Rochester Native Joanie “Chyna” Laurer named to WWE Hall of Fame

Rochester’s Chyna to be an inductee in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame class

Rochester native Joanie Laurer, known to the pro wrestling world as “Chyna,” will be inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame.
She was named as part of the faction known as “Degeneration X,” along with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and X-Pac.

Chyna and Billy Gunn victorious at WWE Smackdown taping in Rochester, NY from October 2001 (photo by Joe Bradt)

In the world of women’s pro wrestling, Chyna was something of a novelty. She was treated as someone who was physically dominating and could hang with the men as well as the ladies.
“It’d be tough to pick a female that was more impactful on the business. She did something that was completely so out of left field that it wasn’t even being considered when we first brought it up for her to come in” said Triple H, known in real life as Paul Levesque, Chief Operating Officer of WWE. “She earned everybody’s trust. She won over the fans. She won over the boys. She did all of it.”
Joanie was born in 1969. She attended Penfield High School, but moved to Spain when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Tampa in 1992.
After attending a wrestling school run by Wladek “Killer” Kowalski, Joanie had her first match in 1995. She debuted in WWE (then WWF) in 1997, where she initially portrayed a “bodyguard” figure for members of the Degeneration X group, but later began wrestling in matches.

American actress, Playboy model, and professional wrestler Joanie Laurer. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards (via Wikipedia)

In 1999, Chyna became the first woman to participate in the company’s Royal Rumble match. In October of that year, she defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the first woman to win the Intercontinental Title, which she’d later lose to Chris Jericho.  At WrestleMania X7 in 2001, she defeated Ivory to win her first WWF Woman’s Championship. Joan left the company in November 2001; she later had brief stints with New Japan Wrestling and TNA Wrestling.
She published an autobiography, “If They Only Knew,” in 2001. She also appeared on various films and television shows, including a recurring role in “3rd Rock from the Sun” on NBC.

American professional wrestler, actress, and model Joanie Laurer, also known as Chyna. Taken at the US Air Arena Landover, MD. September 15, 1997 (via Wikipedia)

Joanie died in 2016 in California after an overdose. For years, fans wondered why she wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame; company officials indicated that her appearance in adult films was a factor.  Finally, on February 18 of this year, the Degeneration X announcement was made.  Induction will be on April 6 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY, the night before WrestleMania.

  1. […] 31, 2010, she became the second woman in history to enter the Royal Rumble match, the first being Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, a Rochester native.  Beth eliminated the Great Khali before being herself […]



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