The world lost Shannon Spruill last month when she died by suicide at the age of 46.
Spruill made a lasting impression in pro wrestling as Daffney. She had a run in WCW that began in 1999, becoming only the second woman to hold the company’s cruiserweight title, then further established herself a decade later in TNA. Known for her hardcore, physical approach, Daffney worked an extreme style, which made her a perfect fit for the Monster’s Ball match. Weapons and chaos were integral elements for her in this match concept, and it was an area where, even when battered and bruised, Daffney thrived.
In tribute to Daffney, Impact Wrestling is airing a Monster’s Ball match at Knockouts Knockdown on Saturday. Industry pioneer Gail Kim, who is now a producer and talent relations liaison for Impact, explains that this was the match that established Daffney as an entirely unmistakable wrestling star.
“She was one of the first to break the mold and become this hardcore queen, and the Monster’s Ball match was an important part of that,” Kim says. “It’s a great event to bring back, but it means so much more than that this time.”
The match is expected to be emotional, full of tributes to a person who cherished her position as a pro wrestler. Impact wrestler Caleb Konley made Daffney armbands for the wrestlers in the Monsters Ball match, one of the many ways she will be memorialized.
“There is a very strong bond in our industry of brothers and sisters,” Kim says. “It’s an undeniable one, and we always unite for these moments that touch us. It’s a business that moves very quickly, but we all slowed down when learning about Daffney. It is time to come together and honor her, beginning with this Monster’s Ball match.
“And after this show, we want to continue the discussion about mental health. This is a fast-paced world and a fast-paced business, and we need to do more to help one another.”
Continuing the discussion about mental health is paramount to Kim. She believes it has the potential to help save lives, both in the wrestling industry and outside of it, and she is proudly associated with the new “Tag Me In” mental health initiative.
“It’s important for us to speak up,” Kim says. “We all need a shoulder to lean on. And with these tragedies happening, with Daffney and Ashley [Massaro], it’s so important to be even more in tune with the people around us. We need to let people know we’re here for them. The smallest gesture has the potential to make the biggest difference.”
While there will also be a spectacular display of pro wrestling on display Saturday in the Monster’s Ball match, Kim is also immensely proud that Daffney’s memory will live on in the fight to raise awareness about the significance of mental health.
“I can’t wait for everyone to watch this match,” Kim says. “It’s almost like Daffney was there watching, and the girls felt that responsibility to deliver.
“This is a chance to celebrate Daffney’s life. This is a chance to celebrate what she did for the business, and I wish she knew that. I wish she could have seen how much she did for all the women out there.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.