Joan Laurer, better known to the WWE Universe as Chyna, the only woman ever to become Intercontinental Champion has been found dead at her apartment in California. She was 45.
It is unclear yet as to how the “Ninth Wonder of the World” passed away but police said there are no indications or signs that her death was the result of foul play.
Chyna made her WWE debut in on 16 February 1997 as she emerged from the crowd to choke out Marlena at In Your House: Final Four during a match between Goldust and Triple H.
She became the bodyguard of Triple H helping him to win various matches and also became part of the original D-Generation X with Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
In 1999, she made history to become the first woman to enter the Royal Rumble match and would continue to break barriers at No Mercy 1999 when she defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the first and only woman to win the Intercontinental Championship.
She engaged in bitter rivalries with Jeff Jarrett and Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental title before she aligned with Eddie Guerrero in the spring of 2000 and would win the Intercontinental Championship for a second time at SummerSlam.
She posed for Playboy in November 2000 and this was worked into a storyline with the Right to Censor which culminated at WrestleMania X-SEVEN when Chyna defeated Ivory to win the Women’s Championship for the first time.
Chyna’s last match would come at Judgement Day 2001 when she defeated Lita to retain the Women’s Championship but soon after she was taken off TV and was released from her contract in November.
Although Chyna’s tenure with the WWE was a short one, she will be remembered for breaking boundaries and inspiring many of the women’s wrestlers of today.
Following the news of her sudden death, WWE Superstars of past and present shared their memories of the Ninth Wonder of the World on social media.
Someone who wasn’t afraid to blaze her own trail & create a path for those who would follow. A pioneer whose star shined bright. #RIPChyna
— Triple H (@TripleH) April 21, 2016
Shattered glass ceilings, kicked down doors, broke gender barriers, she was an anomaly & untouchable. Rest now-ur legacy lives on #RIPChyna
— Trish Stratus (@trishstratuscom) April 21, 2016
Chyna was fearless to no man & a huge part of #womenswrestling her impact will never be forgotten. thoughts & prayers are with her family 💜
— Charlotte (@MsCharlotteWWE) April 21, 2016
Just woke up to the news of @ChynaJoanLaurer passing. So sad to hear, she was an amazing lady & I will miss her greatly!!
— Shawn Michaels (@ShawnMichaels) April 21, 2016
— Summer Rae (@RealSummerWWE) April 21, 2016
Devastated over Chyna passing,she dated Brutus years before wrestling,such a beautiful soul and so kind to my children,rip Joanie love u. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 21, 2016
— Gail Kim-Irvine (@gailkimITSME) April 21, 2016
Thank you Chyna 4 being a huge inspiration in my wrestling journey!You are a motivation to many & will leave a mark 4 powerful women! #wwe
— Dana Brooke WWE (@DanaBrookeWWE) April 21, 2016
— Amy Dumas (@AmyDumas) April 21, 2016