Quinn McKay Says ROH’s Women’s Division is Not Women of Honor, Talks Roller Derby Roots, Debut Match, more
Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: Quinn McKay
Your Host: James Walsh
Quinn McKay is the spunky host of ROH TV who recently had her first match with legendary wrestler Angelina Love after being bullied by Love and the Allure for months.
In this fun chat, the cheery host goes into her athletic background with Roller Derby, how she fell in love with pro wrestling, and the challenges of hosting a weekly ROH show when there was no matches happening due to the pandemic.
This is a great chat with a great talent!
Ring of Honor returns to pay-per-view and Honor Club with Best In the World featuring the return of a live audience. For more information, visit www.ROHWrestling.com.
To listen to this interview, visit www.WrestlingEpicenter.com.
On her recent match with Angelina Love:
“I think I’ve gone through 5 stages of grief since then. (laughs) I feel like we spent so long getting there and proving that I belong in the ring at Ring of Honor and not just behind the microphone. I don’t think I got to send the message that I wanted to. It didn’t go the way I wanted it to. But, I do think I was able to show people that there is more to me than just hosting and announcing and that I have what it takes to be in the ring. I love wrestling so much! I feel like I proved I should at least have the opportunity to do it. So, I expected that. And, that’s done. And, though it didn’t go the way that I wanted it to… Eyes up!”
On falling in love with pro wrestling:
“You phrased that a little differently than most. Most people ask, “What got you into wrestling.” Well, what got me into wrestling was watching it with my brother when I was still fairly young before he shipped off to the NAVY. There is like 15 years between us. But, I didn’t really discover it again until I was dropped into a brand new town in my freshman year of high school. The girl that I decided was going to be my best friend watched RAW every Monday night with her brother Kyle. That is just what we did! We started to gather for pay per views and stuff. But, I really think I fell in love with it whenever I would see Beth Phoenix wrestle. Women didn’t really have a lot of screen time then… This was like, ’05, ’06? So, you would turn on the TV and there would be John Cena, Randy Orton, and Batista. That’s about it! (laughs) So, whenever the women would get the opportunity to get out there and go a little bit, I was enamored with Beth Phoenix. She was so strong! And, she moved so well! And, she was so glamourous! So, I was like, “That’s it! That’s what I want to do!””
On how Roller Derby and Wrestling are joined at the hip:
“So, I have a theory on that. (laughs) Especially when you think back to when Roller Derby first started back in the ’70’s when it was really popular and there were different leagues, it was a lot like wrestling! They would use each other as weapons. They would throw elbows! They would give each other full on back body drops on the track! That is the kind of bad-assery I just can’t even comprehend quite honestly! (laughs) But, Roller Derby today is a lot different like the kind that I played under the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association which is their governing body. The WFTA is kind of like the NBA or the NHL. They make the rules on how you can make the team, what it takes to be a team, and regulates the sport. It is a high speed, high impact sport now. The only thing that harkens back to the golden days of Roller Derby is the personas. You pick your own name or your team picks your name and that is what goes on your jerseys instead of who you actually are. A lot of women that play Roller Derby are like stay at home mom’s or women who work 9 to 5 jobs and don’t have anything else in their lives that connects them to other women or allows them to feel like a powerful athlete. Roller Derby does that! For just regular women, it empowers them and allows them to feel like alternate versions of themselves. In that way, it is very much like wrestling. You become this super hero version of yourself! And, then, you hit each other! (laughs)”
On Roller Derby preparing her for pro wrestling:
“Roller Derby has a lot of the same mystique as professional wrestling. I don’t know how to describe it. Shayna Baszler also used to play Roller Derby competitively before she got into professional wrestling. There’s always the violence as well! (laughs) That’s another common denominator!”
On her early wrestling promo pictures having a more gothic look:
“My first gear was really inspired by my Roller Derby uniforms. I just kind of took it and made it more Quinn McKay and inserted my colors which was blue and black, I guess. My Roller Derby colors were blue and red. There has only been one roller skating gimmick before in professional wrestling. So, people tried to talk me into it. But, I was like, “Listen! I’m NOT taking bumps on skates!” I don’t think people realize how heavy they are! (laughs)”
On ditching the colorful hair and nose ring to become the Quinn McKay we know now:
“I think they tried to break it to me gently over the course of a couple of months. They were like, “Listen, if you’re going to be a backstage interviewer, we’re going to need you to tone down the look a little bit so you fade a little more into the background instead of standing out.” I was like, “Yeah, of course. Cool, cool, cool!” And then, when it came time, they pretty much gave me a week’s notice. Theyw ere like, “Hey, we need you to be a brunette by this weekend.” There was no discussion. It was either you’re going to do it or your not… Which was great! Because, I think for me, the best way to do it was to just rip off the band aid. It was like, “You’re going to have to take out the nose ring and dye your hair brown. It is just going to be a thing.” I was just like, “All right, boss! You’ve got it!””
On taking over hosting the ROH TV show from Ian Riccaboni:
“That was another ripping off the band aid moment. I think Ring of Honor knows how to handle me. I just showed up at the venue and they were like, “Hey, you’re hosting now.” I was like, “What?” (laughs) I literally had hours, just hours, to prepare. But, I think I always kind of prepare myself for worst-case scenarios so when something does come my way, I’m like, “Ok, this! I can handle this!” Plus, I did have, by that time, several months of backstage interviewing experience. So, I had already become familiar with the roster and their cadence and how they like to tell their stories. So, having that in my back pocket really helped me jump head first into this and was really beneficial for me.”
On her “Word Association” for Ian Riccaboni:
“Strength… I guess? Kindness! You can’t walk into a room that he’s in and not be glad that he’s there. He just radiates kindness and positivity. But, he also is the best play by play guy in the game!”
On prior background in broadcasting:
“Yeah. It wasn’t a talk show, though. I did have talking breaks that I would come in and do but it wasn’t like I was doing an all afternoon talk show that lulled people into comfort with the dulcet tones of my voice. (laughs) But, I did! I worked for 104.7 KKLH the Cave in Springfield, MO. So, a smal market for a mid-sized city. And, I worked for a classic rock station. I got into it as an intern. So, I needed an internship my Senior year of college because I have a degree in PR. I actually got into it for to do promotions. But, he was like, “Lets put you on the air and see what happens.” I was like, “OK, cool!” That’s happens to me a lot throughout my career. (laughs)”
On if the station helped prepare her for ROH TV hosting:
“Definitely! It is a lot easier for me to recover on my feet than it is for some people because I have training in it. That has really, really come in handy.”
On hosting ROH Week by Week during the pandemic while not running wrestling shows:
“For me, it wasn’t difficult. Other than the fact that the first several Week by Weeks were filmed in my kitchen at the time. (laughs) I’ve had such an incredible crew from the very beginning. Like, from the time that the idea was first conceptualized to the time that they started moving forward with it. They had a lot of faith in me to be charismatic and bubbly enough to trick people into thinking everything is OK for 23 minutes at a time. That is an incredible honor to me. I haven’t had time to really sit and think, “Wow, we put this whole thing together during a global pandemic.” But, we did. And, that’s super cool! Thanks for calling that out. ROH really pulled it together during the pandemic.”
On if it was an honor to feud with a talent like Angelina Love:
“(sigh) So, as difficult as Angel can be and as terrible as a person she can be… Being so new to the business and never having had a match on television before, getting to have that first match be with Angelina Love. As a wrestling fan, you can’t say that isn’t a bucket list item! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She should be on the Mount Rushmore of Women’s Wrestling for women who changed the perception. She was going at it hard when women were not getting a lot of opportunities. So, yeah, it was a bitter-sweet honor.”
On the new Ring of Honor Women’s Division, NOT Women of Honor:
“The Ring of Honor Women’s Division is off to a really great. And, that is something we have to break people of the habit of. We are not Women of Honor anymore. People liked to complain because Women of Honor had a tendancy to start and stop, start and stop, start and stop. Now, there is no distinction between us and Ring of Honor. Before, we were off to the side. And now, this summer, we’re going to crown the first ever Ring of Honor Women’s Champion. I think that is incredibly important! Some of the names we have involved are incredible. For example, Allysin Kay was jsut announced. She’s incredible! And, all of the tickets of gold we’ve given and, Angelina getting a first round bye. I’m not just saying this because I work for the company. This is going to be a very exciting tournament. Is the person that wins it going to be able to carry this kind of weight? These are the questions I come up with myself. But, even though I’m not in the tournament, unfortunately, I do know that we are in good hands and whoever wins it will have fought hard for it!”
On working under Maria Kanellis Bennett:
“She’s absolutely incredible to work with! As a part of the Board of Directors, she’s a beacon backstage. She’s impartial and she keeps relationships incredibly professional. But, you can tell that she wants everybody to succeed! And, you get go to her and ask questions and she’ll give you this perfect and insightful advice. It has been such a privilege working with Maria Kanellis Bennett.”
On the return of the live crowd at ROH Best in the World:
“I think I have been the most unaffected by the lack of a live crowd of anyone. As you said, I’ve only had the one match. But, what I do know is the energy of the wrestlers. They get their energy from the live crowd!” She continues, “So, just because I wasn’t directly affected by the lack of a live crowd that much doesn’t mean that I’m not SO looking forward to it! (laughs) Everybody is chomping at the bit and is so ready. I just hope everybody keeps their heads on their shoulders and they don’t try and push it too far.”