Sunny sounds off
Tammy Sytch addresses rumours, ROH, WWE, divas and nursing
JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
At the height of her career in 1996, Tammy Sytch, then known as Sunny, was one of the most popular women on the planet. Her extensive photo galleries available at America Online were the most downloaded from the site, a pretty big accomplishment for a 24-year-old from Matawan, New Jersey.
"I was the most downloaded human on America Online which was unbelievable. When they told me I beat Pam Anderson I thought they were kidding. I went the AOL awards in Phoenix, Arizona, to present an award and was given an award for being the most downloaded, that is when it really hit me how huge this whole thing had really gotten," Sytch recalled "I hadnít really grasped how big the whole Sunny thing had was until that point. At that point I did let it go to my head and got a little too big for my britches. It got to the point where I couldnít go shopping at the mall by my house without being followed and chased. I was also stalked and followed from restaurants to my house; it got a little crazy for a couple of years. That is one thing I donít miss is the stalkers outside my house. It was insane, but insanity is good because that means whatever you are doing is working."
SLAM! Wrestling caught up with Sytch recently, who chatted candidly about her past, present and future in professional wrestling. This is the second part of that interview, following February 28th's Outlook sunny for Tammy Sytch. When asked about some of her fondest memories from her WWF run, she instantly listed several memorable moments.
"Working with LOD was awesome and a dream come true. I grew up old school wrestling, so I knew who the Road Warriors were. I was very impressed that I got to work with them. Getting slopped by the Godwins was one of the highlights of my career. A lot of people are shocked when I say that, but youíve got to realize it gave me magazine covers and TV time. We did it every night on the road for three months and it was one of the most over things on TV at the time. Of course I am going to like it because I got exposure from it. Off TV, I would say traveling on the road with Davey Boy Smith and Owen Hart were some of the best times in my life. Those two would crack you up like you wouldnít believe with the ribs they pulled on each other, their friends and on me. I got ribbed left and right and it was awesome. Those are two guys I really miss dearly and I really think the world would be a better place if they were still with us."
Davey Boy and Owenís names came up frequently during the conversation. Sytch considered the Harts an important part of her life, and was caught off guard when she met one of the third generation.
"I have always gotten along with all of the Harts, they were like an extended part of my family when I was in the WWF. Stu and Helen loved me, and I used to baby-sit Bretís kids when he brought them to shows. They are really awesome people. Harry Smith is great, I have known him since he was about eight years old. First time I saw him all grown up was a few years ago in New York. This really good looking kid walks up to me and says ĎHi do you remember me?í and I said I was sorry I didnít think weíd ever met.í And he said ĎYou donít recognize me now that I am older, Iím Harry.í I gasped and couldnít believe it. He has his fatherís eyes, I donít know how I didnít pick up on it. I hadnít seen him since he was a young teenager and all of a sudden heís this gorgeous 19-year-old guy, I think heís absolutely gorgeous that kid. Once I realized who it was I saw his father's face in him and realized he is the spitting image of his Dad. Harry has always been a sweet kid, I love him and I think he has all the talent in the world. Hopefully he gets the break that his Dad did."
Sytchís name was used in the real life feud between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart in 1997. Michaels, in a live interview on RAW, stated that Hart had seen some "Sunny Days," implying that the two had been romantically involved. Not at all, disputes Sytch.
"It was so stupid. For the record, I have never had any intimate relations with Bret Hart, ever. Bret and I were very good friends and he used to use my locker room a lot because he didnít like to change with the rest of the guys. He was a loner. Most of the time if I was on the road alone and there were no other girls in the room he would use my locker room to change, it was the Sunny and Bret locker room. But nothing happened! We werenít in there changing together, when he was changing I left, I was changing he left. Shawn and I were in a relationship for nine months and when we stopped, Shawn had a feeling that I might have been with Bret and got jealous and started making all of those accusations. But nothing ever happened with Bret Hart, he was just a dear friend and always will be."
By the summer of 1998, Sytch had left the WWF and resurfaced in ECW alongside real-life boyfriend Chris Candido at Heatwave 1998.
"There were a lot of things contributing to why I left. At that time, the only thing I was doing was modeling Undertaker and Steve Austin t-shirts. I was not happy with what I was doing on TV and there was not a lot planned to change that. I knew I could do all of this stuff and instead they had me modeling. I was very frustrated and I did have an ego. I felt I was being wasted and was bored," she said. It was then that Paul Heyman came calling. "I like to name Paul 'the hypnotist' because he can make you believe anything, convinced me that I had a lot better options in ECW and would get a lot more money and creative control. I believed him and followed that option. I donít regret anything in my life but looking back on it now it probably wasnít the brightest move, ECW didnít last forever. Back then if I was older I would have been a little bit smarter and counted my blessings to be where I was. But I was young and wanted more so I decided to move on."
After leaving ECW in 1999, Sytch and Candido debuted in WCW. Sytch was in an unfamiliar role, stepping between the ropes as a wrestler.
"WCW was the worst place I ever worked, it was miserable. There wasnít a happy person in that locker room. They had me in the ring every single night taking bumps in mixed tags. I am not a wrestler, I have never said I was a wrestler and Iím not any good at it so why make me do it? It didnít make a lot of sense but a lot of things in WCW didnít make sense. They paid well but that was the only redeeming quality. After a year I couldnít take anymore."
After WCW, Sytch seemed to drop off the face of the earth.
"I worked in Japan a couple of times, we worked for Carlos Colon in Puerto Rico for six months. When I went back to school I was turning down bookings because I was focusing on college. I just needed a change and some time away from the business. There is only so much you can do before you get burnt out and I was burnt out, I was tired of it. I took a break and lived a bit of a normal life, while doing occasional weekend things just to get by. Chris was working like crazy so I didnít have to."
It was to the surprise of many that Sytch didnít join Candido in TNA. While Sytch said there was interest from the promotion, she declined the offer and continued to support Chris from the background.
"I wasnít really interested in going. That was his thing. I was in school and at that time I wasnít in the best shape so I didnít want to be on national TV at that point. Chris was probably the happiest in his life in TNA. He enjoyed it so much and loved working there. He would come home from the TV tapings and go on for hours and hours about how great things were and different people and just rave about it. For once I wanted to just let him have his thing, I didnít want to step on his toes or anybody elseís toes, I did my own thing. I really didnít have any urge to be in the business whole time."
Instead, she focused on a career away from wrestling, a decision made based on seeing other's mistakes.
"The way I was raised in the business is that it is all you have, should have and thatís it. But that is what has happened to a lot of guys who were big in the '80s and '90s now they are broke. They never had any kind of training or went to school, and now when they canít get booked anywhere they are screwed. At least I have a head on my shoulders and knew not to listen to people too much, I still wanted that education. When young guys on the independent circuit ask me for advice I tell them to finish college, have an education and something to fall back on just in case. Out of all of the independent wrestlers in the world trying to make it, maybe one per cent will and the rest will have to have something else to fall back on," she said. Having majored in premed after high school before pursuing wrestling full time, Sytch enrolled in college.
"I was going to be an orthopedic or plastic surgeon. There is a brain behind this blonde hair believe it or not! I am a lot smarter then a lot of people ever knew. When I went back to school I thought about finishing pre med, but at 30 years old I donít think I have that time and energy to put into it. So I went back and took a medical technician program. So I can work in the medical field assisting in surgeries or doctors' offices, I can do anything and am at least still working in the field. Maybe one day down the road, but as far as right now it's not really in the cards. At least I finished school and have something to fall back on if and when I need to, but hopefully not for a long time."
She did laugh at the thought of a wrestling fan being prepped for surgery by Nurse Tammy.
"It would be funny seeing a wrestling fan's reaction if I showed up and took their blood pressure, gave them a shot or prepped them for surgery."
Sytch returned to the national spotlight on the RAW 15th anniversary special on December 10, 2007.
"I got a phone call one day, from my good friend Howard Finkel. He told me they had an idea for the show, but wanted me to keep it quiet. I was glad it was a good friend of mine that got to give me the good news. Of course it was eating me up inside that I couldnít tell anyone. A week later I was reading about it on the internet. I was so excited, I called my boyfriend (John, a New Jersey police officer) right away. He had never seen me do it on such a large scale before. He comes to pretty much every show I have now but he never saw me in the WWF and didnít know what I used to do back then. It was cool for him to come along and see that reception from that many people and finally see the whole Sunny thing. I had so much fun, I didnít want the night to end."
Some fans were disappointed however, that Sytch, the "Diva" icon of the '90s, did not get the chance to interact with Trish Stratus, who followed in Sytchís footsteps as the top Diva of the new millennium.
"We were talking with each other before the show happened and we both hoped we could do something together because we never had worked together. The writers of RAW do what they want to do and whether you agree with it or not, they write it how they want it. What they had me doing was fine, I wish I had some mic time because that is my specialty, give me a microphone and I can go for an hour. I was blessed to be in a very good segment with the McMahons and Hornswaggle, my favorite performer of all time. I really had a good time. There were other things I would rather have done if I was writing the show, but I am not the writer. I did what I was told to the best of my ability and thatís that. I just hope it was enjoyable for everyone."
The appreciation Sytch has for Stratus is evident as she spoke of her many times.
"I have all of the respect in the world for Trish Stratus. People ask me in interviews all the time who I respect the most I say her every time. She evolved into such a well-rounded performer, how could you not love her? We have become friends and she is one of the sweetest people I have ever known and is incredible."
When asked if WWE as interested in her returning to the company on a full time basis, Sytch is mum.
"I would like to go back to the WWE and be Sunny once more and have one final run at it. I did spend some quality time with some very important people, and they have all of my updated contact information. Some interest was shown. You never know. I am not going to say anything definite because I am very superstitious. If I say yes I am going back then I will jinx myself and it will never happen, if you talk about something too much it usually never happens. Whatever happens happens. If it does I will be thrilled but if it doesnít well life goes on and its not the end of the world. I am so busy as it is right now, I am paying my bills just fine."
But how would Sunny fit into todayís WWE, a far different world from when she dominated the WWF with only Sable and Terri Runnels as counterparts.
"I want to be in some kind of a love triangle with Hornswaggle and someone else," she joked. "Actually my boyfriend isnít involved in the business but he loves coming up with ideas and he had the idea of having me come in as Hornswaggleís fiancť because I want to marry him and take over the company from Vince. I think that would be so funny. No matter what kind of an idea I have, it wonít happen because they have writers. I am pretty much at the point in my career where I will do what I am told. When I was younger I was a little bit harder to deal with and would say no to things left and right, but I had that power. Now I am at the point where you get your paycheque, go home and be happy. If I go back whatever they needed me to do I would do."
It seems a requirement that WWE Divas today get in the ring as a wrestler, something Sytch would rather not do for several reasons.
"That is one thing I am really not interested in doing, mainly because I have two herniated discs in my lower back from the bumps I have taken over the years and need back surgery. I do get epidural shots in my back every four months to keep away the swelling and pain but they said that eventually the shots arenít going to work and I am going to need to get cut open. Any kind of further physical activity in the ring in terms of having matches is definitely not what the doctor ordered. That is one thing I would really not be interested in, But never say never, if the price is right you never know what Iíll do."
In the meantime, Sytch is making appearances at independent wrestling events and conventions. Sytch takes a great deal of pride and honour out of the number of females in the business who cite her as an influence on them.
"Every locker room I walk [into] where there are girls, I get so much respect from them and it is really incredible. I feel like I get more respect now then when I was in the limelight as Sunny. WFU is a company here in New Jersey that is all girls, and when I walk into the locker room they kiss my butt and it's great. It is nice to know that you are appreciated for what you have done in this business. I do like to call myself the original diva because before me there wasnít really anyone as well rounded who did what I did. Yeah Sherri Martel was a great manager and wrestler, and you had Miss Elizabeth who was great eye candy at ringside but couldnít do much past that, Alundra Blayze who was just a wrestler, and Moolah who was in a category all on her own. If you look at them all, nobody was really well rounded, who could get in the ring and manage ringside, and do a bikini photo shoot and do broadcasting. When I came along Vince saw somebody who he could make money off of, who could do a little bit of everything and do it well. I think I started the whole trend."
The trend however has turned to hiring models and Diva Search contestants, many cookie cutter with no experience and not able to fill the shoes of Sytch, who always had a legitimate love for professional wrestling.
"As far as the Diva Searches, I am not going to badmouth it too much because it is giving the opportunity for girls to make money in the business. But the way I look at it, know something about the business you are in. When I watched the first Diva Search I was kind of upset that nobody knew who Kamala was. I mean come on, how can you not know who Kamala is?! That is because I was raised old school and taught by Chris Candido and Jim Cornette. I know people who were wrestling champions in 1905. I know my history, I was groomed the correct way. It does bother me girls who donít care about the business and want to make a quick buck, but what are you going to do, itís evolved into that nowadays and people like myself and Trish are few and far between."
Sytch has been appearing in Ring of Honor, and fans in Orlando for Wrestlemania weekend will get to meet the "Golden Haired Fox" at the promotions shows that weekend. To many, ROH today is similar to what ECW represented during the '90s.
"The first time I worked for them in December was the first time I had seen their shows, I had never seen a tape and had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I watched that show, I thought to myself that this is the first thing that even comes remotely close to what the old ECW was. I was very impressed. In fact, I liked the show better then the old ECW shows and I never thought I would like anything better then the late 1990s ECW. I watched that first show in December 28th and I was really, really impressed. These guys go out there and give 110%. And the girls, oh my God! I watched the girls' three-way match and I would never want to be in the ring with these girls. I would never want to be in the ring with them, they were killing each other. ROH is a great company and hopefully they will be around a long time. They are giving a lot of young up and coming wrestlers some good employment, matches and opportunity and I only hope the best for that company."
Tammy Sytch seems to have it all. A solid relationship, mental and physical health, and a future filled with bright possibilities. Whether she ends up in TNA, WWE or continues to work independents, the outlook still remains sunny for Tammy Sytch.
Mar 1, 2008: Great to be Sunny again
Feb 28, 2008: Outlook sunny for Tammy Sytch
April 12, 2002: Sytch rips into WWF divas
Dec. 13, 2001: Sunny days, wintry nights -- The thrills and spills of Tammy Lynn Sytch
Nov. 7, 1997: Sunny shines in role of 'golden-haired fox'
Nov. 7, 1997: Sunny has brains over brawn
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Tammy Sytch Shoot Interview DVD
WWF Ringside Collection Wrestling Figure Series 1: Sunny
Jason Clevett conducted this interview over the phone, but met up with Tammy face to face in Edmonton a week later, despite the car breaking down on the way up. A $450 car repair in Red Deer to meet Tammy Sytch? Yeah, it was worth it.