The wrestling community will be less one great talent as the news that Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was found dead by a friend in her apartment in California. Page Six is reporting that the "9th Wonder of the World" may have died due to a drug overdose. Although no drugs were found at the scene, Chyna was taking medication for anxiety and sleep deprivation.
Chyna's career and life was a rollercoaster of a ride with great highs and tragic lows. She was introduced to the world as a bodyguard/wrestler for then boyfriend, WWE Legend Paul "Triple H" Levesque. Chyna evolved to become a wrestling star in her own right as she is founding member of D-Generation X, a former two time WWE Intercontinental Championship, and former WWE Women's Champion. She electrified fans and inspired a new generation of women to join the ranks of the WWE.
Chyna's size and physique afforded her the honor to be the first woman to participate in the Royal Rumble and the King of the Ring. The 9th Wonder of the World left "a lasting legacy as the most dominant female competitor of all time" before she left the federation in 2001.
Then came the lows, with controversy regarding her break up with Triple H, as he began dating his current wife, Stephanie McMahon who many believe was the reason the WWF released her. She claimed that Triple H actually hit her once at the end, something he denied. Many believe she never got over her heartbreak over losing Triple H, and it started the downward spiral she went on.
“I think Hunter’s plan was to get me to leave the relationship first. That way he could start dating Stephanie and everything would be cool. We got into a heated argument. We were not getting along. I told him ‘I know something’s going on; don’t tell me something’s not going on.’ He swiped my hand, I swiped his hand, and then he hit me. And that’s a deal-breaker for me. The relationship is now over. After that I know that he was crying, and I know that he felt bad that he hit me. I was just in shock; it felt like a Jerry Springer moment, it was very surreal. I just couldn’t believe that he hit me. You … don’t punch girls, and you don’t treat them like that, and ruin their entire career and life, and never speak another word to them. Aside from saying they don’t want their 8-year-old looking up on Google about your past.” - Wrestlezone.com
Her life after Triple H and the WWF took an unexpected twist. During her career in wrestling, Chyna posed for Playboy in all her glory, changing the way women with very muscular bodies are seen by the world. It opened up an avenue into the Adult Entertainment Industry, as she starred in several porn videos, including one from problematic ex-boyfriend Sean "X-Pac" Waltman. She was the 2006 AVN Awards "Best Selling Title of the Year" for One Night in China and the 2012 AVN Awards "Best Celebrity Sex Tape" for Backdoor to Chyna.
FACT: Due to a rupture while wrestling, Chyna needed custom made breast implants, which became the model for the Chyna 2000s, a new series of breast implants for large-framed women and female bodybuilders.
Chyna fell from grace as drugs and a toxic relationship with X-Pac dimmed her light. Her issues were well documented when she appeared on The Surreal Life in 2005. In January of that year, she was arrested for putting a beating on X-Pac. The drug problem really strained her life as a whole. In January 2005, Sean Waltman claimed that she was battling drug and alcohol addiction, as well as mental illness after it was reported that she stripped naked and jumped into a fish tank in a New York City nightclub. She appeared for an interview on The Howard Stern Show, under the influence and went on to state that she did not want to do drugs anymore, but if a line of cocaine was in front of her, she would do it. In 2008, Chyna was rushed to the hospital after her birthday party, where she was found passed out with cuts on her arms.
Chyna did find a way to climb out from all that darkness as she made her way back to the career she loved, debuting for TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling in 2011. She appeared on several sitcoms and movie projects and even went to Japan to teach English. Many believed she would finally turn things around for the better, and in some ways she did. You can say alot of things about Chyna, but one thing you can't say is that she gave up. She did good for herself in life, and will be missed by those that really knew the light she had within her.
Rest in Peace Chyna, may your star shine as bright in death as it did in life.
Joan Marie "Chyna" Laurer
December 27, 1969-April 20, 2016