One of the tried and true clichés of professional wrestling is substance abuse by the performers. Be it prescription or recreational drugs, alcohol or anything else, not many wrestlers can honestly say they’ve never had a problem with addiction. Tammy Sytch is no different.
While most wrestling fans know her as Sunny, arguably the original WWE Diva, her sit-down interview with Sean Oliver of Kayfabe Commentaries in the newest edition of Breaking Kayfabe is definitely a sobering look into how quickly substance abuse can affect not only the abuser, but also how quickly it can change your relationships with everyone around that person. To her credit, Tammy doesn’t blame her problems due to her drinking. She takes responsibility for her actions during all of the altercations.
According to Oliver, “It’s the promise of this series that all the guests have maintained out of the ring lives that are infinitely more interesting than anything in the ring.” With Sunny’s five arrests, five stints in rehab and a restraining order all within the span of a few months in 2012, Oliver wasn’t joking with his statement.
While Sytch does talk about her relationship with Chris Candido, including the affair she had with Shawn Michaels, the focus of the interview is on her recent legal troubles.
It should be noted that while Tammy appears to be speaking as truthfully as possible, there may be a chance not everything she talks about is the truth. At the beginning of the interview, she admits that, “One of the things I’ve always prided myself on is that every shoot interview I did was pretty much all bullshit.” Personally, I believe she was telling the truth throughout this interview.
While other wrestlers battled addiction to painkillers or other illegal drugs, Tammy’s vice of choice was alcohol. “Alcohol is a disease that makes you a very greedy person,” Sytch said during the interview. “You don’t think of anybody else’s well-being.” She did admit that since she was blacked-out a lot of the time, her memory of the incidents is still incomplete.
How bad did it get with her? In the span of a few days, Tammy went from moving in with her then-boyfriend Damien Darling to having a restraining order filed against her and locked up.
Tammy admits at the time she didn’t learn her lesson. When her judge forbade Tammy from going back to Damien’s place, what do you think was the first thing Sytch did when she was released on bail? In what can only be described as the plot of a bad comedy, not only did Tammy immediately go back to Damien’s place, according to her just to get some clothes and her cell phone, but Damien’s next door neighbour happened to be a cop.
What’s truly sad about her story is how it affected her relationship with the WWE. Anyone familiar with WWE’s Wellness Policy knows that even if a wrestler no longer works for the company, the WWE typically will cover the costs of rehab. Probably the person who has taken advantage of this policy the most is Scott Hall, who has been in and out of rehab at least a dozen times with the six-figure costs of the treatments being picked up by the WWE.
Sytch wasn’t as lucky as Hall. While the WWE did pay for her treatments, she believes it more had to do with the WWE’s image during Linda McMahon’s political campaign. A few weeks after Linda’s campaign failed, Sytch needed to go to a new treatment center. While the WWE did pick up the tab for the new place, rather than having her stay in a nice rehab center that costs about a thousand dollars a day, she was sent to the actual hospital where the movie Girl Interrupted was filmed. The costs of sending her there: about a hundred dollars a day.
Tammy says several times at this rehab center she was in fear for her safety and attempted to contact the WWE about relocating her to another facility. When the WWE refused, she pointed out the Scott Hall situation to which the WWE simply told her, “You’re not Scott Hall.”
(After that statement made its way to WWE, the company sent out this release to clarify the situation: “As part of the Former Talent Rehabilitation Program, WWE has sent Ms. Sytch to rehabilitation numerous times, with all costs covered by WWE. Unfortunately, Ms. Sytch has continued to make poor personal choices and is ultimately responsible for the consequences of these decisions. WWE has always provided rehabilitation at a certified treatment center, however, given Ms. Sytch’s inability to change her lifestyle and successfully complete treatment, WWE will no longer fund her rehabilitation.”)
During the interview, Sunny casually asks Sean if he knows of anyone who would be interested in purchasing her WWE Hall of Fame ring. According to Tammy, when she first was inducted in 2011, the ring always stayed on her finger, even when she was hospitalized. After the WWE’s refusal to help her out, it appears as though Tammy can’t even stand to look at it any more.
For those interested in learning about what’s happened to Sunny over the past 10 years, this is definitely an interview worth watching. It’s obvious, but expect lots of depressing moments. When you consider that Tammy is just one of five women to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (including 2013 inductee Trish Stratus), it’s sad to see what has happened to her.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist living in Atlanta. He was at the 2011 Hall of Fame Ceremony when Sunny was inducted. He wants to wish Tammy Lynn Sytch the best luck and hopes these incidents have changed her for the better.