After her days in the Peace Corps, Chyna (born Joan Marie Laurer) undertook grueling days of training at WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski’s professional wrestling school in Malden, Massachusetts. At the time, no one thought they were witnessing the development of one of the most ground-breaking figures in professional wrestling history.
She was first seen in WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF) coming from the crowd to assist Hunter Hearst Helmsley and become the famous enforcer of D-Generation X. Even while handcuffed to Sgt. Slaughter for Triple H’s match against Owen Hart at WrestleMania XIV, Chyna was still able to be the difference maker at ringside after she blinded the WWE Hall of Famer with a mysterious white powder.
As Chyna broke away from the notorious faction she began to fight her own battles; as she did, her star grew brighter. Chyna became the first-ever female competitor in the Royal Rumble Match.
In the ring, Chyna became known as “The Ninth Wonder of The World.” She made history at No Mercy 1999 when she beat Jeff Jarrett to be crowned the first female Intercontinental Champion in WWE history. Chris Jericho soon became Chyna’s chief rival for the prestigious title.
After one controversial match ended with no clear winner, the two competitors were briefly recognized as “co-champions.” Despite their rivalry, Jericho and Chyna became allies.
The spotlight on Chyna grew as she was a presenter at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, released her own fitness video, and appeared on the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. She made a splash as the cover girl of the November 2000 issue of Playboy with a nude pictorial and broke all sales records previously held by the publication.