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Cafe Puro (4/26/16): Chyna To Japan




It’s been a rough couple of days, but not a day has gone by that no one has said something wonderful and heartfelt about the recently departed 9th Wonder of the World, Joanie “Chyna” Laurer. For a woman that helped forge a change in the way women are portrayed in combat sports; she was way ahead of her time before a Women’s Revolution happened in the company.

We don’t have to tell you about her plethora of groundbreaking achievements she achieved over the course of her career, achievements that may be difficult to replicate in this day and age. But the one thing she did prove beyond her WWE achievements is that she, too, was an evolving talent in her own right. Everyone knows about her power game in WWE, but it took an unexpected trip to Japan to prove that she had way more to offer than what was expected.


In 2002, some time after she left WWE, she was onboard with an Antonio Inoki-led NJPW for several appearances. Her time began as a special referee for a tag bout, and she eventually had her last match in a tag bout against future Hall of Famer, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and eventual comedy act (and fellow former WWE Superstar) Kenzo Suzuki, aka KENSO.

But it was a fateful bout in the Tokyo Dome on October 2002, almost a year after her WWE departure, that cemented her stay in the iconic promotion. And of all the people she had a single match against, it was against a legend in pro wrestling, the one and only Masahiro Chono.



In a single match, she, as Joanie Laurer, made quite an impression in many ways:


1. Save for the fact that it happened during what would become a dark age in NJPW, Chyna looked swell for an overall performer who proved that she had much to deliver in the ring. If there was any doubt before of her limited workrate, this match shattered all those presumptions in one go.
2. She made history as the first woman to ever compete in NJPW, a testament to her marketability and overall athleticism. No one could touch her. After all, there is a reason why she is the 9th Wonder of the World. It would be more than a decade later when a pair of women would get a chance to compete for the company.
3. She faced the iconic Chono at the Tokyo Dome. What else needed to be said?

It would be years later that she would return to Japan, but this time, as an English teacher. In an interview with The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast:

“Initially I went to Japan with Antonio Inoki and ended up wrestling Masahiro Chono. It's really the opposite end of the world there and I don't think a lot of people really understood what was happening over there. I am Chyna in the Sports Entertainment world but then to go over into Japan and you just have a female wrestle Masahiro Chono, that was absolutely incredible. All the training I did with Inoki and mixed marital artists and some incredible guys. I just really loved Japan and it was so life changing that when I felt it was time to remove myself from all the chaos that was going on here and go away to the opposite side of the world. It's a different culture, different language, just go and regroup and find myself a little more. Now the time is right to get back in the game and get some answers."

Japan became a source of healing for a woman at a time of uncertainty and complications. No doubt, her time in Japan eventually led to a Kickstarter campaign meant to resurrect her career and image.

Sadly, she would not be able to see it through due to her untimely passing. But if you ask the wrestling world, she would forever be remembered as a legend in the eyes of fans and colleagues, and nothing can take that away from her.


Image from respective owner

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Lance Tan Ong has been a banking guy for the past few years but a wrestling guy for most of his life. And after checking out matches of Mitsuharu Misawa and Shinya Hashimoto at an early age, he's also pretty much a puro guy as well. Currently checking out WWE (mostly NXT), NJPW, DDT, and other promotions that catch and demand attention. He currently handles NJPW news and coverage for Smark Henry.

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