Ask any male who watched the WWF in the 90s who they had the biggest crush on. The guys in there 20s who are most familiar with the Attitude-era might say Sable. The over-35 crowd who grew up watching Hogan feud with Savage might say Miss Elizabeth. But an overwhelming number of them will land on a different lady of wrestling. We’re talking about the golden haired fox, Tammy Lynn Sytch – known to wrestling fans as Sunny.
Perhaps a perfect (and unintentional) precursor to the Attitude-era, Sunny burst onto the WWF scene in 1994. She quickly captivated audiences with sex appeal, charm, and an attitude to match. It was a perfect match for the male dominated audience of the WWF.
Sunny originally debuted in the WWF as a valet for “Skip” (Chris Candidio). The duo (who were also real-life partners) were dubbed as “The Bodydonnas” – over zealous fitness freaks. When the Donnas would come down the aisle, Sunny would be on the mic spouting out how fat, lazy, and out of shape the audience was. Despite the heel gimmick, fans still fell in love with Sunny.
Widely considered “the first WWE diva”, Sunny wasn’t just eye candy. She was truly gifted in cutting promos and working the mic – arguably, a more essential trait in sports entertainment than actual wrestling skills. It wasn’t long before Sunny was overshadowing Skip and was pushed into various storylines.
Sunny briefly managed the Godwins, The Smoking Guns, and Farooq Assad. She was then moved into a commentary position, co-hosting WWF LiveWire and the short-lived Shotgun Saturday Night.
Unfortunately within a few short years, Sunny’s time with the WWF would come to an end. She briefly managed the Legion of Doom 2000 before ultimately being released amidst rumors of backstage issues – many involving a jealously over the WWF’s new eye candy – Rena Mero aka Sable. Sable’s popularity soared in 1997. Slam Sports reports that there was once a backstage physical altercation involving Sunny, Sable, and Luna Vachon.
One can’t help but speculate that Sable’s rising popularity made the WWF’s decision to let Sytch go, that much easier. Still, despite being a huge fan of the Attitude-era, you can’t even compare Sunny to Sable as far as charisma and mic-skills. Looking back, Sable’s promos are cringe-worthy. You could also argue that Sunny’s sex appeal helped pave the way for those who came later, even if they had more wrestling skills. Sable, Torie, and Trish Stratus come to mind. Sure, all have in-ring skills, but would the women’s division had gotten any push had it not been for Sunny being so over?
Even before her release, Sunny was in the middle of more backstage drama. Despite being in a relationship with Chris Candido, many wrestlers have gone on record to say that she was promiscuous in the locker room.
According to a 2007 interview with Sytch, she had a 9 month relationship with Shawn Michaels. In a DX promo, Shawn Michaels subtly (or perhaps not subtly) accused his rival Bret Hart of cheating on his wife with Sunny. Hart and Sytch both denied the relationship and Bret has always spoken candidly about how distasteful the comment by Michaels was. Despite the allegations being denied, Sytch was once again in the middle of controversy backstage.
After her release from the WWF, Sytch joined ECW in 1998-1999, followed by a brief run with WCW. By 2000 she had hit the independent circuit – once again, with companion Chris Candido by her side.
By 2001, a downward spiral seemed to take hold of Tammy Lynn Sytch. She was rushed to an area hospital in 2001 after her appendix burst. According to Slam Sports, she was dangerously close to death.
In 2005, Tammy Lynn Sytch’ long time partner, Chris Candido passed away from a post-surgery bloodclot.
Around this same time, Sunny posed for Missy Hyatt’s (now defunct) Wrestling Vixxxens website, posing nude for the first time. Reportedly, in the late 90s Sytch had turned down a six-figure offer from Playboy (something tells us Wrestling Vixxxen’s didn’t pay as well as Playboy would have).
Then things seemed to turn around. By 2011, Sunny was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. She looked fantastic in her public appearance and seemed to be in good health. Unfortunately, this was short lived.
In 2012 Sytch began soliciting money from fans for private Skype sessions where she would pose nude…errr, among other things. As of this post (Jan 23, 2016) Sytch is still actively booking Skype appointments.
Beginning in September 2012, Sytch was arrested six times in a four month period. All of the arrests stemmed from incidents with her then-boyfriend. Amongst the charges were assault, third degree burglary, disorderly conduct, and violating a restraining order. She ended up serving 114 days in jail in 2013.
On May 20, 2015, TMZ made an exclusive announcement that Sytch was in talks with adult film behemoth, Vivid Entertainment. This is the same company who had huge success when signing another former female wrestling star from the 90s – Chyna. Rumors circulated that Sunny’s deal would be for a long term contract in the six-figure range.
Within 10 days of the Vivid news breaking, Tammy Lynn Sytch was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Lehighton, PA. Reportedly, she hit a curb at a local Walmart after attempting to enter the parking lot through an exit-only lane. She was arrested in the parking lot after failing to pass a field sobriety test. Her blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit at the time of the arrest and she was also driving with a suspended license.
The next day, June 1, 2015, Sytch was arrested for another DUI, followed by a third DUI arrest on June 20th. Three DUIs within a three week period – sad to say the least, and lucky she didn’t hurt anyone.
In a statement released by the WWE, they noted: “As part of WWE’s Former Talent Program, we sent Ms. Sytch to rehabilitation three times, with all costs covered by WWE. Unfortunately, Ms. Sytch continues to make poor personal choices. WWE will continue to provide assistance should she want to take advantage of it.”
Moving deeper into 2015, Sunny still couldn’t seem to keep away from controversy. After the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris, she posted the following on her Facebook page:
“What I think the world needs is another Holocaust, but this time for the Islams of the world…the ones who REALLY should be extinguished. HAIL TRUMP!!”
After receiving a huge social media backlash, she issued a less-than-heartfelt apology via her Facebook page:
“Ok ok… I do apologize if I offended anyone by my post last night.. It was made in jest. What I do not apologize for is my own off-color sense of humor and outspoken ways… Baby, I was born this way…. And nothing is going to change that. What you see is what you get.”
Editors note: Sytch desperately needs a good publicist, or better yet, a manager.
What’s the point of this article? To bad mouth or mock the former WWF diva after her fall from grace? Hardly. In fact, I would put Sunny in one of the top 10 most influential wrestling personalities of the 90s. She knew how to work the crowd, she had a ton of charisma, and she helped push the WWF from it’s cookie-cutter family friendly product of the early 90s into the direction of the beloved Attitude era.
As the URL of our blog indicates, we tend to focus on the darker side of the wrestling world. Not to be a TMZ-esque garbage shoot, but to shed light on a side of wrestling that is often ignored. The post wrestling life of Tammy Lynn Sytch could be her own personal demons, regardless of her involvement in sports entertainment, or you could argue that her struggles are a direct result of her past career in the wrestling business.
While she wasn’t taking bumps in the ring, she still endured the grueling road schedule with no off-season. The pressure of being at the top of your game in order to maintain your spot in the storylines. The expectations set forth to entertain thousands in the crowd and millions watching your every move on TV. These circumstances easily could have contributed to Tammy Lynn Sytch’ post-wrestling struggles.
Despite a series of sad and unfortunate events in Tammy Lynn Sytch’ post-WWF life, there’s no arguing about the huge impact Sunny had in sports entertainment. And despite how many poor decisions she continues to make, no one will be able to take away the pivotal role she played in the 90s WWF.
It’s also important to remember that we shouldn’t be judgmental. If Sytch does in fact sign to Vivid Entertainment, who are we to judge her for decisions she makes in her post-WWF career? Many of the people who demean pornography have no problem watching it – I like to call these kind of people hypocrites.
Tammy’s drug and alcohol problems are also not something to be mocked. If you’re over the age of 18 and have never seen a family member or close friend struggle with addiction, you’re probably in the minority. It can happen to anyone, and while many will point a finger and laugh, it’s important to remember that addiction isn’t a joke, and someone’s celebrity, or former celebrity-status shouldn’t give you a free pass to act like a child. Our beloved wrestling heroes are humans too, and as we’ve noted before, they don’t exactly have a cakewalk for a profession.
Regardless of how things play out, if Sunny’s triumphant return at the WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2011 is any indication, Sytch has the drive and determination to turn her life in whichever direction she desires. “What Sunny wants, Sunny gets.”
Have a favorite Sunny memory? Share it in the comments below.