Managed three teams to the World Tag Team Championship; AOL's most downloaded woman of 1996; two-time Slammy Award winner; 2011 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee
The opening line of Sunny's theme song perfectly captured the gorgeous Diva's specific mindset — "I know you want me."
It may have been an arrogant statement, but it wasn't far from the truth. In a career that has spanned decades, the woman born Tamara Lynn Sytch has been one of the most popular females to ever set foot in the ring. But the beauty never planned on entering the squared circle. As a teenager in New Jersey, she was a stellar student who was set to attend the University of Miami on a full academic scholarship. Then she met a kid named Chris Candido and her life was forever changed.
An aspiring Superstar, Candido persuaded Sytch to turn down her scholarship and follow him to Tennessee where he was set to begin work with Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling. She went along and started classes at the University of Tennessee, but she was soon convinced by Cornette to start working for SMW as an abrasive, self-styled manager who idolized Hillary Clinton. Sytch agreed and proved to be a natural villain, striking a chord with the audience to the point that fans would leap over the railings to attack her during shows.
This rare mix of beauty and business smarts soon caught the attention of WWE, leading to Sytch signing a contract in 1995. First working as a broadcast correspondent, she soon returned to managing Candido. Now known as The Bodydonnas, the couple became Sunny and Skip, a pair of smug fitness freaks who delighted in insulting the physiques of everyone in the WWE Universe. Soon joined by Skip's "brother" Zip, the team won the World Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania XII in 1996.
That same year, Sunny's popularity exploded. Her bikini issue of RAW Magazine sold a record number of copies, she won two Slammy Awards (including Best Buns) and was deemed the most downloaded woman in the world by America Online. Suddenly, the loathed villain was one of the hottest personalities in WWE.
More ring success followed. She managed The Smokin' Gunns and The Godwinns to the World Tag Team Championships and introduced Ron Simmons as Farrooq to the WWE Universe. And in 1998 she experienced the biggest thrill of her managerial career when he she accompanied a reenergized Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal, to the ring at WrestleMania XIV.
Sunny’s stint with L.O.D. 2000 proved to be her last major run in WWE. She went on to Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling. Sytch will forever be remembered as the person who redefined the role of women in WWE. She wasn't just a brainless bikini model or a vivacious valet at ringside. She was a pinup, a fast-talking manager and could throw down when she needed to. In short, she was sexy, smart and powerful. The claim may be a topic of debate, but Sytch will always defend her belief that she is the original WWE Diva.
“My definition of a Diva is that all-around, well-rounded performer," she told WWE.com. “The girls who came before me were so one dimensional and then I came along and anything they threw at me I could do. I could get in the ring and have a match, I managed at ringside, I co-hosted TV shows, I did broadcasting. I was the first one to do it all."
Statements like this have made Sunny the target of controversy, but it is not something she shies away from. After all, she got to where she is by speaking her mind. And it is this fierce independence and trailblazing originality that earned Sunny her place in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
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Good ole boys: The stars of Smoky Mountain Wrestling
Get down and dirty with the old school southern rasslin' stars of the Smoky Mountains, including The Rock 'n' Roll Express, Tracey Smothers, Brian Lee, a pre-Sunny Tammy Sytch and a very young Chris Jericho.
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