By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Vice TV issued the following press release to announce the premiere of “VICE VERSA: Chyna” for Thursday, June 17.
BROOKLYN, NY (June 4, 2021)– VICE TV, America’s fastest growing entertainment cable network, announced today the upcoming premiere of VICE VERSA: Chyna, the authorized and first ever documentary about the rise and fall of one of wrestling’s most fascinating figures whose life was tragically cut short in 2016 following a fatal overdose. Directed by Sunshine Superman’s Marah Strauch, VICE VERSA: Chyna is the definitive account of the wrestling phenom’s life. It shares an in-depth look at what it is to be famous in America, weaving a narrative of betrayal and addiction untreated while revealing an intimate portrait of a complicated woman. The two-hour documentary will premiere Thursday June 17th @ 9 pm ET/PT on VICE TV.
She was billed “The Ninth Wonder of the World”- Joanie Laurer aka Chyna. As a World Wrestling Federation star (now World Wrestling Entertainment aka WWE), Chyna was a seemingly unstoppable force, an Amazonian warrior who went where women were not supposed to go, smashing through the glass ceiling and slaying her opponents. But after her abrupt dismissal from the WWE and losing the rights to her name, Chyna’s world slowly began to crumble. Attempting to navigate the loss of her career as well as cope with unhealed childhood trauma, drugs entered the star’s life. Chyna pivoted to participating in reality shows such as The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, released adult movies, taught English in Japan and joined the Mormon church.
In 2015, Chyna’s close circle began filming the star with the intent of making a documentary called The Reconstruction of Chyna. The film was meant to be her epic comeback, capturing the reunion between Chyna and her estranged mother, an exotic spiritual journey and her pursuit to be inducted in The WWE Hall of Fame, but Chyna passed away during filming and the project was never completed. As VICE VERSA: Chyna will reveal, those in her inner circle had their own interests and demons that were in play as well.
“Joanie aka Chyna’s meteoric rise and fall is the stuff of Shakespearian drama, but underneath all that flash, she was an intelligent and sensitive person who struggled with addiction,” said VICE VERSA: Chyna director Marah Strauch. “This documentary will give viewers an intimate and unfiltered view of her personal journey as a pop culture icon and beyond and will compassionately tell the true story of Chyna’s last year of life.”
Viewers will have unprecedented access to exclusive videos from Chyna’s last year of her life, salvaged footage from the abandoned documentary as well as interviews from insiders in Chyna’s life including her sister Kathy Hamilton; her mother Jan LaQue; Chyna’s former fiancé and WWE Hall of Famer Sean Waltman; renowned wrestling star and friend Mick Foley; noted addiction medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky, who treated Chyna during ‘Celebrity Rehab’ and worked to get her treatment during her final year; celebrated wrestler Billy Gunn; noted wrestling pundit Vincent Russo; and many close confidants and members of Chyna’s inner circle who spent her last year with her.
“I participated in this documentary because, as Joanie’s mom, it was important to me to have the opportunity to tell my side of the story,” said Chyna’s mother Jan LaQue. “Joanie was an awesome human being not only in the ring but, more importantly, beyond the ring. She was a wonderful person. Joanie’s story is important to tell because people should know the vast extent her life’s positive impact had on so many others. Her gentle, loving and caring way was astounding despite the inner grief and sadness she carried at the same time.”
VICE VERSA: Chyna is part of VICE TV’s VICE VERSA strand, a series of independent documentary specials that serve as a hub for compelling storytelling that challenges the status quo. Other specials under the banner include VICE VERSA: College $ports, Inc. where former Olympian, NFL star, and NCAA athlete Jeremy Bloom investigates the NCAA’s mistreatment of its student athletes (premieres June 9th @ 9 pm ET/PT); VICE VERSA: The Neglected Pandemic, 40 Years of HIV & AIDS, a comprehensive look at what it is to be HIV positive in the USA in 2021 narrated by ‘Queer Eye’ star Jonathan Van Ness; and VICE VERSA: Meghan Markle Escaping The Crown, which explored if institutionalized racism drove the U.K’s first black princess to flee the crown.
“With the critical acclaim and success of our hit series, Dark Side of the Ring, we wanted to expand our wrestling content through this installment of VICE VERSA” said Catherine Whyte, Executive Vice President & Head of Production, VICE TV. “VICE TV is known for its fearless approach to storytelling and giving voice to stories no one else will. Chyna’s story is so powerful- she was a disruptor and an icon. While some may have prefered Chyna’s last days remain in the past, VICE TV will continue to shine a light on stories others are afraid to tell.”
VICE VERSA: Chyna Inc is produced by Citizen Skull and Rock Salt Releasing. Executive producers are Daisy Hamilton and Mark Myers. Produced and directed by Marah Strauch. Co-producer is Eric Bruggemann. Executive producer for VICE TV is Catherine Whyte. Senior Development Manager for VICE TV is Tara Nadolny. The documentary is distributed worldwide by VICE Distribution.
VICE TV is available via all major satellite and cable providers and the VICE TV app via iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast. For more information about VICE TV, go to VICETV.com
Powell’s POV: The success of Dark Side of the Ring has caused Vice TV to get more involved with pro wrestling. In addition to the Chyna documentary, the network is also airing MLW on Saturday at noon ET. Here’s hoping that the Chyna documentary is at least on par with the best of the Dark Side of the Ring features.