WWE great Chyna found dead at age 45
FORMER WWE wrestler Chyna has been found dead at an apartment in Redondo Beach, California, at the age of 45, police have confirmed.
Chyna, whose real name is Joan Laurer, was found by a friend who immediately called police. However, a police statement confirmed that she had died some time before being found.
A statement released on her verified Twitter account read: "It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero. Joanie Laurer aka Chyna, the 9th wonder of the world has passed away. She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her."
A Redondo Beach Police statement read: "On April 20, 2016, Redondo Beach Police Officers were dispatched to an apartment unit in the 900 block of Esplanade. The Redondo Beach Police received a 9-1-1 call from a friend of the apartment unit resident that the female inside was not breathing. The friend told Redondo Beach Police that the female had not answered her phone in a few days, and went to the location to check on her welfare.
"Officers arrived on scene and discovered a deceased female inside the location. There are no indications or signs that the death was a result of foul play. From the preliminary investigation, it appears that the deceased passed away prior to being discovered by the friend.
"The deceased female has been identified as Joan Lauer, 46 year[s] of age [she was actually 45]. Joan Laurer was also known as "Chyna" and was a professional wrestler and entertainer.
"The exact nature and cause of the death, as well as the general time of death is under investigation by the Los Angeles County Coroner's department. Events leading up to the death of Joan Lauer is under investigation by the Redondo Beach Police Department to assists in the determination if the death was natural or accidental. Further details of the death investigation are not being released at this time."
WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon, whose father Vince owns the WWE, wrote on Twitter: "I just heard the tragic news that @ChynaJoanLaurer has passed. She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed. #RIPChyna."
Chyna remains the only female wrestler to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship - a belt she won twice during her stint with the WWE from 1997 and 2001 - and also featured in other promotions such as New Japan Pro Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.
Chyna made her WWE debut in 1997 as an enforcer for Triple H, and continued to work with the current executive vice-president of talent, live events and creative of the WWE when he formed the legendary stable D-Generation X with Shawn Michaels as well as The Corporation faction.
She went on to hold the Women's Championship for 231 days in 2001, which came after her stints as Intercontinental champions in October 1999 and August 2000. She left the company following her final appearance at the Judgement Day pay-per-view in 2001.
Chyna also embarked on a career in pornography from 2004, and it's known that her work in the adult industry is why she has not been added to the WWE's Hall of Fame.