Tammy Sytch, who gained fame as Sunny in the WWF, was one of the most popular characters in pro wrestling in the mid 90s. Paul Bearer was the manager of the iconic Undertaker. The fact these two personalities hated each other makes for a very interesting story.
Fight: Paul Bearer vs Sunny
Date: 1995 – 1996 (exact date unknown)
Source: Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard
The story of Tammy Sytch is too long to tell here, but in a nutshell, she was an extremely attractive, charismatic manager who got her start in Smoky Mountain Wrestling around 1994. I actually met her during this time at an NWA convention in Cherry Hill, NJ, just before she broke big in the WWF the following year. On Jim Cornette’s recommendation, the WWF brought her in for an audition, and even though she didn’t do all that well, they hired her almost immediately.
Sunny got over instantly, but behind the scenes became famous for her relationships with Chris Candido and Shawn Michaels. Those relationships overlapped, leaving Candido in a bad position because due to Shawn’s political clout, he’d have jeopardized his career if he spoke out or confronted Shawn. Because of what she was doing to Chris, and also because of her attitude backstage, Sunny was not popular in the locker room.
While several well known characters disliked her (Sable and Sean Waltman among them), perhaps no one hated her more than Paul Bearer. We’re not exactly sure why, but she apparently rubbed him the wrong way. It led to one saying bad things about the other, and it eventually escalated once backstage at a TV taping.
Calling it a “fight” would be overstating things. But it also was more than just verbal. Bruce Prichard (aka Brother Love), who worked backstage as one of Vince McMahon’s key assistants at the time, described it as a “pinch fight” and “like two little kids hitting each other.” Paul Bearer didn’t want to hit her, but also didn’t want her hitting him. Eventually other people got involved and pulled her away before things got worse.
It was bad enough that a meeting was called with Vince, Prichard, Paul Bearer, and Sunny. It’s not known if this meeting was held that night or sometime after, but based on similar incidents in the past, it was likely that same night.
Prichard described it as a very serious, yet comical, situation. Sunny would start with, “He said ____ about me!” while Paul Bearer would come back with, “Oh yeah? Well SHE said _____ about ME!” The whole time, Prichard was doing everything he could to keep himself from laughing.
Vince played referee, saying this wasn’t kindergarten and that he couldn’t have men and women fighting in the locker room. He told them they needed to get over their issues and stop acting like 5-year-olds. Eventually they both stood up, apologized, and shook hands. Bearer called her, “Miss FYYYYTCH!” almost mockingly, in his distinct voice, before leaving the room (while Sytch was her real name, her wrestling name in SMW was Tammy Fytch before she became Sunny).
It didn’t end there. Chris Candido, Sunny’s longtime boyfriend, was red hot at Bearer. He got all worked up when he heard what happened, and started making threats about how he was going to beat Bearer into a pulp.
Fortunately for Bearer, he was very popular backstage. When guys heard what Candido was saying what he was going to do to Bearer, they stepped in and made it clear to him what they would do to Candido if he so much as touched Bearer. No names were given, but one would think the very large and intimidating Undertaker had Bearer’s back. In addition, Sunny was so disliked that it only made the boys more inclined to want to back Bearer up. Candido himself, while respected as a worker, didn’t have much respect among the boys because of the belief he looked the other way as Sunny was having sexual relations with Shawn Michaels.
To end the story, Prichard described a humorous scene in which he and Jerry Brisco had to escort Candido out of the area. Brisco, who had a reputation as a shooter from his amateur wrestling days, grabbed Candido by the elbow and may have been a little rough with him. Candido asked him, “What, are you trying to hook me or something?”
Brisco responded calmly and slowly in his familiar Southern accent, “Chris, if I wanted to hook you, you’d be hooked.”
Prichard, meanwhile, was internally laughing at the idea he first officiated a bitch slapping session between a rotund, heavily made-up mortician and blond diva, and moments later between a shooter in his 50s and a golden skinned, bleach blond bodybuilder.
The story doesn’t have a happy ending. Both Candido and Sunny battled addictions for years after they were both gone from the WWF. Sunny has been in and out of rehab and jail, while Candido passed away in 2005. The irony is Candido’s death wasn’t drug related, but due to complications from a prior medical issue that were possibly compounded while working a match with TNA.
Paul Bearer and Sunny were linked unintentionally years later, long after Bearer had passed away. It had been hyped on the History channel that Sunny was going to sell her WWE Hall of Fame ring on a TV show called “Pawn Stars.” It was in the previews and at one point the name of the show was titled around Sunny’s involvement. No one is quite clear why, because it was really someone in Bearer’s family trying to sell his Hall of Fame ring instead. Sunny went online to clear things up, and while she probably still had harsh feelings about Bearer, she didn’t say anything likely because he had already passed and there was no reason to.