We legend Chyna, whose real name was Joanie Laurer, has died aged 45.
“It is with deep sadness to inform you today that we lost a true icon, a real life superhero,” a statement posted on her Twitter account read.
Police said they were investigating the cause of her death on Wednesday night at her home in Redondo Beach, California, but there were no obvious signs of foul play.
#RipChyna ??? all of us on team Chyna love you and will love you forever babe.
— Chyna (@ChynaJoanLaurer) April 21, 2016
In a statement, police said they had responded to an emergency call from one of Chyna’s friends, after she failed to answer her phone for several days. The friend had gone to check on Chyna at her home and told an emergency services operator she was not breathing.
— Chyna (@ChynaJoanLaurer) April 21, 2016
Chyna, who also appeared in porn films, rose to fame as a wrestler in the late 90s, and was soon billed as the “Ninth Wonder of the World”.
She came to dominate female wrestling, competing at the Royal Rumble and the King of the Ring in 1999, the same year she became the first woman to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
After leaving wrestling, she appeared in Playboy twice and starred in six pornography films. She also made several appearances on reality television.
In 2008, she spoke about her long struggles with drug addiction on the show Celebrity Rehab with Dr Drew.
“She will live forever in the memories of her millions of fans and all of us that loved her,” the statement on her Twitter read.
Fans, friends and celebrities paid tribute to the wrestling legend on Twitter using the hashtag #RIPChyna.
WWE stars pay tribute to Chyna
Wrestling stars old and new have flooded Twitter with tributes to Chyna following her death aged just 45.
It comes after police in California confirmed that the former WWE star, real name Joanie Laurer, was found dead at her apartment in Redondo Beach.
Having first emerged as Triple H’s bodyguard in 1997, Chyna quickly moved up the rankings and remains a pioneer for women’s wrestling.
To date, Chyna remains the only female wrestler to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, taking the title twice during her four-year spell with the organisation.
More than that, though, Chyna was an integral part of WWE’s Attitude era, which helped the company finally vanquish long-term rivals WCW while launching the careers of superstars like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
Chyna was part of the legendary stable of wrestlers known as D-Generation X alongside Shawn Michaels and Triple-H. WWE were among the first to pay tribute to a true icon.
— WWE (@WWE) April 21, 2016
Stephanie McMahon, daughter of Vince and wife of Laurer’s former partner Triple H, also had kind words for the women dubbed the Ninth Wonder of the World.
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) April 21, 2016
Legendary commentator Jim Ross also paid his condolences, while hinting at the darkness that dogged Chyna over much of the past few years.
Condolences to the family & friends of @ChynaJoanLaurer. Hopefully her troubled soul has found peace.
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) April 21, 2016
For Mick Foley, AKA Mankind, though it was about remembering Laurie during the good times and the quiet moments away from the ring.
Joanie, I'm so sorry. I will always treasure our friendship and will never forget your kindness to my children. RIP https://t.co/pVV0KjbkFt
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) April 21, 2016
The biggest outpouring, though, came from within the female wrestling community with the WWE Divas coming out in force to pay tribute to the one person that did more to put women’s wrestling on the map than anyone in the business, past or present.
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
So sad to hear the news about Chyna. My heart goes out to her family and friends. May you rest in peace.
— Jacqueline Moore (@JackieMooreTx) April 21, 2016
Prayers and fond memories are what we have to remember our dearly departed. My most heartfelt condolences. #Ripchyna ??
— Ariane Andrew (@WWECameron) April 21, 2016
Among the tributes was current WWE Women’s Champion, who goes by the stage name Charlotte.
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