Joanie “Chyna” Laurer’s side of her story is finally getting the prospect to be told.
The new documentary concerning the WWE legend’s rise and fall, “VICE VERSA: Chyna,” will air Thursday at 9 p.m. on VICE TV — the identical community recognized for its “Dark Side of the Ring” series. The movie, directed by Marah Strauch of “Sunshine Superman,” offers a deep and emotional look into Laurer’s profession, upbringing and the components that led to her life spiraling out of management earlier than her deadly 2016 overdose at the age of 46.
“A lot of things that have come out about her in the past were from other people’s point of view,” Strauch stated in a telephone interview. “So as much as possible we really tried to use her voice, which even in this doc within a doc, people are trying to take over her voice.”
The movie revolves across the last 12 months of Laurer’s life. The first lady to win WWE’s Intercontinental championship returns to the U.S. in 2015 after three quiet years in Japan — throughout which she was an English instructor — with the intent to make a documentary. She and her internal circle hope “The Resurrection of Chyna” will gasoline a comeback and her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
“Chyna” govt producer Daisy Hamilton was in a position to purchase the footage from that unreleased documentary for VICE. Included in what they got had been interviews with Lauer’s supervisor Anthony Anzaldo and “The Resurrection of Chyna” director Erik Angra that had been purported to be used within the unique movie.
The VICE documentary makes use of it to place into context what Laurer was battling on the finish of her life and it additionally exhibits members of her internal circle coping with their very own poisonous points whereas making an attempt to assist her.
“There’s a mix of emotions because the footage can be really difficult [to watch] as well,” Strauch stated.
The VICE movie leans closely into the outdated clips together with interviews they did with Laurer’s household, shut associates and wrestling colleagues, together with ex-boyfriend Sean Waltman, Mick Foley and Billy Gunn.
At one level in the course of the documentary Vince Russo, WWE’s head author for many of Laurer’s time with the corporate, says, “I believe she would say, ‘I just wanted to be loved.’ That’s what she was always searching for. It was the love and the approval and the acceptance.” It was a quote Strauch fought to maintain in as a result of she felt it summed up one of Laurer’s lifelong struggles.
“That was a line that people kept wanting to take out of the film,” Strauch stated. “I kept saying, ‘but it’s like the whole film.’ I think she was a person that was an entertainer and a people pleaser and a person that really wanted to be liked and she really wanted the love and approval of pretty much everybody.”
The groundwork for that was laid in Laurer’s household relationships, which the movie explores by interviews along with her mom, Jan LaQue, and her sister, Kathy Hamilton. LaQue talks a couple of time Laurer noticed her father, Joseph, who LaQue says was an alcoholic and drug addict, stab LaQue with a butcher’s knife.
The two divorced early in Laurer’s life, she moved in along with her dad at 16 and that was the final time her mother noticed her. The two had been supposed to satisfy once more in individual in the course of the last 12 months of Laurer’s life, however she died earlier than it may occur. Hamilton believes all of it left a long-lasting impression on her sister as a result of she was so younger on the time. Family trauma can be an underlying consider dependancy.
“There is a lot of generational trauma that occurred and it can’t be denied that she didn’t have a stable foundation, and I think that’s really hard when you’re famous or getting all this stuff to kind of hold your own,” stated Strauch, who famous she pursued Laurer’s household for months to get them on board.
Laurer, who was educated by Killer Kowalski, discovered a second household and a ardour in skilled wrestling. The documentary contains uncommon footage of her wrestling and reducing promos previous to becoming a member of WWE (then WWF) and talks about her love for entertaining. Strauch hopes it offers individuals a glance into Laurer’s younger, “scrappy” side.
“I don’t think it’s been shown since it was taken, so it’s really to me some of the most pure footage of this person that you can find,” she stated.
Laurer debuted in WWE as Chyna in 1997. She was the bodyguard for eventual boyfriend Paul “Triple H” Levesque. She was often known as “The Ninth Wonder of the World” and have become a significant member of the legendary D-Generation X faction earlier than making a reputation for herself as an in-ring performer not like something seen earlier than in WWE as she typically wrestled the male superstars. She turned the primary lady to enter the Royal Rumble, a WWE ladies’s champion and was one of a quantity of the corporate’s feminine performers to look in Playboy.
“Wrestling her and wrestling guys was no different, she just hit a lot harder than guys,” Gunn says within the movie. “She was the main thing. She was the ‘Stone Cold’ [Steve Austin]. It was Chyna, like that was a thing.”
Her contract was not renewed by WWE in 2001 after she is claimed to have had a gathering with Vince McMahon about Levesque’s romantic relationship with McMahon’s daughter Stephanie, whom he finally married. Jim Ross, WWE’s head of expertise relations on the time, has stated Laurer refused to signal a contract with lower than a $1 million draw back assure – believing her reputation and crossover into the mainstream was as precious as any of the corporate’s high male stars.
WWE distanced itself from Laurer for a few years, particularly after she bought into the grownup leisure business. She was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019 together with the remaining of DX and appeared as a playable character within the WWE 2K20 online game.
Levesque was not interviewed for the documentary and Strauch stated she didn’t attain out to WWE concerning the likelihood to speak to him or anybody else working for the corporate. In her eyes, it defeated some of the aim of what she was making an attempt to perform.
“It just didn’t feel like the right choice for this documentary,” she stated. “Because we really wanted it to be more Joanie’s point of view. We would have been happy to speak to Hunter but I think more than anything it might have been difficult to get to speak to people in the WWE.”
She did little in wrestling after WWE – exterior of quick runs in New Japan in 2002 and Total Nonstop Action in 2011 — and not had the household of co-workers round her for assist. Laurer, who additionally did some actuality TV, started to spiral and battle the drug and alcohol dependancy that finally led to her dying from a mixture of muscle relaxers, painkillers and alcohol.
In Laurer’s last interview for the unique documentary, two weeks earlier than her demise, she stated if she had to return and do it once more she wouldn’t have wrestled. Strauch sees that as her being a contradiction as a result of she beloved wrestling, the wrestlers and her time in WWE. She had simply misplaced the will to combat to get some of it again and wanted assist,
“So for her to say that, I think was said in a moment where she was done, if that makes sense,” she stated. “She didn’t have the stamina to have a comeback one more time, to rise above one more time.”
The movie probably offers Laurer an opportunity to do this with what Strauch feels is “the truth.” It offers individuals an opportunity to see a brand new tackle who Laurer is, what she completed and what led her down a poisonous path.
“She’s this big, strong, amazing person in the ring and then she’s what people kind of portrayed as kind of a train wreck or this person that has all these demons,” Strauch stated. “I’d say that she’s also just a person and a person that was super intelligent and really had a lot of strengths besides wrestling. I hope that people can kind of humanize her.”