Hulk Hogan and Wrestling World Mourn Chyna
The death of Chyna has caused shocked and devastated wrestling stars to pay tribute to the WWE legend.
The athlete, born Joan Laurer, who became one of the first female superstars of the then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) after she joined in 1997, was found dead at a property in Redondo Beach, California on Wednesday evening.
Her passing was confirmed with a statement on her official Twitter account, mourning the loss of “a true icon, a real life superhero.”
According to editors at TMZ, police officers are investigating her death as a potential overdose due to her history of drug addiction.
After hearing the news wrestling stars past and present took to social media to express their shock and sadness.
Contemporaries, including fellow members of the wrestling group D-Generation X, with whom she rose to stardom in the late 1990s, were particularly hard hit by the news.
Triple H, real name Paul Michael Levesque, who, like Chyna, was a founding member of the group and is now a WWE (as the WWF was renamed in 2002) executive, wrote on Twitter:
Someone who wasn't afraid to blaze her own trail & create a path for those who would follow. A pioneer whose star shined bright. #RIPChyna
— Triple H (@TripleH) April 21, 2016
Another D-Generation X star, Road Dogg, real name Brian James, wrote:
— Brian G. James (@WWERoadDogg) April 21, 2016
Other legends who wrestled alongside Chyna were also left stunned by the news. Mick Foley wrote a heartfelt post which read:
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
Hulk Hogan, real name Terry Bollea, also added his tribute.
Devastated over Chyna passing,she dated Brutus years before wrestling,such a beautiful soul and so kind to my children,rip Joanie love u. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 21, 2016
Women in the wrestling industry were keen to emphasize Chyna’s role as a pioneer, as she was the first female superstar to enter The Royal Rumble – one of WWE’s biggest events, and won championship belts usually competed for by men.
Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE owner Vince McMahon wrote on Twitter:
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) April 21, 2016
While her ’90s contemporary Trish Stratus posted the tribute:
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
Laurer left wrestling in 2001 to pursue other projects, including reality television. In 2005, she appeared on the TV show The Surreal Life. In 2008, she opened up about battling her addiction demons on show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.