The world of wrestling has today lost one of it’s biggest stars of the modern era with the passing of Joan Laurer, better known to wrestling fans as Chyna. Today we remember her.
The Attitude Era was littered with some of the biggest stars in the history of wrestling. Superstars that broke barriers, changed attitudes and become icons in the eyes of millions around the world.
Few broke barriers to the same extent as Joan Laurer, known to the world of wrestling as the ninth wonder of the world Chyna.
She transitioned from Triple H’s sidekick and part of DX into one of the biggest, and most popular, stars of a time period where virtually everyone tuned in on a Monday night to watch an incredible battle between the WWF and the WCW unfold.
From assisting Triple H to triumph in the ring to making her own impact on the world of wrestling, you can’t underestimate the extent to which Chyna changed impressions of women’s in the WWF.
After a period where women’s wrestling had predominantly been full of blonde, bikini clad model-esque figures, Chyna’s larger than life and muscular build made people stand up and take notice of whatever she did.
1999 was a huge year for her. She became the first woman to appear in a Royal Rumble match, entering that year’s battle royal as entrant number thirtieth but was eliminated by Stone Cold Steve Austin. That summer she also became the first woman to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament defeating Val Venis in the TV qualifiers but losing to The Road Dogg on the PPV itself.
Bigger things were to follow for her. She entered into a feud with then intercontinental champion Jeff Jarrett and would eventually defeat him on his last ever match for the company at the No Mercy PPV.
A hugely entertaining feud with Chris Jericho over the title would follow, including a stint where they were joint champions . Although WWE records show the title to be vacant at that time, it is fair to consider her a three time Intercontinental Champion.
She would soon become aligned with the late Eddie Guerrero as his on-screen girlfriend. That storyline relationship broke down and she would go on to appear in Playboy. An injury saw her written off TV for a short while. She returned at WrestleMania X-7 and defeated Ivory to win the Women’s title.
However, this reign would be short-lived as she would be dismissed from the company. The reasons are widely disputed but she attributes it to the relationship between her then real-life boyfriend Triple H and the now Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley.
In terms of the world of wrestling, she has largely remained out of the public eye since. She appeared briefly in both TNA and NJPW as well as the occasional podcast appearance.
Sadly, the last few years haven’t been the kindest to Ms. Laurer. She has struggled with alcohol which resulted in several bizarre public appearances. She also attributes substance misuse to her life spiralling out of control which led to the sex tape with Sean ‘X-Pac’ Waltman.
On the morning of April 20, 2016, Laurer was found dead at her home in Redondo Beach, California. She had been taking medication for anxiety and sleep deprivation. A statement was posted to her Twitter account which stated: “It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero … She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her.”
Tributes have poured in from the world of wrestling.
Everyone on this blog sends their condolences to Chyna’s friends and family at this desperately sad time.