She was a bodybuilder, a bodyguard, a pioneering women’s wrestler dubbed “the ninth wonder of the world” who won men’s championships, a Playboy model and, ultimately, someone who battled demons for years after leaving the wrestling world.
She was Joanie Laurer, aka Chyna, and the former WWE star died Wednesday at age 46.
“I just heard the tragic news that @ChynaJoanLaurer has passed,” wrote WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon on Twitter. “She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed. #RIPChyna.”
Chyna made her WWE debut as the bodyguard of Shawn Michaels and Triple H as part of the D-Generation X faction. During her five-year run, she became the WWF Women’s Champion, the first female competitor in the Royal Rumble and the only woman to become the Intercontinental title. In late 2000, she became the latest WWE Diva to appear in Playboy, which was worked into storyline feuds, and later won the women’s title that spring at WrestleMania before leaving the company in 2001.
As a top name during the WWE’s “Attitude Era” — one of the most-successful times for the company and the history of the pro wrestling industry — she appeared on countless collectibles, the covers of comic books and even wrote an autobiography, If They Only Knew. But her notable cardboard resume for WWE is limited to a single certified autograph card in the 1998 WWF Superstarz set from Comic Images (first card in the gallery below) which is of dubious quality with a fine-tipped metallic pen used to sign. Her Rookie Card (top) can also be found in that set and she also can be found on cards with other D-X members.
Her only other autographed cards (12 total due to parallels) appear in the 2011 TRISTAR TNA Signature Impact set after she made a very short run for that company that year. In general, her autograph is not all that rare due to promotional signing appearances for WWE products and wrestling convention appearances in the last 15 years.
She appeared in a few WWE trading card releases up to her exit in 2001, but has not appeared on anything approved by the company since. She appears on fewer than 40 different trading cards for her career — part of that being because her career ended just as wrestling cards were starting to gain more mainstream interest.
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