Tragic Details About Chyna

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Women's wrestling continues to carve out a key place in the industry. All the top promotions boast some of the best names in the business. Women like Bianca Belair, Jamie Hayter, Mercedes Mone, KAIRI, and others put on some of the best-rated matches in wrestling. As today's women's divisions continue to flourish, there's a lineage that traces back to the one known as the "Ninth Wonder of the World," Chyna.

All of wrestling — fans and talent alike — recognize Chyna. She was a force for women's wrestling in the late '90s, both as a singles performer and a member of D-Generation X. Her career is lined with many high moments, but also contains many low points. From the historic championship victories to troubled relationships, and personal struggles outside the ring, Chyna's tragic story hold a similar tone to the stories that occurred decades ago in pro wrestling. For some, the pain hits harder when factoring in what Chyna meant to women's wrestling.

Chyna's quick rise and fall in professional wrestling

For someone with such a legacy that Chyna (via SportsNet) carries in professional wrestling, her time in the space may be considered short. This is especially true when you factor in that the majority of that time was spent in prominent positions in the largest organization in the world. According to Cagematch, her career started in 1995. In less than a year, as she recalled in her autobiography, both WWF and WCW had become interested in her talents. She was destined to be a part of two of the biggest factions in wrestling history, either D-Generation X or the New World Order, with WCW offering her a spot in the NWO directly. Deciding to join the WWF put her alongside Shawn Michaels and Triple H, with much of the rest becoming history.

From 1997 to 2001, Chyna broke multiple barriers and reached impressive accolades in the WWF. She held the Women's Championship, was the first woman to participate in the Royal Rumble, and became the only woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship. Still, by the end of 2001, she was out of the WWF, vacating the Women's Title along the way. It was from this point that many of Chyna's darkest moments began impacting her life.

Her relationships with her colleagues in wrestling

Personal relationships often develop in the world of professional wrestling. Chyna was in such a position, as she and Triple H were in a well-known relationship. Chyna's talent agent Anthony Anzaldo discussed Chyna's relationship with Triple H in a 2020 with Nick Hausman of Wrestling Inc in the "Documenting Chyna" interview series. According to Anzaldo, Chyna discovered that Triple H was in a relationship with Stephanie McMahon, which led to a fight and her eventual dismissal from WWE.

But toxic relationships within wrestling did not end there. Sean Waltman (via 411Mania), another member of DX, was also in a romantic relationship with Chyna after her release from the WWF. He spoke to Stone Cold Steve Austin during an episode of "The Steve Austin Show" about their time together. According to Waltman, Triple H tried to "warn" him about dating Chyna and he also divulged information about their controversial sex tape "leak."

It is unfortunate to watch any individual go through painful relationships, and even more so when it is celebrities in the public arena. Challenging relationships such as these are examples of the struggles Chyna had during her time in professional wrestling and beyond.

Chyna's career in the adult industry

While the perception of sex work is slowly changing within society, that wasn't the case nearly 20 years ago. During that same interview with Steve Austin, Waltman discussed the sex tape he made with Chyna that led to her career in the adult industry (via 411Mania). The film, titled "1 Night in China," was released in 2004. After that "debut" of sorts, Chyna would be featured in four other adult films, with the final coming in 2012. She played a parody of She-Hulk in a film titled "Avengers XXX: A Porn Parody."

"This industry was kind of tarnished for me, [so] I just felt mentally that I wanted to experience it, to cross that barrier and see what it was like," Chyna told the Baltimore Sun. "I've always taken risks and been a pioneer at different things and experiences. And [production company] Vivid — I didn't really know a whole lot about porn at all, but I knew the company Vivid, and I knew that they had the most beautiful women and the hottest guys and that they were a well-known company and a reputable company, so I decided to go for it and it turned out to be a great experience. Vivid was incredibly professional." 

In an interview with Steve Austin on an episode of "The Steve Austin Show," Triple H spoke about Chyna's career in porn being a reason why she's not inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on her own merits (via Bleacher Report).

Chyna's struggles with addiction

Chyna also struggled with addiction for years up until her death and many of her personal struggles were captured in the public eye. For example, she was a part of "Celebrity Rehab," appearing as a member of the cast of season one with alcohol listed as her addiction. During the show, she spoke about her previous struggles. In April 2010, TMZ reported that Chyna was accused of battery by a female friend in California. In November of 2015, TMZ claimed that Chyna was booked for public intoxication after cops found her outside her apartment building. 

Mitchell Sunderland's 2017 Vice article chronicles Chyna's last days, including multiple by people close to her to get Chyna the help she needed. For example, Erik Angra — the documentarian working on "The Reconstruction of Chyna" — became concerned for her well-being in the fall of 2015. He reached out to Sean Waltman to seek help for Chyna. According to the piece, Waltman spoke with Triple H and in October of that year, WWE agreed to pay for her rehab, but Anzaldo turned it down on her behalf because "she was very paranoid about the WWE."

Those close to Chyna would not be without criticism, as Anzaldo allegedly delayed helping her because he was negotiating a deal for her to appear on the reality show, "Intervention." Her final days revealed a cycle of attempting to turn her life around.

Chyna's death in 2016

On April 20, 2016, Laurer was found dead in her home at the age of 46. Multiple outlets reported that Chyna's death was accidental due to consuming alcohol and prescription drugs. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office released a full autopsy that included details. According to the report, Chyna died with traces of painkillers Oxycodone and Oxymorphone in her system. Additional drugs were also present. Valium, which is a medication to treat anxiety, and Nordiazepam, which is a muscle relaxer were also in her system. Alcohol was also mentioned in the report.

Her body was found by her manager, Anthony Anzaldo. According to him, Chyna died on April 17, and he found her three days later after not being able to contact his client. Emergency medical responders pronounced her dead on the scene. Anzaldo told E! News that Chyna would "self-medicate" with alcohol and the prescribed medication that led to her death.

Chyna's brain was donated for CTE research

After her passing in 2016, Chyna's brain was donated for research on degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE. CTE is a condition that continues to be at the center of many discussions about the health and wellbeing of professional athletes. Many look at boxers and combat sports athletes as the primary focus, but professional wrestlers also fit within that space. Former WWE performer, Chris Nowinski, is the co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation and one of the foremost names in the space around CTE.

After her death, Anzaldo revealed that Chyna's brain would be donated for the research.

"We want to donate her brain," Anzaldo told the New York Daily News. "We want to know what made Chyna tick."

CTE is an important conversation in professional wrestling and led to the changes around head shots, especially with chairs — a common occurrence during the also known as the Attitude Era.

WWE's relationship with Chyna since her death and the push to include her in the Hall of Fame

Chyna's place in WWE history is still a hotly debated topic. As mentioned, Triple H opened up about her induction as an individual into the WWE Hall of Fame. He referenced her time in the adult industry as the reason why she hasn't been inducted, and that's a problematic statement for a variety of reasons. As of 2023, Chyna has not been added to the Hall of Fame solo and is rarely mentioned on programming, In spite of her numerous accolades and historic feats in the promotion.

Sean Waltman talked about Chyna being inducted in the Hall of Fame as a part of D-Generation X in 2019.

"Joanie and I, it was very tumultuous, and incredibly unhealthy relationship, but we loved each other and it brought back all the good memories," Waltman said on "Busted Open Radio" (h/t WrestleZone). "It would be so nice, if she were still around for this."

Fans continue to push for Chyna to be added as an individual to recognize her contributions to professional wrestling.

Chyna's legacy in wrestling since her passing

Women's wrestling continues to grow throughout the industry. There are many names considered pioneers for women's wrestling, and Chyna is among them. Multiple champions across multiple promotions have named her as an inspiration of some form. When her death occurred in 2016, individuals like Gail Kim, Dana Brooke, and Athena took to social media to tell the world that she was an inspiration to them and their careers (via The Sportster).

Not only did she inspire the women, but she was a big part in the success of many men she worked with as well. She was a key part of DX and helped each member become the stars they'd be throughout their career. Her angle with Eddie Guerrero helped him become a bigger star in the WWE as well. Chyna deserves recognition for her contributions to the industry, as her legacy remains strong with fans and her peers.

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