Not how I figured to start my morning, and it’s the second time this month dealing with a wrestler who has died way too young. Joanie was just 45, and it is being investigated as a possible overdose on prescription drugs. No matter the cause or culprit, she was gone way too soon, and had been away from her fans for far too long. But the fall from grace she experienced is all too common for way too many ex-wrestlers.
So what now? This is the big question, and something I discussed with my WNZ peers Joe and Dorathy, via e-mails this morning. Why is this a big deal? Because, obviously, of the history between Chyna, Hunter and Stephanie. So let’s look at things one by one…
First and foremost, there is Monday Night RAW. Will WWE do what they did for the recently passed Blackjack Mulligan, and have a simple memorial image on screen for a b’it to start the show, with no further mention on air? This is my guess, honestly. It’s acknowledging the elephant in the room, without really doing much. But is it enough? No. Honestly, she deserves the locker room emptied, staff standing on the stage, and a ten bell salute. But I doubt she gets it. Beyond the tenuous relationship and history, WWE could opt for the low key route because of the role drugs appears to have played in her death. And this I would understand.
Second: does she get into the Hall of Fame now? Hunter has said she deserves enshrinement, but he’s also said he’s concerned about what fans, specifically young ones, would see if they Googled her. She’s had a bit of an adult film career, after all. I also imagine that there was some concern over what she might say in her acceptance speech, given how things went down. Now that her induction will be a posthumous one, at least that one concern goes away.
She should be in the Hall. No offense to Jacqueline, but of the two, Chyna had a more prominent role. If all things had been equal, Chyna should have gone in before her. But they aren’t, so she didn’t. And as for her films, I say to WWE “get over it”. Sunny is a Hall of Famer now, and has supposedly tried to sell her ring, and has very definitely been making skin flicks. She’s still in the HOF. Are they never going to put Sable into the Hall because she posed for Playboy, at the WWE’s behest? Leave the policing of what kids see about these people be up to their parents. It’s not like the Hall of Fame videos have to cover One Night In Chyna clips.
When it’s all said and done, everything distracts from the tragedy. Joanie Laurer, someone who was larger than life, a presence and force in the women’s/Diva division the likes of which we will probably never see again, is gone. When some of her peers, at 45, are still showcased at WrestleManias, she was away from the business for years, and many of the reasons that kept her away seem so trivial now.
Rest in peace, Joanie.