One of the last social interactions Joanie Marie Laurer had with her fans was a rambling video of her navigating her apartment. She was seen wearing headphones and a feather dangling from her hair as she guzzled a vitamin c drink and later a breakfast smoothie she described as “The Breakfast of Champions”. At one point in the video she pans to the view of the California beach and asks, “How lucky am I?”
Three days after posting that video Laurer, known in the professional wrestling world as Chyna was found dead in her Redondo Beach apartment at the age of 45. It was Chyna that paved the way for a new era of women in professional wrestling. Those that grew up with the sport remember women serving as valets or as a simple side show in the 80’s.
When she emerged onto the scene in WWE she was a large physical presence with a personality to match. Her character and athleticism allowed her to compete with men at a high level and helped draw attention to what women could do in a male dominated sport.
It was the 90’s when professional wrestling was reaching it’s peak. During that time WWE known as WWF was struggling to stay ahead of their main competitor WCW. Chyna’s involvement with the faction know as DX helped the promotion gain a stronghold on rival promotions. She helped the promotion survive and helped usher in a new era of professional wresting as entertainment.
The wrestling community was quick to react, Stephanie McMahon was the first WWE executive to comment on twitter sand described Chyna as a pioneer. The next day Triple-H stated on his twitter account, “Someone who wasn’t afraid to blaze her own trail & create a path for those who would follow. A pioneer whose star shined bright,” followed by the hashtag RIPChyna. Triple-H and Chyna along with Shawn Michaels were the main stars of DX, arguably one of the greatest factions of all-time.
Karlee Perez, known as Catrina on the weekly wrestling series Lucha Underground recently spoke with Chyna at an appearance and was sadden by the news. “She was a very sweet woman, she was still so young,” Perez told byteclay.com. “It is sad, I would have liked to think that more people had her back but that may have not been the case.”
At the peak of her career she could captivate an audience, compete with ease against the industry’s best all for the love of the fans. In her last days she shared her love one last time with her fans by concluding her video with the simple words, “Love, y’all, peace”.