Farewell to the 9th Wonder of the World

“Don’t treat me like a woman. Don’t treat me like a man. Don’t treat me like you know me, treat me for just who and what I am.” Those lyrics from the WWE entrance music of Joanie “Chyna” Laurer have been repeating in my mind since I learned of her death yesterday at the age of only 45. I keep thinking how oddly accurate those words are to her life. She struggled at the beginning of her career in wrestling with being ridiculed for her muscular physique and square jaw, enduring jeers from the crowds about masculine looks. She underwent jaw restructuring and breast augmentation in the late 90’s to combat those criticisms and, according to her book, to make up for a lifetime of emotional abuse because of her appearance. She became a mega star in WWE, becoming the first and only woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship, a multi time WWF Women’s Champion and a founding member of one of the most famous wrestling factions of all time, Degeneration X. Chyna was an inspiration to many young female fans, here was a strong, powerful woman that got in the ring and beat up men. Unfortunately, at the height of her popularity, the end of her offscreen relationship with Triple H and his subsequent relationship with Stephanie McMahon, caused serious friction, leading to the end of her WWE career. I watched Joanie’s life and career go through many changes over the next fifteen years. She tried so desperately it seemed, to hold onto the celebrity she had gained in WWE. She tried acting, to limited success, she spent time as a drummer/singer in a rock band, she did reality television, appearing on “The Surreal Life” and “Celebrity Rehab”. Her stint on “Celebrity Rehab” was painful to watch, she obviously had serious alcohol and substance abuse issues, but it seemed she was deeply in denial. She was one of many celebs that had issues with a leaked sex tape, and later on she spent time doing mainstream porn films. Recently, she had been crusading to get into the WWE Hall of Fame, to no avail. WWE COO Triple H went on record saying he couldn’t endorse her induction because of her lifestyle choices, including her stint in porn. Considering some of the life choices and behavior of other members of the Hall of Fame, this seems to me a ludicrous position. There have been few details on the circumstances of her death thus far, so I won’t speculate on the cause. I only hope that Joanie can find the peace and acceptance in death that she struggled so much for in life. As a fan of her for many years, my heart is heavy today. I hope those that think of her, think fondly. I will always think of the 9th Wonder of the World as a beautiful, powerful woman and an irreplaceable talent. Rest in peace Joanie.  – Todd 

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