WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley has posted the following memory of Daffney Unger…
Our wrestling world was dealt a severe blow today, with the news of the passing of Shannon Spruill, aka Daffney Unger, following the release of a disturbing video in which she talked of doing harm to herself. Once I became aware of the video, I did what I could to reach out to her – but like everyone else who tried calling, my attempt went straight to voicemail. I heard from several of her friends who told me they too were unable to reach her. Today, I woke to the terrible news that Daffney was no longer with us.
It’s a dark day for anyone who saw Daffney in WCW from 1999–2001, in Impact from 2009-2011, or on any independent events that were fortunate enough to have her. Daff was a breath of fresh air, an original, with a unique look and persona that was far ahead of her time. Her work with crowbar and David Flair in WCW was so much fun to watch, and when she arrived in Impact, I felt she was truly one of the most intriguing characters in the business. She was able to get her foot in the door with the “Governor” character, a take off on former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, but eventually, had a chance to shine in her own indelible way – as Daffney, the scream queen, with the look commentator Tazz labeled “Zombie hot.” Here was how I wrote about Daffney, back in 2009: Daffney’s got it going on. That’s what I think whenever I see her on TV, doing promos, in the ring, etc. Which is my way of saying that she’s really hit her stride; everything seems to be coming together simultaneously. I’ve always thought that anything that’s different is good, and man is this woman different. I try to give feedback when I see something I like, and it seems that I’m always saying something to her about what I see. “I love the outfit, Daffney, it’s creepy, it’s you.” Or, “great promo, I like how calm you are.” She slithers like a snake, she’s got a cool walk, all her stuff in the ring looks good, and like all good characters, she makes you wonder where the character ends/where the person begins. I’ve been around her for a while now, and I don’t really have a clue. Plus, she’s read one of my novels like 4 times, and that’s a little scary.
Daff really did have it going on, and I was so glad to have her by my side for my feud with Abyss, and in particular, the “Bound for Glory” PPV, which unfortunately saw Daff suffer serious injuries – a broken arm, and a severe concussion. I think we all bought so much into her persona that we failed to realize she was merely human beneath it all. She was never really the same after that match, and I am so sorry that I was part of something that expedited the end of her in-ring days, and which also may have exacerbated the mental health issues with which she struggled until her death.
I just took a look at YouTube, hoping to track down a specific match of Daffney’s, and instead saw that almost every entry concerned her disturbing video or news of her death. It’s really important that we try to learn from her death – coming just a little over two years since Ashley Massaro took her own life. In the aftermath of that tragedy, the WWE women banded together and promised to be there for each other and support each other should any of them fall into despair.
I know Daffney had some really good friends, people who really cared about her – who would have done their very best to help her, had they known just how much she was hurting. If anyone you know is thinking of harming themselves or taking their own life, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-8255. In the tiny little bit I saw last night’s video, I heard Daffney talking about being all alone. Had she only known that she was not completely alone, that there was help out there, and people loved her, she might still be with us.
It’s going to be very hard to think of Daffney without thinking of the incredibly sad way she left us. But I do hope that we will all do something to remember the way she lived, as well – not only the ingenuity and spirit with which he inhabited her character, but for the kindness and compassion she displayed to others.
The specific match I was looking for on YouTube was Daffney vs Vicky Lyons – and to this day, I think it’s the most remarkable match I have ever seen. Vicky Lyons had been left for dead in a parking lot, after being run over by a truck at the age of four. Despite being told by the experts that she would never talk, let alone lead a normal life, this amazing young woman went on to train for several years, just in the hope of having that one wrestling match. Daffney was her best friend, and took it upon herself to do the favor in the ring, to the surprise of Vicky, who thought for sure she would be on the losing end of that match.
I was so inspired after watching Daffney and Vicky that I reached out immediately to Daffney. It had been a few years since we had been in touch, but sometimes that’s just the way the business goes. But we talked for a couple hours that night, and I invited Daff to be my guest at the taping of my “20 Years of Hell” show in Pittsburgh, where I told the story of that match, and how I considered it to be something of a miracle.
May God Bless you, Shannon, and may you rest in peace. You were such an important figure in wrestling, ahead of your time, giving more to the wrestling business than it ever gave to you, inspiring others who didn’t look like the women of the day to follow a path you helped pave. But you were more that a wrestler…you made miracles happen. #RIPDaffney
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