Chyna's Early Life:
Joan Marie Laurer was born on December 27, 1970, in Rochester, New York. Chyna left home at 16 and went to Spain with a U.N. scholarship. In 1992, she graduated from the University of Tampa with a degree in Spanish Literature. She joined the Peace Corps and taught literacy in Costa Rica. Before becoming a wrestler, Chyna was a competitor in fitness competitions.
Killer Kowalski School of Wrestling:
She was trained to wrestle by the legendary Killer Kowalski at his school in Salem, Massachusetts. She made her pro wrestling debut in 1995. In 1997, she met Shawn Michaels and Triple H who felt that her unique look could be an asset for them. In February, she made her WWE debut as the bodyguard for Triple H. A few months later, D-Generation X was formed and she was an original member of this revolutionary group that helped to redefine wrestling in the '90s.
Unlike the other Divas, Chyna's unique physique allowed her to fight other men on the roster and for the fans to accept these battles. At the 1999 Royal Rumble, Chyna became the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble match. A few months later, she beat Jeff Jarrett to become the first and only woman to hold the prestigious Intercontinental Championship.
By 2000, Chyna had undergone several procedures that made her look more feminine. That fall, she appeared on the cover and in the pages of Playboy. That magazine became one of the top-five selling issues in the magazine's history. A few months later, her autobiography, If You Only Knew, was released. It reached number 2 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. By the end of the year, her contract with the WWE expired and she was not resigned.
Why Chyna Left the WWE:
There was never an official reason why Chyna left the company. However, circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that her leaving had to do with a love triangle involving her, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie is the daughter of Vince McMahon, Chyna's boss at the time. A few years after Chyna left the company, Stephanie and Triple H married each other.
When she left the WWE, she had to stop using the name Chyna. With her wrestling career almost over, she ventured out to Hollywood where she would go by the name of China Doll and Joanie Laurer. One of the first things she did was pose forn the cover of Playboy again and she also filmed a video of her photo shoot. In 2002, she appeared on Celebrity Boxing 2 and lost to Joey Buttafuoco.
After leaving the WWE, she had an affair with former D-Generation X partner Sean Waltman. At one point the couple became engaged. However, there were many public battles between the couple that played out on both The Howard Stern Show and an episode of The Surreal Life. At different times, police became involved with both partners having claimed physical abuse. They made a sex tape entitled One Night in China which went on to be the top-selling adult video of the year.
Chyna went on to become a fixture on the VH1 Celebreality shows. She appeared on a season of The Surreal Life and was invited back for the all-star edition of the show. She has also been a part of the VH1 show Celebrity Rehab. In 2007, she filed paperwork to have her name legally changed to Chyna. In 2011, she wrestled once for Total Nonstop Acton but left the company to pursue a career in adult films.
Sources include VH1.com, If They Only Knew by Chyna, hawes.com, avnawards.com, and onlineworldofwrestling.com