Women’s wrestling was a farce before Chyna (real name Joan Marie Laurer) stepped into the ring. A March 2023 A&E documentary reveals that Vince McMahon initially resisted suggestions by Triple H and Shawn Micheals to make Chyna a star of the show. The star wrestlers persisted, earning Vince’s approval and making Chyna the third member of D-Generation X.
From complete obscurity, Chyna became one of the most recognized stars in the WWF. She became the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble and to hold the WWF Intercontinental Championship.
Sadly, her downfall was just as rapid as her rise. Chyna died on 20th April 2016.
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Chyna died due to an accidental prescription drug overdose
In April 2016, Chyna’s manager, Anthony Anzaldo, went to check on her at her home in Redondo Beach, California, after failing to hear from Chyna for three days. Anzaldo found Chyna unresponsive on her bed, lying on a pillow stained by blood and foam.
He called authorities, who declared her dead at the scene. The autopsy report revealed that Chyna overdosed on painkillers, muscle relaxers, a sleep aid, and alcohol. It stated that Chyna had Valium, oxycodone, nordazepam, temazepam, oxymorphone, and alcohol in her system.
Anzaldo told the Los Angeles Times that doctors had prescribed drugs to last Chyna three weeks, but she wasn’t using them as instructed. He insisted that Chyna died of an accidental overdose, not suicide.
Reports claim that Chyna had attempted suicide. In 2005, her partner Sean Waltman discovered she’d checked into a hotel under an alias to ‘drink and drug herself’ to death. In 2010, Chyna was rushed to hospital after taking four to five times the recommended amount of Benadryl.
Chyna battled drug addiction and mental illness in the years leading up to her death. She sought help in Japan and America but couldn’t overcome her troubles. Kathy, Chyna’s sister, told Bleacher Report:
“All I kept thinking after she died was that poor girl. She wanted so badly to be loved and accepted, but she never had a loving, connective relationship with anyone. People just used her and sucked her dry … At least she’s at peace now. At least she’s at peace.”
In August 2019, Chyna’s mother, Jan LaQue, unsuccessfully tried to block an Autopsy episode examining Chyna’s death from airing. LaQue wrote on Facebook that nobody knew what happened in the final moments of Chyna’s life:
“I want to make it clear to you, very very clear, that NO ONE – NO ONE – really knows what happened during Joanie’s final hours So you can’t possibly air something on the supposed ‘Truth’ because you don’t know it. I don’t know it!
After losing her WWF contract, Chyna sunk into drugs and became a porn star
In the late 1990s, Chyna was at the top of her game: she fought and beat top opponents and had a flourishing relationship with Triple H. Chyna and Triple H disagreed over children, but it didn’t end their relationship. However, the introduction of Stephanie McMahon did.
Triple H and McMahon initially agreed to have a relationship for the sake of the storyline. However, a real-life relationship blossomed between the pair. “It was the unraveling,” Vince Russo, the narrative writer of the Attitude Era, said on his podcast, The Brand. “And it was an unraveling she never recovered from.’
“She [Stephanie] said that Paul [Triple H] was hers and I just had to deal with it,” Chyna tweeted in 2012. “I said that she was lucky her father was there or I would have ripped her face off. Vince said to go home and take some time off and then we will deal with it. I was near the end of my contract.”
Chyna wrote in her autobiography that a dispute with Vince over her appearance in Playboy magazine soured her relationship with WWF. Despite being the reigning women’s champion, the WWF declined to renew her contract, writing her off.
Chyna could have regained her spot in the WWF, but her scandalous life extinguished any chance of a career revival. Her toxic relationship with Sean Waltman culminated in the release of two homemade porn videos. Chyna later claimed she made pennies from video sales.
As the couple’s relationship crumbed, sordid details about their relationship leaked. Chyna made embarrassing appearances on reality shows, including Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which documented her failed attempt to get sober.
Kathy told Bleacher Report that she regretted her contribution to her expulsion from the WWF. “Joanie told me a few years later that she regretted it,” Kathy stated. “The WWE was the only place where she was ever accepted. Once she lost that, she fell into a hole. And she could never climb out of it.”
The former wrestler was trying to put her life together and reconnect with the WWE when she died
Aware that her reputation in America was in tatters, Chyna moved to Japan to work as an English teacher. She moved back to the United States in 2015.
Chyna doubtlessly deserved a spot in WWE’s Hall of Fame, but as Triple H pointed out during an appearance on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast, Chyna’s scandals complicated her inclusion:
“[When] my eight-year-old kid sees Hall of Fame [and] goes on the Internet to look at Chyna, what comes up? [When] my eight-year-old kid sees Hall of Fame [and] goes on the Internet to look at Chyna, what comes up?”
Chyna tried to reconnect with the WWE in the summer of 2015, but nobody in the WWE seemed interested. “She got turned away,” her friend, Rob Potylo, told Sportsnet. He continued:
“She wanted to reconnect with her WWE family so effing bad. She was losing her grip on reality. She had a lot of people turn their backs on her. This wasn’t a woman who died in a hotel room of heart attack. This was someone who died of a broken heart.”
In 2019, Chyna was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of D-Generation X. Triple H said:
“She was massively important – massive to DX, massive to my career. At the time of her passing, when [a place in the Hall of Fame] became everyone’s thought, you really needed to let some time go by. The time is right now.”
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