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Friday Update: Big Newspaper report from the New York Daily News on Chyna’s brain planned to be donated to research, her final few days, and plans to go forward with the documentary she was working on. (Full Report)
Thursday Evening Update: According to Chyna’s manager, Joanie Laurer was recently prescribed sleeping and anxiety medication.
E! News spoke to Chyna’s manager, Anthony Anzaldo, who said that both medications were legally prescribed by a doctor and pharmacist. Although unconfirmed, the implication is the mixture turned out to be harmful.
An autopsy will be performed to determine the official cause of death prior to her cremation (Pro Wrestling Sheet). A public memorial is being planned for Los Angeles that will be open to family, friends, and fans, according to Anzaldo.
Another stressor may have been the documentary on Chyna’s attempted comeback that was nearing a May deadline.
“It’s been very emotional for her these past few months. She was shooting her documentary and at times it was stressful. But she was doing okay. She was doing yoga and a lot of amazing things,” Anzaldo told E! News.
– The Associated Press published a detailed overview of Chyna’s career and life. The full article can be read on ABC News’s website.
Thursday Morning Update: The latest information on Chyna’s death is she had been dead for “a day or two” when she was discovered on Wednesday afternoon, reports TMZ.
This matches information from a neighbor who had not heard from Joanie Laurer in a few days, prompting a wellness check. Laurer was then discovered dead inside her apartment.
An official cause of death will be released upon examination by the coroner’s office, but TMZ reports her death appears to be accidental.
Police officers found prescription medicine in her apartment, but the bottles were not emptied to the point of suicidal. Neighbors suspect an overdose on her medicine.
– Triple H, who was linked to Chyna during her early WWF/E run, tweeted his initial reaction Thursday morning while in Europe on WWE’s international tour.
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
Late Wednesday 4/20/Early Thursday 4/21 Update: Chyna (Joanie Laurer) was found dead inside her Redondo Beach, Calif. apartment on Wednesday afternoon, as confirmed by the Redondo Beach Police Department.
The Los Angeles Times reports that police officers discovered Laurer unresponsive on her bed around 3:25 p.m. PST Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement issued to KABC in Los Angeles, the RBPD said: “There are no indications or signs that the death was a result of foul play. Events leading up to the death of Joan Laurer is under investigation by the Redondo Beach Police Department to assist in the determination if the death was natural or accidental.
“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.”
– WWE issued a statement on their website: “WWE is saddened to learn of reports that Joanie Laurer, best known for competing in WWE as Chyna, has passed away. WWE extends its condolences to Laurer’s family, friends, and fans.”
WWE also noted Stephanie McMahon’s tweet representing WWE acknowledging Laurer’s death.
Original Report April 20
Former WWE star Chyna (Joanie Laurer) has died at the age of 45, PWTorch learned late Wednesday night. She held the Intercontinental Title in 1999, the only woman to hold the title, defeating Jeff Jarrett for the belt. She was famously part of the initial Degeneration X faction with Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
Over the past year, Laurer struggled to find her identity after spending three years teaching in Japan.
Laurer returned to the U.S. in Summer 2015 trying to re-brand her “Chyna” moniker and presenting herself as cleaned up trying to get back in WWE’s good graces.
Included was Laurer raising money for a documentary on her career and life, where she was looking for “reconciliation and redemption among family, friends, fans, and haters, and sought to claim her place in the WWE Hall of Fame.”
Laurer was not included in the most-recent WWE Hall of Fame class. The documentary, “The Reconstruction of Chyna,” was in production as of the latest update last month.
According to the March update, the first trailer was scheduled for release in May and the film was slated for release in Spring 2017. It remains to be seen what happens with the documentary project.
Laurer’s public interactions with her exes Sean Waltman and Triple H were a source of tabloid stories over the years. She likely would have been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by now if not for her post-WWE turmoil in her personal life and comments and accusations she made about both Triple H, an executive with WWE, and Waltman.
She is being remembered by colleagues as a groundbreaking female wrestler. Stephanie McMahon, the wife of Hunter who was a source of contention for Laurer over the years, acknowledged her death, writing, “She was truly a pioneer in our industry, and she will be missed.”
Laurer will also be remembered by reality TV fans for her role on “The Surreal Life” a decade ago where her relationship turmoil and recurring health issues were documented on VH1.
Laurer’s final cry for help came in the form of a YouTube video released earlier this week. By contrast, former TNA colleague Matt Morgan painted a picture of Laurer sounding upbeat and positive following a recent conversation that Morgan disclosed on Twitter.
Can't believe just lost @ChynaJoanLaurer!! Literally just talked to her last week,she seemed so upbeat& positive! U will be missed my friend
— Matt Morgan (@BPmattmorgan) April 21, 2016