Joanie Laurer, the actress and athlete better known to pro wrestling fans around the world as Chyna, has been found dead in her California home at the age of 46.
The world of wrestling is once again in mourning today, as reports are circulating that former WWF wrestler Chyna has been found dead at her home in Redondo Beach, CA. The two-time WWF Intercontinental champion and one-time WWF Women’s champion was just 46.
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
The news was announced via an official Twitter account maintained by a close friend of the ‘Ninth Wonder of the World’ earlier this morning. Details are scarce at the moment, but a report from TMZ suggests that authorities suspect that an overdose is the likely cause of death.
After a brief stint entering fitness competitions, Chyna — real name Joanie Laurer — entered the pro wrestling business by training under the legendary ‘Killer ‘Kowalski. Shortly afterwards, both WWF and WCW would apparently express an interest in signing the unique performer to a contract.
In the end, Vince McMahon and the WWF would win out, and Chyna would soon make an impact on television as a bodyguard for the group known as D-Generation X, led by Shawn Michaels and Triple H. The enforcer role is a near constant in pro wrestling factions, but the position was seldom filled by a woman.
Over the next few years, Chyna would further set her self apart from the majority of female wrestlers by competing with the men. The ‘Ninth Wonder of the World’ would be the first woman to enter the annual Royal Rumble battle royal, the first woman to be number one contender to the WWF Championship, and the first and only woman to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
Chyna would leave the WWF in 2001 for personal reasons, later making appearances in TNA to reignite a feud with former rival Jeff Jarrett, and in New Japan Pro Wrestling against the likes of Masahiro Chono and Jushin Thunder Liger. Her final televised match was in 2011.
In recent years, Laurer had worked as a television host, acted in sitcoms and appeared on reality television, starred in several adult films and had spent time teaching English in Japan. Struggles with drug and alcohol usage have reared their head at several times over the past decade, leading to suspicions regarding her cause of death.
Tributes to the late Joanie Laurer have been flooding in all morning. The sheer breadth and width of the figures commenting on her passing should demonstrate the enormous impact that Chyna had on pro wrestling.