wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Vice Versa: ‘Chyna’ Report

June 18, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Chyna

-No Dark Side of The Ring this week as season 3 won’t resume until September, but Vice did drop a 2 hour (with commercials) documentary on Chyna. Let’s get to it!

-Mick Foley tells us she vividly remembers seeing Chyna debut on RAW in Tennessee. He would sit in the crowd and watch the show since most people didn’t know what he looked like without the mask. He was blown away when he saw her rag doll Terri. Billy Gunn echoes those thoughts and Vince Russo calls her “stunning” when he thinks of the first time he saw her. Foley says nobody has ever seen the likes of her before and haven’t seen anyone like her since. Billy says wrestling her was no different than guys other than she hit harder than most of the guys. Billy compares how over she was to Stone Cold.

-After those few comments the proper intro starts as they touch on her fall and personal issues while also showing off some footage of Chyna having her issues. A friend cries as her friend Joanie went into a dark place because of being Chyna.

-Tokyo, Japan 2015: Chyna says it is hard to go back to LA as she doesn’t feel as glamorous. She has been living the last 3 years in Tokyo. She doesn’t feel she has been doing anything wrong, but people think she is a monster. She has felt good being outside that bubble and knows everyone is going to be looking at her. She talks about speaking to her manager and she feels she is on the right track.

“In 2015, Chyna and her management made plans to create a documentary called The Reconstruction of Chyna.”

-Her manager, Anthony Anzaldo, has her on the phone to go over plans for the documentary and introduces her to the director, Erik Angra. Her manager tells her she has to be herself and this will be all about her all of the time.

“Chyna passed away during filming of The Reconstruction of Chyna and the film was never completed.

-Chyna promises to give her fans the whole story. “The reclaimed footage was salvaged to finally tell Chyna’s real story.”

-New York 2015: This is Day 1 of the year long documentary. The manager says she will face her demons and they will get her naked literally and figuratively during this documentary. Ron Potylo, a producer, introduces himself as a huge fan.

-So while they show that footage the producer of this documentary from Vice speaks to various talking heads. Rob says everything was going to be beautiful as Chyna was going to rebuild herself to wrestling fans and it only lasted for 4-5 days.

-Day 1 of filming the crew meets Chyna for the first time. Chyna is going to try to do everything the right way. She is on a different anti-anxiety medication she was put on in Japan though she says she doesn’t use it much. She does use some sleep aid.

-Rob talks about that first day of filming and how it was weird just walking around with her in New York City as it wasn’t the documentary they thought they were making. We see footage of Chyna taking pictures with various fans in New York. Chyna says she was happiest when she was wrestling and then she experienced hardships she could never imagine.

-Back to 1995 as Joanie Lee talks about training hard to show a new breed of female wrestler. We meet Kathy Hamilton, Chyna’s sister. Chyna’s body was a struggle for her in her teens as she didn’t know how to embrace how strong she was. Chyna talks about lifting weights with her brothers. Kathy thinks Chyna felt confident because she learned how to shape and manipulate her body. Chyna’s goal was to be an actress and she realized she wasn’t going to fit in the average role on TV. She still wanted to be an entertainer. Her sister told her to put everything she had in her car and stay with her. They were really close and started hitting the gym.

-It was at the gym she met Gerry Blais. Gerry, Chyna’s ex boyfriend, pops up and he talks about being impressed with her and he couldn’t stop thinking about her. They started a relationship and he puts over how everything she did was to better herself to be that one thing she was destined to be.

-Chyna, on a talk show, admits she wasn’t a wrestling fan, but saw all the excitement when she watched a show one night. She wanted to explore it and asked her sister, but she didn’t want to do it. Chyna found a school run by Killer Kowalski and talks about the first day of training. We get footage of Chyna only 6 months into her training. Kathy says she put in the work everyday and loved every minute of it even with the black and blue marks.

-More footage of Chyna on the independent scene and it’s pretty fascinating to see how she started. An unnamed friend who was also a wrestler in those early days talks about how much fun they had working against each other as they were both bigger girls. She gets emotional as she says wrestling wasn’t the place Joanie should have been.

-Garden City, NY 2015: Rob talks about that day and places blame on Anthony as signs were showing that Chyna wasn’t in the best place. He says her manager’s main goal was to get her to The Comic Con. We see Chyna meeting fans at The Con and she knows she is going to be okay because she is Chyna. Mick Foley shows up at The Con and gives Chyna a hug as he is happy to see her. Foley tells us that in wrestling there is a trust inside the ring, but outside the ring everyone wants a piece of you. Back to The Con as Chyna talks about Mick and is happy to see him. Foley says he wasn’t sure if she was ready to go back and be part of provocative stuff. “I wasn’t sure if that was what’s best for her.”

-Commercials!

-Chyna talks about wrestling being a billion dollar business and a part of culture with Vince Russo. He tells her she is a success story as there is only one Chyna. Russo tells us that wrestling has torn down people and he could have been one of them. He really believed everything was going to be okay with Chyna when she returned from Japan, but that wasn’t the case.

-Daytona Beach 1995: More footage of Chyna in the early years. Gerry says that Chyna would always tell him something good was coming her way. She told him she had an idea of being a bodyguard of a wrestler and then she could get physically involved. She was going to approach Paul Levesque (credited as AKA Triple H, AKA Hunter Hearst Helmsley, WWE Wrestler) to see if it was a good idea. Chyna knew HHH because he was from her home town and she met Shawn Michaels and they all clicked.

-Hunter would tell her that they needed to get her hired as it would also help his career, but Vince didn’t like the idea. Chyna knew Vince ran the company, but she didn’t know that pro-wrestling was Vince McMahon.

-Old footage of Vince mentioning that publicity whether good or bad is good for business. Kevin Nash says that Vince is brilliant and stubborn and a man’s man. Apparently Vince didn’t like big girls and that is why he pushed back. Not sure where the footage is from but HHH talks about how he and Shawn had to push hard to get Chyna in as his bodyguard. She calls her friend and tells her she is going to WWE and will be called Chyna. Shawn and HHH liked the name as it was an oxymoron as it usually describes a little, fragile doll.

-Chyna and HHH became serious with each other within 6 months. Gerry knew she was staying with HHH a few days while on the road and he had to let her go be famous.

-Russo takes credit for putting together the original lineup of DX: Shawn, HHH, Chyna. Nash talks about The Attitude Era and Billy Gunn says the stuff before the Attitude Era was less than PG. Gerry says that Chyna found a family with DX and they were brothers that would take a bullet for her.

-They show a part of Waltman’s famous shoot promo when he returned to the WWE. That is when he first met Chyna and she was still with HHH at the time. Chyna didn’t drink or do drugs and yet that’s all the boys did after the shows (other than HHH). He mentions HHH and Chyna had a good relationship on the surface.

-Kathy says they were perfect together and she thinks he loved her just the way she was. Chyna admits HHH was the love of her life. Russo says it wasn’t a secret they were together, but people were shocked someone like HHH would be with someone like Chyna.

-They play footage of Rock cutting a promo on Chyna as he tells The Nation to put her on her knees where she belongs. They discuss how Chyna had plastic surgery to give herself more feminine features so she could be sexy while also being strong. They show footage of her on Larry King talking about how women are chastised for showing strength.

-Chyna realized she had gotten big when they took her away from DX and had her wrestle on her own. She didn’t want to do it and talks about the pressure she was under to be perfect. Russo says that Chyna wrestling the men was believable. They show her beating Jarrett for The Intercontinental Championship and Foley mentions she was the only one you could believe in that role.

-That set Chyna up as a spoke person for the WWE as she is making appearances and is on magazine covers. We meet Jan Laque, Chyna’s mom, and she was amazed at what her daughter was doing. “I hadn’t heard from her in almost 27 years.”

-Commercials!

-New Jersey 2015: Erik says within the first week they saw Anthony’s true colors as he was treating them as his cameraman. He was telling them what he wanted and what he wanted to shoot and they would get in arguments. Erik told them it was his show and they could go fuck themselves as he didn’t need them. Anthony apologizes and things became better from that point.

-Chyna became a household name and got the offer to do Playboy. She mentions she was paid more for that one Playboy shoot than she made in her 5 years with The WWE. Kathy says Chyna never thought she belonged with those women, but they loved Chyna.

-For 6 years she wrestled men and Vince wanted her to start wrestling in the women’s division. For her she felt it was a step backwards. Billy Gunn agrees that was a big turning point in her story.

-The unnamed friend: “Shame on HHH. He broke Joanie’s heart.” Chyna says she wouldn’t be the jealous wife questioning the meetings with Stephanie as what he was doing was great. They have Steph footage from her interview many years ago on Howard Stern. She talks about the storyline with HHH and how they started flirting with each other. Chyna told him she knew something was going on and she got closure when she found a love letter from Steph dated a year previous. Kathy knows Chyna was devastated when that relationship ended. Chyna knows you can’t stop love, but she then wondered how that would affect her career.

-Jim Ross (old interview) says they decided not to renew Chyna’s contract. He felt she was as valuable to WWE as Stone Cold. Chyna knew she was a top talent, but wasn’t paid like one. JR says she demanded a million dollars a year and they weren’t going to pay that. Vince Russo says Chyna was the last one to have an ego and she had every right to have one. Chyna mentions she was at a deli and got a fax that she was being let go from the WWE.

-April 3, 2016: Chyna’s last interview: She loves the wrestling business for making her Chyna though she also takes some credit for making Chyna as well. She tells us there will never be another Chyna.

-Santa Monica, CA 2001: Kathy mentions Chyna was out of WWE and didn’t know what to do with herself. She could no longer use Chyna as the WWE owned that name. She decided to go by the name, China Doll. Russo says Vince owned that name and he thought maybe he would make an exception to let her use the name, but that was up to Vince.

-Chyna got some small acting gigs and when it didn’t pan out, her sister felt she started to panic a bit. Russo asks her about drug use and Chyna says she was self medicating and drinking vodka. She was feeling lonely and that’s when Waltman came into the picture. He showed up on her door and she says it was instant love. Waltman says it was a safe place for him. Nash doesn’t think they were good for each other. Waltman was just happy to have someone want him. Waltman says he just started getting into crystal meth and was hiding it from her, but she had her own drug issues and was hiding it from him.

-Tokyo, Japan 2002: They discuss New Japan and they get Chono and Inoki as talking heads for this. Inoki says they wanted to change society’s way of thinking and Chono says none of the men wanted to wrestle her. She talks about training everyday for 10 hours a day and it leads to a match in The Dome with Chono. He talks about the pressure she had to be carrying and admits she was stronger than he thought she would be. She kept getting back up and the audience started to buy into her. He says his wife never watches wrestling, but she watched that match and was cheering for Joanie. Chyna calls it the most physically demanding achievement she has ever done. Chono says she was crying after the match and thanked him for the match. Chono was great and informative here!

-Waltman admits he carried Meth with him to Japan and the drugs caught up to Chyna in Japan and she was fired by New Japan. Back to Howard Stern as he asks her if drinking is a problem and she says no while looking just awful and wrecked with slurred speech.

-Commercials!

-Nevada 2015: The crew takes some footage and pics of Chyna in the desert. They knew she was taking prescription meds, but it wasn’t affecting the work. Anthony knew the rehab was coming, but Chyna didn’t want to do it as she felt she had it under control. Rob says it was a real battle for her as everyone could see she was hitting the sauce and the pills.

-2003: Kathy knew Chyna had a lot of problems and was called by Waltman who told her to get to their apartment. Chyna was combative and told her sister she didn’t have a problem. It took hours, but she agreed to go to rehab. It took 15 minutes before she freaked out and stormed out of the facility. Kathy says that was the last time she ever saw her sister. Damn! “She was my best friend and I was the only one she had for family.”

-Back to Howard Stern Show as Chyna talks about going to jail for beating up Waltman. Now we get to the sex tape with her and Waltman. He admits he was a pathetic wretch to her. He calls the relationship messed up and volatile and not matter how bad things got they kept coming back together. Chyna tells Stern nobody had a gun to her head when they made the tape and they thought was it was funny.

-Las Vegas 2015: Rob says Vegas only encouraged her demons. Anthony had her take part in a celebrity poker tournament and she had no idea how to play. She also started hanging out more with Erik (the director) and apparently they started doing drugs together. It seems Erik liked to snort heroin and blow meth. Rob started questioning what they were doing.

-The Surreal Life 4: I loved The Surreal Life on VH1 and I am not ashamed to admit it. That is where she met Anthony, who agreed to be her manager. She also took part in Celebrity Boxing and Fear Factor. They finally give me a name for the wrestling friend, Karen Simpson, who knew seeing her on The Surreal Life meant it was all down hill. She figured Joanie was like, screw it, let’s do porn and make some money.

-Las Vegas 2008: Joanie says that no matter if you are a porn fan, wrestling fan, or reality fan you are going to love her porno. Russo says she was trying to get work and a porn company (Vivid) put her on a pedestal and offered her money and he understands why she did it. She tells Dr. Drew on Celebrity Rehab that she was living in hell.

-Commercials!

-Los Angeles, CA 2015: They made it across the country and Chyna is excited to be back home. She does look happy being able to walk back on the beach and put her feet in the water. Rob says she had a wonderful childlike spirit that was always with her, but she obviously needs help.

-Dr. Drew is here as a talking head and says childhood trauma is a strong reason for addiction. He only treats the worst addictions and if you are seeing him 100% you had some childhood trauma. That takes us back to Chyna’s mom as they discuss her childhood. Her mom says Chyna had a lot of her dad’s traits. She calls Joe charming though he was also an alcoholic and drug addict. Joanie saw them fight quite a few times including her dad stab her mom with a butcher’s knife. Charming! She isn’t sure how much that had an effect on Joanie.

-Chyna talks about her mom being dysfunctional and how she would separate herself from all the yelling and screaming. Russo feels she was just looking for love, approval and acceptance. Her mom noticed a change in high school as her grades started dropping, she was a different person and was hanging out with the wrong crowd. She thinks she could have fixed that issue, but her dad came around and let her do what she wanted. At 16 she decided to live with her dad and that was the last time her mom saw her.

-Miami, FL 2015: Anthony talks about being happy and where he is going with Chyna. He wanted her to make amends with her family. She apparently told people that Anthony was making her do things she didn’t want to do. Apparently she is in Miami to visit her father’s grave for closure. An emotionally wrecked Chyna destroys flowers on her father’s grave and Gerry thinks the documentary made her do things that only pushed her further into darkness. The grave marker lets us know her father was a Dr and his name was Joseph. She tells her father she will see him around. Aww man!

-Commercials!

-Back to porn as Chyna does her third movie for vivid as she plays a female version of The Hulk in an Avengers spoof. She tells us that she had had enough and just wanted to die. She decided to cut everyone off and made the trip to Japan.

-Tokyo, Japan 2011: Russo tells us she moved to Japan and became a school teacher. She promises to be one of those success stories. We meet Brian and Kazuko, members of The Mormon Church, and they were in Japan when Chyna showed up at Brian’s Bishop office. She told them she had a sketchy background and did a lot of things she wasn’t proud of but wanted a new life. He recognized the name, but couldn’t believe it was actually the most famous female wrestler in the world. She wanted to get baptized and she seemed to be in a good place. She lost the WWE family and searched for another family and found it with The Mormon Church.

-Stone Cold Podcast with HHH (my review of that is here) and Austin asks HHH about Chyna being in The Hall of Fame. HHH gives his infamous take where he says she deserves it based on her in ring career, but his 8 year old daughter could Google Chyna and will find things she doesn’t need to see. He isn’t criticizing her choices though. Russo asks if we want to go down the list of people in the Hall of Fame that have done far worse things including possible murder. Russo crushes HHH for that as he says that he is sitting married to Stephanie McMahon living with The McMahon Empire.

-Chyna’s mom tried for years to find her and she finally got a call from her when she was in Japan. It was their first contact in 30 years. It seems she was breaking immigration laws because of visa issues in Japan. Her mom didn’t want her to head back to California. Rob says that all Chyna wanted was to be embraced by the WWE. He calls her the greatest female wrestler of all time. Foley would talk to her about the Hall of Fame and told her not to put so much weight on it.

-WWE Headquarters 2015: Oh boy! Anthony and Chyna head inside and want to speak with Vince and HHH. They head back out as they weren’t greeted favorably. Chyna says everyone was staring at her though she did get a couple of smiles. Their goal is to get her in the Hall of Fame, though I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the way to go about doing it.

-Redondo Beach, CA 2016: Rob says he lived in CA for 3 months with Chyna. He loved the time with her as they had a bunch of fun. They did Yoga on the beach and made short videos. They found peace and happiness being around each other. They made videos called WWY and tell us one day they will be walking in fields of gold. Foley was happy to hear she was in a good place. Rob tried to be the voice of reason to help her, but they went to Hollywood and that’s when thing really went off the rails.

-Erik gives Chyna some direction as they head to her house. Anthony says she was out of control with alcohol and pills she got from Japan that he wasn’t aware of. Jan, her mom, got the feeling that Anthony was controlling things based on an e-mail she received. Chyna continues to tell us it’s going to be an amazing story.

-Rob doesn’t think Anthony really cared about her and only cared about the story even though he had no idea how to help her fix herself. Dr. Drew says it doesn’t do anything to magically confront your abusers and it just makes you want to use more. Footage of Anthony and Chyna talking about going black market for Ambien and Diazapam. They want to keep that from Dr Drew though they assure us what they are doing is totally legal. She also has 10 Halcion left and Dr Drew calls her to tell her what she is mixing is crazy. He tells her mixing with OXY is potentially a deadly combination. He wants her to get taken care of and Anthony just continues to say it is an evil necessity, but Dr Drew isn’t buying that bullshit.

-Jan says that Antony wanted them to reunite in Charlotte so they could get footage. She wanted to reunite, but didn’t want it on camera and that didn’t please Anthony. She finally agreed and days before they are to met, Chyna sent her mom a horrific e-mail. Anthony says he was told her mother wasn’t coming and he had to inform Chyna. That crushed her and she was an absolute train wreck that night. He told her she needed to make changes and she apparently picked him up and told him he was fired. He laughed at her and said he was her soul mate and not just a manager. She threw him out and that was the last time he saw her.

-The last time Rob saw her, he was told by Erik that she was going off the rails. It was WrestleMania weekend with HHH headlining. She had just fired her manager and this is where Erik decided to finally get an interview with her. Man, everyone is just laying blame on everyone else in this thing. Erik admits he was high during that interview and he knows watching back that she was asking for help. “Can you help me?” and all he can do is ask her how it makes her feel. This just awful! “I’m Chyna. I’m a champion.” Man, this is just so sad and you can see this poor woman begging for help. Chyna says if she could go back she would never get into wrestling. Erik says ethically he should have done something, but he was high on heroin and sat there coldly asking those questions. Rob screamed at him to get her help and he said he would see what he could do. Anthony saw her post a video where she had a black eye and he knew he needed to do something.

-Commercials!

-Anthony made a call to a TV show to do an intervention. It was to happen a week later and Rob didn’t know what they were doing as it needed to be happening now. Erik admits he was doing heroin when he was supposed to meet her and lied to her and told her he was sick. We hear Chyna’s last voice message to Erik where she is sorry to hear he is sick. She tells him she is doing much better and she loves him.

-Redondo Beach, CA April 20, 2016: Sam Perlmutter seems to be out final talking head and he is Chyna’s lawyer. He had been calling to get hold of her and she didn’t answer, so he reached out to Anthony. Anthony’s hope was that she just lost her cellphone, but he goes over to meet her and takes a different camera crew with him. He says he kind of knew and he found her lying in her bed as peaceful as she could be. Erik calls Rob and tells her that Chyna is gone. He says he has seen the footage Anthony took and says Anthony brags about it. Rob says that footage should be destroyed immediately.

-News breaks about Chyna’s death. Dr. Drew says it was a sinking, horrible feeling as it was another one lost.

“An autopsy of Chyna revealed she died of a lethal combination of muscle relaxers, painkillers and alcohol.”

-Kathy thinks it was accidental, but also thinks Chyna was tired of putting up a fight and just wanted peace. Nash breaks a little as he admits it crushed him when he heard that she passed. Billy Gunn says he was mad and he didn’t understand why. Karen was pissed as she didn’t know why someone didn’t do something earlier.

-Anthony says his job was to help her spiritually and that Chyna’s last text ever was about how much she hated him and her mom. Her mom tells us she gave Anthony permission to cremate and 3/4 of the ashes were to be spread in the Pacific Ocean and the rest sent to her. Naturally Anthony had a camera record him spreading the ashes and then we learn he kept 1/2 of the 3/4 that were to be spread.

-Next we learn Anthony had a memorial for Chyna and had her ashes put in a bedazzled urn for fans to stand by and take pictures. Good Lord! Erik admits he let Chyna die and at least he seems to have taken responsibility.

“Erik was subsequently charged with possession and distribution of drugs. Antony and Erik lost control of the film.”

-Russo doesn’t think she had any idea of the impact she had on women across the globe. Man, Russo is coming off as one of the most likeable people in this documentary. Foley says people who were 8-10 years old have done things thanks to Joanie breaking down doors. Foley says he had a support system that Joanie never had and more than anyone he knew, she wasn’t prepared for the emotional pain that can be caused when you are a dreamer living in Oz looking for acceptance from total strangers.

-They end with a Chyna WWE promo where she finishes, “I started this story and I am going to end it.”

-Whew! So, yeah this was a tough watch. It started out kind of jumbled as you had to get used to the bouncing around and it took a bit to get into the flow and narrative. Everyone has their side to things, but Anthony just looked awful in this. Erik looked pretty bad as well, but at least he admitted to what he did and didn’t do. I felt dirty watching the end of this as you are watching a poor soul asking for help and those around her just don’t seem to care. Definitely check this one out as the talking heads all added something and they did a good job of finding old interviews and footage to add to the story. Outside of Chyna’s own words, it’s the stories from the 3 men involved in the unfinished documentary that have the most to say and I leave it up to anyone watching to take sides. Just a cautionary tale for everyone out to reach out and check on your people. Listen to them and get them any help they need. Thanks for reading!

article topics :

Chyna, VICE, Vice Versa, Robert Leighty Jr.