Last year, I woke up early and headed downstairs with my laptop to catch up on wrestling news. And was hit with Chyna’s sudden death.
I cried for hours, three or four of them, just breathlessly sobbing as my cats wondered what was wrong, and I struggled to come to terms with what it meant to lose an icon, someone who taught me what it was to be strong, and how to be a tough woman in a world full of men who were so sure that they were the strongest players in the game. For me, her loss was personal, and I wrote a furious, vicious, scathing article on the subject, which was posted at Smark Out Moment.
With a year to reflect, a year to miss her, and a year to see where the women are in the current WWE picture, I think I can lend a calmer eye to it, and be less furious. Don’t get me wrong, I still think she should have been the first person into the Hall of Fame this year, and I’m not impressed at all that she wasn’t. That was a misstep. If we consider the honouring video package WWE showed to cover the death of Jimmy Snuka, who was accused of beating his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, to death in 1985, it seems bizarre that Chyna got merely a moment of silence and a memorial onscreen. I’m still angry about the way she’s been treated. I’m still angry about the number of people in the WWE Hall of Fame who have been accused of sexual assualt (Donald Trump, Jerry Lawler etc.) but that the excuse given by Triple H for not including Chyna was “what if kids see her porn work?” Consensual sex work is not a shameful act, and if you try to balance it with something as horrific as your children idolising people who treat others as though they’re property, it’s clear who the moral winner is here.
Okay, so maybe I’m still pretty angry.
But the truth is, there have been strides made in the women’s division for WWE. We have women’s titles now, not divas, we have some stronger storylines than before (although some still revolve around a man), and we have women who can take Chyna’s legacy and run with it. Yes, I still wanted to see Nia Jax come out at 30 for the Royal Rumble. I know why it can’t happen, but having watched Nixon Newell smack Chris Brookes around over the weekend, this domestic violence survivor is all for intergender matches done well, without resorting to overly-sexual creepiness.
WWE haven’t stepped out and agreed that Chyna should be in the Hall of Fame, and I really do thing that’s something they need to change. But as far as what they’re doing with the women they have now, there’s some good changes, and we need to support the things we love, and complain about the things we hate. Social media outrage meant that the SmackDown women’s match moved to the main card of WrestleMania. We need to continue to do what she taught us – believe that we’re not ‘just’ a woman. Believe that we can make a difference.
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