It's been almost five months since the WWE universe learnt of the shock death of the biggest female star in wrestling history, Chyna.

The woman dubbed the "Ninth Wonder of the World", real name Joanie Laurer, was found dead at her home in Redondo Beach, California, believed to be the victim of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. She was 46.

A new feature on the worldwide star by Bleacher Report's Jason King traces her stunning fall from grace back to her decision to walk away from a lucrative WWE contract at the height of her fame.

King's feature documents the troubled childhood Chyna was able to overcome to attain fame on a level few in the wrestling game have ever achieved.


She was earning seven figures a year around the turn of the century, had graced the cover of Playboy magazine, was appearing on late-night talk shows and had a best-selling autobiography.

"She felt like she'd really made it," Chyna's sister, Kathy, told Bleacher Report. "She loved being treated like a rock star." But it wouldn't last.


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.


The Bleacher Report feature reveals Chyna and Triple H's relationship began to deteriorate around 2000. "Friends say Levesque wanted children; Laurer did not," King reported. "She was also jealous of the time Levesque spent with his parents and siblings during the rare days the WWE wasn't on the road.

"When she sensed Levesque was growing closer with Stephanie McMahon - the boss' daughter, whom he later married in 2003 - Laurer was crushed, telling numerous friends she'd searched Levesque's briefcase and discovered a love letter from Stephanie."

Whether a broken heart contributed to Chyna's decision to play hardball with WWE management over her next contract is up for debate. But the company claimed her outrageous base salary demand - according to Bleacher Report she refused to accept anything less than a starting point of $1 million after being offered $400,000 - was the reason for her 2001 exit.

But in several interviews over the ensuing years, Chyna claimed she was forced out - largely because of Stephanie's affection for Triple H.

"She basically said that Paul was hers and I just had to deal with it," Chyna said, in a series of posts she made on Twitter in 2012 that were compiled by "I said that she was lucky her father was there or I would of ripped her face off. Vince said to go home and take some time off and then we will deal with it. I was near the end of my contract.

"So basically, he never re-signed me. He chose his daughter's happiness over his talent and maybe he should have. But this was business. Even if he didn't want me on the show anymore because of the two of them, I couldn't of been a trainer of up and coming talent? I couldn't of done something else within WWE where I never would have had to run into or deal with Stephanie?"

But her sister told Bleacher Report Chyna privately regretted her own role in the breakdown. "Joanie told me a few years later that she regretted it," Kathy said. "The WWE was the only place where she was ever accepted. Once she lost that, she fell into a hole. And she never could climb out of it."


After she left pro wrestling Chyna's life seemingly lurched from one crisis to the next. She developed a crystal meth habit and began a relationship with another wrestler Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, which was damaging to both parties.

They combined in the infamous pornographic film 1 Night in China, a venture which led to Chyna embarking on a career in the adult film industry. "That tape happened to me. It was done to me," Laurer told in 2011. "It traumatised me. When that came out, I felt really duped. That was life-changing in a really negative way."

Chyna battled mental illness, attempted suicide and despite rehabilitation attempts - both in America and Japan - was never able to silence the demons inside her.

"All I kept thinking after she died was that poor girl," her sister told Bleacher Report. "She wanted so badly to be loved and accepted, but she never had a loving, connective relationship with anyone. People just used her and sucked her dry ... At least she's at peace now. At least she's at peace."