This week, D-Generation X will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In honor of that milestone, I wanted to take a moment to remember DX’s third original member: Chyna.
The 1990’s were a golden period for professional wrestling, and an era that many fans still long for today. However, with so many big and memorable personalities like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, and many, many others contributing to the Attitude Era, Chyna is often overlooked. Indeed, her impact on women’s wrestling and pro wrestling in general is bigger than most people realize, and her legacy has never been more important than it is today.
The Ninth Wonder of the World
When Chyna debuted in 1997, she was different than any woman WWE had ever seen. Not only was the idea of a female enforcer revolutionary, but she proved that WWE’s women could be more than just a pretty face. She was a legitimate threat to DX’s opponents, and also a legitimate wrestler.
In January 1999, Chyna made history when she became the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble. Then she did it again in June when she became the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament. Then she did it a third time in October when she defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the first and only woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship.
She might have won the title in an awful “Good Housekeeping” match, but Chyna rose above the gimmick and proved to be a genuine fighting champion in her subsequent feud with Chris Jericho over the title. Even Eddie Guerrero, one of the most beloved WWE Superstars of all time, wrote in his autobiography that during his storyline with Chyna he “she was the main attraction and I was the second banana.”
Chyna’s Lasting Legacy
Today, women’s wrestling is more prevalent than it’s ever been – and it’s difficult to say that it would have happened without Chyna breaking down that first door.
During the “Divas Era” there were a few bright spots of talented women wrestlers who were treated as more than just eye candy, but overall they weren’t given a legitimate opportunity to shine. Divas matches often lasted less than a minute, and the God-awful Divas Championship had little to no credibility. Who can take a pink butterfly belt seriously?
But with the help of the Women’s Revolution and fantastic wrestlers like the Four Horsewomen, WWE is now treating its women superstars as equals to the men. They’ve ditched the “Divas” term. Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks were the main event match at Hell In A Cell in 2016. There’s now a women’s Money In the Bank briefcase. Nia Jax is picking up right where Chyna left off, acting as a formidable mix of beauty and brawn. Clearly, Chyna’s legacy is alive and well.
Who knows, maybe WWE will crown another female Intercontinental Champion soon. Forget the Intercontinental Championship; some fans think Charlotte Flair is good enough to win the WWE Championship. Will it happen? Never say never.
How do you think Chyna has impacted pro wrestling? Share your thoughts and comments below!