Catching up with Sunny: Part 2

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January 12, 2011

What led to Sunny's release from World Wrestling Entertainment in 1998? If you've read any number of sports-entertainment websites, you'd believe it was due to torrid love affairs or infighting in the Divas locker-room. Tammy Sytch said none of this is true, although rumors of a rivalry with Sable are not unfounded.

"It wasn't professional jealousy at all, it was personal differences," she said. "I'm not going to go into it, but to me she wasn't a quality human being and that's why I didn't like her."

So if it wasn't a catfight with Sable then what happened? Tammy explained it like this:

"At the time, they were lending me out to [Extreme Championship Wrestling]. I did a couple of shows with them and I was having so much fun. So stupid, young, naïve me, I was on an ECW pay-per-view and I said, 'This is my new home.' And WWE found out about it and I had my release by fax the next day."

It was a brash move she soon came to regret. Although ECW offered creative freedom and the chance to be by her boyfriend, Chris Candido, it was also a company facing financial ruin.

"For a while it was great — and then paychecks started bouncing."

ECW's money troubles left Tammy and Chris with no choice but to head to World Championship Wrestling in 2000. This was the same year that David Arquette won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Clearly, the organization was having problems of its own.

"Everybody was miserable there," she said. "The people just walked around with pusses on their faces the whole day."

The couple lasted less than a year in the crumbling promotion. After that, there were countless independent bookings and a disappointing few months spent in Puerto Rico. By 2003, Sunny had become frustrated with sports-entertainment and spent some time managing a tanning salon and working in sales for a local gym.

The normal life was good for her, but in 2005 things fell apart. In April of that year, Chris Candido died suddenly following complications from surgery. It was a devastating loss for the woman who had been by his side for nearly 15 years. She fell into a depression and gained weight. Still, people criticized the way she dealt with Candido's passing.

"People were saying that I acted like nothing ever happened," Tammy said. "They didn't understand that my way of coping is bouncing back and acting like nothing happened. I'm not the kind of person that's going to sit around and mope all day. I'm the kind of person who will turn my focus on something else."

In the months that followed, she concentrated on her sales job and went to school to become a certified medical assistant. Eventually, she got back in shape and made a surprise return to WWE in December of 2007 for the 15th anniversary of Raw. (PHOTOS)

"That was that was my first time back in 11 years and I was like, 'Oh, wow, I missed this,'" she said. "I didn't even want the night to end."

Sunny returned to WWE again at the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania in 2009 as a participant in the 25-Diva Battle Royal. She hopes it will not be her final time in a WWE ring.

"What I'd really like to do is come back against Vickie Guerrero, because let me tell you I think Vickie is doing a fantastic job," she said. "I'm watching her and I'm like, 'Wow, she's really kicking [butt].'"

If this were to happen, Tammy would show no signs of ring rust. Still active in sports-entertainment, she spends her weekends appearing on independent shows across the globe.

"I'm like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde," she told WWE.com. "I live a normal life during the week, but on the weekends, that's when Mr. Hyde comes out and I get to play."

Sunny's popularity has allowed her to support herself through these weekend appearances and have the week to pursue her hobbies. A dog lover, she owns three pit bulls and is very involved in animal rights charities.

"I probably give more money to animal welfare groups than I actually spend on myself," she said.

The New Jersey native has raised thousands of dollars for groups like the ASPCA through fundraisers she hosts at her home and the support of friends and fans on her Facebook page.

"This past Halloween, I raised $1000 dollars [for the ASPCA] from wrestling fans through Facebook," Sunny said. "It was incredible."

Tammy is also using her Facebook for another personal project — a cookbook. A self-taught chef, she shared many of her favorite recipes with friends on her page and was encouraged to compile them into a book along with a selection of stories from her decades in the ring.

"We have to have something with wrestling in there," she said with a laugh. "It can't just be a 'Betty Crocker' cookbook."

Of course, she'll have no shortage of wild stories to share. From the bright lights of Monday Night Raw to the dark days of WCW, Tammy has truly seen it all in sports-entertainment. And while her self-proclaimed title of "the original Diva" may continue to draw controversy, it can't be denied that Sunny has displayed the kind of confidence and resolve that merits a description like "sexy, smart and powerful."  She has seen hard times and made more than a few enemies along the way, but the now-38-year-old manager would not change her decision to give up her medical school dreams to join WWE even if she could.

"Would I like to be a doctor right now? Absolutely. Do I regret anything? Absolutely not," she said. "Think about it, I'm in my 21st year in this business. You don't do something for 21 years if you don't have a love for it. Once this business gets in your blood, it's there to stay."

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