Chyna was a big star for WWE during the Attitude Era, and she wanted to be paid as such.
On a recent episode of his Grilling JR podcast, the AEW commentator spoke about the Ninth Wonder of the World's career and the events that lead to her stepping away from the company.
"Well, we decided not to renew her contract. We wanted her to save face. We wanted her to leave without having to die on her sword, and so consequently I decided that it would be a mutually agreed [upon] parting of the ways. It left her with some credibility, it didn't make her seem so much as the victim, which I'm not so sure she didn't want to be. She may have wanted to be the victim and garner the sympathy that a babyface would if he was against a big heel with insurmountable odds and overcoming them. She had a meeting with Vince, and then he stopped meeting with her. She still came to TV thinking she might get booked or might be used. I don't know why we kept bringing her to television. I nipped that in the bud because it was a waste of money, waste of her time, wear and tear. We made her a real good offer, I thought."
Jim Ross mentioned how he and Vince McMahon could not justify offering Chyna more than a $400,000 downside guarantee on a new contract, and how she wanted nothing less than top-tier compensation.
"The 400K was probably more than she was making when she was earning a million, do you understand that logic. She gets an increase in her downside, she's going to make about $8000 a week, somewhere thereabouts. If she gets back rolling and gets creative rolling again and she invests in herself as she did before in her character, then the chance of her making more money and being higher up on the card is obviously there.
Her deal to me was, "I'm as valuable as Stone Cold is to WWE. Chyna is as valuable to WWE as Stone Cold Steve Austin is." So, therefore, she knew there were a handful of guys making a million-dollar downside, and he was one of them. That was the magic number. At that time, that was the number you strive to attain if you're a talent because that was the top of the pay grade, 19,000 and change a week. A lot of guys just took it as they earned it. Jericho and I talked about that the other day. He had some two or three million dollar years on about a $350,000/year downside. So it's there to make. That's the incentive of it. That's why it works so well."
Unfortunately for Chyna, she was never going to be used in the same way as Stone Cold or The Undertaker, and so Jim Ross agreed that it wasn't a smart investment for the company to make. Vince was willing to give her a raise but wasn't necessarily bullish about keeping her around, which JR admits is what he wanted to hear.
"It was an ongoing saga, and I said, "Joanie, why do you want to be here? Every time you come to work you see Hunter or Stephanie or together. It's going to eat you alive. Can't just be the money, you're going to be miserable. I really believe that... Just trying to be honest with her."
Jim Ross says that he knew after weeks of conversations that she had her eye on acting with the hopes of being the female Arnold Schwarzenegger. He tried to give her as much positive reinforcement as possible to ease out of the wrestling business, at least with WWE, and go do something else. At the end of the day, they felt like there were too many obstacles in the way of getting Chyna on stable ground within the company.
Chyna and WWE mutually agreed to part ways at the end of November 2001.
It was also revealed recently by Chyna's former manager Anthony Anzaldo that the company wanted to put the WWE Championship on her at one point, but Playboy got in the way.