WWE Legend Chyna Found Dead at 46
Legendary WWE wrestler and entertainer Joanie Laurer, better known as “Chyna,” was found dead in her Redondo Beach, California apartment on Wednesday night. She was 46 years old.
While Laurer’s cause of death is still unknown at this time, TMZ Sports has reported that Redondo Beach officers are investigating evidence of a possible overdose. Police officers did not find any illegal drugs in the apartment, but prescription pill bottles were discovered in the home. There are no signs of foul play.
Police were called to Laurer’s apartment around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night after a friend went to check on her and discovered Laurer was unresponsive in her bedroom. Sources say that Laurer hadn’t been heard from for several days, prompting her friend’s visit. Laurer had a long history of drug abuse and addiction.
Laurer’s official Twitter page confirmed her passing early Thursday morning with this message:
#RipChyna ??? all of us on team Chyna love you and will love you forever babe.
— Chyna (@ChynaJoanLaurer) April 21, 2016
Stephanie McMahon, WWE chief brand officer and daughter of CEO Vince McMahon, tweeted late last night: “I just heard the tragic news that [Chyna] has passed. She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed. #RIPChyna.”
The physically imposing wrestler billed as the “Ninth Wonder of the World” broke into the WWE in 1997, appearing as an enforcer for and ally of wrestler Triple H. Chyna quickly rose to stardom, breaking ground for female wrestlers in the industry with her intensely physical competiveness as well as her marketable sex appeal. She became a member of the infamous faction D-Generation X, along with Shawn Michaels and Triple H, and won the WWE Intercontinental Championship in 1997 and 2001. She remains the only female wrestler in WWE history to win this championship, as well as holding the distinction of being the first woman to compete in the WWE’s Royal Rumble.
Laurer’s crossover to mainstream celebrity began when she posed for Playboy in 2000. After leaving the WWE in 2001, Chyna pursued wrestling in Japan and for TNA Wrestling in the U.S. before beginning a career in pornography. She released six pornographic films between 2004 and 2013. In a February 2015 podcast interview, former wrestler Triple H and real-life husband of Stephanie McMahon mentioned that Chyna deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame, but has not been inducted due to her pornographic films.
Laurer also appeared in the reality TV shows The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, where she detailed her struggles with drug abuse and mental illness.
According to NBC News, Laurer was born Dec. 27, 1969 and was a native of Rochester, New York.