Professional wrestling icon Chyna could not live with or without fame.


In the end it killed her.

The most famous female wrestler of all time chased the spotlight almost her entire life.

By the time the 46-year-old stopped craving the drug of celebrity, it was too late.

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The saddest part of her confronting, tragic, demise is that, at the end, Joanie "Chyna" Laurer knew she'd ruined her life chasing the thing she believed would rescue her life.

The woman dubbed the "Ninth Wonder of the World" was found dead at her home in Redondo Beach, California, believed to be the victim of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs on April 20, 2016.

An extraordinary account - titled Wrestling with demons: the story of Chyna's final days - of the final few weeks of her life by Broadly writer Mitchell Sunderland, claims Chyna told those closest to her she regrets every aspect of her life as a professional wrestler, celebrity, sex symbol, porn star, drug addict and basket case.

Eric Angra, the documentarian who was hired to film a documentary about Chyna's recovery and comeback from 2015 until her death, said Chyna broke down in tears during an interview about her life in the spotlight.

"Don't ever be famous if you're a woman," Angra said Chyna told him.

"Go be a doctor or a lawyer, go marry a rich guy. Just don't get famous, because they will destroy you."

Her drug addiction was just a symptom of her deeper personal issues.

As news.com.au reported last year, her rise to stardom as a trailblazing wrestling phenomenon both concealed and exacerbated her personal problems.

Laurer, who was billed as a six-foot powerhouse who could benchpress more than 140kg, debuted in Vince McMahon's promotion as a bodyguard for Paul "Triple H" Levesque in February, 1997.

She would often help the rising male star win through nefarious methods like delivering low blows to the groin of his opponents, but soon became a wrestling standout in her own right.

Chyna's star power and undoubted talent allowed her to go where no female wrestler had been before. After initial reluctance, male counterparts became willing to let her overpower them and in January, 1999, she became the first woman to ever take part in the Royal Rumble.

"Shattered glass ceilings, kicked down doors, broke gender barriers," fellow female star Trish Status tweeted after Chyna's death.

"She was an anomaly and untouchable."

Offstage her life was flourishing too. A bit of a loner growing up who found solace in the gym, Chyna found a family in the WWE ranks - and a boyfriend in Triple H.

The pair were inseparable on the road, bonding over their dedication to a healthy lifestyle, a love of lifting weights and a determination to plot their way to the top of the wrestling world.

That was as good as it ever got for Chyna - and even that brief period of happiness was built on a lie.

Triple H was cheating on her.

He was cheating on her with Stephanie McMahon, daughter of wrestling boss Vince McMahon and heir to the McMahon family wrestling fortune.

Chyna's mother Jan LaQue said her daughter was never able to get over the betrayal and rejection she felt after learning about Triple H's cheating in 2001.

"She and I talked about it several times," LaQue told Broadly.

"There were several things in her life that really bothered her. Number one was that he dumped her for Stephanie. She never did get over that."

A few weeks later Vince McMahon informed Chyna her contract would not be getting renewed.

The World Wrestling Federation, since re-branded as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), took everything from her.

The company owned the rights to her Chyna character and kicked her out without any savings to her name.

Then the downwards spiral really kicked into gear.

After posing nude in Playboy for a second time, Chyna appeared in a homemade sex tape 1 Night in Chyna. Chyna repeatedly claimed she never gave permission for the tape to be released, but that was disputed by her ex-partner Sean Waltman, who also wrestled in the WWF under the name X-Pac.

Trying to maintain her celebrity status and lifestyle, Chyna then featured in a series of reality TV shows, including The Surreal Life and Celebrity Rehab.

In 2008 she starred in poorly-received Hollywood movie Illegal Aliens alongside Anna Nicole Smith.

None of them could stop her career collapsing.

Between 2009 and 2011 Chyna featured in five additional porn movies and worked as a stripper.

Her drug addiction problem was spiralling in the opposite direction.

"It was like I was a monster," she told prowrestling.net in 2015.

"There was no way out of it for me."

In 2013 she moved to Japan to work as an English teacher and to escape her personal demons.

They had no problems tracking her down.

That same year she would contact Vivid Entertainment, the company responsible for producing and distributing her previous sex tapes, looking to get back into the pornography industry.

It was in her role as a porn star that Chyna re-connected with Anthony Anzaldo, a reality television producer and entertainment industry manager, in 2015.

Anzaldo quickly assumed the role of Chyna's manager and began pursuing the concept of a documentary about the former wrestling star's recovery and comeback.

He recruited Angra to film the series and brought Chyna back to the United States for filming.

The story of her recovery never existed. Her dependency on alcohol and prescription drugs was as bad as ever.

Rob Potylo, a Boston comedian, who became a friend of Chyna's, told Broadly that Chyna was using Rohypnol, Valium and Ambien when she was filming her comeback documentary in 2015.

Rather than return to a rehab clinic, Chyna opted to appear on reality TV series Botched.
Angra said Chyna chose to go on the show, which specialises in correcting poorly executed plastic surgeries, because she prioritised $80,000 worth of plastic surgery over her sobriety.

Anzaldo has been criticised for not counselling her to go back to rehab.

He has also come under fire for delaying her admission to a rehab facility in 2016, just weeks before her death, because he was negotiating for her to appear on reality TV show Intervention.

No intervention would ever take place.

Just weeks before she died, Chyna separated from Anzaldo, he claims, after he confronted her about her drug abuse.

She continued to communicate with Angra and Potylo, who noticed her condition deteriorating, her communications becoming more and more incoherent.

Three days after leaving Angra an incoherent, rambling voice message, saying 'I love you, and I am doing much better', Chyna was found dead.

Even in death, Chyna found fame fickle.

Her death was reported just four hours before it was first reported pop superstar Prince had also passed away.

"It was Shakespearean," Potylo said.

"Like f***ing four hours before Prince died.

"She couldn't get a f***ing day for herself, to have people say, 'Oh my God, Chyna died? Wasn't that that lady who [competed in] wrestling and [was] on the cover of TV Guide and Playboy?'