Joanie “Chyna” Laurer entered the World Wrestling Federation in 1997 after a career in bodybuilding. She was introduced in February 1997 with Triple H as his storyline bodyguard. From the moment she was introduced to the audience, you could see that she would be something special. I don’t think anyone knew just how big of a star she would become.
Laurer and Triple H became a real-life couple and she played a big part in helping elevate him to main event status. Chyna would get involved in matches and she would eventually start wrestling. She even wrestled guys. Just to show how big she got, she became WWF Intercontinental Champion. She posed for the best selling issue of “Playboy” magazine during that time and sold tons of merchandise and it could be argued that she was among the top 5 stars of the Attitude era.
There were different stories going around as to what caused her departure from the company. Chyna told her story on Vince Russo’s podcast last year about her relationship with Triple H and being blindsided by the news that he and Stephanie McMahon were dating each other. Triple H and Stephanie had been put together as a couple in storylines. She was let go in 2001 and that’s when things seemingly went downhill for her.
Laurer had issues with drug addiction. In interviews, she denied having issues with drugs and she would attribute her troubles to alcohol but people that knew her said that she had really bad problems with drugs. She had brief stints with New Japan Pro Wrestling and TNA but she was largely done with the wrestling business after being let go by WWE in 2001.
Several years ago she did some appearances on the Howard Stern Show and she was part of one of the seasons of “Celebrity Rehab.” She eventually moved to Japan to become a school teacher and it looked like she turned her life around. Laurer was working on a documentary and had reconnected with friends in the wrestling business. Several months ago she showed up at WWE headquarters but was not able to speak with anyone there as they were on the road and the company has kept their distance with her due to her past and likely because of comments she’s made about Paul “Triple H” Levesque.
The last we heard from her was that she was supposed to appear at WrestleCon in Dallas a couple of weeks ago but she no-showed and there was concern for her. Despite her personal struggles, fans will remember her as a pioneer during the Attitude era and she helped open doors for other women in WWE.
On behalf of us here at WrestlingNews.co, we send our deepest condolences to Laurer’s friends and family.