With the dirt not even cold on the grave of ECW star Balls Mahoney who passed away last week at the age of 44, the pro wrestling world has suffered another tragic loss. Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, one of the most popular female figures in the history of the wrestling business passed away Wednesday evening at the premature age of 45. The term, “icon” is thrown around carelessly in sports, and pro wrestling is no different. If there ever was a use of this word that was 100$% warranted, it’s when it is used to describe the “9th Wonder of the World”, Chyna.
Plucked from relative obscurity by up-and-coming WWE Superstar Triple H, Chyna burst onto the scene of the wacky world of pro wrestling and made am immediate impact. Professional wrestling is saturated with characters, freaks, oddities, and oddballs. From day one, Chyna was able to stand out amongst the masses with her muscular frame and silent but deadly demeanor. She was something that had never been seen before in the wrestling world. A woman with the size, strength, and intimidation factor that could match any man on the roster she stood across the ring from. It was only a matter of time before she transitioned from ringside enforcer for D-Generation X, to a full-blown bonafide in-ring Superstar.
Chyna was matched up with some of the best to ever lace up a pair of boots, such as Chris Jericho, and was able to hold her own, and here’s the kicker, BE BELIEVABLE! When she was in the ring with a male counterpart, it absolutely made sense that she could more than likely hold stand toe-to-toe and take down her opponent, even if they were a different sex. Her all around presence made the character Chyna be cheered on by millions as well as being a woman who was not only breaking stereotypes, but shattering gender roles in wrestling by becoming the first ever WWE Intercontinental Champion. A hero and inspiration to young girls all over the world, even to this day, Chyna displayed feats in the wrestling ring that have gone unmatched by the dozens, if not hundreds, of women who have attempted to follow in her footsteps. Her contributions to professional wrestling will never be forgotten and will live on forever.
Although it has not been confirmed as of yet that drugs were involved in her death, it is no secret that Chyna struggled with addiction for years, just as many men and women in wrestling before her. Year after year, more and more of our childhood heroes and comrades fall victim to the affects of long-term drug and alcohol abuse. Sadly, those we looked up to will continue to die young. It’s the nature of the business, or at least it was. Drug and alcohol abuse in wrestling has dramatically diminished over the past 10-15 years. Don’t be fooled however, as the demons still swirl and swarm around locker rooms from coast to coast. The thing is though, they don’t have to. This goes for anyone, not just wrestlers—GET HELP! PLEASE!
Addiction can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. It does not care if you are black or white, rich or poor, a loner or Mr. Popularity. It is more common than you think. Methods to help you deal with and overcome an addiction are more common than you think as well, contrary to popular belief. If you want the help, and that’s the key, you must WANT to be helped, it is out there waiting for you. Anyone can overcome their addiction, no matter how severe, as long as you are willing to put the work in. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen. If you don’t believe me, look at Scott Hall. The former, “Razor Ramon” was the leader in all of our death pools 5 years ago. Today, he is a changed man, sober, and looks great because he WANTED it and was willing to WORK for it.
Weather you’re a wrestling legend, or an average Joe/Jane, you don’t have to suffer. I beg of you to reach out to someone so you don’t become a statistic or the next tragic tale. Find someone who has what you want, in terms of sobriety. As them how they did it. The same method might not work for everyone, but I assure you the technique that can and will help you is out there, you just have to be willing. If you’re struggling with an addiction, it can be very hard to believe you can achieve anything, let alone 24 hours of sobriety. If that is the case for you, remember this, I believe in you. Those who care about you believe in you. If you have ONE person that cares about your well-being, consider that a blessing. You mean something to someone out there. You are never along. Friends and those that want you to succeed are only a call, text, post, or tweet away. Don’t do it for us, do it for you. You owe yourself that much. Be the exception to the rule and give addiction some “sweet chin music” it can never come back from.
[Editor’s Note: If you are struggling with an addiction and don’t know where to start, feel free to e-mail Dom at TheDomVitalli@gmail.com. With over 8 years sober, Dom spends much of his free time helping others overcome their addictions through shared experiences.]
Follow Dom on Twitter @DomElBomb and hear his commentary on a wide variety of topics on the Nothing To Prove Podcast every Monday.