In appreciation of the Mighty John Quinn.
Author: Tony Earnshaw.
The Internet’s Number One Wrestling Historian.
As the New Year of 1979 approached not many ringsiders would have heard of the name John Quinn or foresaw the impact he would have both inside and outside of the ring in the UK.
His UK career got off to a low key start when he first appeared at Chelmsford on January 2nd 1979 as a substitute for Big Bruno and started as he meant to go on by losing by DQ to Wayne Bridges. He started appearing on bills the following Saturday at Hanley again losing by DQ to Caswell Martin and his early matches followed a similar pattern , a controversial loss followed by a return match under USA all-in rules.
The event that brought his name to all wrestling fans lips took place at Hemel Hempstead on January 9th in front of the ITV cameras and shown on World of Sport the following Saturday the 13th. After outclassing Manchester heavyweight Beau Jack and KO’ing him in the 5th round Quinn grabbed the MC’s microphone and launched into his legendary ‘all limeys are cowards speech’ which immediately made him the man the crowds loved to hate. The fans flocked to the halls to see him hopefully get brought back down to earth and there was a spike upwards in attendance numbers when he appeared on the bill.
Quinn appeared at the Royal Albert Hall on January 17th and faced a regular opponent in his early matches, crowd favourite Wayne Bridges. A controversial finish saw Quinn lose by DQ and with Pat Roach also beating Giant Haystacks in another controversial finish a tag match was made for the following months show with Bridges & Roach teaming up to take on Quinn & Haystacks
Roach had taken exception to Quinn’s comments and on the North American’s next TV appearance at Wolverhampton on February 3rd he came to the ring after Quinn had beaten Barry Douglas and challenged him. There as a minor hiccup along the line as Quinn was forced to miss a match against Wayne Bridges at Maidstone on February 10th as his wife gave birth but he was soon back in the ring. The Royal Albert Hall tag match took place on February 21st with Roach & Bridges beating Haystacks & Quinn by 2-1 and that rivalry was done as a bigger challenger to Quinn was just around the corner.
At a taping for World of Sport from Oldham taped on February 28th and shown over the next 2 Saturdays Quinn and what would be his biggest rival first came together. Big Daddy had won his usual tag on the first half of the show and when Quinn KO’d comebacking Len Hurst on the second half of the show Daddy came to the ring to challenge the giant Canadian and the scene was set.
At first things in what was becoming a heated rivalry were just challenges thrown out from the ring building anticipation to when they would eventually come to face to face in the ring. At the Royal Albert Hall on March 21st more challenges were issued after Quinn faced Pat Roach again and by this time it was the biggest rivalry in British Wrestling since the days of Mick McManus & Jackie Pallo.
The first time John Quinn & Big Daddy squared off was at Belle Vue on March 24th when Quinn partnered Ron Allcard who was a late replacement for Mal Kirk whilst Big D had regular opponent Tony St.Clair alongside and Quinn let Allcard take the losing fall inside 10 minutes. The rivals were mainly kept apart and even tag matches were very sporadic , a Maidstone one on April 7th with Quinn & Sid Cooper v Daddy & Steve Grey saw the house fall signs up. By this time Quinn was tagging more frequently in heavyweight challenges with Giant Haystacks rather than facing Big Daddy although they did meet in a riotous encounter at Leicester on April 11th when Quinn & Haystacks lost to Daddy & Tony St.Clair by DQ.
John Quinn next appeared on World of Sport on April 28th as part of a Easter Monday show from Kirkby on Merseyside. A four man KO Tournament saw Quinn line up with Tony St.Clair, Pete Roberts and intriguingly Giant Haystacks. The semi finals saw Quinn and St.Clair wrestle a 1-1 draw over 6 rounds and a toss of a coin saw Quinn progress to the final. The other semi saw Haystacks KO Roberts to go through to the final. Unfortunately the final didn’t happen as Quinn and Haystacks refused to wrestle each other.
The next night at Guildford Big Daddy finally got his hands on Quinn in front of the ITV cameras where they taped the match that was screened on the FA Cup Final World of Sport on May 12th. Daddy & his partner Ringo Rigby beat Quinn & his partner Mark Rocco by 2-1 in 11.27 and afterwards Big Daddy demanded a solo match against John Quinn.
Things continued along a similar vein until it was announced at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of May that finally Quinn would meet Daddy in a solo match at the Wembley Arena on June 27th in a last man standing wins with the loser to leave the country
In June 1979 all roads led to Wembley Arena, London was plastered with posters even the buses had posters advertising the show as well as plenty of articles in newspapers etc. Of course it was a bit obvious what was going to happen if you collected results as John Quinn was billed nowhere after June 27th whilst Big Daddy was on the rounds as usual every night. But even that failed to stop the excitement.
On the evening the backstage politics were nearly as good as the match with Quinn refusing to go on until he had been paid. The atmosphere in the crowd on the night was red hot and the match itself whilst short was dramatic and for some the highlight was when Quinn KO’d Brian Crabtree who was perched on the ring apron. Even Quinn’s second Giant Haystacks couldn’t stop the inevitable and after 1.41 of frenzied action Quinn failed to beat the count of referee Peter Szakacs after the double elbow drop from Big D.
That was that, Quinn was forced to leave the country in disgrace although in reality he was off to Germany for the big Summer tournaments there.
Most fans thought that would be the last we would see of John Quinn in the country especially as the World Heavyweight Champion Spiros Arion arrived in the UK in the Autumn.
On the December 19th Royal Albert Hall show Arion lost the title to Wayne Bridges and as the new year arrived John Quinn’s name appeared back on the posters.
Taking up where he left off back in June Quinn reappeared at Leamington Spa on January 9th in front of the ITV cameras where his regular partner Giant Haystacks joined him as the pair easily disposed of Honey Boy Zimba & Butcher Bond in less that 10 minutes. This time though Quinn was not looking for a return with Big Daddy he was after Wayne Bridges and the World Heavyweight Title.
After an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall on January 24th where regular partner Haystacks was replaced by Rex Strong to beat the African Krugers it was announced Quinn would meet Wayne Bridges in a non title match on the February bill. In the match Quinn set the cat amongst the pigeons when he KO’d Bridges with the forearm smash over the top in the 4th round and demanded a title shot.
Eventually the official World Heavyweight Title match was set for Brent Town Hall on April 21st and to be filmed to be shown on FA Cup Final day World of Sport on May 10th. On the evening the venue was packed to capacity and another red hot atmosphere with only a few hardy souls in the crowd supporting Quinn. The challenger arrived in the ring with Japanese heavyweight Yasu Fuji as his second as his regular support Giant Haystacks was overseas and Wayne Bridges arrived in the ring with his son Dean Brisco in his corner. The match had that ‘big fight’ feel and both wrestlers were soon unloading with big shots and the crowd went crazy when Bridges took the opening fall in the 2nd round. Quinn got the equaliser in the 4th round after the forearm smash over the top weekend Bridges and a slam and a pin gave the challenger the equaliser. Quinn sent Bridges out of the ring in the 5th and when he reappeared blood was streaming from a cut on his head . Referee Max Ward took one look at it and despite the champion’s protests he stopped the match and Quinn was the new World Heavyweight Champion.
This is where things turned a bit stupid, Big Daddy jumped the ring whilst Quinn celebrated with Fuji and Kent Walton announced on commentary that a tag match would be held in June at Wembley Arena between the 4. It is fair to say that Wayne Bridges in his corner getting his cut seen to looked deeply unimpressed with this and Big D getting involved in the aftermath.
The match at Wembley Arena was held on June 11th with none of the fanfare of the previous year and ticket sales were down in comparison as well. The tag was nothing and for the record Big D & Bridges beat Quinn & Fuji in a poor match by 2-0. What the majority of the crowd and wrestling fans everywhere wanted was the 90 day return title match and in mine and others eyes if that match had been held at Wembley instead of the tag business would have been far better and of course a much better quality match would have taken place.
At the end of the evening it was announced that the return match would instead be held at the same venue on August Bank Holiday Saturday.
Unfortunately this match would not take place.
As the Summer Season of Seaside shows took place John Quinn appeared at the various venues up and down the country and towards the end of July I heard the shocking news that Quinn had given his notice to Joint Promotions and Max Crabtree and was heading to pastures new , namely Brian Dixon and Orig Williams and the independent scene.
When I heard the news that Quinn had departed from Joint Promotions it didn’t seem to be that important an event but it turned out be as Quinn was just the first of many established wrestlers leaving and shortly after Tony St.Clair joined the independents and they now had control of the British Heavyweight Title.
Quinn’s first show for Brian Dixon was on Friday 1st August at the Liverpool Stadium where he took on Crusher Mason and beat him, in an article in the Liverpool Echo the night before Quinn had stated that he had left Joint Promotions as they had no heavyweight who could beat him. He also offered £500 to anyone who did in fact defeat him.
John Quinn was back on the next stadium show in the 15th and this time he met Wild Angus and an out of control match ended in a No Contest. They met in a return match on the 29th which Quinn won and then Quinn was on the way to Japan to defend his title there.
The downside of leaving Joint Promotions was not being shown on the TV screens anymore but people like Quinn and St.Clair didn’t need to be on TV for them to be well known and over the next couple of years an exodus of established stars left Joint’s books including Mark Rocco & Johnny Saint amongst others. Quinn leaving was the event that broke the Joint’s stranglehold and by the mid 80’s more established wrestlers were not on TV anymore than being shown and the newly named All-Star Promotions started a campaign for them to have their matches shown on ITV.
In the early 80’s Quinn continued to wrestle up and down the country until Tony St.Clair caught up with him at Hanley and and forced a title match. It was not just the wrestlers who were ‘switching sides’ but the venues were too and the long standing and iconic wrestling hall was now holding Wrestling Enterprises bills. On May 8th 1982 Tony St.Clair finally won the World Heavyweight Title when he beat John Quinn by 2-1 in the 15th round and the title came back to this country.
Another wrestler to leave Joint Promotions in early 1983 was Wayne Bridges who had left the unimpressive fake World Title belt behind and immediately he demanded a title shot at the real title and through the next couple of years Bridges, St.Clair and Quinn swapped reigns of the championship.
During this time viewers lucky enough to have access to cable TV were able to watch John Quinn on the Screensport shows and without the terrestrial TV restrictions Quinn was able to push the boundaries much further and he caused havoc not only inside the ring with partner and sometime opponent Pat Barrett but outside of the ring where he would he would torment ringside interviewer Vince Miller.
Eventually Brian Dixon’s campaign to have his bills shown on ITV bore fruition and towards the end of 1986 it was announced that All-Star Promotions would share the ITV slot with Dale Martins and the USA based WWF. Quinn returned to the TV screen on May 23rd 1987 when he lost to old rival Wayne Bridges on a bill filmed at Croydon. In his next appearance on TV he teamed up with Kendo Nagasaki in a typically out of control match against Tony St.Clair & Neil Sands.
Quinn also partnered Nagasaki on the final British Wrestling show to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on April 24th where they beat the team of Sands & his partner this time Dave Taylor by 2-1 in 16.39.
John Quinn eventually turned up back with Dale Martins during 1988 and appeared on ITV for them on April 30th with a drawn contest against Steve Casey. They had a return match on ITV on June 18th which ended in typical Quinn style with this time both wrestlers being DQ’d. This would be the last time John Quinn was seen on TV in this country as the coverage ended a few months later.
After the TV coverage ended his appearances ended in this country and although he was billed as late as 1992 these contests do not seem to have taken place.
John Quinn RIP.
LIVE ALL STAR ACTION
Sunday 28 April – DARTFORD, Orchard Theatre (12 noon) AB: 01322-220000
Friday 14 June – GRAVESEND, The Woodville (7.30pm) AB: 01474-337459
Wednesday 31 July – BOURNEMOUTH, Pavilion Ballroom (7.30pm) 0844-5763000
Wednesday 28 August – BOURNEMOUTH, Pavilion Ballroom (7.30pm) 0844-5763000
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ALL STAR GRAPPLEVINE
Writer: Russell Plummer – Photographer: Tony Knox
Editor: Bobby Evans
Training School’s message to Rocco
Facing the camera (l to r): Dean Allmark, James Mason, Mark Rocco and Tyler Adams.
ALL STAR Training School sessions continue at Jumpin’ Joseph’s Trampoline Park in North Wirral, under the direction of head coach Dean Allmark with sessions every Wednesday on the second floor at Evolution House, Longhill Road, on the Clayhill Estate at Neston, CH64 3RL, from 5.30pm to 9.30pm with a fee of £10 per session which also includes a one hour workout of trampoline fitness. The school has sent a message of good wishes to Mark Rocco, one of their most staunch supporters in recent years, and who is currently receiving treatment in a Manchester care home. The ‘Rollerball’ is certainly not forgotten and receives regular visits from Colin Joynson, Steve Taylor and Jackie Robinson and other stars from his era. Meanwhile the Training School continues to channel a steady stream of talented trainees on to All Star programmes and among those looking for 2019 summer action will be Tyler Adams and Andy Silva who are highly rated as individuals or as an exciting tag team combination. Equally anxious to continue his progress will be 16 year-old Luke Griffiths who made a lot of people sit back and take notice when he won an eight wrestler novice event in the autumn of last year. Children’s birthday parties and other special events with wrestlers making guest visits are popular featured at Jumpin’ Joseph’s and information about the school and other events can be obtained by calling: 07728-330316.
OLIVER Grey will be one of a string of home stars in summer action when All Star begin another series of weekly presentations at more than 30 Haven Holiday Centres in England, Wales and in Scotland. Once again half a dozen squads will be battling for individual honours with the action beginning North of the Border in July and once again including the massive Craig Tara Centre at Ayr where crowds of well in excess of a thousand are normal with more big Scottish crowds at Seton Sands, Berwick on Tweed and Haggeston Castle. Area line-ups will be announced nearer the start dates but stars already confirmed include Dean Allmark, James Mason, Ligero, and members of the Knight family squad from Norwich including ‘UK Hooligans’ Roy and Zak Knight.
Knights in high noon Dartford clash
In the picture (l to r): Ricky Knight, Sweet Saraya, Ligero and Nathan Cruz
BRITISH wrestling’s most famous family, the Norfolk-based Knights, will be featured in a special Saturday high noon programme from All Star Promotions at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, on Sunday 28 April, when Ricky Knight and Sweet Sayara, already the ring’s best known married couple, will be accepting a main event mixed tag team challenge. The Knights come to Dartford having hardly been out of the headlines since the March release of the eagerly awaited film ‘Fighting with my Family’ which tells the career story of their daughter who campaigned here as Britany Knight before going to the United States to gain a huge reputation on her way to becoming WWE headline star Paige until her career was ended by a serious shoulder injury. The film has been produced by top American heavyweight star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, with parts of the production filmed at the Knight’s own training centre in their home city of Norwich and on Norfolk Coast close to Great Yarmouth. Both Ricky and Sayara are top campaigners in their own right and at Dartford will be presented by their youngest son ‘UK Hooligans’ tag team star Zak Knight who is currently sidelined due to injury. In what will be the Orchard’s first wrestling event with a 12 noon start, more top home talent will be on view including two fans’ favourites, Wirral-based Dean Allmark who combines wrestling as a top contender for the high profile Superslam Championship with tuition of future talent at the Merseyside-based All Star Training School. Just as eager to impress will be James Mason, the South London-born heavyweight who made a ring debut while still in his teens and has never looked back. Also featured will be two of the leading contenders who made a big impression when wrestling returned to ITV screens last year. High flying masked Mexican-style luchador Ligero will be showing the explosive approach that earned him a WWE contract while there are few more ringwise campaigners that the often outspoken Nathan Cruz from Hull. Tickets now on sale at the Orchard Theatre Box Office, telephone 01473-433100, include a special £45 family offer covering two adults and two children under 16.
Title explosion for Gravesend fans
Top talent in focus(l to r): Oliver Grey, Jim Diehard, Lady Lori, Xia Brookside.
BRITAIN’S most high profile wrestling title, the Superslam Championship, will be on the line when All Star Promotions return to the Woodville, Gravesend, on Friday 1 June for an action packed programme starting at 7.30pm. Bearded Midlands battler Jim Diehard, one half of the notorious ‘Henchmen’ tag team with partner Benton Destruction, hit the solo trail in early April to win an eight man one night qualifying knockout event at the Woodville with the prize this title shot. Reigning champion Oliver Grey will be newly returned from a more than a month of action in Japan with the Exeter, Devon-based star now well into a second year as champion after defeating American invader Harlem Bravado to win Britain’s most prestigious belt in November 2017 when he was newly returned in outstanding form from two years in the United States campaigning for WWE off-shoot NXT Wrestling and gaining top tag and solo honours. Grey has since maintained his position with successful defences against challengers from home and overseas including former holder Bravado and towering Canadian globetrotter Brody Steele but weighing-in at close to 30 stones Diehard will be the heaviest challenger he has so far faced. The Gravesend line-up starting at 7.30pm will also welcome South London-born heavyweight James Mason and Ligero, the masked Mexican style luchador who made a big impression when wrestling returned to ITV last year. Also on view will be the notorious ‘Belgian Bull’ Robin Lequime who has regularly held his own against top campaigners all over the Continent. Lady Lori, Lequime’s manager and spokesperson, will also be competing in a special falls count anywhere ladies battle against home teenage sensaion Xia Brookside, step daughter of Liverpool-born Robbie Brookside who continues to make his name as a WWE talent scout and trainer in the United States. Xia, who made her ring debut at the tender age of 16 has since campaigned throughout Europe and made successful visits to Japan and the United States. Tickets now on sale at the Woodville box office (telephone 01474-337459) include a special £45 family offer.
ALTHOUGH an event at the Pavilion Ballroom in Bounemouth pencilled in for Sunday April 28 will not be going ahead due to a technical error at the venue, the Dorset resort will be back in the frame for three big bills later in 2019. First up are Wednesday evening events with 7.30pm starts on 31 July and 28 August and then All Star return for a big afternoon presentation with a 3pm bell-time on Sunday 27 October. Look out for details of further summer action when Grapplevine returns during May.