When Joan Laurer, better known as her pro wrestling moniker Chyna, passed away at 45-years-old, she left behind a remarkable (although admittedly controversial) career. While it wouldn’t be fair to discuss the life and career of Chyna without mentioning those controversies at all, we are choosing to temporarily ignore them for now. Instead we are going to focus on her successes, of which she had many, and how she changed the landscape of professional wrestling for good. Specifically, how she bucked the trend and changed what it meant to be a female wrestling character in an era where almost all of her peers were nothing more than bikini models and eye candy.
5. She Revolutionized Being the “Tough Girl”
Although women’s wrestling had existed long before Chyna become a regular part of WWE programming, Chyna brought something new to the role. Her muscular frame and physical aggression gave the women’s division a touch of reality that was hard to ignore. Although she did win the WWE Women’s Championship at one point (before it was renamed/unified as the Diva’s Championship), her real legacy will be that she was the first female wrestler to compete on an equal level with the males. She competed in both the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring tournament and was the first female to ever win the Intercontinental Championship. In fact, she’s still the only female to ever hold that belt.