Professional wrestling is scripted, but it takes a toll on the wrestlers' bodies. That is why the brain of '90s star Joanie "Chyna" Laurer will be studied to shed light on the effects of wrestling.
Laurer passed away on April 20 and her representative, friend and manager Anthony Anzaldo said that her brain has been donated to Dr. Bennet Omalu, a doctor who studies about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This disease is commonly found in athletes doing hockey, football, soccer, rugby and other contact sports.
Professional wrestlers are prone to suffer CTE because of the risks of concussions during a match. The definite cause of Chyna's death is still unclear, the study of her brain may shed light if her wrestling career could have taken a toll on her physical health.
Anzaldo planned a televised intervention before the former wrestler died. He said that he was trying to save Chyna's life and he had the wrestler's best interests at heart.
"The TV show Intervention offered me the tools and the levity to pull something like that off in just a few days," he said.
"They have the facility, the professionals. They are a machine. That's what they do. We were going to document her intervention anyways because we are in the middle of filming a documentary on her life already titled The Reconstruction of Chyna - the plans are to release it in 2017," he added.
Unfortunately, the star passed a week before the intervention was scheduled. The original plan also included the participation of other professional wrestlers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Billy Gunn and Mick Foley. However, they did not have the chance to contact them in time.
Anzaldo said that lawyers has reached out to him before the reality star died to ask if Chyna is interested to file a lawsuit against WWE.
After Chyna's death, the lawyers called him up again asking if they could have her brain. Though Anzaldo said that they are not interested in the lawsuit, they are hoping the researchers could find everything they could in CTE and its link to the star's death.
He added that Chyna did not disclose whether there any concussion incidents in her entire career, but she endured physical injuries. Anzaldo, however, hopes that the examination of her brain for CTE could determine if concussions played a role in the wrestler's untimely death.
CTE has been connected to the deaths of other athletes, including retired San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson. Other stars like racing icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. and women's soccer star Brandi Chastain have pledged their brains for CTE research.
Doctors believe that CTE is a unique disease. It could result in Alzheimer's-like symptoms, including memory loss, rage and mood swings. In some cases, it could potentially lead to suicide.
The condition could develop because of repeated blows or hits to the head and it results in an abnormal protein called tau. The sad thing about CTE is that it can only be diagnosed after death.
In the past two years, two other professional wrestlers died, including James "The Ultimate Warrior" Brian, who died at age of 54, and Roderick "Rowdy Roddy Piper" Toombs, who died at the age of 61.