Joanie Laurer, the WWF wrestler known as Chyna was found dead in her Redondo Beach, California apartment on Wednesday. The wrestler turned reality television personality and adult entertainer was 45 years old.
Chyna’s death a suicide?
The wrestler’s death was not a result of foul play in the eyes of police, but many of her friends and fans are questioning whether or not she may have taken her own life given her age. Following her WWF wrestling career Ms. Laurer appeared on the “The Surreal Life” a reality show that placed “washed up” celebrities in a Hollywood Hills mansion for two weeks at a time. On this show, Ms. Laurer confided on camera that she had no friends and once tried to end her life by taking pills in the hopes of overdosing. The suggestion that she was successful this time is not without some merit and certainly not just idle speculation given her public admissions.
After days of not being able to reach Ms. Laurer by telephone, a friend of hers went to her apartment and after gaining entry to her home found her body and contacted the police.
“Officers arrived on scene and discovered a deceased female inside the location,” Sgt. Shawn Freeman of the Redondo Beach police department said in a statement. “There are no indications or signs that the death was a result of foul play. From the preliminary investigation, it appears that the deceased passed away prior to being discovered by the friend.”
The case has been referred to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office to determine the nature, cause and timing of death.
Chyna’s early life and career
Ms. Laurer was born into a troubled home in Rochester, New York in 1969. Following high school she studied Spanish literature at the University of Tampa continuing on the Spanish she learned when she spent her senior year of high school studying in Spain. While she had aspirations to work for either the DEA or the FBI, she ultimately joined the Peace Corps and was stationed in my adopted home of Antigua, Guatemala.
After watching a WWF event in 1994, Ms. Laurer began training with the legendary Killer Kowalski ultimately making her professional debut in 1995. She had a storied career with the WWF (now, WWE) and the 5’11” 180-pound Laurer often squared off against male wrestlers. She was dismissed from the WWF by Vince McMahon in 2001 six months after her last television appearance.
Laurer bounced around the wrestling world until 2011 when she officially retired from the sport.
Reactions to the death of Ms. Laurer
On Wednesday night, her death was announced on Facebook with a post on her page reading:
“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.”
“She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed,” WWE official Stephanie McMahon said on Twitter.
“Devastated over Chyna’s passing,” wrote Hulk Hogan on Twitter. “Such a beautiful soul and so kind to my children.”
One fan on posted on her Facebook page a message that did the former champion’s contributions to the wrestling world justice.
“Chyna was a very important part of my childhood, somehow part of life… I’ve been following her career and she was important to me. She was kind and awesome, she was a very gentle and smart. I can’t stop crying because her loss hurts me the most …. I’ve been waiting for her big comeback to the WWE and her entry to the Hall of Fame because she deserve to be there but now I don’t know if that will be possible… she looked fine two days ago… Sleep well 9th wonder,” she wrote.