World Wrestling Federation debut & DX
Joan Laurer known better as her ringname "Chyna" is one of the three origional DX Members. Vince McMahon didn't want to hire her he later changed his mind by hiring Laurer, and she made her WWF debut on February 16, 1997 at In Your House 13: Final Four; her character emerged as a plant from a ringside seat, choking Marlena while Goldust was in the ring with Triple H. Her original role in the promotion was as the laconic enforcer/bodyguard for Triple H and later, his D-Generation X group (which included Sean "X-Pac" Waltman). She often helped Triple H (then, a rising villain) cheat to win by physically interfering in matches by executing her trademark low blow to the groin. She was later introduced as Chyna, a play on words; fine china is delicate and fragile, which was a sharp contrast to her character. Off-screen, however, the male wrestlers were hesitant at first to let a female over-power them on-screen.
In January 1999, Chyna was the thirtieth entrant in the Royal Rumble, becoming the first woman ever to enter the contest. The day after the Royal Rumble, Chyna became a villain by betraying Triple H and aligning herself with his enemy Vince McMahon and Kane. Laurer teamed with Kane at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre pay-per-view against former allies X-Pac and Triple H. At WrestleMania XV, Chyna turned on Kane in his match by helping Triple H defeat him, appearing to rejoin DX. Chyna and Triple H, however, turned against DX later that evening when they helped Shane McMahon defeat DX member X-Pac. The duo became part of The Corporation and later Shane McMahon's Corporate Ministry. Following the dissolution of the Corporate Ministry, Chyna remained at Triple H's side.
In June 1999, Chyna did the unthinkable and became the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament. She was also the first female to be the number one contender for the WWF Championship, but lost the spot to Mick Foley before SummerSlam in August. Later that year, Laurer became a fan favorite again during her long feud with Jeff Jarrett. At Unforgiven, she had a match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship against Jarrett, which she lost. She defeated Jarrett for the title at No Mercy in his last WWF match, a Good Housekeeping match, on October 17 at No Mercy, in the process becoming the only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship. She also gained the services of his valet, Miss Kitty. Laurer claims that Jarrett demanded (and received) $300,000 from Vince McMahon in order to lose the title cleanly to a woman. His contract had expired on October 16, and he was therefore not contractually obligated to appear on the pay-per-view. If he had not appeared, the WWF would have been criticized for false advertising, and the lineage of the title would have been broken. Chyna then feuded with Chris Jericho over the belt, defeating him at the Survivor Series, but losing the title to him at Armageddon. The two faced off again in a match on the December 28 edition of SmackDown!, which ended controversially with both wrestlers pinning each other. As a result, then "head of authority" Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley declared them co-champions. At the Royal Rumble, Jericho and Chyna defended the title against Hardcore Holly in a Triple Threat match to determine the Intercontinental Champion, which Jericho won. Afterwards, Laurer briefly teamed with Jericho.