AEW announcer, Jim Ross commented on the late Chyna’s legacy in wrestling in a recent edition of his Grilling JR podcast.
On Chyna’s success, Ross noted:
“She accomplished a lot of things. They were significant. She was a big part of the Attitude Era, without a doubt. She made a lot of money, and I’m not sure of this, but I’d be willing to bet a case of barbecue sauce that she was probably the first woman wrestler to make seven figures. In other words, to make a million dollars or more. And I know that to be fact because I was in charge of doing that and in charge of payroll. So, she got paid real well for being booked with Triple H, who was paid real well for being a main event guy and still evolving his game. She did accomplish so much, but she never accomplished finding true happiness. That’s the sad part of this whole story.”
WWE’s former Vice President of Talent Relations explained how WWE’s business relationship with the ‘Ninth Wonder of the World’ ended in 2001:
“We decided not to renew her contract. We wanted her to save face. We wanted her to leave without having to die on her sword. Consequently, I decided that it would be a mutually agreed parting of the way. It left her with some credibility. It didn’t make her seem so much as a victim, which I’m not so sure she didn’t want to be.”
“She may have wanted to be a victim and garner the sympathy that a babyface would if he was against a big heel and insurmountable odds overcoming them. She had a meeting with Vince and then he stopped meeting with her. She still came to TV thinking she might get booked or might be used. I don’t know why we kept bringing her to television. I nipped that in the bud because it was a waste of money and a waste of her time, wear and tear. And we made her a real good offer, I thought.”
Chyna entered WWE in February 1997 as Triple H’s bodyguard and was later a founding member of D-Generation X that summer, along with Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Rick Rude.
She was the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble match in 1999 and as a solo act in late 1999 through to 2001, she captured the Intercontinental Championship twice (the only woman to do so) and the Women’s Title once.
Chyna and WWE broke off negotiations for a contract renewal in the summer of 2001, whilst Chyna was the reigning Women’s Champion. She never returned.
Ross explained the break-up of Chyna’s real life relationship with Triple H and his subsequent relationship with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, played a part in her permanent departure from WWE:
“Her heart was broken, and I don’t know how you mend a broken heart. I really don’t. I think we made the right call. I tried to end it with no hard feelings. Look, if we saw going forward down the road that we could’ve brought her back on even keel or level footing because of the Hunter and Stephanie thing, if it would draw money, Vince would bring her back. But I never thought she’d get to a place in her life where she’d be comfortable walking the halls. If she came back, she was gonna think everybody is looking at her and you’re being stared at. That happened to her her whole life for the wrong reasons. I just never thought we could put all the pieces back together and make it whole.”
Finally, Ross reiterated Chyna’s place in history:
“Trailblazer. She did things on a global level that no other female had ever done. These ladies – no matter what company they work in and the money they’re earning – they can look over their shoulder back at the legend of Chyna and say, ‘Thanks.’ She broke the ground that they’re now walking on.”
Chyna passed away in 2016 at the age of 46.
WWE recognised Chyna’s contributions to the wrestling business when she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019 as part of D-Generation X.
You can listen to the full podcast here.
h/t to 411mania.com for transcription