Former WWE star Chyna (real name Joanie Laurer) was found dead at her home Wednesday night in Redondo Beach, California. She was 45 years old.
So far the cause of death is unknown, but she was discovered in her bed by a friend. The police issued a statement saying they are investigating, but do not suspect foul play:
— ABC News (@ABC) April 21, 2016
Chyna was one of the many troubled souls of the wrestling business. At one time she had it all, a powerful female icon long before the ‘Divas Revolution.’ She’s a former WWE Women’s and Intercontinental Champion, and was one of the first and few female performers to mix it up with the men in meaningful storylines. During the Attitude Era alongside DX and later as a single’s star, she was one of the most over midcard talents, which translated in to several TV appearances outside of wrestling. She also appeared twice in Playboy, selling a tremendous amount of copies.
Tragically it all came crashing down for her when real life partner Triple H left her for Stephanie McMahon. This eventually resulted in her departure from the company and she spiralled in to drug and alcohol abuse. She was infamously in a sex tape with Sean “Xpac” Waltman, which she later claimed was made without her permission. She then went on to do porn professionally. Her controversial life was also spotlighted on VH1 reality shows “The Surreal Life” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”
In recent years Chyna took to Youtube to connect with her fans while living in Japan, but on many occasions would be visibly intoxicated and she sometimes ranted about WWE and Triple H. It seems she never quite got over the trauma.
In 2015 she returned to the States and the WWE Hall of Fame became a talking point among fans. Triple H told Steve Austin on his podcast that he respected what Chyna meant to the WWE, but she would never be inducted because of her lifestyle choices.
Before her death Chyna had been filming a documentary called The Reconstruction of Chyna, seemingly an attempt at cleaning up her image. This however was met with skepticism when she invaded WWE HQ for publicity and then reportedly caused a scene at Roddy Piper’s funeral by pestering Triple H.
Beyond the headlines Chyna was well liked by almost everyone she met, both in wrestling and the wider entertainment industry. She will be remembered by those who knew her as a sweet and caring person. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.
The World Reacts To Chyna Passing
None other than Stephanie McMahon took to Twitter to own the narrative, in what can only be described as awkward and blatant PR. Triple H himself has not commented.
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) April 21, 2016
WWE.com also issued a statement:
WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Joanie Laurer, best known for competing in WWE as Chyna, has passed away.
A physically striking and wildly talented performer, Chyna was a true sports-entertainment pioneer. Not only did the Superstar dubbed “The Ninth Wonder of the World” help found the groundbreaking faction D-Generation X, but she also holds the distinction of being the first and only female to win the Intercontinental Championship.
WWE extends its condolences to Laurer’s family, friends and fans.
Here’s some of the social media buzz, which includes wrestlers, celebrities and MMA stars:
Joanie, I'm so sorry. I will always treasure our friendship and will never forget your kindness to my children. RIP https://t.co/pVV0KjbkFt
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) April 21, 2016
I got this news a few hours ago and have been simply GUTTED since! Hate these 3 letters, RIP "Ms. Big Joanie" #FoundPeace
— Terri Runnels (@theterrirunnels) April 21, 2016
Such a sad day. I will be staying off social media for a few days. This news broke my heart
— Lisa Marie Varon (@REALLiSAMARiE) April 21, 2016
Condolences to the family & friends of @ChynaJoanLaurer. Hopefully her troubled soul has found peace.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) April 21, 2016
— #StrongerThanDeath (@MATTHARDYBRAND) April 21, 2016
Rest easy baby girl! @ChynaJoanLaurer
— GOLDUST (@Goldust) April 21, 2016
Shattered glass ceilings, kicked down doors, broke gender barriers, she was an anomaly & untouchable. Rest now-ur legacy lives on #RIPChyna
— Trish Stratus (@trishstratuscom) April 21, 2016
RIP chyna great memories good times you will always be a great part of my life during a great time of my life you will be missed
— KEN SHAMROCK (@ShamrockKen) April 21, 2016
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) April 21, 2016
All I can say is that Chyna was always incredibly kind to me. I never forgot that. Life can be rough even to the strongest amongst us.
— Gregory Shane Helms (@ShaneHelmsCom) April 21, 2016
Chyna went through a lot in her life. There was a great lady under that struggle. Rest in peace, old friend pic.twitter.com/G8zb3LHTTL
— Adrianne Curry (@AdrianneCurry) April 21, 2016
Someone who didn't get enough credit for what she did for women in wrestling. Sadly she will get that recognition now. RIP Chyna.
— The Young Bucks (@NickJacksonYB) April 21, 2016
— Verne Troyer (@VerneTroyer) April 21, 2016
The epitome of the word pioneer. Godspeed my fellow Kowalski alum Chyna. You reinvented what a female wrestler is. May you be at peace.
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) April 21, 2016
— Roy Nelson (@roynelsonmma) April 21, 2016
Chyna was always cool to me back when I was an extra years ago. She would always ask about the local guys. This sucks. #RIP
— Brutal Bob Evans (@brutalbobevans) April 21, 2016
So sad… RIP! https://t.co/ifE9J4x5Xo
— Cris Cyborg (@criscyborg) April 21, 2016
Sad to hear about Chyna passing away. Lots of #WWE legends have gone too soon.
— Shane Carwin (@ShaneCarwin) April 21, 2016
Chyna. Rest in peace.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 21, 2016
I am very saddened to hear of the passing of Joanie Laurer AKA Chyna. Joanie was fighting to get… https://t.co/boqrbMLm2o
— Dennis Haskins (@mrbelding) April 21, 2016
RIP Chyna pic.twitter.com/23CrQPir3i
— phil baroni (@philbaroni) April 21, 2016