By LANCE LUMLEY – For SlamWrestling
The WWF Attitude Era was full of controversy with adult oriented storylines and sexual content that was not for all wrestling fans. Much like the era that made her famous, the book A Star Shattered: The Rise & Fall of Wrestling Diva Tammy “Sunny” Sytch is full of adult content and may not be for every wrestling fan.
The autobiography, published by Riverdale Avenue Books, starts describing young Tamara Sytch being exposed to WWF wrestling on television and attending house shows with her mother at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey, where she built herself a collection of the wrestler’s autographs, LJN toys, and all the different wrestling magazines of the time. Some of her photos even made it to Bill Apter and the magazines he worked for. Like many, so also pretended to be a WWF Superstar at home.
Right before she stopped watching wrestling for a while, her last live show she attended was Verne Gagne’s AWA, where she was in awe of one of the wrestlers,Shawn Michaels. This is interesting foreshadowing for later in the book when she worked for the WWF.
When Sytch attended a wrestling show at the end of her high school years, she fell in love with a wrestler performing, telling her mother and sister who attended the card with her that she was going to bring home the wrestler that night. The wrestler was Chris Candido who she would spend the next 16 years with professionally and personally.
The book goes into Sytch and Candido’s journeys through the independent scene, the Memphis-based USWA, and Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling — all while she was attending college. Then she enters the WWF as a commentator before becoming a manager.
The book starts to take a turn from a normal wrestling book once she takes the reader to the WWF. There are a few good stories about meeting stars like Owen Hart, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and The Road Warriors. There is a humorous story exposing what was in the pig slop bucket when she was managing The Godwins (who had pig farmer gimmicks). I liked these stories and wanted more.
Once she became a crowd favorite with her WWF persona, Sytch turns the book into a more adult-oriented TMZ-ish tell-all. There’s bragging about becoming the first celebrity to hit one million downloads on AOL, and the claim that she was the “first wrestling personality besides the illustrious Hulk Hogan to ever hit mainstream media.” (Of course, Hogan wasn’t even the first to hit mainstream media.) She said he turned down posing in Playboy magazine too.
While becoming a sex symbol, Sunny writes about her relationship with Shawn Michaels, that started as an on-air skit and turned physical, where WWF honco Vince McMahon “approved” of their relationship during a time when the talent was forbidden to have relationships with each other. Sunny states Michaels broke off their relationship when she would not leave Candido for him, and that Michaels was jealous and hated of Bret Hart because Hart was friends with her.Sunny also tells stories about going to Mexico to get drugs for certain wrestlers, including Michaels and his friends, known to wrestling fans as “The Clique.” She also states her opinions on the Montreal Screw Job and who she thinks was involved, knowing both Bret Hart and Michaels.
After leaving the WWF, Sunny writes about her time with ECW, Puerto Rico, WCW, and TNA. She discusses her dislike for people like Eric Bischoff, Carlos Colon, Paul Heyman, Sable, and Kimberly Page, yet writes that she is sometimes unfairly treated as being difficult in the locker room.
The rest of the book deals with her coping with Candido’s sudden death from a blood clot, her dating life afterwards, her stays in rehabilitation clinics, jail time, charging money for fans to chat with her on Skype, and a recent appearance in an adult video.
I love reading about pro wrestling, especially the backstage booking stories and tales on the road. However, there were not enough of these stories to enjoy this book. It contains too much tabloid-style stories that turn into a form of an adult romance book that does not appeal to me, and likely many male readers.
While Sytch is completely honest in her book, which is commendable, there were too many sex tales. More tales of the Smoky Mountain Wrestling days would have been entertaining (especially some Jim Cornette tales as the booker), instead of just calling some of the fans “hillbillies” and criticize them for not being “in” on the wrestling business, and making fun of them, along with not liking a female manager and a certain wrestler she calls dumb “as a box of rocks.”If you are a die-hard fan of Sytch, and they are out there, as evidenced by her being able to charge fans to talk to her online, this is the book for you. Fans of Sunny will know what they are getting into with this book.
However, if you are a casual fan that is looking for a great wrestling book, and find strong language, drugs, and sex tales a big turnoff, may I suggest Bill Apter’s book?
LANCE LUMLEY lives in Columbiana, Ohio, and has a B.A. in English from Kent State University. His wrestling/music blog can be found at lancewrites.wordpress.com.