Rochester, New York native Joan Marie “Chyna” Laurer will always be known as wrestling’s “Ninth Wonder of the World”. Standing at 5’10, the statuesque former bodybuilder was a sight for sore eyes, when she made her debut as Triple H’s bodyguard in WWE (Then known as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1997.
She graduated from the University of Tampa, in 1992 with a major in Spanish Literature. During college, she also studied French and German and had the ability to converse in either language. She originally wanted to use her knowledge of foreign languages to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
A founding member of D-Generation X (along with Shawn Micheals and Triple H), she held the WWF Intercontinental Championship (the only female performer to do so) twice and the WWF Womens’ Championship once. She was also the first woman to participate in the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring events, as well as to become number one contender to the WWF Championship. With singles victories over several prominent male wrestlers including Triple H. and Chris Jericho among others. After leaving the WWF in 2001, Chyna wrestled sporadically, with New Japan Pro Wrestling and Literature released her autobiography, entitled If They Only Knew the same year. It spent time on The New York Times’ bestseller list. In 2011, Laurer wrestled with Total Nonstop Action Wresting.
Aside from wrestling, Laurer appeared in Playboy magazine twice, as well as numerous television shows and adult films. In 2004, she released an adult film titled 1 Night in China, which won a 2006 AVN Award for Best-Selling Title. In 2005, Laurer was a cast member on VH1‘s The Surreal Life, which led to several other celebrity reality appearances on the network, including The Surreal Life: Fame Games.
On April 20, 2016, Laurer was found dead at her home in Redondo Beach, California. Although she had been taking medication for anxiety and sleep deprivation, police were notified by a friend who went to check on her and found Laurer unresponsive. The cause of death currently is under investigation.
An official statement was posted to her Twitter account, 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.
WWE’s Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon tweeted: “I just heard the news that @ChynaJoanLaurer has passed”. “She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed. #RIPChyna.”