Chyna was one of the most important female wrestlers to enter a WWE ring, but her lifestyle choices after leaving the company in 2003 have kept her out of the WWE Hall of Fame. Chyna died last week at the age of 46 desperate to be recognized for her accomplishments.
Stone Cold Steve Austin remembered Joanie Laurer on the latest episode of his podcast, and called her one of the sweetest people he's hever known. It seems likely that the former two-time Intercontinental champion will be inducted the of Hall of Fame posthumously at some point, but Austin says it won't "ever be right."
"I remember the first time I met Chyna ... I'm thinking to myself 'man, this chick is bad. She looks great. She's built like a million bucks.' You can see she's been spending hours and hours in the gym. Watching her train ... the textbook form she had. I mean her form was better than most of the guys, and she was serious about what she was trying to do. She's a smart lady, as I would come to find out.... Chyna was one of the funniest, sweetest people that I've known in the business of pro wrestling.
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Whatever happened with why she left the WWE or who was responsible for that, I don't know any of that. That's soap opera stuff that I didn't get into, but I respected Chyna. I liked Chyna .... I don't think it'll ever be right because she didn't go into the Hall of Fame while she was alive, living and breathing with us, and I thought she earned the right to be in the Hall of Fame. To put her in there posthumously, if I'm saying that word correctly, man it's just not good enough. I don't know how you rectify that, how you deal with that, because things are just screwed up. Man, her going into the Hall of Fame is just so small in comparison to the fact that this lady is no longer with us. I don't know what to make of it."
WWE executive vice president and Chyna's former D-Generation X colleague Triple H explained why Chyna has been kept out of the Hall of Fame during a appearance on Steve Austin's WWE podcast last year, and alluded to her post-WWE involvement in adult entertainment.
"That's one of those questions ... Does she deserve to go in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. It's not just as easy as 'should this person go in the Hall of Fame?' ... From a career standpoint, should she be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. Bit difficult, though, and this is the flip side of the coin that nobody looks at.
I got an 8-year-old kid. My 8-year-old kid sees the Hall of Fame and and he goes on the Internet to look at 'oh Chyna, I've never heard of her.' I'm eight years old, I've never heard of her, so I go type that in and I punch it up and what comes up? And I'm not criticizing anybody. I'm not criticizng lifestyle choices. Everybody has their reasons, I don't know what they were. And I don't care to know. That's not a morality thing or anything else, it is just the fact of what it is. That's a difficut choice."
That line of reasoning doesn't really hold up anymore. What comes up when you Google Chyna in 2016? Something along the lines of "Chyna, a WWE icon, dead at the age of 46."