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  1. #1
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    Hardtime: Chyna Did Not Have A Lasting Impact On WWE's Women's Wrestling

    Hardtime: 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 ina “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 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 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 RIPbossman; 4 Days Ago at 05:24 PM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Well, well, well. Welcome back!

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  3. #3
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    Blah. I'd argue we're in an era where it is socially expedient to have a "women's revolution" and we were going to get that narrative no matter who the bodies were that filled the space. Chyna wasn't a symbol of some collectivist movement. She was simply larger than life and did what she did off that larger-than-life presence. It's not her job to open the door for anyone else. It was her job to do what she did, and she did a damn good job of it.

  4. #4
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    Obviously welcome back....but the argument is somewhat flawed.

    I will agree that Chyna should not have been punished for HHH's affair, but then what else could have been done at the time? It may have been his affair, but I believe she was the one causing backstage problems in the aftermath (which is understandable, but not the best way to keep your job when the boss's daughter is in the equation).


    Does the fact that she's the only female Intercontinental Champion matter? No. She peaked at a time when the women's division was possibly at it's lowest ebb. Keeping her out of that division allowed her to become the legend she has become. It also happened at a time when you could have a lot more freedom to push boundaries than today. Arguing that there should be another female Intercontinental Champion is nothing but an argument that WWE should present inter-gender wrestling, and therein lies the inherent problem that I've mentioned in a few threads relating to that topic:

    Sooner or later you have to show a guy beating the crap out of a woman and that is not acceptable in this day & age.

    Would the current Women's Evolution have happened without Chyna? Probably. There's no way of knowing. You can't apply hindsight to a history that didn't happen. As you say, it had happened before, it was inevitable it would happen again. At that time though, the women weren't being presented as credible competitors and Chyna needed credible competition. Given her size & build, the men were the only option for credibility. The fact that you acknowledge this shows that you admit she was the only one at the time demonstrating that women could be taken seriously as competitors, even to the extent she was the only example of true sexual equality in the history of the business.

    That sexual equality is arguably what she represented best. She broke ground in that area in the best way she could in her era. At this year's WrestleMania, 3 other women broke new ground in sexual equality in the best way they could in their era.

    Were those two ground breaking events directly related? Probably not. But that's true of most ground breaking events. They're new. You can argue that Kofi Kingston broke new ground at WrestleMania being the first black champion. Meh. Ron Simmons already did that. (Also some other guy earlier than that has a claim, but can't remember his name off the top of my head). The fact is both Kofi & Ron had ground breaking moments, but while both were great for their cause they weren't directly related in any way to what Rosa Parkes did for the same cause.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Zombieguy's Avatar
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    Whoa it's RIPBossman. You may not remember me but I definitely remember you from the days of Aisce, Superfan, Romans, Uncle Joe, etc.

    Based on the very specific claim you make about Chyna with this article I have to agree. I have never been a fan of women's wrestling but understand importance of Moolah, Richter, Young, etc. Having her wrestle against the men did nothing for anybody (destroyed believably, damaged the men whether they won or lost). She had a big cultural impact but I would turn to Trish and Lita as examples of women who benefited women's wrestling because they built up their own unique division as an alternative to the men rather than thinking success came by doing their best imitations of men. Welcome back.
    Last edited by Zombieguy; 3 Days Ago at 01:11 PM.

  6. #6
    The Brain
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    That's not a name I was expecting to see! Nice to see you, I'm not sure we ever had a chance to interact before but I've read some of your stuff from back in the day and I'm definitely a fan. In this case I think you're viewing "lasting impact" through a bit of a narrow lens but on the whole I don't disagree with your argument, the WWF did treat her success as an aberration rather than any kind of new trend, and quickly resumed their kind of treatment of the women's division that was typical for the era. I also have to agree with the point you touched on about how the way Chyna was pushed out of the company. What a waste. Really nice to see you drop a column, hope you stick around!

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombieguy View Post
    Having her wrestle against the men did nothing for anybody (destroyed believably, damaged the men whether they won or lost).
    Oh yeah, Triple H, Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and the Undertaker were never believable again, just too damaged.

  7. #7
    Junior Member Zombieguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Oh yeah, Triple H, Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and the Undertaker were never believable again, just too damaged.
    The Rock faced her in a handicap match. Steve Austin faced her in a tag match and gauntlet. Undertaker faced her in a triple threat with loads of outside interference where Triple H took the pin. And even then any time she managed to outmaneuver them it was laughable at best and humiliating in most cases.

    One-on-one Triple H lost because of Mankind hitting him with steel steps. Mankind disposed of her in 2 minutes after being hesitant to hit her until she lowblowed him (the only proper booking of Chyna against a man really). Kurt Angle's match was ridiculous as she somehow went hold for hold with an Olympic wrestler who significantly outweighed her. Chris Jericho was almost fired for going stiff after she went stiff on him and their feud completely killed his momentum at the time. The idea of any of these guys having to act like they were physically equal to her was laughable in 1999 just like it's laughable now.

    Forcing men to go toe-to-toe with women is and always will be laughable and completely destroys any suspension of disbelief. The careful booking they had to use to protect these guys (with outside interference, lowblows, chairshots, tag teams, handicaps, etc) proves how bad the idea is. The audience had to be hesitant to cheer and the wrestlers had to walk on eggshells to look "dominant" without looking "abusive". Completely ridiculous and totally avoidable if they would stop acting like the women are in the same physical league as the men. It's not sexist. It's reality.
    Last edited by Zombieguy; 3 Days Ago at 04:54 PM.

  8. #8
    The Brain
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    It's completely laughable that Kurt Angle and Ken Shamrock didn't decimate every opponent they ever had within a minute. Fans draw the line wherever it works for them, so I don't think it makes sense to make blanket statements in situations like this one.

    I'll leave it there so as not to derail the thread, once again Bossman great to see you back!

  9. #9
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Chyna was always, for most people, a special case, and the history backs that up. No one would have believed Sable against a guy and that's why it killed Mero's career when she flipped him on his ass like a pancake, but the pops were always there for Chyna, because people bought into the idea that she was a special case. The interesting thing is that comes in spite of everyone who had to work with her thinking she wasn't actually very good - whether that was the men she was thrown in with or the other women. But yeah, people who saw Chyna as a woman that would hurt people were definitely in the minority in 1998/1999. And I say that as someone who is generally very sceptical about most intergender wrestling.

    I don't disagree with the point of the column. The worst thing about Chyna competing for the men's belts is that it emphasises the joke that the women's belt was become - the real thing is that it's supposed to be the women's equivalent of the world title, and it sent a real message about the worthlessness of the belt (and the superiority of men's competition) that Chyna would rather wrestle for a midcard men's belt than a women's world belt. That was what I felt at the time, and to be honest, I still kinda trust that reaction. It is the worst thing about it, bar none. Of course, now I get it, because it's about maximising talent, and they weren't doing anything else worthwhile with any of the other women. In that case it makes sense to put up a cordon between Chyna and the comedy division. But even so, it reinforces the message and makes it unlikely that anything is going to happen. True story, I only really remember three things in the women's title scene from that area. Sable/Jackie when the title was first launched, the Steph run as the cowardly champ, and then the aforementioned Ivory/Chyna feud.

    Anyway, just to say again, good to see you back.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  10. #10
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    Wow, haven't seen that name pop in years!

    This was very informative for me who never followed Chyna's career. This made me think though, that if Chyna was allowed to work in the Womens Division for the majority of her time in WWE then perhaps the division would have been taken more seriously in the Attitude Era. But as it were she was more useful up against male opponents, which in essence unforced her 9th Wonder of the World gimmick.

    Interesting read.

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