R.I.P. Chyna (1969-2016)

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Joan “Chyna’ Laurer was found dead in her Redondo Beach, California home last night, as first reported by local news and then confirmed by her personal website and Twitter account.

It’s easy to forget because she’s been largely white-washed from history, but from 1998-2000 she was one of the most over wrestlers in all WWE. She made history over and over: first woman in the Royal Rumble, first woman in King of the Ring, first woman to win the Intercontinental Championship. She played a huge role in revitalizing women’s wrestling in WWE at a point where it had been virtually eliminated.

She was a genuine mainstream star. Playboy, TV Guide, Regis & Kathie. There was even consideration given to having her challenge Steve Austin for the WWF Championship (and maybe even win). She was primed for a massive, money drawing run.

And then it all evaporated. Her real-life relationship with Triple H dissolved. And then it turned out Triple H’s new girlfriend was Stephanie McMahon. Writing on the wall, goodbye Chyna. She was gone by 2001.
There’s a rabbit hole after that which I would prefer not to go down. Drugs, alcohol, sex tape, porn. She was troubled before she got into wrestling, things got worse after she left. She never really recovered, and now her life has ended far too soon.
Sadly, a lot of people would rather make jokes about her porn career then remember her actual legacy. She was a trailblazer and an inspiration to countless women and girls. For a two year period she was one of the biggest stars WWE had. Let’s hope that in death she can find the peace she never could in life.

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