April 21, 2016
Joanie Laurer, known to wrestling fans around the world as Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world, has passed away. The news broke overnight with various news outlets reporting her death.
Her official Twitter account announced the news.
The statement reads:
“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.
WWE has also issued the following statement:
“WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Joanie Laurer, best known for competing in WWE as Chyna, has passed away.
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.
WWE extends its condolences to Laurer's family, friends and fans.”
Police responded to a 911 call after a friend went to check on her after she hadn’t answered her phone in a few days. She was found unresponsive in her apartment in Redondo Beach, Calif. The cause of death is still under investigation.
Laurer set a new standard for women in the world of professional wrestling when she made her debut in the then World Wrestling Federation as the bodyguard of Triple H, real name Paul Levesque. Levesque was the first one to notice Laurer after both trained at Killer Kowalski’s wrestling school in Massachusetts.
Shortly after making her debut, it was clear that Laurer could realistically even the playing field in an industry dominated by men. She went on to become the Women’s Champion and also won the Intercontinental Championship, the first woman ever to do so.
Laurer left the company in 2001, and wouldn’t return. She took part in an adult film with Sean Waltman, aka the 1-2-3 Kid and X-Pac, and reportedly struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.
Many took to Twitter to pay their respects:
Chyna was fearless to no man & a huge part of #womenswrestling her impact will never be forgotten. thoughts & prayers are with her family 💜— Charlotte (@MsCharlotteWWE) April 21, 2016
My prayers go out to Joanie Laurer and her family. It's very sad to hear this news. Chyna was revolutionary for women in wrestling.— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 21, 2016
Just woke here in Europe to the saddening news about "Chyna" She was one of a kind and will b remembered 4 ever.— Michael PS Hayes (@MichaelPSHayes1) April 21, 2016
Wow I just heard @ChynaJoanLaurer passed. Sad... My Prayers go out to you and your family Joanie. RIP my friend.— Diamond Dallas Page (@RealDDP) April 21, 2016
RIP Joanie Laurer at 45. Chyna was a trendsetter and helped make WWE must-see TV during its red-hot Attitude Era. pic.twitter.com/sQjhAIQMd2— Mike Mooneyham (@ByMikeMooneyham) April 21, 2016