One of the most legendary figures in professional wrestling history passed away earlier this year, as Joanie "Chyna" Laurer died of unknown causes at the age of 46. The loss of one of the most powerful competitors to ever step inside of the squared circle certainly hit home to all involved in the business and fans around the world.
WrestlingNewsSource had the opportunity to speak to one of Chyna’s dearest friends, comedian, musician, and film producer Rob Potylo (who also produced Chyna’s documentary). Potylo first spoke on how the documentary, The Reconstruction Of Chyna, came about:
“I've been a massive fan of wrestling since 1987/1988. I worshiped at the alter of the Golden Era of wrestling in the late 1980's, and then the Attitude Era in the late 1990's. I've been a comedian/musician/video producer up in the Greater Boston area. I had been working with director Erik Angra on a wide variety of mockumentary/documentary projects.
“During late 2014, we flew WWE Hall of Famer "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart up to Massachusetts to film a mockumentary pilot, "Loud Satisfaction", with my metal-headed Massachusetts alter-ego, Robby Roadsteamer.
“We had so much fun, we decided to look for other wrestlers for our comedy videos. I located Chyna on Twitter, started watching all her video blogs from Japan, and loved her humor and dorkiness. I didn't know whether or not she was still in Japan, so I got in touch with her manager, Anthony Anzaldo, through Twitter.
“It turned out that Chyna needed a documentary more than anything. So I told Erik Angra about her story and history, knowing that his background working with Ken Burns and Vice would give her a wonderful chance to tell her story through a high-end documentary, instead of a cheesy, reality-show-movie.
“I introduced Erik to Anthony, suggested a road trip cross country, and it worked! Erik bought her a plane ticket back to America, we picked her up in NY at JFK, and we were off.”
Potylo then dove into his initial encounter with ‘The Ninth Wonder Of The World’, stating that the two hit it off right off the bat and noted Chyna’s incredible sense of humor as one of the most attractive traits as a human being:
“I was actually the first person she saw when she got through the gates at JFK Airport. My initial impression of her was very much like the videos I saw of her from Japan on YouTube; that she is a total dork, sweetheart, with an F'ing fantastic sense of humor in the vein of Adult Swim. She's quirky, and just so humble and kind. I always described her to friends as the alternative chick in college I would have been best pals with.”
He then went on to describe Chyna as a person, highlighting that she always carried a huge smile on her face.
Zen, centered, peaceful. Never stressed. Always a huge smile on her face. I loved just looking across the van and seeing her everywhere we went. Always laughing and fun-loving.
Potylo then discussed his time living with Chyna and her manager Anthony Anzaldo, and stated that while the three did get along and had fun times, he did believe Anzaldo’s methods of getting Chyna back on track were a bit excessive:
”I lived with her and Anthony on the road, going back to his beach house in Redondo, and then on the floor of the living room of that house for two months (Chyna got the couch), while I helped film, produce, and upload video for the documentary. 90% of the time, Anthony was generally very pleasant. We all had similar senses of humor, and had a bunch of fun times.
“I understand he had a plan to get Chyna back on track, but he also seemed to want to put her in a shit-load of Comic-Cons, get her back into porn, and generally get her plugged back into a crazy schedule without seeing that she needed rehab and counseling pretty much right off the bat. Anthony also had a brutal, brutal temper. When he didn't like the way things were going, or didn't feel he was receiving "consideration", he would go off like you wouldn't believe. I was at the receiving end of this once or twice, and heard Chyna on the receiving end of this too. I also heard this temper many other times with family, or on the phone.
“In August of 2015, Anthony and Chyna went to Vegas for some weekend event. She had failed to meet her wake-up call at 8:00 AM on Sunday morning, and Anthony decided that he'd "had enough". He left her in Vegas for five days by herself. I was woken up that Sunday night to unearthly screaming; Anthony was on the phone with Chyna, shouting, "I don't care what F'ing happens to you! You are shit!" I was so scared, both for her and myself. I really was prepared to die at that point. The police got called by the neighbors, he was so loud.
“Chyna finally got on a Greyhound to LAX, and Erik had to hook her up with an Uber to get back to Redondo. When she came through the door, she was F'd up as all hell with her pants hanging off her hips.”
In the full interview, Potylo also discusses Chyna’s encounter with ex-boyfriend Triple H and Hall of Famer ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Pipper’s funeral, the struggles in the final days of her life, and the status of her documentary.
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