The CHRIS CANDIDO Story – Part 3: Redemption Before Death

Over the past few weeks, it has been a privilege to be sharing the life of the late, great Chris Candido through the words of his younger brother, Jonny. Through our three-part series, ‘The Chris Candido Story’, we have been on an emotional rollercoaster, coming to know the highs– learning the passion and dedication Chris held towards his sport from such an early age, the lows– drug abuse and a battle with depression stemming from a rocky relationship with Tammy Sytch (also known as Sunny from her days in then-WWF), and all of the craziness in-between.

In a fitting series send-off, we take a close look at how Chris 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. It was through this newfound passion that 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 (March 21, 1972 – April 28, 2005)

If you have missed part one and two, find them below: 

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

A young Chris Candido, aka Gene Simmons [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.

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’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 f*****g kids. They all look like s**t. 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 s**t 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 to TNA.

We went to WWE one night and Tom Pritchard said a bunch of 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.’

My brother, of course, 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.’

But then 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 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 a*s. 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 me and to him, to be honest. It was with this clarity that 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, Tammy, Jonny 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 f*****g up. And by f*****g up, I mean visibly f*****g 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 Chris and Jonny 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 real 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 starting 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 really scary.

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 faced 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 with friends RVD, Taz, ‘Fonzie’ Bill Alfonso and Sabu

JC: “At the funeral, the whole entire wrestling world, everyone from TNA came, everyone from WWE came. There were lines around the f*****g 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 seems 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 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 to even start getting into it.”

A young Chris 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 through 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 f*****g 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 10 years, it seems like yesterday. Looking at my wedding, or me buying houses, those moments in your life where you go, ‘F**k, 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 my time as I can to doing 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 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 to 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, they 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 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 locking up and mean mugging before unleashing their plan of attack against a professional tug of war team at Bam Fest

The moment that stands out for me the most was the tug of war contest. There were all of these professional tug-of-war teams that 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 were 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 s**t. After seeing this we huddled up. I forgot who said it, but it was decided that on the count of three, we would let go.

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 d**n tug of war contest, chalking up their hands and digging their cleats in [laughs].

Chris and Jonny’s cousin, 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 do 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 that 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 a lot of pictures from Bam Fest. From time to time, I come across people who are fans 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 A*s Billy Gunn certainly liked those trunks.

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

I used to share rooms with him. That guy would keep his ‘Mr. A*s’ tights on all the time. We used to always go partying to 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 laying 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. A*s in that freaking d**n 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 there was 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. A*s 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. A*s pants, that was freaking hilarious.”

A recent photo of Jonny 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-a*s,’ instead of ‘Jackass.’ We’d bring up my buddies up to Philly where Hak lived and we would just do f****n’ 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 d**n floor.

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

Chris 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 referring to them as, ‘The Moron Brothers’

There was a time for a while there when my mother started calling Chris and I, ‘The Moron Brothers.’ When I first started getting into wrestling, my first couple matches were against him. It wasn’t longer 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 f*****g f**k 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 cheers 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 bar stool 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 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 f****n’ 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 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 f****n’ 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 catches me red-handed stealing his gimmicks.

So boom, he f*****g 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 f*****g 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, f**k you, I’m leaving.’

He repeats himself again.

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

He repeats himself again.

I’m like, ‘Dude, okay.’

He repeats himself again, I snapped. I’m like, ‘You m**********r,’ 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’s bedroom, there’s all daggers, and swords and s**t, hanging all over his wall like f****n’ 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 f**k up.’ I see him, I’m ready to light him up, and he grabs a f*****g sword and swings it at me. At this moment, I slipped and was like, ‘Dude, really bro? You’re going to cut my f*****g head off, a*****e! F**k 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 f*****g 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 f*****g 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 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 s**t, I think he’s awesome. Through ECW, he was always the f*****g 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 the 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 f*****g p***y. P***y, drink some more. Come on, p***y!’ 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 step up, I pushed my friend to the side, and I hit the guy with a right. The guy just falls down, hits the ground, his head f*****g smashes. Everybody was like, ‘Oh s**t!’ 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 f*****g a*****e.’

I was caught of 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 s**t.’

I’m like, ‘What the f**k 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 f****n’ pissing me off.’

So, I’m just like, ‘What the f**k?’

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 f**k 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, f*****g hurt him, and he told Bubba to ruffle your feathers next time he saw you.’

‘Oh, now it f*****g makes sense!’

Obviously, I wasn’t going around saying s**t 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 f*****g 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 speaks out about this age-old Internet rumor.

JC: Dude, like 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 the reason why Chris left WWF. Please feel free to put a kibosh on this gossip at any moment. The way the rumor goes is apparently 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 drugs from Ahmed, 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 his release from Vince 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 f*****g trainer. I want to be a wrestler.’

So that’s when he decided to leave. WWF were 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 go be a superstar. ECW was his way to do it.

As for that coke thing, it’s b******t 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 f**k 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. The story also goes that when Chris went to quit, 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, like 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. Like 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.”

Jonny with his wife recently on vacation in Portugal

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. My wife and I decided before we have kids, we’re going to see whatever there is to see. We went to Sicily, we went to Italy, we went to Spain, we went to Barcelona, Majorca, Cannes, France, we went to the Amalfi Coast, we saw Pompeii, Capri, Belize, Cozumel, Central America, now we’re going to Portugal. We always have to make our yearly trips to Puerto Rico and Vegas, too. I have buddies over there. I have a buddy who is in UFC, so I always try to take opportunities to go out there to see him in Vegas. We’re just traveling around and we’re going to settle down and have kids. We hope to buy a few properties along the way while we are doing this. So I’m doing good.”

PWS: “You’re doing it right. What you guys are doing is you’re living a dream. 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. We’re going to put that out whenever it’s ready to come 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 f**k do you think? Get the f**k 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 these series of interviews on 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 through putting this series of stories together for this site, I hope I have helped him achieve that. I very much look forward to talking to Jonny again soon where we will share more stories of his time growing up and being in the business of professional wrestling.

*A BIG thank you to Kevin Meeker, Moris as well as Joey from for helping out with today’s story. An additional thank you goes out to Turnbuckle Magazine for your continued support. You can check out the trailer for their upcoming Chris Candido documentary below:

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JP Zarka
JP Zarka is a teacher, singer/songwriter, producer, former co-host of The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo podcast, and editor-in-chief of Originally from Chicago, he has called London home since 2008. He can be reached on Twitter @jpzarka or @pws_official.