Quinn McKay, Ring of Honor’s resident bowtie wearing interviewer, has done just about everything in wrestling – from being in the ring to managing to interviewing and commentary.
And after one year of being exclusive to ROH, she can start taking independent bookings again. But before ROH, her match count hadn’t even reached the double digits.
“My whole wrestling career has been a snowball into avalanche,” McKay said.
ENTERING THE DOJO
McKay wrestled in two matches before leaving the Midwest to train at the Ring of Honor Dojo.
Gresham said that he was aware of most of the wrestlers in the area, except for McKay, one of two women at the seminar.
“I noticed her immediately, mostly due to her having bright blue and purple hair back then,” Gresham said. “Then I noticed her attention to detail, her natural ability to see, learn and execute. I was very impressed. What put her over the top and made me go out of my way to get to know her was seeing her character, how she would encourage not just her partner but the others around her to continue and do better. I saw someone that was unselfish and willing to help others. She understood that great wrestling can’t be accomplished alone. Simply put, she was a natural athlete with a unique look and a positive demeanor. To me that’s something valuable and needed in any company.”
By February 2019, five people had earned development deals with the company. McKay said she was technically the first woman signed to a Ring of Honor developmental contract.
“If not for that program, I don’t think that any of us would be where we are,” McKay said. “I certainly wouldn’t be.”
Still, she said she had “no idea” what she was getting into. Her experience then consisted of three months of informal training at Mid-States Wrestling in Arkansas, then training once per week for six months with the now-defunct National Wrasslin’ League – three hours from where she lived at the time – after Ace Steel, now a coach at NXT, had connected her with the Missouri-based company.
“I moved across the country [for Ring of Honor] and left my friends and family and was walking into a whole new group of people and career,” McKay said. “It was probably the most terrified I’ve ever been. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for it.”
Looking back, she said, she would have told herself to enjoy the “early days” of her ROH career more instead of worrying about making mistakes.
IN-RING TO INTERVIEWER
Though she initially got into wrestling to be in the ring, McKay holds a degree in public relations and had a “really highly rated” mid-day show at a classic rock radio station in Springfield, Mo. – making her transition from physically wrestling to her current role relatively seamless.
“I have interviewing skills just sitting in the tank waiting to be used,” McKay said. “I think they had seen that I have a fairly good promo and that [ROH] could see me in the role.”
When McKay was presented with the role, ROH didn’t have a backstage interviewer.
“I didn’t really think that it was going to work out,” said McKay, who was on a roller derby team for eight years prior to wrestling. “At first, I was really disappointed. At the time, I had a very edgy goth-jock gimmick.”
Prior to ROH, she had adapted her roller derby persona into her wrestling character – showcasing her bright blue hair and tattoos. For the interviewing role, she had to dye her hair brown and start wearing button-up shirts to cover her muscular build.
Her first interview was a scripted scenario with Josh Woods.
“I remember thinking that it didn’t go very well,” McKay said. “It should have been more casual, conversational.”
She didn’t receive much feedback, but at the next show she was told that going forward the interviews would be on location and done in one take.
“That put me in my element,” she said.
BREAKING OUT THE BOWTIE
As her look as an interviewer was being discussed, McKay said, she wanted to have some element that felt like her and made a statement. Enter the bowtie.
“I think it’s really important that every wrestler, or really every person in entertainment, has something they can identify with you,” she said.
It was something she said she added to her attire as an “afterthought” to see if she could get away with it.
“[That] an act of rebellion’s turned into something I’m known for is really cool,” McKay said.
Her signature piece even prompted some people to dress as her for Halloween.
“It’s really lovely that people love it so much,” McKay said. “There’s always that part of me that’s like, ‘Why are you doing this bowtie thing?’ … but at least it’s cute. They can be fashionable, regardless of what you think.”
RETURNING TO THE RING
While McKay’s current role with ROH focuses on broadcast elements, she said she still loves the physical act of wrestling.
“Once you’re cooking and once things are firing on all cylinders, it’s just an incredible feeling,” McKay said. “I love to tell stories. I think that’s what it is about wrestling that I love so much.”
One of McKay’s inspirations has been WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix, and McKay said that Phoenix’s transition to commentary has been “the best thing to ever happen” to her.
“I love seeing my childhood idol being important and being used for something she’s good at,” McKay said.
While there isn’t anything in particular McKay has taken away from Phoenix’s commentary work, the fact that she’s doing it is enough. Any “big decision” she has made in her career has been influenced by Phoenix. The Glamazon was the first woman McKay connected with when she rediscovered wrestling in high school because of Phoenix’s ability to combine strength, beauty and charisma.
“Just because I’m built the way that I am doesn’t mean that I can’t be super strong and beastly still,” said McKay, who stands at 5’1”.
And though she said she’s focused on whatever ROH needs her to focus on, with the door now open to wrestle outside of ROH, one of the first places she would like to return to is Journey Pro in the Kansas City, Mo., area.
She was scheduled to wrestle a triple threat match there against Shotzi Blackheart and Marti Belle in what would have been the “biggest match” of her career before ROH, but a snowstorm kept her from making the trip for the Northeast to the Midwest.
She also noted wanting to work for Beyond Wrestling and SHIMMER and venturing to California.
McKay currently can be seen hosting ROH Week by Week on ROH’s YouTube channel.
Banner photo credit: RING OF HONOR/Zia Hiltey