The High Price of Breaking Ground

McMahon hired her in 1997, and Chyna became the first woman to battle male wrestlers in the WWF ring, much to the chagrin of many fans, who protested Chyna’s presence by throwing batteries at her and spreading nasty rumors. (One was that she had the world’s largest clit; another, that she had a penis.) But the abuse didn’t seem to stop her. During one 1999 fight, Triple H kicked Chyna in the breasts. The announcer said nothing; when Chyna retaliated by socking Triple H in the balls, he gulped: “I still don’t know if I’m comfortable with this.” After Chyna beat Triple H a few minutes later, retired wrestler Mick Foley, in character as Mankind, hit on her. She hit him in the balls, too, and said, “In case you don’t get it, that means, ‘no.’”

“I let the boys do their thing,” Chyna said in a 2015 interview with Vince Russo. “My job was to keep my mouth shut.” Most the time, she beat her male opponents and became known as the “Ninth Wonder of the World.”

“She was in there not only wrestling guys but beating guys,” says former WWE host Jim Roberts. “She was doing stuff that only guys were doing at the time, and that I don’t believe any female has done since. What she did was incredible. She was really revolutionary in the wrestling business.”

At Broadly, Mitchell Sunderland examines WWE star Chyna’s accomplishments, struggles and legacy, and the complex challenges women face in a world fraught sexism. She died on the same day as Prince, but his passing isn’t what might eclipse her.

Read the story