HomeWomen's WrestlingWWE: Did Tammy "Sunny" Sytch Delay The Women's Revolution? (April 2013)

WWE: Did Tammy “Sunny” Sytch Delay The Women’s Revolution? (April 2013)

As an impressionable teenager back in 1995, I was, shall we say, more than a little enamoured to see Tammy “Sunny” Sytch in the WWE. Quite simply, she was stunning. It wouldn’t be stretching the point to say that at the time I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. A chance meeting with her in 1996 in Madison Square Gardens on the day of Survivor Series ‘96 only cemented that opinion. Despite all her personal problems since then, there is still a place in my heart for Sunny.

But was her legacy one of destroying women’s WRESTLING as far as the WWE goes?

Before Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, there was only really Miss Elizabeth in the WWE who traded on her looks, without any in-ring talent. The Women’s division, such as it was, in the early-mid 1990s was largely pedestrian. Alundra “Madusa” Blayze was certainly not unattractive but it seemed as if her opponents were either old school bruisers (like Heidi Lee Morgan or Leilani Kai) or “freaks” such as Bull Nakano or Bertha Faye.

It was Bull Nakano’s appearances in the WWE though that led to me discovering just how great Women’s Wrestling can be. Making use of Tape Traders to get events like AJW Destiny 1995 I began to appreciate that women could work to the same level as the men, in some cases anyway and that there was a place for women who could actually wrestle. The two final matches on that card (Nakano versus Kyoko Inoue and Manami Toyota versus Akira Hokuto) remain two of my favourite EVER matches to this day.

Even when the WWE and WCW showcased some of these excellent Japanese wrestlers, they were usually sideshows or portrayed as evil foreigners. In the late 90’s, looks were still king as the likes of Sable and Miss Kitty held the WWE Women’s belt and as popular as Chyna was, she was still firmly in the “freak show” tradition.

Things picked up in the mid-2000s as the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Victoria and Mickie James battled over the titles. Admittedly most of those were still hired because of their looks and many had to have, ahem, enhancements, to get the call up to the main roster but they could work decent matches and Stratus, in particular, evolved into a very good wrestler.

Fast forward to today though, and the main roster pickings are slim indeed. The majority of recent TV time for the women has been focused on the likes of The Bella Twins and the Funkadactyls who are average workers at best. Indeed, Diva’s Champion Kaitlyn couldn’t even get on the WrestleMania card and it’s difficult to know just how good a wrestler she can be when she hardly gets any match time to show us. And arguably the best Women’s wrestler under contract Natalya is forced to valet for the Great Khali. Even the once exciting TNA Knockout’s Division is now spearheaded by Velvet Sky. A lovely girl, I’m sure, but a poor worker.

So is women’s wrestling in the WWE as a serious part of the product a busted flush? Will there ever be a time when women are called up to the roster on the basis of their talent rather than just their looks?

Well, for once, the signs might be good. Former Shimmer wrestler Sara Del Ray has been hired as a trainer, which suggests that the WWE are finally getting serious about teaching their women the fundamentals of the sport. The NXT roster is jam-packed with genuine female talent who can go in the ring. You only have to look at some of the action on that show from the likes of Paige, Summer Rae, Sasha Banks and Emma to see that they are already worthy of a spot on the main roster in terms of ability and can create the kind of characters that might draw in the crowd reactions. Sure Emma has been saddled with a “bad dancing” gimmick straight out of the bottom drawer, but a transition to taking Women’s Wrestling seriously won’t be complete overnight.

Some may say Women’s wrestling doesn’t matter and that there is no need to present it as a serious part of the show. They might be content to see women used in the Tammy “Sunny” Sytch role, as cheerleaders for the men. But I think they could be so much more. They could be added excitement to the undercard, draw in a different type of fan and provide some great matches. Making them little more than pretty faces who can be paraded in front of the media at press conferences does nobody any favours. At the very least, just let them show what they were trained to do; put on wrestling matches. You never know, it just might get over…

– By Matthew Roberts

Matthew Roberts
Matthew Roberts
"Who's your daddy, Montreal?" - Shawn Michaels
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