Chyna - Imitated, never replicated
After the success of Chyna, a certain rival company could smell cash. Enter Asya
‘The Ninth Wonder of The World’ Chyna was a defining character in WWE’s beloved ‘Attitude Era’. A stark contrast from the women we were used to seeing. She wasn’t blonde and slender eye candy like her cohorts Sable, Sunny and Teri Runnels. Instead, she was a huge, muscular woman with jet black hair who looked like she would beat the piss out of your dad. She was instantly put with Triple H and D-Generation X, low blowing her way to popularity making her a mainstay of the era. Chyna stood out not just because of her looks and her strength but because she had the athletic ability to back it up. She was an instant draw. But did you know that WCW, smelling the success and money Chyna was bringing in, attempted to replicate that success with a bad ass, muscular woman of their very own? If you did, you earn some knowledge points, if you didn’t let me introduce you to Asya!
Christine Marie Wolf, a former Hawaiian Tropics model turn body builder, joined WCW in March 1999 during an angle where Ric Flair was committed to a mental institution. Portraying a nurse from said mental institution, Wolf was known as ‘The Head Nurse’ and would accompany Ric to the ring. She was later repackaged as ‘Double D’ whilst still at Flairs side, but come October 1999, things were about to change for the former body builder once again.
During the 25th October episode of WCW Nitro, the Filthy Animals played a vignette of them kidnapping Ric Flair post ambulance match from the previous night at Halloween Havoc and leaving him in the desert, before stealing his car. After the video package was played, The Revolution attack the Animals whilst their manager, Torrie Wilson, tried to make her escape up the ramp only to be stopped by the newly repackaged Asya. The new name was a blatant rip off, even down to using a ‘y’ in the name spelling. The name was supposed to imply that Asya was better than Chyna because Asia the continent is bigger than China the country. Ironic really given that Asya was only 5’3 and Chyna was 5’10, WCW at its very finest.
Asya’s look was a blatant rip off of Chyna’s too! She would often wear black leather with chains and/or bondage straps with knee high boots, this was Chyna’s signature look copy and pasted on to another woman. There was one big difference between Asya and Chyna though and that was work rate. Chyna could go, and she could go with the best of them, proven during her feud with Angle and Jericho. Asya on the other hand moved like a bag of potatoes, her arsenal consisted of punches, kicks and rest holds. We all complain about Cena’s ‘five moves of doom’, or Roman’s ‘four moves on repeat’, but Asya had half of that! She would scoop slam every so often and then apply a leg scissors choke for the win. Her matches pretty much all ended in DQ or under 4 mins. She couldn’t sell either, she looked clumsy and you could tell she didn’t know what she was doing. Her mic skills were basically non-existent. Her promo segments had acting that is comparable to that of a drama lesson in high school and her words were severely forced.
On the other side of the coin, Chyna got better and better, taking to wrestling like a duck to water. Her moves were getting slicker, her timing was improving by leaps and bounds and her mic skills became rather good after working with some of the sport’s greats. Her storyline romance with Eddie Guerrero creating the Latino Heat character, brought a new lease of life to Eddie’s character, a side that we would never see in WCW, and her co-champion angle with Jericho was another stepping stone in her success. A lot of what she did was well received and fans loved her.
Asya not so much. She was released on 25th August 2000, after just a year and a half in the business and retired soon afterward. Although her time in WCW was like fries without salt, it wasn’t all for nought as she met and married Dale Torborg and they had a daughter in 2005.
Chyna on the other hand, ripped through WWF becoming the first woman to be in a Royal Rumble and also the only woman to hold the Intercontinental championship which she held twice! Unfortunately, Chyna passed away in April 2016 and would go on to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2019 with DX, albeit posthumously. As a testament to how popular, mould breaking and unique she truly was, wrestling fans still talk of her fondly even today.
So, as knock offs go, this one wasn’t the best attempt at all. To paraphrase P-Nut in our podcast, it’s like ordering Chyna from Wish and you end up with Asya. As sad as that is, it’s how she’s always going to be remembered, as a Poundland version of a true pioneer. Chyna was imitated but never duplicated.