Former professional wrestler and actress Chyna (a.k.a. Joanie Laurer) was found dead in her home yesterday and may have dead for several days as she was last seen in public on Monday and had not responded to phone calls since. No cause of death has been reported, but she did have a lengthy history of substance abuse. She was 46.
Chyna was one of the most popular figures in the WWE (then known as the WWF) in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. With her muscular physique, she was often booked into matches with male wrestlers. Her popularity was such that it transcended wrestling with appearances on shows like 3rd Rock From The Sun and a New York Times best-selling autobiography If Only They Knew which detailed a troubled relationship with her family including when her father took out $40,000 worth of loans in her name destroying her credit. It could be said that Chyna was the Ronda Rousey of her day.
She would have a falling out with the WWF in 2001 never to return. Chyna had been a relationship with Triple H until he entered a relationship and eventual marriage to Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. It proved to be the beginning of a very long descent which included stops in too many reality shows, porn and evidently a short stint as an escort.
Now that she has passed on, I suspect the WWE will induct her posthumously into their Hall of Fame next year. If that is the case it does raise the troubling question as to why she could not have been honored during her lifetime. But even if Chyna had been so honored while still among us her troubles would very likely not be far behind. Addiction is very powerful and some people simply never overcome it.
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