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Updated – Joanie “Chyna” Laurer Signs With TNA Wrestling

Joanie Lauer signs with TNA WrestlingIt appears that the TNA Wrestling hiring freeze is over. Joanie “Chyna” Laurer has returned to pro wrestling and signed with TNA. Continuing with the current trend of booking feuds from the 1990s, Laurer will reignite an old feud that last saw life in 1999.

To those of you who wish to avoid TNA Impact spoilers, stop reading now. Okay you have been warned!

The former WWE intercontinental and women’s champion made her debut at the end of the Impact taping scheduled to air May 12. Laurer appeared towards the end of a Battle Royal after Jeff Jarrett with help from his wife dumped Kurt Angle out. Lauer ran into the ring and dumped Jeff out picking up where the two left off at No Mercy…1999.

Laurer will play the role of Kurt Angle’s mistress in his feud with the Jarretts. Most speculated that role would be played by the former Isis the Giant. According to reports, a Plan B went into effect after TNA saw how green Isis is, although some reports cite her attitude as part of the problem. Regardless of the reasons why, Isis is out and the former Chyna is in.

The signing of Laurer is a very curious signing indeed. After recent controversies with Jeff Hardy and Scott Hall, the idea of putting any stock into someone who is a well publicized addict is a gamble to say the least. On the other hand Eddie Guerrero did struggle with addictions and was a responsible performer once he sobered up so while risky, I wouldn’t immediate disqualify someone for a spot over it.

Ironically this is already something of a second chance for Laurer. Laurer had signed to wrestle in TNA back in 2004. TNA Wrestling made a big deal about the signing which at the time would have been pretty big for the company. Laurrer was scheduled to wrestle as “Chyna Doll”. She wound up quitting in weeks. Reports at the time speculated that she didn’t want to put Trinity over although Lauer claims she got sick with pneumonia. Fairplay told fans that it was due to Laurer’s high demands for first class plane tickets.

It’s okay, Hulk Hogan and Matt Hardy screwed TNA over as well years earlier and later returned with open arms. I couldn’t imagine Vince McMahon ever being that forgiving.

For those of you TNA fans upset about seeing Jay Lethal released, well now you know where his money went. There have been numerous stories about a hiring freeze in TNA over the last several weeks. According to several reports, Dixie Carter’s mother Janice has put a freeze on spending money. Having to fire someone to open up some cash for Laurer makes sense and with Lethal randomly released, the math adds up.

If Laurer can stay on the straight and narrow, she really isn’t a bad signing. She is a recognizable name and somewhat of a celebrity in popular culture, albeit known for her porn and addictions. She was one of the biggest stars of the WWE Attitude era and should at least draw some new viewers curious about what she looks like in 2011.

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However, the idea of bringing her in to reignite a feud from 1999 is a continuing theme in TNA booking that is obviously not working. The idea of seeing Sting vs. Hogan in 2011 has me laughing at times when I watch the two of them working angles with each other. I do like when past angles and matches impact current stories but there is just a little too much of it right now in TNA. Impact is like watching a soap opera of people in their fifties continuing drama from 20 years ago.

In typical TNA fashion instead of elevating one of the Knockouts with the spot they go outside the company and bring in a former star that hasn’t been relevant in pro wrestling in many years. This happens all of the time and TNA has missed so many opportunities to elevate talent in exchange for marking out for an angle or wrestler from 10 years ago. I am sure those Knockouts making $400 or less a match don’t mind.

Laurer hasn’t been a full-time or even a part-time pro wrestling performer in a long time. Laurer’s last actual pro wrestling match came almost ten years ago. Laurer teamed with the Fake Great Muta (Johnny the Bull) for New Japan Pro Wrestling losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenzo Suzuki.

I will freely admit that I loved the Jeff Jarrett vs. Chyna feud in the WWE back in 1999. It was new, fresh, and Jarrett was simply awesome in the program. I am confident that Jeff will be just as entertaining now but there have been plenty of man vs. woman wrestling feuds since which makes this much different than their series in 1999.

At least TNA can be confident that Jeff won’t be demanding $100,000 payoff to put Laurer over somewhere down the line. Actually that could be a pretty fun angle.

Update: TMZ.com reports that Joanie Laurer has a “short leash” and is working on a handshake deal. According to the report, Laurer has no deal in writing and is only scheduled for a very short run. The report also says that she has a 1-year offer from Antonio Inoki on the table to return to Japan.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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