Thursday, 21 April 2016

Avengers XXX (4 Stars)


It was with great sadness that I heard about the death of Joanie Laurer, better known as Chyna, yesterday. The cause of death hasn't been officially announced yet, but I assume it was suicide. She was a tortured soul. Millions of fans adored her, but she wasn't capable of finding happiness in her personal life.

Chyna gained fame by appearing in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) from February 1997 to November 2001. February 1997 was the month that I began to watch WWE on a regular basis, so I watched her from her first appearance onwards. She first appeared as a bodyguard for Triple H (Paul Levesque). Her duty as bodyguard was to attack Triple H's opponents when the referee was distracted to help him win. Her usual form of attack was the low blow, a vertical strike with the forearm between a man's legs from behind. While she wasn't the first to use such an attack, Chyna was the first to use it on a regular basis.

How effective is the low blow as an attack? In actual fact, it isn't. The men attacked this way fall to the floor clutching their groins with anguished faces, but it's all acting for the camera. The arm is held horizontally, which means there's no contact with the testicles when the punch lands. It can't even be called a punch, because the fist is extended too far forwards to risk any contact. There's so little danger that male wrestlers don't bother wearing protective cups, even when they know that a low blow has been scripted into their fight.

However, Chyna later admitted that in her later years at WWE she frequently caused her opponents real pain by angling her arm upwards and not pushing her fist far enough forwards. If challenged at the time she said that it was an accident, but years later she laughed about it. "If I'm being paid to hit a man between the legs I'm going to do it right". Was that sadism or just having fun? She never said.


When Chyna first joined the WWE she was very masculine. She had thick muscles and a flat chest. A year later, when she was already taking part in wrestling matches against men, she had a boob job and cosmetic surgery to make her look more feminine. This is when she gained her greatest popularity.


Triple H and Chyna were already dating before she joined the WWE. Their relationship lasted about four years. After they broke up, Chyna got engaged to the wrestler X-Pac (Sean Waltman), while Triple H went on to marry Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of the WWE's owner. An amusing incident during Chyna's time living with X-Pac is that she called the police to report domestic violence. She accused him of hitting her, but after the two of them were examined she was charged with assaulting him. It's possible that X-Pac started the fight, but Chyna was the one who finished it.

While still working as a wrestler Chyna posed for Playboy, calling herself Joanie Laurer because the name "Chyna" was copyrighted by WWE. It didn't make much difference, because everyone knew who she was. In 2001 she left the WWE for unclear reasons (Chyna's version of the story differed from the WWE's official statement). She wrestled briefly in Japan and finally retired from wrestling in 2002. Five years. A brief but very distinguished wrestling career.

Joanie Laurer, no longer called Chyna, remained in the public eye by appearing on television shows, including being a regular cast member on the reality show "Surreal Life". By this time it was obvious to everyone that her life was falling apart. She was addicted to alcohol and drugs. She was disintegrating before the eyes of the public.

From 2009 to 2013 Joanie appeared in a number of pornographic films, including "Avengers XXX". You see, I didn't forget that I'm supposed to be writing about a film. The director Axel Braun said that as soon as he saw a photo of her he said she was born to play She-Hulk in his films. After this film she starred in "She-Hulk XXX". She would have appeared in "Avengers XXX 2" (which I intend to review soon), but Axel found her too difficult to work with.


Seeing Chyna as She-Hulk convinces me that Axel was right; Chyna really was born to play She-Hulk. Watching her in the film I have to ask whether she's playing a superhero or just playing herself. She starts an argument with Thor, accusing him of cowardice. This makes Thor angry, so she silences him by demanding sex from him.Thor may be a God, but he's no match for She-Hulk. She walks away leaving him on his back, drained and exhausted with his hammer hanging limp


But now this wonderful woman is gone. She died too young, but she'll never be forgotten, as a wrestler or as She-Hulk.

Joanie Laurer
December 27, 1970 – April 20, 2016

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