Wasted Talent:Tammy Sytch

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent” -Robert De Niro, A Bronx Tale, 1993

Chazz Palminteri’s semi-autobiographical Broadway play that De Niro saw and thought it was right film became the movie where that line was a central theme of the narrative. With Palminteri’s one-man show as the foundation, he wrote the screenplay for the movie that would serve as De Niro’s directorial debut. Set in the 1960s, the movie chronicles the life of Calogero, a youngster that is mentored by Palminteri’s mafia leader character, Sonny. De Niro plays Lorenzo, the boy’s father, and the clash between the two ways of life set a tone for the film. Corruption, morality, and the racial tension of the era are all themes within the narrative of the mob saga.

One of the most resonating themes within the film was the concept of wasted talent, as Lorenzo, based on Palminteri’s real-life father, finished his bus route, he cautioned the young man about the risk of wasted talent.

Unfortunately, the world of entertainment, through its pressures and glamour has seen its share of wasted talent. Perhaps, this becomes more common with live entertainment because of the demands of the performance and the grueling travel schedule. The world of professional wrestling, especially in a prior generation, is no exception. Thankfully, the business seems to have become somewhat healthier for the athletes, as wellness policies were put into place in the modern era, and maybe more importantly, there are sadly dozens of cautionary tales for the current roster to understand the pitfalls of life on the road.

Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, who started in the sports entertainment business alongside Chris Candido when she was still just a teenager, was one of the cautionary tales for years. Unfortunately, the conclusion to that story was a combination of tragic and disappointing. Within the past decade, she was arrested for various charges more than a dozen times, with the majority of those arrest being for DUI. In March of last year, while driving without a license, Sytch hit a car that was stopped at a red light. The 75-year-old driver of the other car was killed, and it was later discovered that Sytch’s blood alcohol content was more than three and a half times the legal limit. She had been arrested the previous month for DUI.

To say that the justice system failed in this situation would be an understatement. However, Sytch was finally given a proper punishment when she was sentenced to 17 years in prison with eight years probation for manslaughter earlier this week. It’s incredibly sad that someone had to lose their life for the justice system to not only protect the public from Tammy Sytch, but to also to protect her from herself. Don’t get me wrong, I have no sympathy for Tammy Sytch, she had several chances to make a different choice in her life. Clearly, she has a very serious addiction problem, but that doesn’t justify putting anyone else’s life at risk. She had the chance to choice a different path, and at some point, regardless of any problems, a person must be held responsible for their actions. Alcoholism is not an excuse to endanger the life of anyone else. If the former Sunny wanted to drink to excess and cause herself health problems in the process, that’s one situation, but it’s a completely different scenario when she repeatedly got behind the wheel intoxicated because she put everyone else in danger. I honestly believe that Tammy Sytch simply didn’t care about the consequences of her actions, given how many times she drove intoxicated. Taking into account that she was arrested for DUI numerous times, who knows how many times she drove under the influence, but didn’t get caught for it, which truly proves how reckless she is. There was never an excuse to drive impaired, but that becomes underscored when you consider the vast amount of ride share options available today.

Julian Lasseter’s death was totally preventable, but a combination of Sytch’s disregard for anyone but herself, and the total incompetence of the justice system took his life.

Given Sunny’s track record of infidelity when she was with Chris Candido and the way that her substances issues cost her a job with each of the national promotions in the late-90s, her statement prior to her sentencing was absolutely disgusting. Keep in mind, Sunny was released from the WWF in 1998 because of her backstage behavior and drug issues. Over the years, she gleefully talked about her affair with Shawn Micheals at the time in shoot interviews. She made it a little more than a year in ECW before she was released from the promotion, and had a brief cup of coffee in WCW before she was fired because of drug use.

That’s very important context when taking into account that her statement in court claimed that her downfall was because of the death of Chris Candido, who passed after from a blood clot following surgery to repair a broken ankle that he suffered at TNA Lockdown in 2005. First of her, her substance issues began years before Candido’s passing so to try to use it as an excuse is nothing more than a flimsy attempt to get symphony. Furthermore, if Candido was so important to her that his death had such an impact on her that it sent her into a downward spiral, why exactly did she have affairs for years? Plus, Sunny has been a worker the majority of her life and there’s no doubt that her performance in court was just a work to try to get a lighter sentencing. Again, given her track record, it’s difficult to take anything she says as sincere since Tammy Sytch always put herself ahead of others, even when it risked public safety.

Obviously, her real-life recklessness and the ripple effect it had is far more important than anything in the scripted world of professional wrestling, but there’s no doubt that Sunny missed a chance to have a legacy. There’s no doubt that she was the original diva and pioneered that role in the industry. She was more than a valet and had a versatile skill set that could’ve been a valuable asset to the WWF. She had the ability to work ringside like a traditional manager, skills she honed in her early years in Smokey Mountain Wrestling under the guidance of the legendary Jim Cornette, and she had the glamor to be a part of the new era of the industry in the late-90s. She was the most downloaded figure during the primitive era of AOL in 1996 so without question she was a major star. However, she was only in the WWF for roughly three and a half years so her time in the spotlight, at least on a major level, was relatively brief because of the decisions that she made and those same choices are why she didn’t keep a job elsewhere. There’s a reason that Sunny isn’t mentioned in the same conversation as Trish, Lita, Stacy Keibler, and others.

Tammy Sytch ruined any chance she had at a legacy in pro wrestling, and more importantly, she carelessly took the life of an innocent person. Sytch is to blame and thankfully, she will finally be held responsible for her actions.

The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, & Threads @jimlamotta89