Inside The Ropes’ Liam Alexander-Stewart sat down with one of Ring of Honor’s fastest rising stars, the incredible Quinn McKay. During the interview, Quinn would discuss the rebirth of ROH’s Women’s Division, her transition from Interviewer to In-Ring performer, working with Maria Kanellis-Bennett as well as revealing her childhood dream opponent.
I want to start by asking you about your recent emergence as part of Ring of Honor’s Women’s Championship Tournament, until recently fans saw you primarily in a behind the scenes role as ROH’s interviewer/personality. How did the process of you transitioning into an in-ring role emerge? Was there a particular moment where they said let’s do this or did it occur organically?
“I don’t really think that there was ever a point where somebody approached me, and they’re like, ‘Hey, we’re going to start transitioning you into a wrestling role’, because whenever I started at the Ring of Honor dojo in 2019, the very beginning of 2019, the intent was always for me to eventually wrestle to my knowledge. And I just kind of sort of, like a lot of things coincided at once, like, I got sidelined with an injury, and then they needed a backstage interviewer and they found out that I had a broadcast background and an interviewing background and so they had me kind of, like, try out for it a little bit. It worked out really, really well and then it was kind of touch and go; training definitely took a backseat so that I could focus on broadcasting and hosting 100% because whenever I do something, I like to do it to the utmost, best of my ability and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have any distractions to take away from that, because I’m new, really venturing out on a new path with me as like a stand-up host of Ring of Honor. That’s something that hadn’t happened before and I wanted to make sure that I did my due diligence. So I think that whenever the women’s tournament was coming about last summer, when it was originally supposed to happen before, you know, a massive global pandemic and shutdown, Maria Kanellis, was starting to come on board. And she was the one that was like, you know, I think that if we could, we can get you in the tournament and be really, really great. And then of course, the Allure ruined both of my opportunities. And they did their best to make sure that that didn’t happen, but it didn’t work. Cheaters never win.”
You mentioned you mentioned Maria there, how impressed have you been by the work that she’s done since coming into Ring of Honor and working with the Women’s Division? Just how impressive that has been to see and how important is it to kind to know that there is a strong, powerful female voice within the boards of directors and making sure that they’re always championing, the women’s division in Ring of Honor?
“It’s phenomenal. She’s really been phenomenal. I think that it’s really important, especially right now when we’re in this transitionary period, that we have someone in a leadership position that has been through all of the worst of it before. So Maria knows what to look out for. She knows what works, she knows what doesn’t work, she knows how best to rally people and give them advice and also give constructive criticism without coming across like she’s actually criticising you. So having her there to, like, be that barrier between this budding women’s division and the rest of the world, she’s been incredibly instrumental in making sure that we get off on the right foot and I don’t know that without Maria that this would have had the like sparkle and magic I think that it currently has. She really- the way that she presents herself, and the way that she presents the women’s division, I mean, it gives us clout, it gave us a leg to stand on, it made people pay attention. And because of that people have continued to pay attention and she really is she’s like, She’s like a lighthouse, she’s such a warm person to be around. She’s, I don’t know, I honestly, I can’t say enough good things about her.”
Following your victory over Mandy Leon, you will step into the ring with ‘The Prodigy’ Rok-C who despite being ten years younger than you has more in-ring experience. What is your plan you counter this advantageous position that Rok-C may find herself in?
“So when it comes to Rok-C, this is kind of the first match that I’m going into in Ring of Honor, where there is a more level playing field, nobody’s going to be with her ringside. She’s an upstanding citizen of society. She’s a very, very sweet girl. She’s very, like, she’s very nice and warm and none of the things that the Allure are. And I feel like every time that I’ve gone into a match with a member of the Allure, it’s like I’m coming to fight. This is about me, earning my spot, not just in the women’s tournament, but also in the company and proving that I can go and they’re trying to stop everything that I do to prove that I can do that. So this is the first time that I’m walking into a match with somebody that I think probably actually respects me, but and I know she does, like we’ve always gotten along, I’ve had different interactions with her just through interviewing and stuff like that. So this is the first time I’m going to get in the ring with somebody that’s not intentionally just trying to like murder me just for existing, I guess. Um, but yeah, she is she’s a decade younger than me. And that’s not hyperbole. She’s literally an entire decade younger than I am. And she has twice the experience in the ring. But I’m still bigger and stronger than her. So at the end of the day, she is very technical, she has a lot of tools in her arsenal, there’s a lot of things that she can bring out that I’m probably not going to have a response to, but I can overpower her. And so I’m kind of banking on that. I’ve been watching her matches as an interviewer and like with my job being to observe things to help people tell their stories, I know a lot more about people’s styles than I think that they probably give me credit for. And that’s sort of an ace in the hole that I have, like, I’m very familiar with the way that these people wrestle. I’m very familiar with these athletes, and Rok-C is no exception. So I’m just going to continue to do a lot of tape study, hopefully have some things in my back pocket that I can use on her. But if worst comes to worse, I’m very strong, y’all.”
Ring of Honor is home to a plethora of incredibly talented, experienced performers both in the Women’s Division and the wider locker room, has anyone, in particular, come to you with advice or feedback and has anyone really taken you under their wing due to your current lack of experience?
“Yeah, yeah, honestly, pretty much everybody. I get a lot of opinions, I get a lot of notes and advice. It all comes from, like a place of love. And so like, that’s really, really great. But yeah, I have a lot of people on my side, in the locker room just because all of these people know me, all of these people have worked with me. And thankfully, I like to think that the majority of them want to see me succeed. So yeah, people have reached out quite a bit to- I’m not going to name any names because illusion magic. But But yeah, I, it’s an incredible locker room, I love to be a part of it. I love where I am in Ring of Honor. And everybody just kind of like lends a helping hand anytime that they can.”
Both Ring of Honor and NWA are currently running Women’s Tournaments at the forefront of their broadcasting with IMPACT continuing to push their fantastic Knockouts Division every week, we seem to be in a resurgances of women’s wrestling outside the WWE, how exciting is this to be a part of and do you think seeing how much is going on adds pressure on you to succeed?
“Yeah, I, there’s definitely more opportunity right now to succeed outside of the WWE than I think there’s ever been before, especially, especially for women. Because for a really long time, like even in Ring of Honor, it was like women’s division would come up, and then the women’s division kind of fade out, and it would come back and kind of fade out. And I mean, I feels like this time, it’s going to stick and even in other companies and their efforts to move women’s wrestling to the forefront of wrestling, it seems like that’s going to stick now like I feel more respected as an athlete than I think that I probably would have if you know, I tried to do this 10 years ago, and they’re just, there are more spots now for everyone. So one, it’s more easy to like support your fellow colleagues, because you’re not worried that like, oh, somebody is coming from my spot, there’s enough room at the top for everybody now, and that’s something that just didn’t exist before. But I think that because of that the amount of women’s wrestling, like that group has become less, I don’t want to say like cannibalistic but I think it’s pretty openly known that for a long time, like it was just really hard to break into women’s wrestling. Yeah, but being at especially the forefront of it in Ring of Honor. It feels historic, as you’re doing it, it feels monumental as you’re doing it. And there is like a lot of pressure to want to put your best foot forward and represent the division as well as you possibly can. And I really hope that we’re doing that. But if you had asked me three years ago, if I was going to be earlier, you called me like a rapidly rising star, something like that in the Ring of Honor women’s division, Ring of Honor, one of the most prestigious wrestling promotions in the entire world. I would’ve told that you were crazy. So the progress that we’ve been able to make and the progress that I personally have made. Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s incredible.”
When I spoke with ROH’s Dak Draper he named you as one of the hardest working athletes in the Ring of Honor locker room, what drives Quinn McKay to succeed? Where does your work ethic come from?
“Even though there are more opportunities in wrestling than there were before, that doesn’t mean that they’re just like handing them out to people. So if you want one, it’s still something that you have to work for. And it’s very sweet of Dak to have put over my work ethic but that’s something that I pride myself on. And I don’t think that I would have been able to accomplish half of the things that I have, if I didn’t have the work ethic that I do, because I do put 100% into everything that I do, which can be a blessing and a curse, because I’m very stressed out all the time but it pays back dividends like I get very frustrated and I think other people get very frustrated with entitlement. And that’s something that Angelina tries to say about me all the time, she calls me like the age of entitlement, and that I’m super entitled and that I don’t deserve anything. And she’s right, I don’t deserve anything. But I do work for everything. And I have earned everything that I have gotten. And entitlement is something that’s a very tricky issue for me, because I hate laziness. I hate seeing people that claim that they’re working really, really hard whenever you can tell that they obviously have not been because in this industry, you have to like not just talk the talk, you also have to walk the walk and it becomes very apparent whenever you don’t, and especially me coming in very inexperienced, I feel like I have a magnifying glass on me because I have been so good at other opportunities that I have been given, like there’s not a lot of margin for error for me when it comes to being in the ring: I’m kind of under a microscope because of that. And the failure is like my worst nightmare. It really is. It terrifies me; I hate not being good at things. I hate negative criticism. Like I’m just like anybody else in any other industry. I like to be good at my job. So working out in the gym six days a week, making sure I stay on my meal plan throughout the week, putting in time in the ring every single week is what I eat, sleep and breathe. It’s all wrestling it’s all Ring of Honor so I expect that at least out of other people who also want to be in my position.”
Ring of Honor recently saw the arrival of Chelsea Green to their roster, how excited are you to have the chance to work with Chelsea and have you had the chance to speak with her yet and maybe seek out some advice/tutelage from her?
“Yeah, yeah, Chelsea is great. I really want to wrestle her. She’s like super bubbly. She’s like super fun to be around like however you like think Chelsea Green is as a person is how Chelsea Green is as a person. She’s very genuine. Like she just she comes across that way. But having someone like Chelsea show up in Ring of Honor and bring attention to the Ring of Honor Women’s Championship tournament and saying that she wants to be able to compete in a Ring of Honor ring, is well one it shows that like she wants to be taken seriously, because Ring of Honor wrestling is the best wrestling on the planet and, as we know, many many top stars today came from Ring of Honor. So it really means a lot to me that she feels like she needs to leave her stamp here. Because to me, that means that she really really wants to be taken seriously and I admire that as someone who also takes himself way, way too freaking seriously. But also the eyes that she brings anywhere that she goes because she’s a superstar like you look at her, she’s beautiful, she’s charismatic, she talks she’s literally the entire package. So that whole fan base that she brings with her just by showing up is ,I mean, it’s invaluable – it really is.”
I mentioned that Chelsea Green will be a part of the upcoming NWA Empowerrr event, you are obviously a crucial part of the ROH Women’s Championship tournament but would Empowerrr be something you are interested in doing if the opportunity presented itself?
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. I love Mickie James. I love everything that she’s doing over at NWA to really like hype up and build their women’s division. I think that EmPowerrr is incredible. And like I said earlier, like, there’s more opportunity today than there ever has been, there’s opportunity for everybody to be at the top if they want to be and if they put in the work, I would love to be part of the EmPowerrr show. I don’t know, like, it’s so exciting that like everywhere you turn, more people are putting focus on their women’s division because like IMPACT!. IMPACT! has always had great women’s division, the Knockouts were on the forefront of bringing women’s [wrestling] to like just making it part of conversation and something that people wanted to watch. And then of course it caught on at WWE and it snowballed and here we are. So yeah, it’s wonderful to look around and be like okay, there were two places for people to work and now you can work anywhere you want to.”
Finally, I want to ask you who Quinn McKay’s childhood dream opponent was and who is now?
“Child Quinn McKay’s dream opponent is Beth Phoenix; current day Quinn McKay’s dream opponent is Angelina Love – I’m not done with you yet. Well, I beat Mandy but I didn’t beat Angel and that’s not over yet. And once I finally get a hold of her, and she doesn’t have Mandy to come to her rescue or even if she does at that point, I don’t know, who knows what I will be capable of and the time that I get my hands on Angelina Love again, but that day is coming and her days are numbered.”