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The Mass Media

‘Wrestling with Chyna’: Life and Legacy

If you grew up in the ’90s before iPhones and watched the WWF (before it converted to WWE) religiously like I did, then you know the name Chyna, the real She-Hulk. She was ridiculously strong and managed to fight anyone in her way. The new documentary film “Wrestling with Chyna” gives a glimpse into her life and experience as a pro wrestler.
Chyna was also very beautiful as she got older and became a big name in the business. Chyna’s achievements speak for themselves: a Woman’s Championship and an Intercontinental Championship winner as well as mega stardom between 1998 and 2010.
A female wrestler with that large of a fan base was, at the time, extremely unheard of. It is no surprise to anyone that it has not been duplicated since (though it should). Personally, I think it had something to do with the way she was portrayed on TV. She was nothing like the regular female wrestlers. She was not Trish Stratus or Ivory, and not even close to Lita, but she put on a show like no other, and proved to be just as tough as the guys and as sexy as the women. I believe she is the only wrestler, past or present, to successfully transcend gender roles and norms.
When I was a little kid, I looked at her like a superhero fighting beasts and monsters, and seeing her fight with legends like Shawn Michaels and her then off-screen boyfriend Triple H. She was truly out of this world and beyond. Fast forward to April 17, 2016; it was a very dark day for my childhood, as the world, via social media, witnessed the very last video of our version of a super heroin.
She looked disheveled, confused, and horribly intoxicated. Words couldn’t describe the sadness I felt after learning that video on her YouTube channel would be her very last. Her channel, called Tokyo Chyna, posted her memorial celebration, and to have the realization that our hero was gone was another blow to many childhoods.
Thoughout the years, there was nothing but bad blood between Chyna and the WWE. There was even a petition to have her be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame, but to many fans who could read between the lines, this wouldn’t happen either during her life or after it. 
A couple of weeks following her death, during an episode of “WWE Raw” on April 25, Chyna was given a two-minute tribute at the very start of the episode and again during the middle before a commercial break. This was nothing like the full salute given to other WWE greats. Some on social media could still discern the animosity held against Chyna by the WWE.
When her death was mentioned, the WWE only made one blog post paying tribute to her, and it only contained messages that other wrestlers posted on their own twitter accounts. It was very lackluster, if you ask me (the whole video is available on WWE’s YouTube channel. Pretty much everyone said the same. If they could put Macho Man Randy Savage, who was rumored to have slept with Stephanie McMahon when she was just 16, into the Hall of Fame, they could surely put Chyna in as well.
The documentary touched on subjects like Chyna’s drug abuse, domestic violence issues with Xpac, and struggle to clean up her life and become a teacher in Japan. I will say this: Chyna released a tell all about her life and treatment during her time with the WWF/WWE, and how Triple H (another of Chyna’s love interests) only married McMahon because her father owned WWE and she was therefore rich. There could be more to it, but that’s what Chyna has said. I’m going to wait a little longer for McMahon to release her own book.
 In today’s generation of WWE, we have a new wave of female wrestlers like Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Charlette Flair (Daughter to WWE legend Rick Flair), who are athletic and have talent in the ring. Charlette and Sasha made history, as they are becoming the first women to be the main event in a pay-per-view show called “Hell in a Cell.” Fans are starting to take notice and have been either pleased or displease, or sometimes both, with how some of the women are treated in the ring. The story lines are also capturing the attention of fans.
I’m saying this because it was Chyna who paved the path for the women wrestlers of today, and provided the trailblazing moments in history that have been talked about for years to come. During the attitude era, the women in the WWF at the time were nothing but eye candy, and rarely used their skills in the ring. Chyna changed that completely.
During this year’s WWE Hall of Fame induction anouncement, fans were pleased to see names like Ravishing Rick Rude and Kurt Angel. However, when Beth Phoenix was put in the Hall instead of Chyna, hardcore fans knew the animosity was there to stay. Only time can heal, and hopefully the history of Chyna’s legacy can remain intact.