The wrestling world lost one of its legendary performers as Chyna (Joanie Laurer) was found dead at her Los Angeles apartment on Wednesday, April 20. She was 46 years old.
“It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world has passed away. She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her,” said her website TheRealChyna.com.
CNN is reporting that the wrestler/body builder was found unresponsive after a friend asked police to check on her. While foul play is not suspected, the cause of death is under investigation.
Laurer was one of WWE”s leading attractions in the late 1990s while part of D-Generation X, grappling alongside Shawn Michaels and Triple H. She later earned the Intercontinental Championship as well as the Women”s Championship, but left the organization in 2001 for reasons that depend on who you ask. Laurer told Power Slam in 2011 she was pushed out because her real-life boyfriend Paul Levesque (a.k.a. Triple H) left her for Stephanie McMahon, daughter of WWE head Vince McMahon. Former WWE exec and broadcaster Jim Ross said that Laurer left for “personal reasons.”
In her post-WWE career, Laurer would continue wrestling in Japan an then return to the U.S. with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. She would also embark on a career in pornography, starring in five films.
Laurer had well-documented problems with alcohol, appearing on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2008. Later that same year, she was taken to a Los Angeles-area hospital when friends found her passed out after a night of partying.
Her ex, Triple H, wrote of Laurer 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.”
Update April 22, 10:44 a.m. ET: This post has been updated to correctly state Laurer's age at the time of her death. We regret the error in the original post.