I don’t get out much anymore. Balancing a job, a mortgage, a wife, and 2 kids doesn’t leave a lot of time for other interests. We try to see friends and family as much as possible but it’s difficult to get everybody’s schedules to match up. I try to do a little acting here and there, just to keep the creative juices flowing. I contribute to Diva Dirt for the same reasons. It’s all good and I’m certainly not complaining, but life is sure different than when my wife and I met in college. Back then our most important decision was “Bud or Bud Light?” Now we worry about things like parent-teacher conferences and soccer practice (By the way I’m officially a soccer mom now…who needs orange wedges? Off to McDonald’s!) It’s not like we were the Rolling Stones once upon a time, but my wife and I used to love hitting the DC clubs and staying out a little too late. We used to have 2 or 3 house parties each year that wouldn’t wrap up until the sun was shining. Good times. Now a wild night for us is staying awake until they announce American Idol results. So when my friend Patrick invited us to his summer party a few weeks ago, we reacted like lions at Morton’s Steakhouse. “We’re going….OUT?”
If only it were that simple. Should we both go? Should I go? Should she go? Are kids invited? Do we bring the kids even if they are? Do we drive? Should we get a taxi service? Should we spend the night? All things to consider. It’s not that we never go out just the two of us, but it better be for a damn good reason. Once you start getting babysitters involved the complexity of the evening triples, as does the cost. So normally we’ll all go somewhere, or one of us goes out while the other stays home and keeps the family train on track. The question though is “Which one of us gets to go?” I know, romantic right? (I’m happy to say the honeymoon is never over around here.) Here’s where we bring in our legal teams.
Attorney 1: “Well, David, your wife feels she should go because you went out 3 weeks ago for 45 minutes.”
Attorney 2: “Objection! That was to pick up flowers for his mother-in-law!”
That is obviously a dramatization but there is a little bit of truth in there. Our schedules are complex and our lives do require a great deal of planning. Over the years we have actually gotten very good at working together and managing our responsibilities. It is a constantly evolving adventure that lines up with what Roddy Piper used to say, “Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions!” In this case “life” is frequently changing the questions. What got us through Monday doesn’t always work on Tuesday. Grab a hold and ride the wave (or as my Bangles say, “ride the ride.”) My wife and I are experts at that. We met in college in 1992. Since then we dated for several years, lived together, broke up a few times, got back together, got married, started a family, moved to a new house, dealt with serious health issues, and had a Baby Glamazon. Huge life transitions that left lasting footprints. I certainly realize we are not unique; everybody goes through major life changes. For us the key is HOW we handle these transitions that define our overall success and happiness.
(I know you’re wondering what this has to do with women’s wrestling. “This isn’t ‘The View’ David!” I’ll try to hurry up and get to my point. Rest assured I won’t break out any old family photos…especially since my hair was such a disaster in the 80’s that I personally kept Vidal Sassoon in business.)
We ultimately decided that Patrick’s party was not “baby-sitter” worthy. Our decision was based on the same mathematical formula NASA uses to reposition satellites. Only one of us would go. Since my wife had Adam Lambert tickets for the following week, she said it was my turn to go out. She was returning the favor since I had offered to babysit the night of the concert. (Disclaimer – I was actually hoping she would decline my offer and “drag” me to the Lambert concert. I like him and would have enjoyed seeing the crowd there. Plus he usually performs with more lasers than George Lucas. Anyway, my plan backfired. She went to the concert and I cleaned up baby oatmeal. Plus she got to meet Adam after the show…grrr.)
The night of the party I got dressed up and headed out. Patrick’s girlfriend, Helen, lives in a beautiful DC condo that features a scenic view of the city. They pieced together a really nice party that featured good food, great wine, and fun music. I have to admit it was liberating being there without the kids. And since I was planning to stay there that night I didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving (Patrick and I have been friends since we were 3 years old. We’ve had more sleepovers than the Matt and Jeff Hardy.) I started to mingle. I like meeting new people so I enjoyed working the room, eventually settling next to a group of people talking about their hobbies and interests. One guy loved NASCAR. One girl liked training for marathons. One couple talked about their recent vacation to Italy. Then I thought, ‘what the hell’, I poured myself some more sangria and said “I love women’s professional wrestling.” SCREEECH! I just wish I could have captured the different looks I saw at that very moment. Horror. Fascination. Amusement. Disbelief. I could have said I was 5 months pregnant and not seen such a rainbow of emotions. It was magnificent.
I continued, “And not only that I am a writer for Diva-Dirt.com, the women’s wrestling bible. I also host a radio show on the site every Wednesday. It’s great fun!” People were frozen. I could hear pins dropping. One girl eventually reached over and poured herself another sangria, finishing it in one big gulp. I’m not sure if people were digesting the fact that I mentioned women’s professional wrestling or the fact that I was so damn proud and excited about it. Hard to tell. Finally a girl opened her mouth and broke the silence. I knew exactly what was coming next….
“Oh, so you guys talk about that girl…um…Chyna?” At the mention of her name, the others nodded along, showing some sense of recognition.
I said, “Sure sometimes we do. Chyna definitely had a major impact on the industry. You know Joanie Laurer has had a lot of personal problems since leaving the WWE though, its really kind of sad.”
“Really?!?” No one knew about that. No one knew about her struggles with addiction or her infamous sex tape. No one knew about her appearances on The Surreal Life or Celebrity Rehab. To them she had just disappeared. Here was a woman who at one time was front and center of the entire WWE Attitude Era, a major part of D-Generation X, and someone who’s fame extended beyond the walls of her profession. The small group of people around me had definitely heard of her, but they hadn’t thought of her in many many years. Celebrity can be a strange bedfellow. Here one day, gone the next.
I mentioned earlier how my wife and I have gotten better at managing life’s transitions. How we work hard to find a sense of equilibrium when faced with both expected and unexpected changes. But make no mistake; it took a lot of emotional growth, a lot of cooperation. As “normal” people we have the luxury of working these things out in private. That’s the thing about celebrity – the visibility. Your life is played out on Entertainment Tonight, Twitter, and People magazine. Sure the visibility brings wealth and excess, all advantages of being famous, but there are so many examples of people that can’t handle it. Especially when that visibility, that fame, that adulation, is taken away. Or in the case of Chyna, when it was yanked away. Can you imagine the fall from WWE superstar to industry pariah? Chyna’s fall from grace is staggering. Sadly though, this is a major part of Chyna’s story and colors the success she experienced as a ground-breaking performer (Her story is now similar to OJ Simpson’s or Michael Jackson’s in that you can’t talk about OJ’s football career without mentioning the Ford Bronco, or talk about MJ’s dancing without mentioning his 6 noses and pet chimpanzee.)
When Chyna broke into the WWE in 1997 she immediately rocketed to the forefront of the company. Her association with Triple H and Shawn Michaels couldn’t have come at a better time, right when D-Generation X was exploding into one of the best storylines the industry has ever seen. Funny how we always seem to mention Michelle McCool’s personal life in the same breath as her professional achievements (which is a crying shame). Well, Chyna dating HHH sure seemed to help her get established. By the way, I didn’t know much about Joanie before she arrived in the WWE so I found her Wikipedia page fascinating. The fact that she previously worked for a 900-number chat line killed me for some reason. The only female WWE Intercontinental champion used to ask guys for their credit card information before… well, you know. (Hey, I’m not hating on Joanie. We all have to make a living and frankly it is nice to know I have options.)
Her success in the WWE can’t be denied. She began her on-screen career as Triple H’s bodyguard and she certainly looked the part. Large and imposing from years of bodybuilding, Chyna was believable in the role and became a valuable member of DX. I remember thinking how cool it was to see a women used like this. Chyna continued to break down barriers. Her career included an appearance in the Royal Rumble (up until this past January she was the only girl to ever appear in that event. I can’t remember who is now the second…thinking…thinking…), a spot in the King of the Ring tournament, a reign as Women’s champion, and most notably 2 reigns as WWE Intercontinental champion. That’s quite a resume. But you can’t mention her in-ring achievements without mentioning how her personal relationship with HHH ultimately affected her career. Once HHH broke up with her she found herself out of the WWE, and then basically out of professional wrestling (she did make a few appearances overseas…but compared to where she had been, referring for New Japan Pro Wrestling is a low blow to the groin, Chyna-style.)
If you want a good laugh, check out Joanie’s journey into film and television. It’s safe to say her IMDB page isn’t as impressive as she might have hoped. Trust me; no one will confuse her with Angelina Jolie (or even Angelina Love for that matter). I found it interesting she auditioned for a role in Terminator 3 but didn’t get the part, another blow to her ego. That could have been a nice break for her. It is pretty shocking that she made two Playboy appearances given the fact that she was never considered beautiful. I’m not exactly sure how much plastic surgery she’s had, but it’s safe to assume she has Joan Rivers’s doctor on speed dial. My God even her breast implants were so remarkable they required a special model number: the Chyna 2000s! (I really wanted to insert a joke here, but I can see the disgust in my editor’s face even before she reads this, so I’ll keep it PG because you never know when I might want to run for State Senator.)
Actually, the more I think about it, there is nothing funny about any of this. How could anybody handle that kind of life change? Legitimate WWE superstar to “Teddy Archibald” in the instant classic “Cougar Club”. A spectacular rise. A spectacular fall. In private that would be hard enough to deal with. In public, it is a guaranteed disaster. Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised any time I looked in the paper and saw the words “Former WWE star” + “Chyna” + “arrested”. Or “Chyna” + “releases” + “sex tape”. All of this is just very, very, sad. I sincerely hope she can overcome her difficulties and eventually move on to a better life. Unfortunately, for now, she is the perfect example of how fame and celebrity can be taken away, and once it is, how damaging that can be.
I initially thought about writing this column when I heard of Savannah’s released from the WWE. The news caught me off guard. I actually enjoyed her ring announcing. And judging by comments from fellow Diva Dirt readers she is a very talented wrestler, something she had not been given the chance to showcase properly. I met Savannah at WrestleMania 26 this past March and she seemed like a perfect fit for the Divas, friendly, attractive, and athletic. I saw her take photos with underprivileged and handicapped children and she always had a warm smile for them. That is how I will remember Savannah’s time in the WWE. I sincerely hope she handles this life transition better than Chyna did. Obviously Savannah never reached the same heights as the “Ninth Wonder of the World”, so I’m hoping she won’t reach the same depths either.
— Mr. Glamazon
PS – I mentioned Savannah but I know she is just one of the many stars released by the WWE over the past few months. The disappointment for each must be intense. Can you imagine Mike Knox waking up and then reading “The WWE wishes Mike Knox all the best in his future endeavors” as he is pouring milk over his Cheerios?! Ouch. Some guys like Jeff Hardy land on their feet and remain on national television. But how about guys like Slam Master J?
PPS – I am not a huge UFC fan but I did catch Brock Lesnar’s recent title defense and it was fascinating to hear the chatter around the bar. Brock’s WWE career always comes up in conversation (in a derogatory way) and so I was proud to see a former pro wrestler make a world-class MMA fighter tap out. Nothing “fake” about that my friends.
PPPS – Follow me on Twitter @dlb19338. I know it’s hard to believe there are 19,337 other DLBs.