In the mid-'90s, Old Bridge native Tammy Sytch became a sensation in the world of professional wrestling, where she was known to her fans as Sunny. Now, at the age of 37, she's still hard at work in the business, and she'll be one of the featured performers at Independent Superstars of Professional Wrestling's ISPWMania event on Saturday (March 27) at the 3-2 Count Athletic Facility in Freehold.
"She's one of the biggest female names out there in the history of wrestling and she lives right in New Jersey; it would be crazy not to capitalize on having someone (with) that wealth of knowledge of the wrestling business and such a talented performer,'' said ISPW owner and promoter Tommy Fierro, Woodland Park.
Sytch, who lives in Monmouth County, said after years on the road with the former World Wrestling Federation, she's now working for ISPW, a company located only about 10 minutes from her house.
"I was on the road for like 300 days a year for nine years straight,'' Sytch said. "When you do that for so long and you never see your house and you never see your family and you never see your pets, it's kind of nice to have those close shows where you can get home before 10:30 and watch some television.''
A former student of Monmouth University in West Long Branch, Sytch was attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and working weekends with Smokey Mountain Wrestling when she got her ticket to the big time.
"I was a pre-med college student with one semester to go to get my bachelor's degree,'' Sytch recalled, saying that when she was hired by WWF chairman and CEO Vince McMahon "it kind of came out of nowhere, so I quit school and started on the road.''
Sytch began working in the WWF (the company is now known as World Wrestling Entertainment) in early 1994. "I was the first one who came along that could do pretty much anything that was thrown at me, whether it be broadcasting, managing at ringside, I could get in the ring if I had to, which I don't prefer to do, do the bikini photoshoots and layouts. I had all my merchandise and I co-hosted television shows.''
ISPW wrestler Danny Gimondo, who has been in the business for 17 years and wrestles as Danny Inferno, said Sytch revolutionized a different aspect of wrestling with women. "She was the first in a lot of trends in the last 15 years,'' Gimondo said. "She was the first to go out there and do it and she did it with confidence, she was good at it. ... She's the best at what she does.''
Sytch, whose involvement with ISPW dates back to the late-'90s, will be in Gimondo's corner at ISPWMania as he faces off against Crowbar and ISPW champion Judas Young in a three-way match for the company's championship title.
"When you have someone like Tammy or Sunny in your corner, you know everything's going to be on,'' Gimondo said. "You know she's there for when she needs to be there, she adds what she needs to add.''
Fierro said Sytch is "definitely going to be a regular character with the promotion and a top character.'' He thinks she will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one day and deserves another run in the company. "If you were telling me tomorrow that WWE signed her to bring her back in, I wouldn't be surprised,'' Fierro said. "I still think she has a lot to contribute to the business.''
Sytch still occasionally works with the WWE: she participated in the 15th anniversary special for the company's "Monday Night RAW'' program in 2007 and last year competed in a 25 Diva battle royale at Wrestlemania 25.
Sytch said she had three and a half weeks' notice to prepare for her first appearance on "RAW'' in 11 years. "The stress was out of this world,'' she said. "I was like, 'I've got to diet, I've got to starve myself, I've got to tan,' there was so much I had to do, get a good outfit ready, so the stress was crazy.''
Following in the footsteps of wrestling stars such as Mick Foley and Bret Hart, Sytch is currently at work on a book about her time in the business which she hopes will be out next year.
"It's going to be a fun book,'' she said. "I'm not out to trash anybody or ruin people's marriages or expose who did what kind of steroid, it's going to be a fun read. It's all about all the fun stuff that happens on the road that nobody knows about unless you're there."
ISPWMania will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 27‚ at the 3-2 Count Athletic Training Facility, 323A
Fairfield Road, Freehold. Activities begin at noon with the ISPW Fan Fest, with autograph signings, wrestling matches and more. Fan Fest tickets are $10, ISPWMania tickets are $20 to $35. For more information, call (732) 409-1132 or visit ISPW's official Web site.