Former WCW and TNA wrestler Daffney Unger has tragically passed away at the age of 46. Unger was known for her goth-makeup and shrieking, which earned her the nickname ‘Scream Queen.’ Unger debuted in World Championship Wrestling as the deranged girlfriend of David Flair in 1999, managing his tag-team with Crowbar. She also made history by becoming the second woman to hold the WCW Cruiserweight championship in 2000 and later performed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from 2008 to 2011.
Unger was born Shannon Claire Spruill in 1975 at Wiesbaden Army Airfield in West Germany, where her father was stationed. The following year, her family returned to the US and moved around several times before returning to Germany prior to her father’s retirement. Unger had a small, uncredited part in Santa Claus: the Movie in 1985 and later went on to attend George State University, graduating with a Bachelors in Film and Video Production in 1998. She would then sign with WCW the following year, performing with the company until it closed its doors in 2001. After stints on the independent wrestling circuit, Unger signed with TNA, performing with the promotion until 2011, when she retired due to injury. However, Unger continued to make several appearances in a non-performance role, most notably in Shine Wrestling.
Unger’s passing was confirmed to TMZ via Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office, who revealed that former wrestler had passed away but did not reveal the cause. Her passing was also confirmed by Unger’s friend Lexie Fyfe, who wrote on her Instagram: “We are very sad to have to announce the passing of Shannon Spruill aka Daffney Unger,” adding “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.” In a separate post on Facebook by Unger’s mother, Jean Tookey Spruill, said: “It is with great sadness I have to let you know that my daughter Shannon Spruill … Scream Queen Daff, passed away suddenly last night,” adding that she is “absolutely heartbroken.”
The news comes after concern grew for Unger on social media when after she posted a disturbing video on Instagram Live, which has since been removed. In the post, Unger appeared distraught saying: “Do you guys not understand that I am all alone? Do you not understand that?” She also spoke about suffering from suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neural condition caused by numerous concussions, adding that she wanted her brain to be donated for medical study.
Wrestling legend Mick Foley had attempted to reach out to Unger, but had struggled to get in contact with her. He urged anyone on Twitter who was in contact with her to “please help out.” Police reportedly also had trouble getting in touch with Unger after the post was made due to her having just moved apartment a few days prior.
Many former and current wrestlers have since paid tribute to Unger, with Foley describing her death as “a terrible loss,” adding that she was “far ahead if her time in our business.” Former WWE Divas Champion Paige described Unger as “an inspiration to many people” and “one of the women I looked up to in this business.” Current WWE NXT wrestler Ember Moon wrote she will “always remember her infectious laughter and voice, and the way she beamed when she entered the room”. Unger had a long-lasting impact on the wrestling business. She was beloved by colleagues and fans alike and will be dearly missed. Unger is survived by her mother.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.