Chris Candido Story: Deception and Redemption Before Death

Every rumor was addressed, and no page was left unturned. This is the story of Chris Candido, as told by his brother, Jonny.

Chris Candido Story | Deception and Redemption Before Death

“If you haven’t read this interview Chris Candido’s brother Johnny gave, it’s basically a must-read for anyone who even remotely cares about Chris’s life (which should be everyone who cares about wrestling).”

Reddit User, ‘BananaNutJob’

When I got a follow on Twitter from Jonny Candido, I found myself browsing through his page, admiring the commitment he displayed towards keeping the memory of his brother Chris Candido alive. It did not take long for me to realize that Jonny was the type of person who wears his heart on his sleeves. He lost his older brother back in 2005, someone he looked up to and adored.

We soon struck up a conversation, first via DM, then on the phone. Immediately, I was taken by his openness. With the turmoil at the time by Chris’s girlfriend, Tammy Sytch (also known as Sunny in then-WWF) on social media, plus the fresh pain of losing close friends Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney, Jonny understandably had a lot on his mind. It wasn’t long before he gave me the blow-by-blow details of many of the behind-the-scenes stories of his life.

We had four conversations in total. Jonny attempts to do this in this series of interviews to put together a genuine and honest account of his brother Chris. In our talks, featured in their entirety below, Jonny shares tales from Chris’s beginnings. He tells the stories of his own experiences in the professional wrestling industry and meeting and sharing a ring with many of wrestling’s legends. He also opens up about the downfall and retribution of his brother’s struggle with drug abuse and depression while giving his take on the sordid, toxic relationship between Chris and Tammy. He left no detail left in the dust.

The Chris Candido Story – Part 1: The Beginnings

PRO WRESTLING STORIES: "It’s great to be talking to former NWA Midwest Heavyweight Champion and two-time NWS Hardcore Champion, the younger brother of Smoky Mountain, ECW, WWF, WCW and TNA great, Chris Candido. Jonny, thank you for taking the time to talk with Pro Wrestling Stories."

JONNY CANDIDO: "Of course, I love doing this stuff, man."

PWS: "Let’s start from the beginning. Tell me about family life. What was it like growing up in the Candido household?"

JC: "To be honest, family life was the greatest thing ever. I had the ideal family. We grew up across the street from the beach, so we were always there. My brother Chris from day one was my idol. Practically all he did was lift weights and wrestle.

For the two of us, playing was: lifting weights, wrestling, doing all that in the backyard, going to the beach, and catching some waves. It was pretty much ideal, man, growing up in our house.

Jonny from a young age idolized his older brother Chris Candido and wanted to follow in his footsteps.
From a young age, Jonny idolized his older brother Chris Candido and wanted to follow in his footsteps. [All photos courtesy of Jonny Candido’s Twitter page, unless otherwise noted]
I have so many funny stories of us growing up. Your website is called Pro Wrestling Stories. One that sticks out is me, and my brother used to have Muta Mist Wars. Do you remember the Great Muta? He used to spit the green mist. I’d be little, maybe four or five years old, walking around the house, and my brother would jump out from the corner and: Whoosh! He’d catch me with the Muta Mist!

It was the day of my little sister’s baptism, I had my tux on, and I walked up to his room to show him how nice I looked, and the second I opened the door? Woosh! He spits the green mist all over my suit. Immediately he goes, ‘Oh my God! Mom and dad are going to kill me!’

So he grabs me, picks me up, runs with me to the garage, washes it off with cleanser, Clorox, or whatever, and I’m good to go.

A couple of days later, he’s in high school at this point, I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m going to get him back…’

I get a chair, I climb up to the spice cabinet, I get the food coloring, and I put it in my mouth. He used to show me how to do it. ‘Just put two little bits in your mouth and spit it like this!’ I took the food coloring and dumped the blue and the green into my mouth. I ran upstairs, pushed open his door, and there was this girl in bed with him. They were fooling around. I kicked the door open, I see both of their heads pop out from under the covers, and I run over and just: Whoosh! I spit it out.

Some of it gets on him, but pretty much all of it gets on her, and I just dash out of the room, and he chases me and catches me on the porch and then beats the crap out of me. We used to always love telling this story about the Muta Mist.

Growing up with my brother was the best. It was really awesome.

The only job Chris Candido had besides wrestling was making sure this beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey stayed clean
The only job Chris Candido had besides wrestling was making sure this beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey, stayed clean.

My brother’s only other job, aside from being a pro wrestler, was being a locker boy at the beach. He used to work over at the beach across from my house, sweeping out the lockers. It was actually pretty much doing nothing. Me, my mom, my sisters, and friends would all be there, and we just pretty much hung out all of the time. It was a really ideal time to be growing up."

Chris Candido wrestling at 12 with his grandfather 'Popeye' Chuck Richards as referee
Chris Candido wrestling at 12 with his grandfather ‘Popeye’ Chuck Richards as referee

PWS: "Wrestling has been around you since you were little. Not only was your older brother Chris involved in wrestling since you were four, your grandfather, ‘Popeye’ Chuck Richards, was a wrestler for the World Wide Wrestling Federation. What was it like being around wrestling from such an early age?"

JC: "You know, it was tough because I think I was three or four when my grandfather passed away. Maybe it was six or seven, but I really don’t remember him as well as my brother did.

It was cool always being around these big, larger-than-life dudes. As a kid, I was always going, ‘I want to be like one of them. I’m not quite sure what they do, but I kind of want to be like one of them!’ Do you know what I mean? That’s kind of like what it was.

Growing up, that’s what I wanted to be, and of course, with my brother, I’ll put it like this: Our family house is five stories, and he had the whole fifth floor to himself. It would be all him and his buddies up there watching wrestling, doing whatever. And to be honest, people have older brothers that were jerks. Chris was the coolest older brother ever. I’d be up there, for instance, you know when you have a scary dream, and most people want to go to their parents? I’d go up there and chill with him. Just pretty much every night, we would be hanging out and watching wrestling and doing this and doing that. He’d get all the pay-per-views, and his buddies would be over, and we were always watching wrestling. It was really the best.

Chris Candido, Jonny, and their younger sister hanging out at their beach back in the day.
Chris Candido, Jonny, and their younger sister hanging out at their beach back in the day.

Every day we would go to the beach in the summer. This was later on when I was six or seven, and he was seventeen. He hated the Ultimate Warrior, so if the waves were really shitty that day, he’d be telling us they were Ultimate Warrior waves, and then he would make a farting sound. And if there were big waves that kicked in, ‘Oh, Roddy Piper waves!’

Pretty much everything to him was wrestling. His whole life just revolved around wrestling.

These memories really were fantastic. And it came full circle because he never strayed really far from our parents or the town we grew up in. The furthest he ever lived was like fifteen or twenty miles.

Right before he died, he got a place that was two or three miles from our parents’ home. This was the last couple of years of his life, which was the greatest time of our lives. It’s just so hard on Memorial Day, not seeing my brother. I just miss him so much."

PWS: "I can understand that. It comes to show how close your family was because Chris never strayed too far from the nest, and you can see the love that was there."

JC: "Oh, yeah, definitely. He was my mom’s first son, so he was the golden child! And he really was. He was a standout amateur wrestler and always got straight A’s. He was in the Who’s Who Among American High School Students, this big book of the best high school students in America. He was in that his sophomore, junior and senior years. He really was a true, blue, kick-ass dude."

YouTube video

PWS: "Nowadays, most fans come to realize that professional wrestling is scripted and predetermined fairly early on. When you were a kid, this wasn’t fully talked about yet. How long was it until you knew the inner workings of the business? Did Chris let you in on this when you were little?"

JC: "Well, because my brother is my brother, I knew pretty soon because he would sit there and critique matches with me.

I’ll tell you; I remember the first tape that got him hired to WWE was like in 1990. It was 1995 when he finally got signed to WWE, but he was doing jobs for them since 1991. He had this tape that he made in 1990, which had the song, ‘Round and Round’ by the band Ratt. Half of it was him getting body slammed, taking backdrops, taking arm drags and hip tosses, and I told him, ‘They’re kicking your ass the whole time!’

He’s like, ‘Woah, man… I gotta show them that I can bump around!’

That’s when I kind of realized and went, ‘Oh, right. I kind of get it.’

When we would play in the backyard, he would always go, ‘I’m Doug Summers. I’m Buddy Rogers. I’m Bob Backlund,’ and I’d always be Big John Studd and would always beat the crap out of him. So you know, I kind of got a feeling early on that it was a work, but it was also serious, if that makes sense?

Plus, he started taking me to shows when I was really, really young, so I got to meet many people traveling around with him.

I was seven or eight when he first started traveling around doing wrestling. Then, when he joined WWE, I was twelve. ECW happened for Chris through my high school years, and then WCW, so I pretty much grew up in it. He would always want to take me with him. As I said, we were really close, and we could finish each other’s sentences, especially as I got a little bit older.

I remember his first night in ECW. I was over at my aunt’s house. My family calls Chris by the nickname, ‘Cook.’ When I was a baby, I couldn’t say the name Chris, so I would always call him Cook, and so my family always would call him Cook, too. So at my aunt’s house, my mom was like, ‘Hey Jonny, Cook’s here to pick you up, and he’s got a limousine outside!’

So I went, ‘Alright!’ and went outside. He was sitting there in his gear.

He was like, ‘Dude; I’m so nervous. I’m so nervous.’

I was like, ‘What’s going on?’

He’s like, ‘Come on, you have to come with me. We’re going to Philadelphia.’

I’m like, ‘Alright!’

So we got there, and he’s sitting there nervous, and I was like, ‘What’s up?’

He’s like, ‘I left WWF. They wanted me to become a trainer, but I don’t want to do that, so I’m going to this new federation tonight.’

So we pulled up to Viking Hall, which is what ECW Arena used to be called. There were all these fans looking in, trying to see who it was. I was a little kid and didn’t know if these people were going to recognize him. I really didn’t know.

He went out that night, worked Spike Dudley, and they had an awesome match. He beat him with the Blonde Bombshell. He then cut a promo, dropped the microphone, and the place went nuts. That night was the same night as the Brian Lee / Tommy Dreamer scaffold match, so that was my first introduction to ECW. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is insane!’

From then on, I became an ECW staple. There was me, a couple of my friends and cousins, and we would go to pretty much every single show with him. He’d pick us up and bring us all there, and we had little jobs to do. He’d be like, ‘Jonny, New Jack needs you. He’s going to boost you up into a dumpster to find weapons for him.’

Me and my buddies used to have a backyard wrestling federation at the time, so we would bring our gear because in the back of the ECW Arena was another ring for the guys to bump around and try different shit out. So my buddies and I, with our gear, would wrestle right there.

Jonny Candido and his friends got to carry out bWo signs during the Blue World Order's debut at ECW's November to Remember in 1996. Jonny can be seen in the front in red.
Jonny Candido and his friends got to carry out bWo signs during the Blue World Order’s debut at ECW’s November to Remember in 1996. Jonny can be seen in the front in red. [Photo courtesy of the WWE YouTube channel]
The night the Blue World Order was formed, they were like, ‘What does Diesel wear? What does this one wear?’

I was like, ‘Look in my bag. You can use it all!’

And [the guys in Blue World Order] were like, ‘Why don’t you guys come out with us? You can carry the signs.’ So we came to the ring with the Blue World Order carrying their signs.”

Jonny got to experience life on the road with the wrestlers from a young age with his brother, Chris Candido.
Jonny got to experience life on the road with the wrestlers from a young age with his brother, Chris Candido.

JC: “Then it was time to go to Florida. I remember they did the Heatwave gimmick, and my brother was like, ‘Dude, you have to come. It’s not going to be the same without you!’

So he put me on a plane to Florida with the whole ECW crew, and we all went to Florida together, which was awesome.

I remember going to the show and then going out to dinner with all these guys. I was sitting in-between Tracy Smothers and Tommy Rich, and my brother would order a shot of Jack and throw them into my Coco Colas. I had a little buzz on. My brother was sitting next to Jericho and Jericho’s girl. Tammy was at the table, Bubba and Devon, Dreamer- the whole ECW roster.

Something happened that night, and Tammy got a little gimmicked up and fell asleep in her food, and we had to carry her out of the place. I will tell you about this story later.

My brother was like, ‘Let’s go back to the hotel.’

I was like, ‘No, I’m going to stay with these guys.’

So I ended up staying with Tommy Rich and Tracy Smothers, going out and hitting all these different bars. When we got back to the hotel, I saw Taz and Dreamer in the pool, so I jumped into the pool. Little did I know my brother was right behind them, and he was going nuts, knocking on everybody’s door looking for me, looking around town.

At this point, he had looked out the window and saw me in the pool doing the backstroke hanging out with these guys. He was like, ‘What the hell?? What are you doing? Go into your room!’ He was bugging out.

We used to always tell this story of how Tommy Rich and Tracy Smothers kidnapped me. This was one of his favorite stories to tell. I was probably around fourteen or fifteen at the time."

PWS: "You really have some incredible stories of growing up and being around some of the biggest names in the business at the time. You must have countless memories like this. What are some other good stories that stick out for you from around this time in your life?"

JC: "It’s hard to even pick them out! Let’s see.

Me and Nova used to have a Mortal Kombat war. There was a building that had a video arcade around back.

As I said, I used to find weapons for New Jack.

Back in the WWE days, I’d be there with them at every single show. Just hanging out with Steve Austin, Yokozuna, Shawn Michaels.

Later on, when I went to wrestle there, everybody was like, ‘Holy shit! It’s Chris’s little brother!’

I worked for WWE too later on doing dark matches and shit.

I’m jumping ahead, but it sucked because Balls [Mahoney] was pushing for me to be his tag-team partner instead of Axl [Rotten] because something had happened, and WWE was down with that, supposedly, according to him. But the thing is, this was just after my brother passed away, and my family wouldn’t let me wrestle. I was young at the time, and they were going, ‘We don’t want to go through this again.’

So, you know, I got to see it from both sides from working in the business and growing up in it.

To be honest, I miss it like crazy."

Balls Mahoney, real name John, used to live near the Candido's growing up. Here is Balls during his sophomore year of high school [Photo courtesy of Jonny Candido's
Balls Mahoney, real name John, used to live near the Candido’s growing up. Here is Balls during his sophomore year of high school [Photo courtesy of Jonny Candido’s Twitter page]
JC: "If you want to talk shop, we need to talk Balls Mahoney. He grew up six blocks from mine and Chris’s house. We knew him before he was in the business. Balls, his real name was John, and my brother used to put on shows at Marucci Park, which is this park in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

Balls and my brother were twelve or thirteen years old when they used to get the ring from Monster Factory and put on shows in Marucci Park.

Chris Candido, age 12, getting his promo picture taken in the Candido yard before heading to Marucci Park for his show
At age 12, Chris Candido gets his promo picture taken in the Candido yard before heading to Marucci Park for his show.

Bam Bam Bigelow used to wrestle on them.

Axl Rotten used to come down and wrestle on them, and they would go to the beach in their gimmicks, you know? Like with their masks on and their face painted. They would get everyone to come up from the beach to watch the wrestling show bringing their beach chairs.

Bam Bam Bigelow's first live match, at 12-year old Chris Candido's show at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey
Bam Bam Bigelow’s first live match, at 12-year old Chris Candido’s show at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey

[Before the matches], the wrestlers would pass around a hat and say, ‘Donate money to Multiple Sclerosis’ or whatever cause they were donating money to. Being able to do this was a pretty big deal for them.

They used to have many people over at the park watching them wrestle.

The first time Bam Bam Bigelow wrestled in front of a live audience was at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

Another great photo of Bam Bam Bigelow from his first live performance at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey.
Another great photo of Bam Bam Bigelow from his first live performance at Marucci Park in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

They did shows like this many times for the next few summers. Being able to do this was a pretty big deal for them.

You have to understand; my brother was so dedicated. When he was twelve or thirteen, he, Balls, and a crew of them used to say they were sleeping at each other’s houses. What they would do is they would get on a bus and go to Brooklyn and wrestle in the underground shows at these bars that had wrestling rings. They would then come back the next day. They would get color at these bars, and they would beat the shit out of each other. I have a whole photo album of my brother as a kid wrestling at all these different arenas way before having muscles or dyed blonde hair. He really just loved it and lived it. That’s all he ever cared about.

When Chris was fourteen or fifteen, he got his first gym membership, was on the powerlifting team when he was sixteen, and kept on moving from there, never looking back."

Jonny Candido and Balls Mahoney had many great matches with one another. This match won Match of the Year 2004, according to the Declaration of Independence website.
Jonny Candido and Balls Mahoney had many great matches with one another. This match won Match of the Year 2004, according to the Declaration of Independence website.

PWS: "Your brother was a huge influence on you from such an early age. It is no wonder that you decided to become a wrestler yourself. Was it Chris that trained you?"

JC: "Well, you know what, to be honest, it was more like on the job training for me because I would go with him to the building, and I’d bounce around in the ring. And just from taking bumps with him on the beach, in the ring, or whatever, I was able to go into the ring and take bumps. I have always been good doing flippy kind of shit, so we would just do that. It kind of just came naturally for me. I never really had formal training aside from making me run drills like up and over, drop down, leapfrog, drop down, leapfrog, you know. These days you do all that shit, but it was pretty much on the job training.

My first ten matches were against my brother, and then I was able to wrestle Balls. He would introduce me to many different people to wrestle, and before we knew it, I was up and running, and we were getting booked separately on different shows. He was so happy. It just kind of happened organically."

PWS: "Speaking of Balls Mahoney, he recently passed away. I was really sorry to hear about this. He was an absolute legend, and it’s sad to hear that another ECW original is gone. Do you have any good stories that you would like to share about him?"

JC: "Oh my God, do you want good funny? Do you want good crazy? I don’t even know where to begin! You have to understand, the two of us wrestled each other so many times.

2004 was the first time we really had an insane match. It was a tables, ladders, and chairs match in Manasquan, New Jersey, which is really close to our hometown, just a couple miles away. The place probably fit five to six hundred people, but on this night, there were probably one thousand people there, standing room only. I did the Swanton off the top of the ladder into the table. He gave me the nutcracker for the finish off the top of the ladder onto the table. It won Match of the Year 2004 on the website Declaration of Independence.

Then we had these crazy cage matches where he would duct tape me to the cage, and he would drop a leg from the top of the cage, or I would put him on a table and Swanton off the top of the cage.

Balls Mahoney crushing Jonny Candido's face on the world's stiffest table after Balls duct-taped Johnny Candido to it.
Balls Mahoney crushing Jonny Candido’s face on the world’s stiffest table after Balls duct-taped Johnny Candido to it.

Just a funny story that sticks out is when I was the NWA Midwest Champion. I had to defend my title a few times, so the promoter asked me who I wanted to wrestle. I said, ‘You know, I’d like to wrestle Balls! Me and him have been going back and forth, so let’s bring him out.’

And he said, ‘Alright.’

So, I picked Balls up, and we were driving to the airport, and we were super hyped, listening to rap and heavy metal, drinking, and having fun. When we got to O’Hare Airport [in Chicago, Illinois], Ed Chuman (long-time NWA promoter) picked us up. He had this big Lincoln Town Car, and there were two dudes in the back. One dude’s name was Silas Young, and the other guy’s name was Tyler Dux. I was sitting in the back with them, and Balls was in the front. The guy in the front, Ed Chuman, the man who runs the company who was the booker and everything, lights up a joint, starts smoking it, and passes it to Balls.

Now Balls doesn’t smoke weed. Balls takes the joint and started smoking it like he was fucking Snoop Dogg! He was like, ‘Me and Jonny are going to have a great flight. We just had a great match, we’re on top of the…’ and at this moment he just stops talking. He puts his head down, and he goes, ‘Pull over, pull over, pull over, pull…ahhhh!

He projectile vomited all over the front of this guy’s car, all up on the windshield and everything. After that, Ed pulled over, and Balls now pukes all over the door. He then gets up on all fours, and he’s got his ass in the air. Ed looks over to see what’s going on when Balls goes: [farting noise]. He farts right in Ed’s face!

Ed goes, ‘You farted all over my damn face!’

All of us in the back fell out of the car, laughing so hard. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It was freaking hilarious.

Balls was known for, well, let’s just say that he was a different kind of character. He would always go nuts or throw up, you know, do something like getting into a fight. Me and him had a bunch of physical fights over stupid shit. It was always just something else when you traveled with Balls. But I loved the guy like a brother.”

Jonny Candido has a lot of great stories to share about his good friend, the late ECW great Balls Mahoney
Jonny Candido has many great stories to share about his good friend, the late ECW great Balls Mahoney.

JC: “It was funny, me and my brother would go spying on Balls.

We were sitting in my brother’s backyard one day, castin’ lines into the river. We’re just sitting there, and we were like, ‘What does Ball do? What does he do in that house? Let’s see what he does…’

We would look through his windows, he’d be sitting there, you know, reading a book, eating something, and we would knock on his windows and freak him out.

The first time we went, we crept into the bushes, and we looked in. He was sitting on a couch, and he’s got a little tray table in front of him. You know, like what you put TV dinners on. On that tray table, he’s got one slice of pork roll. It’s like one single slice of baloney, and a fork and knife, on a little tiny plate. So we look at it – already, the two of us are like cracking up in the bushes, right? Cause he’s got just one little slice of baloney and a fork and knife.

So, we go over to the window, and my brother just goes (knocks three times), little light knocks. Balls stops, looks up in the air, listens, then goes back to cuttin’ his baloney. Knock, knock, knock, stops, looks up, looks around, goes back to cuttin’ his baloney. We do it one more time. Then he’s like; he starts thinking about yelling. So, I’m like, ‘Alright bro, get ready to run.’ Boom, boom, boom, and I bang on his windows. Both of us run. He comes running out. We hid in the car.

Of course, later on, he calls us. ‘Jon, Chris, there are apparitions. They’re at my window; they’re knocking. I saw them. There are two of them. They’re ghosts or ghostly figures!’

Balls used to just go way overboard. So, we’re like, ‘No way dude, really?’

A couple of nights later, we were like, ‘Let’s go back and spy on Balls.’ And we went back, and he was lying on the ground in this pair of underwear that he’d always wear that had these yellow smiley faces on ‘em. He’s laying there, and he’s got the Mick Foley book, I believe. He’s lying on the ground, and we start doing the tapping on the window again. Again, we run away.

Jonny, Balls Mahoney, and Chris Candido struttin' their stuff
Jonny, Balls Mahoney, and Chris Candido struttin’ their stuff.

It was funny just growing up in that whole business and living near all these guys.

It’s harder to try to learn a different way of life when you’ve grown up living in that industry, you know?”

Chris Candido and Balls Mahoney at Ball's home just before the Chicken 'Balls' Mahoney incident!
Chris Candido and Balls Mahoney at Ball’s home just before the Chicken ‘Balls’ Mahoney incident!

JC: “I have so many great memories of Balls. I’m going to tell you one more story.

Balls lived half a mile away from my parent’s house. Everything was really close. So Balls was like, ‘Why don’t you guys come over tonight? I’m making Chicken Mahoney,’ which was the famous chicken he used to make.

So me and my brother get over there. We walk from our mom’s house. He’s like, ‘I’m making spaghetti bolognese. I have meatballs. I have chicken. Whatever you guys want. Pour yourselves a glass of wine. Sit down. Hang out.’

So we’re hanging out. He’s sittin’ there with his smiley pants underwear on. He’s got raw chicken, he’s got egg, and he’s got breading. Before you know it, his left hand is in his pants, in his boxers, scratchin’ his nuts. He’s got his right handpicking the chicken, putting it in the egg. His left hand comes off the nuts, under the chicken, into the breading, into the pan, back onto the nuts. Chicken with the right hand, egg, off the nuts, breading, he’s doing this whole cycle.

Me and my brother are watching him, and I’m like, ‘Dude, are you serious?’ He would go from puttin’ the chicken into the egg, then taking his hand out of his underwear from scratchin’ his balls, picking it up, and then puttin’ it in the pan of oil and putting the hand back on his balls.

After he did that, I remember he goes, ‘Chris, you gotta try this!’ He reached into the pot with the left hand that he was scratchin’ his nuts with, grabs a little piece of meatball, and then goes over and tries to put it in my brother’s mouth.

My brother turns his head and goes, ‘Brother, brother! I just watched you scratch your nuts for a half hour. I’m not gonna eat it, I’m sorry.’

Balls goes, ‘What, what? That was my inner thigh!’

My brother was just like, ‘I’m sorry, you’re not gonna put your fingers in my mouth after I just saw that.’

I loved the guy like a brother. He was the best. If it weren’t for him, I never would have had the chance to wrestle for WWE.”

The late ECW great Axl Rotten was another close friend of the Candido family
The late ECW great Axl Rotten was another close friend of the Candido family.

JC: “I was lying on the beach one day. Me and my buddies were surfing, and I just came back in. I was sitting on my towel, and my phone rang. It was Balls. He was like, ‘Yo, JC. Come to the Meadowlands tonight!’

I’m like, ‘Why, what’s up?’

He’s like, ‘We’re filming Raw, and I don’t want to wrestle anybody but you. Get here right now.’

It was like 3:30, and you had to be on at like six. I was like, ‘Holy shit!’

He really was just such a great guy. I really loved him.”

PWS: "Was this your first time wrestling for WWE, and did this turn out to be a try-out for you?"

JC: "Yeah, it was, and I guess it was a try-out. It worked out well because they kept having me back. Then it came out in the newspaper, and it said, ‘Wrestling champion honors his brother in the ring,’ and it said, ‘Wrestles for WWE.’

When my parents saw it, they freaked out. You have to remember, this was right after my brother died, so I can’t really blame them.

It’s just so weird because I can still imagine Balls’ standing outside of my parent’s house smoking a cigarette, you know? It’s pretty freaking crazy that he’s not here.

Plus, I was close to Axl Rotten too, which is also pretty weird. There was a time in 2004 when he didn’t have a place to stay when shit was not going well with him, and my brother was like, ‘Yeah, dude, stay with my brother and me.’ So he came down and stayed at our place in Manasquan for however long he did. He was freaking great.

Me and [Axl] stayed in contact up until I went to Costa Rica, which was two days before he died. I had to turn my phone on global, and when I got there, I had a DM on Twitter saying, ‘I’m leaving where I’m at. I don’t want to get into too many details. I can’t take it anymore. I’m going back home.’

I tried to call him, and there was no answer. You know the whole deal. I found out he had died while I was on vacation with my wife. It was tough, man.

I guess when you’re in the sport, everyone pretty much knows everyone. I could pretty much conjure up a story about anyone. If you were to name any name to me, I probably worked with them or shared a hotel room with them. Everybody just kind of knows everybody. That’s how it is."

Jonny Candido making his entrance to a WWE ring for the first time at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey, now known as the Izod Center.
Jonny Candido making his entrance to a WWE ring for the first time at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey, now known as the Izod Center.

PWS: "Let’s go back for a moment to your first match with WWE. You got the call from Balls at 3:30, and you had a match at 6. What happened when you got there? Who did you see? Who did you talk to? You mentioned the match went well. Did you have any contact at all with Vince?"

JC: "I have known Vince since I was a kid. When I saw him, I was standing around talking with Tazz and Scotty 2 Hotty. Vince walked by and went, ‘Oh, it’s the three stooges!’ and then hugged us and told me, ‘Jonny, fantastic!’

As soon as I got there, Shane McMahon was also like, ‘Candido. It’s great to see you! Shake it up, kid! Let me see you do it! Kickass!’

I had a very small amount of time to talk to Balls and Axl before the match. I tagged with Damien Adams.

‘So what are we going to do?’

‘Let’s keep it simple…’

Then Axl goes, ‘Just don’t fuck up!’ on the way out.

The experience was surreal, and this is what pretty much stands out in my mind. I remember sitting in the locker room, putting my boots on or whatever, and Shawn Michaels sits down next to me. Of course, you know my brother and Shawn had a little bit of beef.

Now I’m more of the kind of guy that will physically beat you up, but my brother was kind of a pacifist. I was always the kind of guy who was down to throw the dukes. My brother always used to say, ‘You’re going to come across Shawn Michaels one day. When you do, just don’t fucking go crazy and beat the shit out of him. It’s over. It’s squashed.’

Jericho was the first one to see me, and he was like, ‘Dude, it’s so cool to see you here!’

So I sit down, Shawn Michaels sits down right next to me, and I looked at him, and he shakes my hand like, ‘How are you doing?’

At this point, Jericho just looks at him, smiles, nods, and goes, ‘Candido’s brother.’

At this point, Shawn makes these eyes like he doesn’t know if I’m going to sock him or what.

He then was like, ‘You know what, kid? Your brother was really great. I gotta tell ya, if you want to make it in this business, you have to be out for yourself. You kind of have to be a jerk. I’m really sorry about what happened to your brother.’

I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’

I didn’t blow him off. I was nice to him as at this point it was after [Chris] had passed.

So I geared up, and we talked a little bit, and then the most nerve-wracking part of it all was you go to what they call the Gorilla Position behind the big titantron and Sergeant Slaughter is back there, Shane McMahon is back there, and he’s freaking out. They’re doing the highlight reel to get everybody amped, and he’s like, ‘Let’s go, kid! Let’s see those bumps! Let’s do this, man!’ He’s trying to hype me all up.

And then they were like, ‘Five minutes until it starts.’

‘Three minutes.’

‘One minute.’

‘Thirty seconds.’

‘Ten, nine, eight….’ and then: BOOM! You know, all this pyro and all that shit went off.

Then we walked down to the ring. What totally put me at ease was when I got to the ring and started jumping around, I looked over, and there were all kids from my area in the first row. They were shouting, ‘Jonny! What the hell?’

It was all the kids I was surfing on the beach with a couple of hours ago. They were yelling; I was yelling. You can see me pointing at them, and it completely put me at ease. It made it feel like any other show. It was really cool, that really put me at ease, and I had a great time. And everybody there was totally cool. I thought it was great.

Jonny Candido duking it out with Balls Mahoney during a WWE dark match.
Jonny Candido duking it out with Balls Mahoney during a WWE dark match.

To be honest, the best part was after the match was over. If you didn’t fuck up, you just felt like you were on top of the world.

You have to think; I was still pretty green. I wasn’t like my brother. I lifted weights, and I’d train and all that stuff, but I wasn’t as insane as he was with the wrestle, wrestle, wrestle all day, all day. Growing up, I pretty much played every sport and all that stuff, but my brother was just wrestling 24/7. That’s all he really cared about. I liked basketball, baseball, football, amateur wrestling, boxing, lifting weights, but for him, it was wrestling, lifting weights, protein shakes, and that’s it. I was nowhere near as dedicated as he was. He was just insane about wrestling. I was just happy that the match went so smoothly, especially for Balls and Axl. I was hoping everything would work out there for them. It was definitely a crazy, crazy trip."

Jonny after retaining his NWA Midweight Championship belt a few weeks after his brother Chris Candido passed away.
Jonny, after retaining his NWA Midweight Championship belt a few weeks after his brother Chris Candido passed away.

PWS: "What an incredible accomplishment to have been able to wrestle in front of a WWE audience like that for the first time on such short notice and do so well, in front of your hometown friends and the guys in the back. Aside from this experience, what are some of the biggest wrestling accomplishments that you are most proud of?"

JC: "I have to say, working at the ECW Arena was really, really awesome. I got to do that a bunch of times. Working out in Puerto Rico for Carlos Colón was really cool, too, because me and my brother were out there doing that together. And then I got to wrestle a ton of the legends. I came from the school of thought like my brother, where we would just make our opponent look good. Just bump and feed, bump and feed and take big, high backdrops and do all this shit. So any time when I was wrestling for the NWS, if a legend would come to town, let’s say, Lex Luger or Jimmy ‘Super Fly’ Snuka or Tito Santana or Brutus the Barber or King Kong Bundy or Kamala or Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, it would be them and me in the main event because I would always feed and bump and make them look good. I wrestled so many of the guys that I grew up watching. It really felt good that they trusted me to make sure that they looked good.

Not only did I get the chance to wrestle a lot of those guys, I then got the chance to wrestle with a lot of the next generation of legends like Sandman, Raven, Steve Corino, Spike Dudley, Balls, Axl, and pretty much all of the guys in ECW. So it was really freaking cool. I got to tag with Dreamer, I got to wrestle my brother, plus I got to wrestle Balls a thousand times.

I really have had so much cool stuff that has happened to me. Honestly, had I not been my brother’s brother, this never would have happened to me. The luck of the draw, I guess. I just kind of followed the way my brother taught me.

I remember always coming up with all of these different finishes and these different spots I wanted to do, and he was always like, ‘Dude, slow it down. What do I do for offense? I do a suplex, a leg drop off the second rope, and that’s pretty much it. Stop worrying about doing all this crazy shit and just wrestle. Just slow the fuck down.’

That kind of made me slow down and stopped me from wanting to do too much. You know, you wrestle some guys like Rhett Titus, who has so much shit in his repertoire, and I was always happy as hell to wrestle him because we would always have these great matches, going spot for spot. He would be like, ‘Give me a Michinoku Driver, and I’ll give you the double stomp.’

Jonny Candido enjoyed wrestling guys like Rhett Titus due to the great matches they would have and the number of moves in his repertoire.
Jonny Candido enjoyed wrestling guys like Rhett Titus due to the great matches they would have and the number of moves in his repertoire.

I loved doing that, but I also loved learning how to actually wrestle and execute it, not just learning how to do it but also doing it in front of a crowd, getting it over, and getting everybody to love it.

But I’ll be honest; my favorite matches were the ones with Balls and me when the two of us went balls-to-the-wall in hardcore matches. Those are my favorite because you get so many cheap pops. After all, it looks so insane when somebody jumps off a ladder and crashes into someone on a table. Those were absolutely some of my favorite matches because we just did so much off-the-wall stuff. Both of us were pretty much fearless when it came to anything. Like I would find the highest place in the building, places people wouldn’t even think about, and I would go, ‘I’ll just do this Swanton, you move, and I’ll just take the bump.’ It was stuff like that that I really loved. I really loved those kinds of matches.

My whole time in the wrestling industry was great. I loved it so much. And like I said, I miss it all the time. I wish I could go back."

PWS: "You’re still a young guy at thirty-three. Surely you’ve still got something left in the tank, right? What’s stopping you from wrestling right now?"

JC: "Oh, my family, my wife, all of them. They hate it. You have to understand, they’ve seen a lot of the bad sides of shit. For a while there, stuff was messed up. Like when my brother and Tammy were going through it, obviously there were drugs, and there was crazy stuff, people showing up gimmicked up [on drugs] on Christmas, people showing up gimmicked up on Thanksgiving. [My family] just didn’t like it. They just didn’t like the lifestyle. I’ll leave it at that.

Plus, I was kind of falling down that lifestyle too until my brother woke the fuck up and pretty much stopped doing everything cold turkey.”

Tammy Sytch, also known as Sunny from her WWE days, with Chris and the Candido family. In happier times, of course.
Tammy Sytch, also known as Sunny from her WWE days, with Chris and the Candido family. In happier times, of course.

PWS: "You and I talked back in January, and in our conversation, you mentioned that Chris went through some depression. Of course, I respect it if you don’t want to talk about it…"

JC: "I can talk about it. I just don’t want to say the wrong shit, you know, and offend or get into an argument with somebody."

PWS: "What you say is completely up to you, and we respect that. Chris was very close to you. Your Twitter account is dedicated to him, and I think it is absolutely wonderful what you do to keep his memory alive."

JC: "That’s my brother."

PWS: "It must have been quite hard for you to witness many of the things that he went through, especially with his relationship with Tammy. We haven’t really talked about that much, but he was with her from high school. They went through so much. They got into wrestling together, and then, of course, the relationship changed. They were introduced to drugs and a different lifestyle, and things changed.

What was their relationship really like? From what is out there already, to put it lightly, it wasn’t pretty."

JC: "An average night, like when I was in high school, and I would stay over at their house? It would be normal. We would be having dinner, me and him would be watching TV, those sorts of things. Then I’d go to sleep, and in the middle of the night, I would hear her screaming, I’d wake up, and he’d be passed out on the couch. She’d be raining punches down on his head. She’d grab a knife from the butcher block and try to fucking stab him while he was sleeping. I’d try to block it. He’d come to, she’d run away, she’d grab the phone, she’d lock herself in the car, he’d break the window, she’d jump out of the car, start running down the street, I’d chase her. Dude, it was madness. It was fucking madness! To be quite honest, it was insane.

I just want to clarify: The shit I am about to say, all the crazy, traumatizing shit, is what sticks out most of all. Growing up, though, you have to understand, Tammy was really cool. She’d babysit my sisters and me. And even later in life, after Chris passed, after all of that crazy stuff happened, we still stuck together through a lot of shit. She managed me [while I was wrestling]. I would always have her back. If anybody fucked with her, they fucked with me. So it wasn’t always so fuckin’ terrible.

So, I just wanted to put it on record that I really have some closeness with her. Even though, you know, obviously, we’ve been through a lot. Of course, she was a part of my life since I was seven years old. I don’t want it to come off like I’m cold, trying to bury her.

It’s like this: you ask me the questions, and I will tell you what happened!"

The Chris Candido Story – Part 2: Drugs, Deception and Betrayal

The story of Chris Candido is one of heartfelt dedication, betrayal, redemption, and eventual heartache. In Part 1 of our open and honest interview with Chris’s brother, Jonny Candido, we took a candid look at Chris’s origins in Manasquan, New Jersey. We came to know the love he had for his family and the passion he shared for his sport of professional wrestling. Sharing some belly laughs along the way, we learned the tales of the spirited ribbing between Chris and Jonny as kids as well as the journey Chris took from childhood fan of pro wrestling to the squared circle by age twelve. We also discovered the secret ingredient in Balls Mahoney’s signature homemade dish, ‘Chicken Mahoney,’ which Chris so adamantly refused to eat (for a good reason, too)!

Chris Candido Story | Deception and Redemption Before Death

Now it’s time to move on to a different side of the story of Chris Candido, one which brings on an entirely different set of emotions.

When you think of Chris Candido, the thought of Tammy Sytch (or Sunny, as she was referred to in WWE) comes to mind. The thoughts are never pretty: Cheating, betrayal, and drugs. When talking to Jonny, Tammy naturally came into our conversation, and I allowed him to share whatever he felt comfortable talking about. I soon found out that he had a lot on his mind. Understandably, he went through a lot with her and his brother. While this piece is meant to celebrate the life of his brother, Chris, it is hard to share his story without talking about Tammy.

Jonny attempts to do this in this series of interviews to put together a true and honest account of his brother Chris. In this part of the story, Jonny shares the downfalls of his brother’s struggle with drug abuse and depression while also giving his take on the rocky relationship between his brother Chris and Tammy. You’ve heard the rumors, now hear it from the person who lived through it.

Chris Candido at Tammy Sytch's high school graduation.
Chris Candido at Tammy Sytch’s high school graduation. [All photos courtesy of Jonny Candido’s Twitter page, unless otherwise noted]
PRO WRESTLING STORIES: "You and I talked back in January. In this conversation, you mentioned Chris went through some depression. Of course, I respect it if you don’t want to talk about it."

JONNY CANDIDO: "I can talk about it. I just don’t want to say the wrong shit, you know? Or offend or get into an argument with somebody…"

PWS: "What you say is completely up to you, and we respect that. Chris was very close to you. Your Twitter account is dedicated to him, and I think it is absolutely wonderful what you do to keep his memory alive."

JC: "That’s my brother."

PWS: "It must have been quite hard for you to witness many of the things that he went through, especially with his relationship with Tammy. We haven’t really talked about that much, but he was with her from high school. They went through so much together. They got into wrestling together, and then, of course, their relationship changed. They were introduced to drugs and a different lifestyle. Things changed.”

JC: "I just want to clarify: The things I am about to say, all the crazy, traumatizing shit, is what sticks out most of all.

Growing up, though, you have to understand, Tammy was really cool. She’d babysit my sisters and me. And even later in life, after Chris passed away after all of that crazy stuff happened, we still stuck together through a lot of shit. She managed me [while I was wrestling], and I would always have her back. If anybody fucked with her, they fucked with me. So it wasn’t always so terrible.

It’s hard. You know, almost, in a way, I feel like people should understand what went on behind closed doors, but then I feel like they shouldn’t because it was behind closed doors. I want people to understand the dynamic and how shit went, but I also – let me put it like this: no matter what, I’m always going to have a certain affection in my heart for Tammy. No matter what she does. Whatever crazy shit she pulls or has pulled in the past, there’s always gonna be – I’m always gonna feel connected to her. Every time I talk to her on the phone, it’s like it’s two thousand and, you know, whatever again. So that’s why I feel bad saying bad things. But once I start talking about my brother in that time period, though, that’s just what comes to mind, and that’s what it was. So it’s hard to make up stories that weren’t true.”

PWS: "This makes sense. A lot of these memories naturally come back when you think about your brother. When you think about the things you might say, you don’t want to hurt anyone. You don’t want to bury anyone. You are just speaking what’s in your head and your heart.”

JC: “I just wanted to put it on record that I do really have some closeness with [Tammy]. Even though, obviously, we’ve been through a lot. She was a part of my life since I was seven years old. I don’t want it to come off like I’m cold, trying to bury her.

Let me just leave it at this: I’m very conflicted. I don’t want to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. Coming from me, whatever she did – I know how she is, but I don’t want to leave me and her relationship just fuckin’ totally shot and end up hating each other, cause I don’t hate her. But it’s like this: if you ask me the questions, I will tell you what happened.”

Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido back when they were seventeen in high school.
Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido back when they were seventeen in high school.

PWS: “What was Chris and Tammy’s relationship really like? From what is out there already, to put it lightly, it wasn’t pretty.”

JC: “My brother was ten years older than me, so when [Tammy and Chris] were in Smoky Mountain, my brother was seventeen or eighteen, not even out of high school. So, you know, I was seven or eight, and my parents would take me out there [to see him].

Once they had gotten to WWE [as Sunny and Skip] and started getting fucked up [on drugs], I was in eighth grade. I remember going over there, and I would just see some fucked up shit.

With ECW, as I said before, I used to come out with the Blue World Order, and I used to find weapons for New Jack. My brother always used to pick me up and take me to all of the ECW shows. I would go to all of them.

One time they were in Florida, my brother Chris called me up and was like, ‘You have to come to Florida. It won’t be the same without you.’

So I went out to Florida to be with him and the ECW crew. On the first night, we were sitting at a big table. I’m sitting next to Tommy Rich and Tracy Smothers on either side of me, and they were talking to me and giving me shots of Jack Daniels. Across from me was my brother, Tammy, Chris Jericho, his girl, the Dudley’s, New Jack, Raven, it’s this huge table of all of us. And Tammy has her first little bit of food and kerplunk. Fucking passes out in her food. Right? And I’m like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’

My brother is going, ‘Alright!’

Everybody got up. It was like a drill. Everybody knew what to do.

New Jack picked her up. Bubba picked her up behind the arms. New Jack is going, ‘Everybody, get out of the way!’ We were not at this club; we were at a restaurant. So we cleared the room, they put her in the corner, and they were trying to get her in the car. Tammy was staying with us, so I ended up staying with Tracy and Tommy Rich. My brother used to tell the story of how Tracy and Tommy Rich kidnapped me that night. [Tracy, Tommy, and I] had gone out later that night and went to all the bars. It was great.

So the next day, I went to Chris and was like, ‘What the fuck happened to Tammy last night?’

He was like, ‘Oh, it was that time of the month slash someone gave her something, which affected her wrong. Just kayfabe mom.’

I was like, ‘Okay…’

So then Chris had bought this mega-mansion, and I had gone there, and they had gotten into a soma’d up, fucked upstate, and I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’

I started staying there all the time. It was really close to our family house, so I would stay there with them, and they made me my own room there. So I was like, ‘Sweet, I’ll just crash at my fucking brother’s!’

So it started, and every single night would be like this, right? We would sit around and eat dinner; Tammy would get all fucking soma’d up and wasted, and we would go to sleep. Around 2 am, I would hear screaming, ‘AHH! JONNY!! JONNY!! YOUR BROTHER’S TRYING TO KILL HIMSELF!’

And I would go, ‘WHAT?’

I’d go downstairs, and my brother would be lying on the couch, and she would just be raining punches down on his face. This was when they were Skip and Sunny when they were twenty-three. Bam! Bam! She would be hitting him. I would try to block them and cover him, and then she would be hitting both of us.

Then she’d run, and she would grab a fucking butcher knife and fucking go right after him. I’d stand in front of him, and then he’d fucking come to, and he would go, ‘Bro, this happens every night. Don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal.’

And she would fucking run, grab the fucking phone and go in the car and sit in there on the phone trying to call people; he’d then break the fucking window. Dude, this happened every single night. You have no idea."

PWS: “Was this type of behavior typical for Tammy?”

JC: “Yes, this doesn’t even begin to cover it!”

Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido back in 2003.
Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido back in 2003. [Photo courtesy of]
JC: "My brother wasn’t a drinker, but she was. She would get wasted and fucking attack him like a fucking wild animal. I’m talking about when I was younger. When I started getting older, she would do it to both of us. And she would do it to other people! Do you know how many times I have gotten into fistfights with a group full of guys because of her? She would just smack and hit anybody she felt like once she got some drinks in her. I’ve got a million stories of times where she would just- pretty much anytime she was left alone with some booze, some shit would start.

For instance, this is speeding up a bit, so let’s say this is 2003. She was no longer in the picture as far as coming on the road, and she hated that. She despised that because people were like, ‘Hey Chris, bring your brother because we can use him, but don’t bring Tammy.’

At the time, I started wrestling, and nobody wanted to use Tammy, but sometimes she would finagle a way into a trip with us. There are so many stories like this, but this one time in Boston sticks out to me.

We were in Boston at a show, and in the back was a little bar just for the boys and their friends. Everybody was in the back there drinking. I was at a table with Raven and many other guys, and at the bar, some dudes were buying some drinks. All of a sudden, Tammy fucking hauled off and went after one of them. The guy grabbed her arm, and we all rushed him. I was the first one there. I grabbed the guy, dragged him out to the alley, and I’m about to put my boots to him when he was like, ‘Dude, dude, please, don’t! I swear to God, she just popped me out of nowhere!’

And then I heard my brother going, ‘Time to go, time to go!’

I go inside, and people have their camera phones out and are taking pictures of it. So at this point, we all fall into the back of the car, and this is before my brother got clean, and he was like, ‘Fuck, I could really smash some somas tonight…’

I’m like, ‘Ah bro. I’ve got some weed if you want to smoke a joint?’

Tammy wakes up out of her fucking soma-induced coma and goes, ‘You’re going to smoke weed?

She thought weed was the worst thing ever.

She goes, ‘You’re going to smoke weed? You mother fuckers!’ And she attacked both of us!

Mind you; I’m underage, I’m 19, and I’m driving in Boston in the rain wasted. She’s in the backseat swinging her arms, kicking me in the back of the head, and she reaches over and fucking bites my brother on his face.

At this point, I pulled off the exit, pulled into a parking stop in some strip mall, and my brother and I tried to walk away from this bitch. But as we go to leave, we see a cop pull over next to our car. I’m thinking, ‘Just what we need, fuck…’

So I go running back, she jumps out of the backseat and goes, ‘I woke up, and these two were on top of me beating me!’

I go, ‘What, you crazy bitch?’ as she’s trying to take a swing at my face right in front of the cops. The cops are going, ‘Woah. Woah! What the fuck?’

And I go, ‘Listen, I’ll get them back to the hotel, and everything will be fine.’

To make a long story short, I got back to the hotel, and [Chris] was eating every punch. He put her on the bed, and he was saying, ‘Babe, what’s wrong?’ Bang! She’d clock him. ‘Babe, what’s wrong?’ Bang! She’d hit him again. ‘Babe, stop!

One time, she fucking kicked him with her foot right in the face and threw him into the lobby, right into the hallway. I was like, ‘Dude, do not go back in there. You’re not going back. You need to be out!’

So he said, ‘Okay, let’s go for a ride.’

We took a ride for a while, and we talked. He said, ‘You’re my brother, and as far as this business, I feel like I’m responsible for her.’

After our long rides, she’d be back in the hotel room dusting off the TV and cleaning everything up, and it was all, ‘Hey guys,’ kisses him, goes to kiss me. I would always go, ‘Dude. I don’t want to be kissed!’

This sort of thing probably happened too many times. You’ll hear me say this a lot. She used to do this all the time.

And as far as the whole cheating thing goes, my brother, I think he was kind of naïve towards women because he and Tammy got together at seventeen, you know? So I don’t think he had an idea. Some people used to think they were swingers. No. Not at all. She would just get wasted and fuck anybody, I guess, man. I saw her flirting with this one guy once, and I was like, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ She is the definition of a psychopath. She doesn’t care. I’m sorry, I know I’m on a rant…"

Shawn Michaels with Tammy Sytch, then known as 'The Kliq Chick'
Shawn Michaels with Tammy Sytch, then known as ‘The Kliq Chick’

PWS: "While Tammy was doing this, hooking up with other guys, Chris must have known, right?"

JC: "No, no, he didn’t. He had no fucking idea. Okay, he had an idea, but he had the thought that everyone was hitting on her because she was the only girl there, and you’re going to do what you’re going to do. But the only one he thought of was Shawn Michaels.

What many people may not know is that my brother fucked Jenna Jameson. You know, the porn star? He just fucked her because he felt like he needed to get back at Tammy. And then he felt terrible about it.

So he had told me, ‘You’re going to come across Shawn at one point or other. Please, don’t do anything.’

My brother is a pacifist; I’m more of a hot-head. My brother wasn’t like that at all. If he had to, he would, but he wasn’t a fighter."

PWS: "This Shawn Michaels story has been circling for a while now. In fact, Tammy had a bit of a nickname that followed her because of it: ‘The Kliq Chick.’ While all of this was going on under his nose, none of the guys were telling Chris?"

JC: "Well, it was because of the somas. When Chris wasn’t in the ring, he was just fucking comatose, man. He wouldn’t do somas during the day. He was really good about going to work. But at night, he would get so fucked up. And when Tammy wasn’t around, he would get fucked up then, too.

I would always go, ‘Cook,’ this is what I would call him, ‘Cook, what are you doing?’ I would write him letters saying, ‘Dude, you’ve got to stop with this shit.’

I think he was doing all of that, all of those drugs, just to block out [the thought of Tammy cheating]. He didn’t want to believe it, do you know what I mean? He desperately didn’t want to believe it because she would come home to him every night, and he literally had this unconditional love for her. He was so nice and so naïve; he would fucking believe anything she told him.

I’m like him; I always give people the benefit of the doubt. If they tell me something, I’m going to take them at face value and not think they’re lying to me, and that’s the same way he was. He would just go, ‘No, these are just rumors.’ He would just believe her. And that’s the end of the story, you know?

Then I started hearing things later on about oh, ‘She fucked so and so.’”

An old newspaper clipping of Tammy Sytch and Jonny Candido, back when she was his valet on the independent wrestling circuit.
An old newspaper clipping of Tammy Sytch and Jonny Candido, back when she was his valet on the independent wrestling circuit.

PWS: “At Chris’s funeral, during a time of mourning, you mentioned some unfortunate events transpired involving Tammy. Do you want to talk about what happened?”

JC: “There was so much that went on the night of Chris’s funeral.

Later in the evening, many of us went to this club that we used to hang out at. Pretty much everyone in the wrestling business was there. I was sitting at the bar when Billy Gun came over to me. As I said, I grew up with all of these guys, and I knew all of them. He was like, ‘Can I talk to you for a second?’

I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’

He asked me, ‘Are you fucking Tammy?’

I was like, ‘Fucking no! What the fuck are you talking about?’

That night I hadn’t really been noticing it, but she was leaning all over me, you know, hugging me and trying to get close up on me. So I was like, ‘Are you crazy? No. Fuck Tammy? Are you nuts?’

And he just went, ‘Oh, alright.’

Maybe ten, fifteen minutes later, Raven comes over, and he’s like, ‘Dude, you’re not fucking Tammy, are you?’

I’m like, ‘NO, are you fucking insane?’

Then my uncle came, and he was like, ‘Dude, what the fuck’s going on? Are you fucking Tammy?’

I go, ‘What the fuck are you guys talking about?’

He was like, ‘Well, it sure looks like it because she’s hanging the fuck all over you!’

At that time, I was the NWA Midwest Champion, and she was my manager, so she would be coming out there with me. We wouldn’t share hotel rooms; we wouldn’t do anything like that. I fucking despised her because, well, you know. We put on a happy face when I was with her, and we acted like we were cool and pretended we were friends, but I knew she had done all this stuff.

Not long later, this girl I was with called me saying, ‘Tammy is all up on this drug dealer.’

And then Al Snow called me at 2 a.m., and he was like, ‘I have to tell you some crazy shit.’

I was like, ‘What’s up?’

Now Al and my brother go way back. Al’s been to my family house and hung out at barbecues with us. He was like, ‘Tammy was fucking some drug dealer tonight, and she crashed your brother’s car.’

My father had got my brother a new car for his birthday, and she kind of just took it over, and on this night of all nights, she fucking crashed it on the way back from the drug dealer’s house who she was fucking the night of my brother’s funeral. Even while we were at the funeral home.

So let’s fast forward to like two days later. We were doing something in the park, playing frisbee or something, and I saw my brother’s car going down the street. I was like, ‘That’s odd…’

So then, I go back to my parent’s house, and all of my brother’s shit was gone. Everything. He had a ton of stuff up in his room. My NWA Midwest Title, his jacket that said ‘Candido ECW’ that he gave me when I was seventeen was gone, his Kiss jacket, anything that was worth anything, his gear, everything was gone out of the house. I knew right away who took it, you know? I’m like, ‘Mother fucker…’

At the funeral, Ed Chuman (long-time NWA promoter) said, ‘We’re going to put the NWA Midwest Title on you, so just hang onto this belt, and when you come out, you’ll have it. Just take it with you.’

So I talked with him [about what happened], and he was going, ‘Get that fucking belt back. That thing is worth like 20 grand! If she puts that thing on eBay, I’m going to fucking charge her, and she’s going to go to fucking jail.’

I’m like, ‘I’ll get it back.’

So I had to meet her at a fucking restaurant. And she was all soma’d out and passed out in her food. I had to call my cousin. He came over, and we had to carry her out of the fucking restaurant.

I ended up getting the belt back, but I didn’t get all the other stuff back. She ended up selling most of the stuff up on eBay. This was right after he fucking died, do you know what I mean? And she wonders; actually, I don’t know if she wonders. I really don’t think she remembers any of the shit that she did because she was always so fucking fucked up.

For instance, we were in Puerto Rico once, and I stopped her from being raped by a group of fucking crack heads. Me, my brother, Pablo Marquez, José Estrada Jr., and a bunch of guys were in San Juan at this bar shooting pool. I went outside to smoke a cigarette, and all of these crackhead dudes started pulling all the windows down. I looked over, and I could see Tammy passed out in the back with her legs spread. She had no underwear on.

At this point, we were all trying to rip the fucking windows open to get back in there to her. When they saw us doing this, the crackheads bolted, and she never woke up. Luckily, when I got back in, the guys I was with already had her. Like I said, crazy stuff like this always happened."

Social media post Tammy Sytch made about the family of Chris Candido.
The Social media post that Tammy Sytch made about the family of Chris Candido.

PWS: “Back in December, Tammy lashed out at your family on Facebook in a heated rant over an upcoming documentary that you’re currently working on with Turnbuckle Magazine. How did you and your family react to this?”

JC: "After she wrote that thing going, ‘Everybody blames me,’ that whole gimmick, ‘Chris was a drug addict, his brother did this and that…’ you know? Saying I made a false documentary about everything, I figured I wasn’t even going to start. I’m not even going to get involved in this.

But then I called her and brought it straight up. I needed to see how she was doing and why she was saying this. When we started talking, she began crying, sobbing, like wailing. She was going, ‘Everybody blames me! Everybody blames me!’

I was like, ‘Tammy, chill out…’

She continued, ‘I can’t (continues crying).’

She’s sobbing. Now I’m stuck in this predicament of trying to talk her down from freaking out. I’m trying to talk to her and calm her down, even after what she said about my family and me.

Then the next day, I texted her again, because even though she was being awful, I’m like my brother and have a good heart, so I went, ‘Is everything okay with you?’

She said, ‘How dare you say anything bad about me!’

I said, ‘What the fuck? It was you that said something bad about me, idiot!’

And then I made a list of all the crazy shit that I had protected her in. After my brother died, I protected her a million times. It was like you had to babysit her because she would fucking go insane. So, I listed all these things, and she was like, ‘None of those things ever happened.’

I’m like, ‘Really? I don’t have this vivid of an imagination,’ this that and the other. I went, ‘Tammy, you’re ridiculous.’

The thing that kills me was the cheating on my brother, and that other people saw it. It made him look like an idiot because he was so fucking naïve, you know?

I wanted to crack people’s heads open because I hear, ‘She’s fucked this guy, she fucked that guy,’ and my brother was right there, not even paying attention!

The way we were brought up, we were brought up in a really big family where everyone is close, and everyone hugs one another. That’s kind of our nature. He probably thought she was being friendly; I don’t know what he thought, you know? It was just too fucked up.

When you take somas, let me explain for those who have never taken them before. Let’s say you take three. You wait five minutes, then you eat, and all of a sudden, all of the somas hit all at once. It’s like instant wasted. You’re on a different planet. You’re drunk; you can’t walk, you can’t talk, you can’t do anything. This goes for a good half hour to forty-five minutes. Sometimes you’ll pass out, and sometimes you fucking kick ou

Tammy Sytch, once a close part of the Candido family.
Tammy Sytch, once a close part of the Candido family.

She was always trying to sabotage our family. Mine and Chris’s family are really awesome. We have the coolest family in the world. I love my family to death. We would always have Thanksgiving at our house. I remember I had to go pick up Chris and Tammy for one Thanksgiving. I go pick them up and get to their house, and we’re getting ready to go back over to our parent’s house, and he’d go, ‘Tammy, don’t fucking get all gimmicked up again like Christmas and last Thanksgiving!’

She’d go, ‘I’m not!’

Sure enough, on the drive over to my parent’s house, she started kicking in, getting all wasted. Chris was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’

So we had to stop at a gas station or 7-Eleven or whatever, and we were feeding her coffee. We were trying to snap her out of the state she was in.

Meanwhile, my mom was calling us, asking, ‘Where are you guys?’ you know?

And this was every single fucking holiday. Every time we made up some excuse for her, she would literally sabotage all of our outings. And in our eyes, me and him would be giving her coffee, giving her espresso, trying to get her Red Bulls, trying to snap her fucking out of it. So me and him would be okay, and the rest of the family would be going, ‘What the fuck is wrong with her?’ you know? My mom and dad would say, ‘Christopher, are you kidding me? What’s wrong with Tammy? Why don’t you put her to bed or something?’

She’d end up going to bed upstairs, sleeping in my little sister’s room. It was just crazy awful.

As I said, there are so many instances like this that I can’t even explain, and for her to mouth publicly and say anything about my family and me? Come on.

It’s twisted, it really is. This just shows the type of person that she really is."

Tammy and Chris during happier times [Photo courtesy of]
Tammy and Chris during happier times [Photo courtesy of]
JC: "Let’s talk about this. My brother was going to Japan, and he told me, ‘Dude, watch Tammy.’ He was going to be gone for like three weeks or whatever. ‘Watch Tammy,’ you know?

I was like, ‘Alright.’

He continued, ‘Pick her up, take her out, do whatever you do.’

So I picked her up one night. I’m underage, mind you. I’m about nineteen at the time. Where we lived, we grew up right across the street from the beach, so I have a whole pool of surfer-dude friends, and we were all like, ‘Let’s get Tammy to buy us all beers!’

She was like, ‘Alright.’

So it’s about midnight or whatever, we drive over to this beer joint, and I drive over with her in my car, and my buddies are in their cars, and we give her a time when we can meet her inside.

We wait, and we wait, and she’s not coming out. It was a bar/liquor store. So finally, I go in, and she’s sitting at the bar with her head down. I go, ‘Are our beers ready?’

She says, ‘Hold on,’ proceeds to walk over to a bunch of dudes playing pool who have money on the table, and she just takes the balls and swings them everywhere, throwing them all over the table. It was these English dudes.

They were not thrilled. They were going, ‘Fuck you, you piece of shit!’

We used to throw parties at [Chris and Tammy’s] mansion when they weren’t in town. My girlfriend at the time was there, and she tried to calm everyone down when all of a sudden a friend of mine goes up to Tammy and innocently says, ‘Oh, I saw your house, it’s so beautiful!’

Tammy went, ‘You’ve been to my house?’ and she turns around and starts wailing on me. She starts attacking me like a maniac.

The bouncer is going, ‘Alright, alright, time out, let’s go!’

I’m like, ‘Guys; this is my friend. Let’s leave.’

So, I’m driving the car with one hand and fending off her trying to punch me in the face and gouging my eyes out with the other.

When we got back to the house, she was passed out in the car, but she got right back up all of a sudden. When we went to go inside, she said to me, ‘Jonny, I’m sorry. Can I have a hug, please?’

I was like, ‘Yeah, sure…’

As I go to hug her, WHAM! She palm strikes me right in the fucking nose.

I go, ‘Mother fucker!’ and out of anger, I went to the door, ripped it off the hinges, and threw it across the room. Tammy just thought all of this was hilarious. I was destroying everything in the house because I knew I couldn’t hit her. I was so fucking pissed.

Again, there are so many worse stories than this. I can’t even begin to say how awful she was. She was just so awful."

PWS: "Why did Chris put up with this for all those years?"

JC: "Because every time we would have this discussion over the last two years [of his life], every time I would go, ‘What are you doing with Tammy? Please just get rid of this girl already!’ he would always go, ‘Dude, you don’t understand, I brought her into this business.’

And it’s not like girls ignored him. We would be on the road, and girls would throw themselves at him, but it was either he didn’t know he was being hit on, or he would sort of just brush them off.

My brother, he slept, drank, and ate wrestling. He pretty much had a one-track mind, and that was just wrestling. That’s all he gave a shit about.

He said, ‘I brought her into this business. I’m responsible for her. I took her in.’

And I would go, ‘No, you did not!’

He would literally do everything for her. She would run around being a fucking asshole, doing whatever she wanted. On top of that, for instance, if she wanted some tomatoes and some Diet Pepsi at two in the morning, we’d go to fucking get her tomatoes and Diet Pepsi at two in the morning! Literally, we have done this before.

He thought he brought her into this crazy world that he and I knew, and she didn’t, and now she is in this world, so he felt that he had to take care of her and watch out for her, even though she was doing all of this scandalous shit behind his back.”

Tammy with the family of Chris Candido back in '93.
Tammy with the family of Chris Candido back in ’93.

JC: "Chris lived like a mile away from my family house; this was when he cleaned up his act. Everything was great. They had this awesome house right on the river in Manasquan, New Jersey, and it was a haven for all of my friends. It was a block from the beach. My brother was like the older brother for like twenty other dudes. We all hung out, surfed together, and we would all chill and change at his house.

One day while we were all eating dinner together, he pulled all us of all aside and said, ‘Listen, guys, you can bring beer over here and six-packs or whatever, but any hard alcohol you need to kayfabe. If Tammy gets her hands on it, it’s going to be trouble.’

And all of my friends knew that. She had a problem. When she started drinking, she got insane.

It was one of my friend’s birthdays. He was a good friend of mine and a good friend of my brothers. He pretty much lived at my brother’s house, you know? My friend was there all of the time doing landscaping for him. It was his twenty-first birthday, so me, my brother, and my friend went kayaking. While doing this, my friend said to Chris, ‘Listen, Cook, I’m having my twenty-first birthday. I really, really want you there, but I’m scared if Tammy is there, things are going to happen…’

Chris was like, ‘Man, it’s going to be tough on her. I can’t tell her I’m at a party with everybody, but I will do my best to try to hang out and celebrate my birthday with you.’

Later that evening, my brother and I snuck away, acting like we were going to shop or something, and instead went to Leggett’s for the party. This is a bar in New Jersey. We were there for maybe forty-five minutes, and guess who shows up? Tammy. And she was already fucking smashed.

A long time before this, there was a kid who had stolen some things from my brother’s house. He was a heroin addict. It’s a long story, but me and my brother had to actually go and find him, and we eventually got all of the stuff back. But anyway, he died of a heroin overdose. Tammy didn’t know this.

So anyways, at Leggett’s, his dad was sitting right there at the bar when somebody went, ‘That’s so-and-so’s dad!’

Tammy freaked out and attacked the fucking dead kid’s dad. Not to mention, this was my friend’s birthday party. It totally ruined everything. She was throwing beer bottles at this kid’s father and was going off on him.

What she didn’t know was that the kid had just died not even a week ago before this due to a heroin overdose. She was just attacking his dad. She was literally a nightmare, man."

PWS: "It, without a doubt, sounds like it. And with Tammy doing Skype and porn now…"

JC: "This is part of the reason why I didn’t freak out in December when she came to me crying because she’s fucking gimmicking herself with a dildo on Skype for a living.

Here’s the thing, and I have to reiterate that she was cool when she was around my family. We accepted her. We wanted to accept her. We knew her since she was a kid. She didn’t start getting fucked up until she was twenty-one or twenty-two. There were many years there when she babysat my little sisters and me when she was growing up, and everything was fine. She was totally normal. Wouldn’t touch a beer, wouldn’t touch a drink, she wouldn’t touch drugs.

As I said, she used to take my little sisters and me to get ice cream sundaes. My brother would be off wrestling, my parents would be out with their friends, out to dinner or whatever, me and my sisters were little, and Tammy would take us to get ice cream, and it was great. We had a great relationship. And then once she got some money, she just turned into a fucking heel. Really bad, man. The things I have told you now don’t even begin to scratch the surface. I really can’t even explain. I’ve seen the craziest and been through the worst. I honestly think I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) due to a lot of that shit.

My brother tried to kill himself one day. I had to fucking cut him down with hedge trimmers because he was trying to strangle himself. This was after one of the numerous fights he had with Tammy. He was trying to hang himself in the garage. It was insane. I ended up freaking out at him, saying, ‘Dude, if you kill yourself, what the fuck am I going to do?’

He then responded with, ‘I am so, so sorry,’ and started crying.

It was madness the things she put him through.

It helps to tell the truth, but I want the focus to be on my brother, not all this other shit. She’s had numerous shoot interviews where she’s said this and that. She said she was in a nine-month exclusive relationship with Shawn Michaels. Nine months? Get the fuck out of here! I never went for more than nine days without seeing her. That’s a complete lie. She just lies about everything, man.

I’m actually making this whole fray a lot less than it actually was; it was a fucking insanity every day. The true insanity of it all cannot even be described. It was insane."

Aside from wrestling, one of Chris Candido's passions was lifting weights.
Aside from wrestling, one of Chris Candido’s passions was lifting weights.

PWS: "You have to feel for your brother. He was a genuinely nice person. He showed great dedication to his high school sweetheart, even when all of those horrible things were happening under his nose. And in the end, it was his sincere and kind nature that was taken advantage of. It’s a shame. It really is."

JC: "I know it. He was too fucking nice, man. That’s really what it was. That was him. He was never mean. It wasn’t in his nature to put his foot down, I guess. He kind of just let her run shit. He just believed people at their word. This was pretty much what his deal was.”

PWS: "He was one of the good ones, but as you said, he was naïve, too."

JC: "He really was, man."

PWS: "Let’s change focus for a while. We all know Chris was a talented wrestler. Tell us, what are some of the things we may not know about him? Did he have any lesser-known talents or hobbies outside of the squared circle?"

JC: "I don’t think so, man (laughs). I think it was just lifting weights and hanging out with us. His passion was his livelihood. His passion was wrestling; his passion was lifting weights. And in his downtime, he just wanted to hang out around the house and watch old wrestling tapes, hop on the kayak to go for a ride, or we’d start up the boat to go fishing.

I have a funny story that will hopefully change the mood. Chris used to live on this inlet, which was this huge bay that goes out to the Atlantic Ocean. That was kind of the hangout for me and all of my buddies.

One day we went out to go fishing. We went out around 10 o’clock. Fish were literally jumping into the boat. There were fish everywhere. Snappers, baby bluefish, they were jumping literally into the boat. We were catching them left and right.

Around 11 PM, it started to rain a little bit. At this point, we were out at the tip of the inlet. From the tip of the inlet to his house, it was probably about five football fields. About 500 yards.

Chris goes to start the boat, but the boat doesn’t start. We begin to think, ‘Holy shit…’

Now it’s really starting to downpour. He tried pulling the cord, but it’s not starting; it’s still not starting. And now it’s pouring rain down on all of us. There’s a boat full of fish, and there are six dudes in this small little boat. Now we’re starting to drift out to sea.

Out where we were, there were these jetties that come after the regular jetties. I was like, ‘Dude, if we go any further, I’m jumping out of this fucking boat, and I’m swimming to those jetties!

My buddy was like, "No, that’s my boat! No, fuck that! No! Everybody take your seat cushion and use it as your paddle!"

So we all started to do that, and mind you, the Navy monitors the inlet. Where we were, there was a great white shark they nicknamed Samantha or something like this. It was a 15-foot female great white shark. So we’re paddling this little tiny boat when me and my brother looked at each other and said, ‘Dude, we’re not getting anywhere paddling with these little ass seats!’ So we jumped out of the boat, kicking behind it, taking the risk of meeting Samantha while our friends pushed with their little seat cushions.

Finally, after 4 or 5 hours, we pushed the boat into where these reeds were, and we maneuvered it all the way to the yacht club, which was in another town over. My buddy got out, brought his truck over, and we loaded all the fish up. At this point, the sun was starting to come up, and Chris was like, ‘Goddamnit, we are eating these fucking fish!’

We went to his house and filleted them all up. The sun was coming up, and we were sitting by Chris’s grill, grilling fish at 6:30 in the morning drinking beer. This is one of my favorite memories. That house was so much fun. We had some of the best times over at Chris’s house.

At other sports, he was the worst. I remember when I was younger, I could throw like 90 mph when I was 12. I would say, ‘Bro, let’s play catch.’

I’d give him the catcher’s mitt, and he’d be sitting there with his bodybuilding clothes on, and I would be gunning fastballs at him. He’d take his mitt and try to hit the ball with it, and the ball would ricochet into the air, and he would grab it, and he would say, ‘See how good I am? I can catch it and throw it at the same time!’

All he really cared about was wrestling and lifting weights.”

Another one of Chris Candido's passions was art. Here are some pictures he drew when he was a kid. Pro wrestling was in his blood from a young age.
Another one of Chris Candido’s passions was art. Here are some pictures he drew when he was a kid. Pro wrestling was in his blood from a young age.

JC: “You know, his other hobby was art. That motherfucker could draw. I put some of his pictures up on my Twitter account. He was a great artist. He would draw KISS and the Grateful Dead. He was a big KISS fan and a big Grateful Dead fan. He would go to Grateful Dead shows [in high school]. I actually went to a couple of KISS show with him, as well. Me, him, and Jim Cornette went to a KISS show together.

You asked if he had any hobbies outside of wrestling, and one of them, of course, was lifting weights. Here is a quick story that shows his dedication to lifting and to others.

When my brother was in high school, there was a guy he grew up with named Fooge. His real name was John Fudge, but everyone called him Fooge. He was really good at football. He was a big, strong guy, but he wasn’t that fast. He wanted to go to college on a football scholarship, but it wasn’t looking good due to his speed.

My brother said, ‘Fooge, look here. I’m going to come by your house every morning at 5:30, and you and I are going to run the boardwalk.’

Fooge lived a half-mile from us on the same stretch of the boardwalk as we did.

As promised, for the entire second half of Fooge’s junior year and the whole of his senior year, my brother would come to his house at 5:30 AM, and the two of them would run the boardwalk. The boardwalk from Spring Lake to Belmar, New Jersey, and back was like two and a half miles. Chris would make the two of them run it right before they went to school each day.

When Chris Candido's eighth-grade art teacher retired, she brought the Candido family all of his old artwork that she had saved. This KISS artwork was made when Chris was thirteen.
When Chris Candido’s eighth-grade art teacher retired, she brought the Candido family all of his old artwork that she had saved. This KISS artwork was made when Chris was thirteen.

Fooge ended up getting his college scholarship. I speak to Fooge at least once a week, and he’s always like, ‘Everywhere I go, I always say the only reason I got to play college football was because of your brother, Chris.’ That’s how dedicated my brother was with his training and as a friend."

While the accounts shared in this part of Chris Candido’s story may come off as a bit one-sided, it must be remembered that these are the words being relayed by Jonny the way he saw them and how they were reported to him by his brother. If there’s one thing we must always remember, though, and Al Snow said it best, “There’s always three sides of the story: His, hers, and the truth.”

We will end this part of the story with a statement from Al Snow, a good friend of both Chris and Tammy:

“I don’t know how [Tammy] treated Chris, and the reason I don’t know how she treated [him] is because I’m not Chris.

I can tell you that I saw things between the both of them. I saw both of their behaviors. Who is it for me to judge, do you know what I mean? 

Tammy has been one of my dear friends for years because of Chris, you know? I met the two of them together, and I always knew them together, and I always saw all of the shenanigans with them. 

[Chris] never got rid of her, you know? They never broke up. So whatever it was between the two of them, apparently it worked. I don’t know if it was good. I don’t know if it was bad. I didn’t have to wake up with it, and I didn’t have to go to bed with it, so it wasn’t for me to judge, because if it didn’t affect my life, then what do I care?

I care for Chris, and I used to get upset, but there was at one point when I finally realized if Chris isn’t getting upset, then why should I? I just don’t understand. This isn’t going to impact my life – I’m not dating her. I’m not living with her. I’m not sleeping with her. So what do I care, you know?

And I don’t know what [Chris may have been] doing on the other side. Because you have to remember, there’s always three sides of the story: His, hers, and the truth.”

The Chris Candido Story – Part 3: Redemption Before Death

In a fitting series send-off, we take a close look at how Chris Candido pulled himself up from the wreckage of drug abuse, a broken relationship, and a professional lull to pull his life together. He knew that things were not going well, so he found a remedy for it, finding the same hunger and passion he felt at a young age along the way. Through this newfound passion, Chris spent the best few months of life before experiencing an ill-fated injury in the ring, which ultimately led to his death.

This is our conclusion to the story of Chris Candido, as told by his brother, Jonny.

Chris Candido Story | Deception and Redemption Before Death
Chris Candido (March 21, 1972 – April 28, 2005)

JONNY CANDIDO: “There’s something about the band KISS. All of the wrestlers love that band for some reason.

A young Chris Candido dressing up as Gene Simmons from KISS.
A young Chris Candido dressing up as Gene Simmons from KISS. [All photos courtesy of Jonny Candido’s Twitter page, unless otherwise noted]
[When Chris was a kid], he would draw KISS and the Grateful Dead. He was a big KISS fan and a big Grateful Dead fan. He would go to Grateful Dead shows in high school, and I actually went to a couple of KISS show with him, as well. Me, Chris, and Jim Cornette once went to a KISS show together.

A plaque on a bench dedicated to the memory of Chris Candido on Spring Lake beach, New Jersey.
A plaque on a bench dedicated to the memory of Chris Candido on Spring Lake beach, New Jersey.

On the beach where my brother once worked is a bench with a plaque on it dedicated to him. Ironically, one day I found Peter Chris, the drummer from KISS, sitting on it. So I went up to him and told him all about my brother and how big of a fan he was of his band. Here KISS was Chris’s favorite band, and out of all the places their drummer could have sat on the beach, he sat there. It was really something.”

Chris Candido's original TNA 8x10.
Chris Candido’s original TNA 8×10.

JC: “My brother and I went out to eat one night, and he was moaning about the things that were going on in the indies, and he was like, ‘You know, these fucking kids. They all look like shit. They’re not in shape. When I was eighteen, I looked like a professional already. I was already in Smoky Mountain; I was already this and that…’

And I had to stop him and say, ‘Dude, this is why you were a stand-out! That’s why everybody took notice of you. You were never one of those kids that looked like shit and were out of shape. You were doing good.’

And he stopped for a moment and said, ‘No man, I really fucked everything up, didn’t I?’

I was like, ‘No, bro! Let’s get it back. Let’s do this; come on! Let’s get off of these gimmicks, and I’ll do it with you. Come on!’

So we did. This is when he quit doing drugs cold turkey. Literally, the next day we went on a shopping spree at Woodbridge Mall in New Jersey and bought all new gear. We were like, ‘We’re going to show up to the bookings looking like Ric Flair! We’re going to do this!’

It was almost overnight that we had the choice of either going back to WWE or TNA.

We went to WWE one night, and Tom Pritchard said many great things and then said, ‘Wait a little bit. They’re going to hire you full time.’

And then TNA was like, ‘Hey, come right now. We have money for you now. We could use you here.’

Of course, my brother was thinking, ‘I have to pay the bills on this house. I’m going to TNA.’

So he went to TNA, and he loved it.

Chris was the kind of person that would never drink a beer. He was such a health nut and never got on the juice. He only got introduced to drugs when he just got into WWF when he was in his early twenties. Before that, he never messed around with drugs, never drank liquor, never did anything. Plus, he suffered from a little bit of depression there for a while with all the rumors [with Tammy] that turned out to be true. So his head was spinning for a while.

I used to try to keep an eye on him and try to help him out. It was really tough. I wish I could have been a little bit older and wiser to help him through this time because, at that time, I was seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen when he was going through all this negative stuff. I was doing the best I could, but I really didn’t know because I didn’t have the life experience. I was only a young kid; do you know what I mean? All I could do was say, ‘Cook, I love you. You’re great.’

When I got older, and he got clean, this is when I could really talk to him. It’s not that we couldn’t talk before, but this is when I understood more. This was around the time he joined TNA.

Chris Candido laying the stomp down on AJ Styles. Candido found a new-found hunger for professional wrestling in TNA.
Chris Candido laying the stomp down on AJ Styles. Candido found a new-found hunger for professional wrestling in TNA. [Photo courtesy of]
In TNA, he was really kicking ass. If you watch some of his later matches in life, like late ’04, early ’05, those were some of the best years of his career because it seemed like he totally got reinvigorated. For a while, it felt like he was just going through the motions, to him, and to me, to be honest. With this clarity, he was really able to see what went wrong, and he wanted to remedy it. He again had the hunger he had when he was 17. He wanted to prove to the world that he was among the elite.”

A picture with Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Jonny Candido, and some of their friends goofing around in the ring a few months before his death. Chris was all smiles during this time of his life.
A picture with Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Jonny Candido, and some of their friends goofing around in the ring a few months before his death. Chris was all smiles during this time of his life.

PRO WRESTLING STORIES: “Did the relationship between Chris and Tammy improve in those final days?”

JC: “Yes, his relationship with Tammy definitely improved. Their relationship was great in the final days. They were like any other normal couple where the husband worked, and the wife keeps the house.

In those last months, his days consisted of us eating breakfast at our favorite deli called Seabreeze. We would get a coffee and egg-white omelet. We would read the New York Post and daily news, then it was off to the gym, then to tan, then maybe go for a run. It was really great to see just how happy and on top of the world he was before he died.

All of this seems like it was a really long time ago. It was 2002 when he fell off and 2004 when he started building himself back up. As a kid going through it with him, it really seemed like his use of drugs and the downfalls from that was going on forever, but it really was only like two years where he was fucking up. And by fucking up, I mean visibly fucking up from the outside looking in.

I was just happy that he got his whole life together in the end and that he was doing great before he died. He seemed happy and was completely drug-free. What people need to realize is that he didn’t take drugs to make his personality change. He did drugs for a different reason. He did it to numb out certain things. He had heard the rumors [about Tammy] and simply didn’t want to believe them, and that was pretty much what it was.

I miss him every day; it’s so tough. A few weeks ago was Memorial Day, and this is when we always have a big party at our house. There were a hundred people over at the house, playing beer pong, flip cup, whiffle ball, having a great time. And it sucks not having him around.

Brothers Jonny and Chris Candido putting the boots to Balls Mahoney in 2005.
Brothers Jonny and Chris Candido putting the boots to Balls Mahoney in 2005.

We used to have Al Snow come over to our house, Sabu would come over, Sandman, all of those guys. People used to be in and out of our house for parties all the time. We would have big BBQs, and all his buddies and all of my buddies would come over. We used to have such a great time. I miss all that. It’s really tough.”

PWS: “I can understand this completely. It’s not easy, especially during the holidays. If you don’t mind my asking, what was the last conversation you had with Chris?”

JC: “Pretty much, the last conversation was, "I’m fine, I’m fine. I don’t feel so good."

He’s had medical issues before where I’ve had to take him to the hospital, and I’ve always been able to snap him out of it. This last time, though, he died. I was hitting him on the stomach, smacking him in the face, talking to him, saying, "Dude, dude!"

Once I grabbed his hand and realized that there wasn’t any blood flow going, that’s when I stepped back and said, "Whoa, he’s dead…"

PWS: “You were there when it happened?”

JC: “Yeah, it hit really hard because I was there when it happened.

Back in the past, when he was doing somas and stuff, when he did too much, he would have seizures. That was scary to see. One time he bit his tongue while having a seizure, and blood starts squirting out all over the place. But whenever this happened, I always knew how to snap him back to life. I would call the EMT, and we would take him to the hospital, and I would always be able to wake him up and snap him out of it. But this time, I wasn’t able to. It was terrifying.

What really kills me the most about that was that I went to the hospital first. My mom didn’t know; she was somewhere with her friends. It was ’05, and not everybody had a cell phone. So I had to drive back home and say, "Mom, Chris is at the hospital."

I remember she was coming back from walking on the boardwalk with her friends. She was smiling and laughing, and then I told her the news. Her face just dropped. That part just crushes me when I think about my mom when I told her he was in the hospital.

Then there was the whole aftermath. My brother died, and I had to go back home.

Right after it happened, I fell asleep on the couch and had a dream about Chris. In this dream, he was sitting up on the counter, and I was like, "Dude, what just happened?"

He just told me, "Bro, my body just deteriorated."

I then said, "Really? Do you think you will be alright?"

And Chris went, "Yeah, don’t worry, I will be around."

Then I woke up, still sitting on the couch with tears streaming down my face. That’s when it really hit me.”

Chris Candido with friends RVD, Taz, 'Fonzie' Bill Alfonso, and Sabu.
Chris Candido with friends RVD, Taz, ‘Fonzie’ Bill Alfonso, and Sabu.

JC: “At the funeral, the whole wrestling world, everyone from TNA came, everyone from WWE came. There were lines around the fucking block to go in to see him. We had the service at this very nice church, St. Catherine’s. All the guys were there. Pretty much anyone you can name was there. Then we had an after-dinner at this big restaurant, and after that, a lot of guys came to the house, including Sabu and Sandman. Thank God I had some family and fifteen or twenty really close friends staying with me for the next few days. I don’t know how I would have handled this alone. Sabu stayed for three or four days, and Sandman stayed for four to five days.

I had all my buddies around me during this time. I asked myself, ‘What would my brother want me to do? He would want me to wrestle," so that is what I did. So I got right back on the road and started wrestling right away.

It’s like a fog, it really was. It was just nuts, man, him dying. It seemed like when it was happening; I was going through the motions. I’ll be honest, even when I was wrestling after the fact, I would go back to the locker room, and I’d expect to see him there. It was like I was looking for something that wasn’t there.”

PWS: “It must have been a really tough adjustment.”

JC: “Totally, because he would always be there. It was hard to go back to a locker room and not see him sitting there, lacing up his boots or whatever, waiting for me.”

PWS: “You mentioned that whenever he would have a rough patch and end up in the hospital, this was because of drugs. This time, however, was different because he was in the hospital due to a blood clot forming after having titanium plates and screws inserted into his legs after dislocating his ankle and fracturing both his tibia and fibula at TNA Lockdown on April 24, 2005. According to what has been written online, it was the blood clot that ended up being his cause of death.”

JC: “No, no, no. That’s incorrect; it wasn’t a blood clot that killed him. The autopsy said the cause of death was acute pneumonia.

We did an autopsy, and it turns out that someone, against the doctor’s orders, had given him a sleep aid. They said, "Here, you need to sleep. Take this." So he took it, and it slowed down his breathing, his lung filled with fluid, and he died of acute pneumonia. It’s a fucked up story. It would take me forever even to start getting into it."

A young Chris Candido with his brother Jonny and sisters.
A young Chris Candido with his brother Jonny and sisters.

PWS: “What are your thoughts on Chris one day getting into the WWE Hall of Fame? Do you think he has earned his place?”

JC: “I think he has. I don’t know in the fans’ eyes, the accomplishments he has. I know through dedication and his passion for this sport, he sure has earned his place. You have to think; he had been wrestling since he was 12 years old.

I was listening to an old interview of my brother the other day, and he was telling the interviewer how he would put out the ring and host shows at convention halls all over the area from the age of twelve and thirteen. At twenty-nine and thirty, he felt like he was a fucking relic, do you know what I mean? He felt like he had been in the business forever, you know?”

PWS: “Absolutely. He dedicated more than half his life to the business.”

JC: “Yeah, exactly. That’s all he ever cared about. That’s really all he cared about. It sounds bitter to say, ‘The good ones die young,’ but he really, it is fitting to say that about Chris. For him to die the way that he did was really not fitting for him, you know, because he really was just too great to die.

He and I would go around shoveling old ladies’ driveways when he was making $14,000 a week. He was just a true, blue, great dude. He was the nicest person in the world who loved his family to death and just cared for everyone.

That’s why I’m so vigilant in keeping his memory alive. It doesn’t seem like ten years; it seems like yesterday. Looking at my wedding, or me buying houses, those moments in your life where you go, ‘Fuck, where’s my brother at?’

PWS: “You know, I have to say, man, my brother passed away four months after Chris did in September 2015. I’m so in awe of what you do for your brother, just keeping his memory alive like this because that’s all we can do now as siblings. We can be the ones who share their stories, hoping that we can inspire. When you talk about your brother, I too think about my own experiences. What you’ve been through and how you have come out of it and how you live your life and honor him is admirable.”

JC: “And you know, you’re still living it…”

PWS: “You’ll never stop living it.”

JC: “It never goes away. You’re always going to love your brother, and he’s always going to be with you, the same way Chris is with me. Just because my brother was a public figure doesn’t make it any different.”

PWS: “No, he was human. And, you know, because of this, you are living a life for two people.”

JC: “Yeah, man. That’s it. I try to divide as much as I can to do things just to keep my brother’s memory alive because I did love him so much, and he was such a great guy. A lot of people around me don’t understand it. They say things like, ‘How come you can’t get that wrestling part out of you?’ Once you’ve been in the sport, period, and once you’ve lost someone that you love so dearly, it is something you have to keep with you. It’s hard for people to understand, but it is what it is.”

PWS: “You know what? People don’t need to understand. It’s your life. What you do with it, what makes you happy, what keeps you happy, keep doing it.”

JC: “Yeah, buddy.”

Chris Candido with someone he had incredible respect for, Jim Cornette.
Chris Candido with someone he had incredible respect for, Jim Cornette.

PWS: “Do you still keep in contact with anyone in the pro wrestling world?”

JC: “Yeah, a ton of people. I still talk to Sandman, Sabu, Tom Pritchard, Lance Storm, Jim Cornette, Blue Meanie, Justin Credible. Yeah, I talk to a lot of guys. I was going to say Balls and Axel and those guys, but they’re gone.

I keep in touch with a lot of the guys who were my brother’s friends to share stories and ask them for advice, what would they do in certain situations. I always have those guys to lean on. Sometimes you can’t go to your friends and ask them certain things because you know what they’re going to say already because they’re your friends. You need an outside person. This is when I go to my brother’s friends.”

PWS: “You mentioned Cornette; how is he? How is he as a person outside of the crazy world of professional wrestling?”

JC: “He’s really cool. I’m not as close to him as I am with the other guys, but he’s really cool. He always gives me advice, answers my e-mails, or DMs right back. He was a really integral part of my brother’s life because my brother respected the hell out of him. He’s a pro wrestling purist just like my brother was, and the two of them were almost like kindred spirits in the sense that they lived and loved pro wrestling.

My friendship with Cornette is more wrestling related. Say somebody wants to trade me some footage for some of my brother’s posters? I’ll get in touch with Jim to see his thoughts on stuff like that. ‘Is it sacrilegious if I trade these posters?’ Stuff like that I’ll call Cornette about.

But with Tom Pritchard and Lance Storm, people like that are there for me for more personal stuff. I’m happy to keep relationships with those guys. However, it’s not like we are best buds. But I know they have my back, and I have their back if they ever need it.

When it comes to who the closest people I keep contact with from the wrestling business outside of wrestling, it would have to be Sandman, Sabu, or Tom Pritchard. Those three guys would be my closest.”

Chris Candido with close friends Bam Bam Bigelow and Paulie B at Bam Fest.
Chris Candido with close friends Bam Bam Bigelow and Paulie B at Bam Fest.

PWS: “You wanted me to remind you to tell the story of Bam Fest.”

JC: "Oh, yes, Bam Fest, first of all, was such an insane thing. Bam Bam Bigelow grew up in our neighborhood, not in our direct town but two towns away, so my brother and Bam Bam knew each other forever. Bammer went through a divorce, moved to Pennsylvania, and called us up saying, ‘Dude, I’m opening it up, Bam Bam Bigelow’s Ice Cream Parlor.’ It was on like five acres of land.

He was like, ‘Yo Jonny, yo Chrissy, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to bring the ECW ring up there. We’re going to have wrestling; we’re going to have tug of war contests, we’re going to have arm wrestling, we’re going to have rides, we’re going to have a lot of bands, we’re going to have one of those little jumpy gimmicks for the kids…’ And so the fest was born.

There were a thousand people that came to Bam Fest. Me, my brother and Bammer booked it all, and we had only five matches. We didn’t want to oversaturate it with just wrestling as we wanted everybody to enjoy all the other things.

Team Jersey (including Jonny and Chris Candido) locking up and mean-mugging before unleashing their plan of attack against a professional tug of war team at Bam Bam Bigelow's Bam Fest.
Team Jersey (including Jonny and Chris Candido) locking up and mean-mugging before unleashing their attack plan against a professional tug of war team at Bam Bam Bigelow’s Bam Fest.

The moment that stands out for me the most was the tug of war contest. All of these professional tug-of-war teams came to compete, guys who were all jacked up. Our team was ‘Team Jersey’ consisting of me, Bammer, my brother, and then I had brought a bunch of my boys with me, including my cousin Vinny, my friend Bobby who’s older brother is Mike Dolce from the Dolce Diet, Dana White’s right-hand man at UFC, there was my friend Bobby, my boy BJ, my friend Billy… and all of those guys were skinny little surfer dudes. Well, some of them were amateur wrestlers, but you know what I mean. Here we were going up against a pro tug of war team.

The team we were going up against was full of guys that were like five hundred pounds. They all had cleats on, were chalking each other’s hands up, screaming and yelling in each other’s faces and knocking their heads together and shit. After seeing this, we huddled up. I forgot who said it, but it was decided that we would let go on the count of three.

So it came down to it, and we got there, and we were mean mugging them, and they were mean mugging us, and somebody goes, ‘3, 2, 1…’ We let go of the rope. These fat fucks went flying down like dominoes! All of them went flying back so far that one of their heads smacked against a car in the parking lot! They jumped up like they were going to do something when Bammer, my brother, and I jumped to the front like ‘What?’

They just backed down really fast. We do this for a living, so they were like, ‘Nah…’

We were cracking up over the fact these guys went flying all over the place. I wish you could have seen how serious these guys were about their damn tug of war contest, chalking up their hands and digging their cleats in [laughs].

The cousin of Jonny and Chris Candido, Vinny, wearing the pinstripes for the very first time at Bam Fest. Not a bad way to earn $500!
The cousin of Jonny and Chris Candido, Vinny, wearing the pinstripes for the very first time at Bam Fest. Not a bad way to earn $500!

Another funny thing about Bam Fest was when we sat down to make the booking. We booked myself vs. Thunderbolt, Ray Apollo vs. Paulie B. the Equalizer, Balls Mahoney vs. Mike Cool, and my brother Chris vs. Bam Bam on top, but they forgot to book a referee! So my cousin Vinny comes walking back, and I’m a bit wasted at this point, so was like, ‘Yo Vinny, do you want to ref?’ and I threw a referee shirt at him. Bam Bam gave him five hundred bucks, so he was like, ‘Sweet!’

Vinny ended up becoming the referee for the whole show.”

PWS: “Had Vinny referred a match before?”

JC: “No, he never did it! But he used to be our manager at some little shows here and there, and he’s been around wrestling forever. He was one of the kids used to carry the bWo signs, so he knew what he was doing.

We all had a great time. We have so many stories from Bam Fest.

Paulie B, the Equalizer, was arm-wrestling all these girls. He was beating them all, like Andy Kauffman, beating the girls in all the arm-wrestling matches.

We just had so much fun. It was a three-day festival, you know, three days of continuous craziness.

Somebody recently started a Chris Candido Facebook page, and there were many pictures from Bam Fest. From time to time, I come across people from Pennsylvania who go up to me and say, ‘I was at Bam Fest!’ There were a ton of people there. It was really crazy."

PWS: "Bam Bam seemed like such a great guy from all of the stories I have heard. One of the favorite things I heard about him is that he saved two kids from a burning house fire."

JC: "Yeah, he did! He saved two kids from a fire. Bammers, I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful he was. If we began talking about Bam Bam, we would have to go for another hour. He really was great."

Bad Ass Billy Gunn certainly liked those trunks.
Bad Ass Billy Gunn certainly liked those trunks.

JC: As I said, I have many great stories from so many guys on the road. Another person that just pops to mind is Billy Gunn. I’ve got some amusing stories about him.

I used to share rooms with him. That guy would keep his ‘Mr. Ass’ tights on all the time. We used to always go partying at this place called Kowloon’s in Boston. You know when you are kind of drunk and hungover and you keep falling in and out of sleep? Well, I’m lying there, my brother and I in one bed and Billy Gunn in the other bed, and every time I opened my eyes half hazy, I would just see Mr. Ass in that freaking damn spandex. He would cut a fart so loud that it would wake me up, and he would begin laughing. I’d do my best to try to go back to sleep when he would cut another fart. That guy- I guess the fart would just amplify through the spandex. It was the loudest fart you would have ever heard! It would wake you up out of your drunken hungoverness, and he’d start laughing, and you’d just try to go back to sleep.

I remember another time when me, him, and my brother were all hungover from partying when we sat up the next day, ordered room service, and just sat there watching movies on the Disney channel all day. We just sat there, watching Disney while eating breakfast. I don’t know why this memory comes to mind [laughs]."

PWS: "The thought of Billy Gunn wearing his Mr. Ass tights while out on the town, cutting farts in bed and watching the Disney Channel in them is absolutely hilarious."

JC: "Just the way his farts would amplify coming out of the Mr. Ass pants, that was freaking hilarious.”

A recent photo of Jonny Candido with ECW legend, Sandman.
A recent photo of Jonny Candido with ECW legend Sandman.

JC: “I’m just going to throw out a few more stories. I hope you don’t mind?”

PWS: “No, not at all! This is what our site is all about, after all. We have all the time in the world for this. Please, go on.”

JC: “Say there was a weekend where we didn’t have anything going on, and Sandman didn’t either; we’d go, ‘Dude, let’s go to Hak’s house.’ We used to call him Hak. We still do.

We called it playing ‘Hak-ass’ instead of ‘Jackass.’ We’d bring up my buddies up to Philly where Hak lived, and we would just do fuckin’ stupid stunts, and you know, we would just rib each other constantly. I remember my brother passed out one time. They had to go to Texas the next day. He passed out, and I smeared peanut butter all over his face. It was around Halloween, so I spray painted his hair black with Halloween hair color. Then I superglued his boots together, which then got superglued to the rug. When he woke up, he touched his face, felt smooshed up peanut butter, and was like, ‘Oh my God!’ He then went to grab his boots, and they were stuck to the damn floor.

We would just go up there to Sandman’s house and totally fuckin’ rib the hell out of each other. With us, every single day was a story.

Chris Candido sporting a black eye at a family get together on their beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Jonny and Chris used to egg each other on to hit one another, often resulting in black eyes and their mother refers to them as, 'The Moron Brothers'
Chris Candido sporting a black eye at a family get together on their beach in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Jonny and Chris used to egg each other on to hit one another, often resulting in black eyes, and their mother refers to them as ‘The Moron Brothers’

There was a time for a while there when my mother started calling Chris and me, ‘The Moron Brothers.’ When I first started getting into wrestling, my first couple of matches were against him. It wasn’t long later that we got to UXW, which was a little step above a regular independent. So my first gimmick was to run in during a match my brother and Sandman were working, get the cane, act like I was going to cane Sandman, and then cane my brother. My brother was like, ‘Dude, when you cane me, just hit me on the top of my head. Don’t swing it like a baseball bat, ’cause you’re gonna fucking fuck me up if you do.’

So, I said, ‘alright.’

When it came down to it, I got into the ring at this point, all freaking nervous. I saw my brother, I turned around, and I swung it like a baseball bat. Whack! I hit him right across the face causing a stripe right across it.

After doing this, Sandman and I cheer with the beer, we drink it, smash it on our heads, he takes the cane, canes me, and the crowd goes crazy. You know the drill.

The following night, my brother got into the ring, face to face. We were going to do a pull apart. He said something, and he gritted his teeth – you know when your older brother’s ready to punch you, he makes a certain face? He made that, ‘I’m gonna punch you in the face,’ face. I went, boom, boom, boom, and I just lit him up.

I used to box, so I hit him with a one, two, three. He fell to the ground; I started puttin’ the boots to him. So he had two black eyes. Later on that night, we were back at his house, and he was like, ‘Bro, I’m so proud of you. You did so good! You looked so great; everything was awesome.’

I was like, ‘Dude, look at your face. You look so messed up. Punch me in the face. Come on. Hit me. Give me a black eye. I deserve it.’

He then was like, ‘Dude; I’m not gonna punch you.’

I kept pestering him, smackin’ him, smackin’ him. After a half-hour, he just went, boom! and nails me right in the eye. I fell off the barstool at his house, getting a big black eye in the process.

The next day, we were walking over to our mom’s house, and both of us – he has two big shiners, and I have a shiner. She’s like, ‘Look at the moron brothers.’ It was like that scene out of ‘Raging Bull.’ I kept goading him into hitting me, and he finally hit me with a good one; really leveled me. My mom started calling us, ‘The Moron Brothers’ after that.”

Jonny Candido and Balls Mahoney used to slug it out to the point where things would get ugly - not just in the ring!
Jonny Candido and Balls Mahoney used to slug it out to the point where things would get ugly – not just in the ring!

JC: “Speaking of bashing one another up, I have another good Balls Mahoney story.

Balls and I got into a fight once where he almost cut my fuckin’ head off with a samurai sword. As I said earlier, Balls used to live really close to me, so I would go over there from time to time to grab some vikes from him – some Vicodin. Narcos, whatever he had. So one day, I rode over there earlier in the day and got a couple of vikes from him. It was my cousin Vinny’s birthday; he came over later on.

So my cousin Vinny comes over, and he’s like, ‘Dude, do you have any vikes?’

I’m like, ‘No, but Balls does.’

He’s like, ‘Alright, let’s ride over there.’

So we ride our bikes over there, and Balls was like, ‘Hey, what’s up, guys?’

We go in, and we are hanging out for a bit when I asked, ‘Dude, you got any vikes?’

He’s like, ‘No, I don’t have any.’

I’m like, ‘You do so. I just saw a fuckin’ bottle of 120!’

He was like, ‘I don’t have any, I don’t have any!’

I then was like, ‘Alright, can I have a cigarette then?’

He then went, ‘Yeah, they’re in my room.’

So I went into his room and saw a bottle of vikes sitting right there. I’m like, ‘Sweet!’ So I grabbed the vikes, start dumping them in my hand when all of a sudden, I hear (imitates running noise). He ran in and caught me red-handed, stealing his gimmicks.

So boom, he fucking tackles me, and we lock up. We started wrestling. My cousin Vinny just bolted, got on his bike, and went back to my house, leaving Balls and I fighting. And boy, were we fighting! We were fighting in his bedroom, and not long later, we were fighting into the kitchen. We broke all of the chairs and were fighting over the table. Boom, we were just fighting all over the fucking place.

We got to a stalemate, and he’s like, ‘Get out of my house! You stole my medication.’

I’m like, ‘Alright, alright, I’m leaving.’

He repeats himself.

I’m like, ‘Alright, fuck you; I’m leaving.’

He repeats himself again.

At this point, we’re on the front porch. I’m like, ‘Alright, the fucking neighborhood doesn’t need to know. Shut the fuck up.’

He repeats himself again.

I’m like, ‘Dude, okay.’

He repeats himself again, I snapped. I’m like, ‘You motherfucker,’ and I ran back in, and I speared him onto his couch. We start fighting again. Boom, boom, boom, we’re fighting, we’re fighting, back into the kitchen. Boom, we’re tired up. We fight back into his bedroom, and now – Alright, in Balls’ bedroom, there’s all daggers, and swords and shit, hanging all over his wall like fuckin’ Deuce Bigalow. I get a little bit of space between me and him, we lock eyes, and I’m like, "I’m gonna light you the fuck up.’ I see him, I’m ready to light him up, and he grabs a fucking sword and swings it at me. At this moment, I slipped and was like, ‘Dude, really bro? You’re going to cut my fucking head off, asshole! Fuck you.’

And he’s like, ‘Stop.’

So I started leaving, and he’s like, ‘Jon, come on, stop. Bud.’

I’m like, ‘We’re not friends anymore. A fight’s one thing, but you don’t try to cut my head off with a fucking samurai sword.’

Then I got like two blocks away, and he called me. I turned around, went back there, and we hugged it out. That’s just how Balls was, man. He literally came inches away from cutting my carotid artery with that fucking thing. Me and Balls had more physical altercations than my brother and I did. We would get pissed off at each other over little things, and it’d turn into, you know, whatever."

Jonny Candido tells the story of the time Bubba Dudley ruffled his feathers.
Jonny Candido tells the story of the time Bubba Dudley ruffled his feathers. [Photo courtesy of]
JC: "Another wrestler that I got into two almost fights with was Bubba Dudley.

The way that happened was – let me just tell you, Bubba’s my boy, I think he’s cool as shit, I think he’s awesome. Through ECW, he was always the fucking nicest guy. Even after, he was great.

His friend owns this enormous bar in Belmar called ‘Bar A.’ ECW used to run shows there. It’s like a hot spot for people. Great bar. His friend always gives us VIP cards. It’s the best place. So, in both instances, I wrong.

The first night, me, Bubba, and Balls are all drinking together, and Bubba doesn’t want to drink anymore, so was like, ‘Ahh, I’m out.’

I responded with something like, ‘Stop being such a fucking pussy. Pussy, drink some more. Come on, pussy!’ and I kept goading him on. Then Balls separated us.

The second time was one night at Bar A. We got into it with a bunch of guys from out of town, right? I see my buddies in the mix, and then there’s this big, tall, juiced up guy who’s pushing around my smaller friend. So I stepped up, pushed my friend to the side, and hit the guy with a right. The guy just falls down, hits the ground, his head fucking smashes. Everybody was like, ‘Oh shit!’ So we left.

Not long later, I went to TNA to do the gimmick – you know, my brother’s tag team tournament thing – Unbreakable. So when I rolled up, I saw and said hello to all the guys. I saw D-Von, I saw Bubba, and I was like, ‘Hey Bubba, what’s up?’

He was like, ‘Don’t talk to me, you fucking asshole.’

I was caught off guard by this, so I asked, ‘What did I do?’

He was like, ‘I know what you’re doing. You’re going around, back home, saying my career is over, saying I’m worthless, saying I’m a piece of shit.’

I’m like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’

He’s like, ‘You know what I’m talking about. Admit to it, or you and I are no longer friends cause I know you’re doing that stuff. That’s fucked up.’

He said something else, and he’s like, ‘Look, I don’t wanna talk to you right now. You’re fuckin’ pissing me off.’

So, I’m just like, ‘What the fuck?’

At this point, I followed him out back. I saw him go outside by himself, so I took this as an opportunity to try to talk to him and see what was going on.

He continued, ‘Did you say that stuff or not?’

I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t say that stuff.’

He’s like, ‘Admit to it. Tell me you said it or not.’

I’m like, ‘No, who the fuck said I said that?’

He’s like, ‘A bunch of the bouncers said that.’

Obviously, I didn’t say that. I don’t even follow wrestling. I don’t know whose careers are going up, or down, or whatever. So, I start talking; I’m like, ‘Dude, I would never say anything like that about you. I have the utmost respect for you.’ It was at this moment we made peace right there.

Not long after this, I saw him at Bar A and was like, ‘Show me which bouncer said it.’ I wanted to go and find him.

Then I asked Shane Douglas later, and I’m like, ‘How come Bubba was being a dick to me?’

Douglas was like, ‘Oh, his buddy said that you knocked some dude out in the parking lot, fucking hurt him, and he told Bubba to ruffle your feathers next time he saw you.’

‘Oh, now it fucking makes sense!’

Obviously, I wasn’t going around saying shit about him. The only bouncer I know there is Shane Bigelow, who is Bam Bam Bigelow’s son. So it wasn’t like I was going to him saying, ‘Hey, you know what? Bubba Dudley’s career is no good.’ I just knew there was something behind why he was fucking with me.

I guess you could call those ‘almost fights.’ I don’t know what you would call ‘em. Bubba’s my boy. I love that guy. I just thought those were interesting stories that you would like to hear."

So, did Ahmed Johnson really get with Sunny in exchange for some drugs before leaving WWF with Chris? Jonny Candido speaks out about this age-old Internet rumor.
Did Ahmed Johnson really get with Sunny in exchange for some drugs before leaving WWF with Chris? Jonny Candido speaks out about this age-old Internet rumor.

JC: Dude, as I said, I pretty much have stories about pretty much everyone. Another day we’ll have to do a ‘Name Someone, and I’ll Have a Story About Them’ conversation."

PWS: "Absolutely. I look forward to this!

I want to back up for a moment and ask a quick question about a rumor that has floated around the internet for a few years, which some people have attributed to why Chris left WWF. Please feel free to put a kibosh on this gossip at any moment. The rumor goes that Tammy was looking for cocaine or some other drugs, so she and Chris went to Ahmed Johnson. They didn’t have any money, so in exchange for Ahmed’s drugs, a deal was made where Tammy would sleep with him. Chris was happy with this so long as Ahmed didn’t hurt her. Afterward, as the story goes, Tammy got with HBK. Chris apparently later found out about this and leveled Shawn in front of the guys, asking for Vince’s release not long later. Is there any truth to this story?"

JC: "No, no, no, that’s not the story at all. The real deal was that, you know, after The Bodydonnas had run their course, they wanted to put my brother on the back burner and actually send him out to help train guys cause he was really technically sound. He had helped train The Rock; he had helped train a ton of different guys. And when he, you know – he was young at that point, he was 23-24 – and he was like, ‘I don’t want to be a fucking trainer. I want to be a wrestler.’

So that’s when he decided to leave. WWF was going to repackage him and do something else with him, and he just decided that he could be a trainer while thinking of things to do with him. But in his mind, he was thinking, ‘Man, that could take forever. They’re going to have me training guys and doing that for a while.’

In hindsight, years later, he had second thoughts about all that. He once told me, ‘I should have just taken the job as a trainer and had a nice, secure job for my entire life.’

But he was young, he had an ego, and he left because they wanted to keep him employed as a trainer, but like I said, after The Bodydonnas had run their course, they wanted to shift him back to Smoky Mountain or keep him around to train the new guys coming up. He wanted to be a superstar. ECW was his way to do it.

As for that coke thing, it’s bullshit because Tammy – contrary to popular belief – didn’t do coke, and she didn’t smoke weed, either. Ironically, she was big into pills and big into booze. My brother did coke a handful of times. I did it with him. Then we’d always have to kayfabe the fuck out of Tammy. She was completely not into the blow. She was into taking pills and drinking. So the whole thing about Tammy doing coke is totally not true.

And can I say for sure whether or not she slept with Ahmed Johnson? I don’t know."

PWS: "Thanks for clearing that up. It’s always good to separate the truth from heresy. When Chris went to quit, the story also goes that someone high up in WWF told him, ‘Well, you know, you can’t quit without written notice.’ So he turned a hotel bill around, wrote, ‘I quit,’ and then signed his name. Is there any truth to that, or is this just exaggerated drivel as well?"

JC: "You know, all those little things could be true, but I was young at the time, and I would just hear the stories from him later on. He would tell me what went down around that time. I mean, as I said, she could’ve slept with him or any other guy in the back, but I’m ninety-nine percent sure this rumor about Ahmed is false. If she did, I can’t say she did or didn’t. As I said, I don’t think she did.

It definitely wasn’t over coke because she wasn’t a cocaine person. Trust me; I was with them every day."

PWS: “Before we end our conversation, tell me, what are you up to these days?"

JC: "I work for the town of Spring Lake, and right now, I’m just traveling the world. I hope to buy a few properties along the way while doing this. So I’m doing good."

PWS: "You’re doing it right. Not many people get a chance to do that, so that’s fantastic, man. Keep doing what you’re doing, and as I always say, live life for two."

JC: "Absolutely, man."

PWS: "Is there anything you want to promote or tell us about before we let you go?"

JC: "Just keep an eye out for my brother’s documentary that is coming out soon. My boys from Turnbuckle Magazine are coming back out here to the Jersey Shore this summer. Right, when I get back from Portugal, we’re going to meet back here, and they’re going to start shooting interviews with my brother’s friends and some of the boys in the business. Whenever it’s ready to come out, we’re going to put that out whenever I deem it ready to come out because I’m kind of a stickler for those things. After that, just check me out at @Candido118 on Twitter, and on Facebook, you can go to Jonny Rea from Hoboken, New Jersey. Just search that, and you’ll find me on there. Also, go to to check out all of my brother’s shirts. We keep making new shirts, and we’ve got tank tops, the whole deal."

PWS: "To finish, a reader from our site wrote in and would like to know, and I’d be hard-pressed not to ask this, would you pay $50 for a picture with Sunny in bed?" (laughs)

JC: (Laughs) "What the fuck do you think? Get the fuck out of here. Hell, no!"

PWS: "Thank you for spending time with us. You’ve been incredibly open and honest, and it’s been an absolute pleasure. I look forward to talking to you again and hearing more of your stories on the road. Have a good time in Portugal, and we’ll catch up soon."

JC: "Alright, brother, all the best. Thank you."

So ends our three-part journey celebrating the life of Chris Candido through the help of his younger brother, Jonny. It has been a privilege getting to know Jonny over these past few months for this series of interviews on Pro Wrestling Stories. I’m sure you would all agree that he has a gift for sharing stories. As Jonny would say, "Chris never wanted to be forgotten or to fade into obscurity."

Through my conversations with Jonny and putting this series of stories together for this site, I hope I have helped him achieve that.

Award-winning author John Cosper teamed up with Johnny Candido to write a tell-all book on Chris Candido through the eyes of his family, friends, and fans. Their book “Chris Candido: No Gimmicks Needed” can be purchased from

These stories may also interest you:

A big thank you goes out to Moris as well as Joey from for helping out with the transcriptions for this article. An additional thank you goes out to Turnbuckle Magazine for their continued support.

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.