontinental Champion. She did not open the door for other women in WWE to regularly have matches with male wrestlers because it’s not something we see regularly. It only happens on rare occasions, like when Beth Phoenix and Nia Jax entered the male Royal Rumble Match, or the times when Ronda beat up Triple H. I think it’s safe to say that neither Nia, Beth, Charlotte Flair, or even Ronda Rousey will be challenging Fin Balor for the Intercontinental Championship anytime soon. Chyna winning the IC belt was incredible, but to this day no other woman in WWE has replicated that accomplishment, and it doesn’t look like it will happen again anytime soon. To be fair, Jaqueline did win the Cruiser Weight Title, but that too was, and still is, extremely rare.
Did Chyna influence other women’s wrestlers? Were there women who, when they signed up for wrestling school aspired to be like Chyna? That’s entirely possible. But there have been hardly any women in WWE who had Chyna’s most unique attribute, her body builder physique. Besides Nicole Bass, who accomplished little in her brief run in WWE, Vince McMahon hasn’t hired any women who were obvious steroid users and had physiques comparable to Billy Gunn. Some women were noticeably more muscular, like Jazz, Beth Phoenix, and Ronda Rousey. But nothing close to Chyna or Nicole Bass. Chyna’s look is not something that has been duplicated by WWE’s Women’s Division, and I don’t feel she has been influential in that area.
Now, women’s wrestling in WWE has improved leaps and bounds over the last few years. I hear some people say Chyna laid the ground work for women in WWE to be taken more seriously as wrestlers, and that Becky, Charlotte and Ronda never would have main evented WrestleMania had it not been for the contributions of Chyna so many years ago. Again, this is something I disagree with entirely.
While Chyna was competing against male wrestlers in believable matches, she was not helping the women’s division to be taken more seriously. In fact, it was a complete joke at the time. Sable, Debra, The Kat, an elderly Fabulous Moolah and Harvey Wippleman (go on Wikipedia and read about that one) were all Women’s Champion while Chyna was battling it out with the men. In fact on her last night co-holding the Intercontinental Title with Chris Jericho, the Women’s Champion was The Kat, a model who didn’t know a wrist lock from a wrist watch. While Chyna was throwing Vince McMahon over the top rope and exchanging punches with Road Dogg, X-Pac, Jeff Jarrett, Chris Jericho, Bob Holly and other mid-carders, Sable was defending the Women’s Championship against opponents who would be harshly punished if they got any bruises on her face.
Going into the Royal Rumble in 2001, Chyna started a feud with Ivory and officially entered the female division. Here was her chance to make the most impact she could for that division, because, you know, she was now actually a part of it. While Chyna did not capture the Women’s Title from Ivory at the Royal Rumble that year, she did win it from her in a squash match at WrestleMania 17. She successfully defended the title 2 pay per views later against Lita, and after that night she was taken off WWE television. Through no fault of her own, Triple H, who she was dating in real life, had been cheating on her with Stephanie McMahon for a long time and Chyna had just found out about it. With Stephanie obviously having much more influence backstage, this lead to Chyna getting released from the company about 5 months later, and shortly after Trish Stratus won the vacant Women’s Championship.
Now Chyna should NOT have been punished in any way for Triple H’s affair. Vince McMahon was completely in the wrong to release her over this. If Chyna had been allowed to stay with the company, at the time she was holding the Women’s Championship, there’s no telling what she could have done for that division. But unfortunately, I can’t give someone credit for what they MIGHT have accomplished, only what they ACTUALLY accomplished.
Before Chyna won the Women’s Championship, the last two champions before her were Ivory, and before her, Lita. Two serious female wrestlers (and fellow future Hall of Famers) who, unlike Debra and Sable, actually knew wrestling moves and knew how to work a match. When Trish Stratus won the title after Chyna vacated it, it appeared as if the division was being taken more seriously, a far cry from when elderly Fabulous Moolah won it. But you can’t point to Chyna being individually influential in this regard because she was just continuing the string of serious Women’s Champions that Lita and Ivory had just started. And in reality, if Chyna had some type of huge impact on the division when she was Champion, Vince McMahon would not have waited 5 months after he took her off television to put the title on someone else. For 5 months that championship was MIA, showing that it still wasn’t something fans cared a whole lot about.
And even if you do want to say Chyna did make women’s wrestling something to be taken seriously, it was nothing ground breaking. There were periods of time in WWE history when that division was taken seriously. Wendy Richter and Fabulous Moolah were stars competing for the title in 1985. Later on in the mid nineties you saw the same thing with Alundra Blaze and Bull Nakano. It was only a matter of time before the division was taken seriously again.In my opinion, it was the elevated in ring work of the 4 Horsewomen (Becky, Sasha, Charlottle and Bailey) that started and maintained the “Women’s Revolution” and the star power of Ronda Rousey that took the women’s division to new heights, earning women the spot light of the main event of WrestleMania. In my opinion, if you lift Chyna out of WWE history, the evolution of women’s wrestling in WWE changes very little.
However, I don’t think Chyna had NO impact whatsoever, if we're talking about beyond the women's division. When she became Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s bodyguard in the late nineties, she helped him evolve his character. Hunter wasn’t seen as a real tough guy in WWE, and having unnamed beautiful valets escort him to the ring each night did not help him seem like someone who was going to kick your ass. Then this rugged, extremely muscular freak of nature comes along and totally changes people’s perception of his entitled blue blood character. That character had to evolve in some way before he could make it to the top. But then again, when you look at someone with Triple H’s size, in ring skill, charisma, talent for body building, and mic skills, he was always going to make it big no matter what. But as it was, Chyna did play a role in the evolution of his character early on.
I don’t want it to seem like I am trying to downplay what Chyna actually did accomplish in WWE. Winning the Intercontinental Championship was, and still is, a remarkable accomplishment for a woman. From when Bart Gunn sold her body slam outside the ring to having competitive matches with Triple H, Jericho, Jeff Jarrett, etc., it was unheard of for a woman yet when Chyna did it it was BELIEVABLE. The fans bought it and paid to see her do it again. Chyna had the popularity of a Hall of Famer, and deserved to be posthumously inducted alongside her DX stable mates. She was a STAR. However, when it comes to her having some type of huge, undeniable lasting influence on WWE’s women’s wrestlers and the women’s division, meaning that she made some type of long-term change and opened new doors for them, that is something I strongly argue against.
Last edited by AliFrazier100; 04-17-2019 at 08:32 AM.