Edison, New Jersey was the birthplace of Christopher Barrett Candito who later entertained wrestling fans under a similar name of Chris Candido. He was born March 21, 1972 and was the grandson of Chuck Richards, a former wrestler for the old WWWF.
At the tender age of 14 years, he started his training with veteran trainer Larry Sharpe and started wrestling in Sharpe’s World Wrestling Association. Candido would also assist at setting up the rings at various independent wrestling shows.
In 1993, Candido started a wrestling career for Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) with two others, Johnny Hotbody and Chris Michaels. The three would tag team as any combination of the three and had two runs as the ECW Tag Team Champions. Candido left the promotion later in 1993 as champion and the titles were vacated.
Candido and his high school sweetheart Tammy Lynn “Sunny” Sytch signed with wrestling veteran Jim Cornette in his Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) division of the NWA. In Smoky Mountain, Candido had great singles success, winning the US Junior Heavyweight Championship no less than three times. He then found a partner, Brian Lee and two were managed by Sytch (known on television as Tamara Fytch).
The two eventually won the SMW Tag Team Championship defeating the ever popular Rock N Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson). The two fought in multiple battles thereafter, each one gaining the championship from the other. When Candido and Lee lost the belts for the third time, Fytch dumped Lee and became exclusive to Candido.
In 1994, Candido won a 10-man tournament to claim the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, eventually dropping the title to Dan “The Beast” Severn three months later.
He then formed a tag team combination with Boo Bradley (later known as Balls Mahoney) but the two entered a huge feud together when Candido apparently killed (kayfabe) Bradley’s pet cat, Boots. The two partners fought in a “loser leaves town dog collar match” which Candido lost, allowing him and Fytch to leave Smoky Mountain with storylines intact.
In 1995, Candido and Sytch were signed to the WWF as “Skip” and “Sunny”, two self-absorbed heel fitness gurus that would berate the audience members for their poor physiques. They called themselves the “Bodydonnas”. After two embarrassing losses to jobber Barry Horowitz, the Bodydonnas roster started to expand and eventually included members Rad Radford (Louie Spicolli a.k.a Madonna’s Boyfriend), Sean “1-2-3 Kid” Waltman and Dr. Tom Pritchard (brother of Bruce “Brother Love” Pritchard).
After the Bodydonnas lost a title shot against the Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns (Billy and Bart), most of the roster was “fired” by Sunny, with only Candido and Pritchard remaining. Prichard’s ring name was “Zip” so now Skip, Zip and Sunny comprised the true Bodydonnas.
They feuded with the Gunns thereafter, never being able to snag the belts. Then, Billy “Mr. Ass” Gunn was injured and the Gunns had to forfeit the title. A tournament was held to determine new champions and Candido/Pritchard defeated the Godwinns to capture the gold. Two months later, the Bodydonnas dropped the belts to the Godwinns.
Ever the opportunist, Sunny only wanted to affiliate herself with winners, so she left the Bodydonnas and joined the Godwinns and later the Smoking Gunns. Rumor had it that about this time Sunny was sleeping with Shawn “HBK” Michaels, making Candido jealous with rage. The Bodydonnas then advertised for a new manager and wound up with Candido’s friend James Haney dressed in drag named “Cloudy”.
Candido left the WWF in 1996 and emerged in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). He had a brief run with a group known as Triple Threat with Shane Douglas and Lance Storm. Candido then started feuding with teammate Lance Storm. Ironically enough, Storm and Candido formed a tag team despite their differences and won the ECW Tag team Championships from Doug Furnas and Phil Lafon. The two rivals held the title for 6 months after giving them up to Sabu and Rob Van Dam.
Candido then did a brief run in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and captured the WCW Cruiserweight Championship, losing it 2 months later.
He then competed on some independent circuits and in New Japan Pro Wrestling until 2005 when he was approached by TNA (Total Nonstop Action).
In TNA Candido had mixed success, losing to the likes of Dustin “Golddust” Rhodes, Diamond Dallas Page and A.J. Styles. He fared better in tag team competition with several wins. During a steel cage match at the “Lockdown” Pay Per View event in 2005, Candido suffered a serious injury when he broke his leg and dislocated his shoulder after his opponent Sonny Siaki landed on it.
He required emergency surgical repair for these injuries and was discharged from hospital on April 25, 2005. Three days later, Candido collapsed and was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with acute pneumonia. He died shortly after his hospital admission owing to a blood clot which formed in his lungs thought to be complications from his earlier surgery.
Candido will be missed dearly for his in-ring charisma and talent in the squared circle. Sunny became the original WWE Diva and the pair made a memorable team together. Candido’s passing is a sad reminder of the in-ring threats that wrestlers put their bodies on the line for in order to entertain us, the loyal fans. What is even more tragic is the fact that Candido’s death was not the typical drug-related reasons so many young lives are lost.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.