The wrestling world is in mourning today. Daffney Unger, the charismatic ‘scream queen’ who wowed fans in WCW and TNA, has died. Here’s what we know.
She was one of the brightest stars of latter-era World Championship Wrestling, but sadly, her light has left this world. Daffney Unger (b. Shannon Spruill) has died, according to a statement issued by SHIMMER women’s professional wrestling (and confirmed by TMZ Sports.) “We are very sad to have to announce the passing of Shannon Spruill aka Daffney Unger,” the statement read. “We are posting this at the request of her family. Please respect their privacy at this trying time.” Daffney was just 46.
“We are very sad to have to announce the passing of Shannon Spruill aka Daffney Unger @screamqueendaff. We are posting this at the request of her family. Please respect their privacy at this trying time.
I will miss you my logical sister from another mister.”
— SHIMMER Wrestling (@SHIMMERwomen) September 2, 2021
Lexie Fyfe, who signed the SHIMMER tweet (“I will miss you logical sister from another mister”), told TMZ Sports that Daffney was found dead Thursday (Sept. 2) morning. Tragically, the night before, Daffney went on Instagram Live and acted in a way that she appeared to be in danger of hurting herself – to the point where members of the professionally wrestling community put out a public call for authorities to locate her. Daffney had been battling mental health issues in recent weeks, Fyfe told TMZ Sports, adding that authorities had trouble finding her because she had just moved into a different apartment days ago. A cause of death was not immediately made known.
As the professional wrestling world mourns, here’s what you should know about the dynamic person that was Shannon “Daffney Unger” Spruill.
1. Daffney Unger Was A Professional Wrestler.
Born Shannon Claire Spruill on July 17, 1975, in West Germany, the woman who would grow up to be Daffney spent her early years on air force bases until her father retired in 1987. Though she studied film and video production in school, Spruill joined the world of professional wrestling in November 1999, responding to a WCW contest looking for new talent, per Fightful. Thus, she was christened Daffney Unger.
Initially cast in a non-wrestler role, Daffney was teamed with David Flair as his obsessed stalker/girlfriend and professional wrestler Crowbar (b. Christopher Ford, fka Devon Storm). Daffney earned the moniker “Scream Queen” from her trademark wail, and it wasn’t long before she making the change from manager/valet to wrestler. During her run with WCW (1999-2001), she became one of the few women to hold the Cruiserweight championship. She was released from the company in Feb. 2001 due to budget cutbacks, but a month later, WCW was bought by WWE.
2. She Wrestled Under A Variety Of Names.
After WCW, Daffney continued to wrestle, undergoing eight months of training at Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling after her departure. “Many people come up to me and are surprised that I have grown as a wrestler,” she told Slam Wrestling in 2002.
She appeared in the early days of Total Nonstop Action wrestling (currently Impact Wrestling), going under the mask as Shark Girl (the valet of legendary independent wrestler Shark Boy.) She worked in Ring of Honor, Xtreme Pro Wrestling, and other independent promotions. She signed a developmental deal with WWE in 2003 and worked in Ohio Valley Wrestling for a short time (before being released.)
She retired for a bit and worked as a professional trainer but returned to action in 2006 as Lucy Furr for Women’s Extreme Wrestling. The following year, she debuted as Daffney in Shimmer, managing MsChif before becoming an in-ring competitor. In 2008, she returned to TNA, under a different alias.
3. …And Played A Sarah Palin Parody In TNA.
Daffney was involved in TNA from 2008 to 2011. She re-entered the promotion by playing “The Governor,” a thinly-veiled parody of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The persona only lasted a few months, and Daffney soon resumed wrestling under her more well-known name. She would continue to work with TNA until her final match in December 2010.
After her contract with the promotion expired in 2011, Daffney posted that she had filed a Worker’s Compensation claim with the company due to injuries she suffered in the ring, per the PWTorch. The claim was ultimately settled out of court. After the injuries, she would appear sparingly in a non-wrestling role for promotions like Shine and ROH, but she retired and became a regular on the convention scene.
4. Daffney Was Once Married.
Daffney was formerly married to Richard “The Duke” Ward, a founding member of rock band Stuck Mojo and current guitarist with Chris Jericho’s rock band Fozzy. The couple wed in 1999 but separated in 2003, according to Meaww.
5. She Was Beloved By The Wrestling World.
The news of Daffney’s death was met with a wave of anguish and grief by those in the wrestling world who knew her and those who only knew her from afar. “RIP Daffney. Just, awful news. She was a guest at my wedding…This is so incredibly sad. Please, reach out. Always. Godspeed,” tweeted former TNA/current AEW star Frankie Kazarian. “RIP #Daffney. Heartbreaking news. Damn,” tweeted Dustin Rhodes. “My thoughts and love are with Daffney’s friends and family! She was such an amazing influence in the wrestling community, a true pioneer for us women,” wrote WWE/NXT star Tegan Nox, adding “RIP Daffney.”
So heartbroken to hear of the tragic news of @screamqueendaff She was such a special person. Please look out for each other. 💔RIP Daffney
— Amy Dumas (@AmyDumas) September 2, 2021
I’m so very sorry to learn of Daffney’s passing. A terrible loss for her family, friends and wrestling. She was far ahead if her time in our business. #RIPDaffney
If you’re hurting and thinking of doing harm to yourself, please know that help is available.
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) September 2, 2021
i love you mom. pic.twitter.com/R6J2tZO2F5
— 𝔧𝔞𝔪𝔦𝔢 𝔰𝔢𝔫𝔢𝔤𝔞𝔩 (@thejamiesenegal) September 2, 2021
Rest in eternal peace my sweet, sweet, Angel friend. You were such an amazing, funny, loving, caring person, and I’ll never ever forget you.
I love you always, @screamqueendaff 🙏🏼💜
— Velvet Sky (@VelVelHoller) September 2, 2021
“So heartbroken to hear of the tragic news of [Daffney’s passing],” tweeted Amy “Lita” Dumas. “She was such a special person. Please look out for each other. RIP Daffney.” “I’m so sorry to everyone who knew and loved Daffney Unger,” wrote WWE’s Big E. “If you’re struggling with your mental health, please don’t be afraid to be a burden. Reach out for help. It saved my life.” “Rest in eternal peace my sweet, sweet, Angel friend,” added former TNA wrestler Velvet Sky. “You were such an amazing, funny, loving, caring person, and I’ll never ever forget you. I love you always.”