Tammy "Sunny" Sytch was recently a guest on The Ross Report podcast with Jim Ross where she spoke on a number of interesting topics, including getting hired by the WWF at age 21.
"After six and a half years, I was working at Smoky Mountain and I was in the apartment with Chris [Candido]; the phone rings and I pick it up, and I hear, 'Hi, this is Bruce Prichard from the WWF.' I went and called Chris because I assumed it was for him," Sytch explained to JR.
"He said to me that he was calling for me, not for Chris; so I asked him, for what, because this wasn't something I was striving to do or wanting to do; it was just something that fell on my lap, and then that was how I was hired by the WWF at the time," recalled Sytch. "It was such a crazy rollercoaster over the years, so by the time I turned 21 years old on December 7th, and December 15th I had started working for them. It was crazy."
The year was 1994 when Sytch originally started appeared on WWF television shows as a commentator for their "Live Event News" segments. Her on-screen name was Tamara Murphy. Sytch went on to have a WWE Hall of Fame career where she was the original Diva. She spoke to Jim Ross about breaking into the business:
"Smoky Mountain Wrestling was my first full time job, but not my first job," said Sytch. "I worked with a couple of indie promotions before that, when ECW was Eastern Championship Wrestling with Eddie Gilbert being in charge, before Paul Heyman, I worked there for the time being, but Smoky Mountain was my first full time job."
Sytch explained that she broke in with her high school sweetheart Chris Candido, who went on to have a successful career in mainstream professional wrestling. Candido held titles for the NWA, WWF, ECW and WCW. He died suddenly in 2005 at age 33.
"Chris Candido and I dated from senior year on, we were high school sweethearts. At that time I started doing a little indies as his valet, or manager or whatever. When Chris Candido got the job with Smoky Mountain Wrestling I said to myself, well, I'm not going to let him move there by himself, I'm just going to transfer for college and move down there," said Sytch. "We were down there for a few months and Chris was part of a few TV shows, then Jim Cornette asked us to go out to dinner with him, and we were all excited, thinking, okay, he's going to talk to Chris about his career, and what he is going to do with him, so we were thrilled to death."
"I was back in school full time at the University of Tennessee. So, we go down to Calhoun's By the River in Knoxville, Tennessee. We go, and as soon as we sit down and order he goes, 'Alright; I need a girl.' I was like, wait a minute, what do you mean you need a girl? His wife was there; it was just the four of us. He goes on to explain that this character that he needs for this TV show, this character named Brian Lee needs a Manager, etc. I was like, JC, I appreciate it, but this isn't my thing. I'm full time in school, I'm in pre-med, I want to be a Doctor, this is [Chris'] thing.
"He said, take six months off of school, that is all that I would need you for. I said, that is not going to happen. I am not going to take six months off of school, I said that I would adjust my classes to make it work out. I said, alright, my dad was fully supporting me, I am a full time student. I was daddy's little girl; had his credit cards, putting money in my bank account and paying my rent. I said, you know what, it would be nice to have a few of my own money by working on the weekends instead of having my Dad pay for everything. I started and we were doing some backstage promos; he gives me a sheet of 12 promos to cut for all those towns that are coming up in the coming months. I looked at it and asked him if he wanted word for word, and he asked me if I can do it word for word and I told him that I had a photographic memory, which was how I did so well in school, so he told me to take a look at it."
"I was in a room for about half an hour looking it over, and he said, wait a minute; you've only been in there for a half an hour, but I told him that I was ready to go and he said, okay, let's try this," recalled Sytch. "He put me in front of a camera, which I had never been before, and then he counted three, two, one and boom, I spit out the first promos in one take, and his jaw dropped on the floor. He asked me how I did it and I asked him if it was supposed to be hard. Basically, the six month mark came and went, but I was having so much heat than Cornette in the company, and two and a half years later, it was insanity how it happened, but through it all I was still in school working my butt off."
Sytch worked a total of three years for Smoky Mountain Wrestling from 1992 to 1995, before getting hired by the World Wrestling Federation. During her time there, she recalled turning down an offer to pose in Playboy Magazine.
"It was 1996 that I was AOL's Most Downloaded Celebrity, which was where the Playboy offer came about," said Sytch. "We were all in Vince McMahon's office; we were on the road for two months and then got to be home for three days, and I remember getting a phone call from Vince McMahon's secretary, and they called and said that Vince wanted to see me in his office. I asked if he can hold it off because I only have three days off, and have to do laundry, so I needed to see my family, friends, and my pets. They said, no, they really needed to see me in the office.
"At this time I was really thinking that I was going to get fired. I went into the office and went into the conference room and it was there that the offer came about, which took me less than five minutes to turn it down. I was in my 20's and wasn't ready for something like that. Looking back now, was it something I should have done? Absolutely! I was just very reserved at that time. At the time I just wasn't ready emotionally to handle something like that."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Ross Report and give a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.