Former WWE Wrestling Star Chyna is Found Dead at 45
Groundbreaking female wrestler Chyna was found dead in her California home on Wednesday night aged just 45.
The star, whose real name was Joan Laurer, was found unresponsive in her Redondo Beach apartment after a friend went to check on her and notified police. The cause of death is still unknown and under investigation, and police say there were no signs of foul play.
In a statement on her website, her publicist wrote: “It is with deep sadness to inform you that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world, has passed away.”
Chyna rose to fame in the mid-90s during what was known as the “Attitude Era” of the WWE.
She was the first female to ever enter the Royal Rumble match and qualify for the King of the Ring tournament, and in 1999, she became the first woman to win the Intercontinental Championship.
During that time, she dated wrestling superstar Triple H, who would later marry WWE CEO Vince McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, in 2003.
On Thursday morning, Stephanie tweeted her condolences.
Chyna left the WWE in 2001 and went on to have a well-publicized battle with drugs and alcohol and appeared on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2008.
Chyna often appeared on reality TV shows like The Surreal Life. She also posed twice for Playboy and in later years starred in adult films.
WWE posted a message of condolence on their website Thursday morning.
“WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Joanie Laurer, best known for competing in WWE as Chyna, has passed away," it said.
“A physically striking and talented performer, Chyna was a true sports-entertainment pioneer. Not only was the Superstar dubbed "The Ninth Wonder of the World" a founding member of the groundbreaking faction D-Generation X, but she also holds the distinction of being the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble Match and the first and only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship.”
Christian Moralde, a close friend and TV personality paid tribute to Chyna on Instagram.