Former WWE women’s champion Joanie Laurer, aka Chyna, was found dead in her home in Redondo Beach this morning. Chyna was one of the most recognizable wrestlers during her prime. Many of her wrestling peers released statements of condolences, including Road Dogg Jesse James, Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Nikki Bella, and Brie Bella.
Chyna began her career with WWE as Triple H’s enforcer in 1997, during his feud with Goldust.
She followed when Triple H and Shawn Michaels formed D-Generation X and again when Triple H joined The Corporation. After their partnership ended, Chyna struck out on her own, holding the WWE Women’s Championship for 231 days in 2001 and becoming the first and only woman to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, both in October 1999 and again in August 2000.
WWE released a statement saying, “WWE is saddened to learn of reports that [Laurer] 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.
According to a statement by the police department, a 9-1-1 call was received from an apartment unit in the 900 block of Esplanade. A friend of the apartment unit resident reported that the female inside was not breathing. The friend said they went to the location to check on the female’s welfare as she had not answered her phone in a few days. The last known contact she had with anyone happened on Sunday evening.
The Redondo Beach Police Department said Laurer’s death is under investigation, however, “there are no indications or signs that the death was a result of foul play,” Law enforcement sources say there was no suicide note found and it appears that she had been dead for at least one day before being found. There has been speculation that she had died of an overdose, given her previous struggles with addiction. However, no illegal drugs were found in the home by police and several legal prescription bottles had not been emptied.
The investigation by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s department will determine if the death was natural or accidental. An autopsy is expected to be conducted over the next two days. The full results will not be finalized until the toxicology tests are complete, which could take weeks.