There once was a giant at DEFY, named Jack Stewart. He entered the ring wearing gear that made him look like a brick wall. He may not have chanted “Fee Fi Fo Fum,” but his presence spoke for him. Jack Stewart has affectionately been known as “Big Jack” by his fans. Few will forget his run as a member of the Cunningham’s, tagging with Carl Randers, also known as the Fantastic Dork. They were perhaps one of the preeminent tag teams in the region a couple of years ago.
He was one of the biggest names on the local scene just as independent professional wrestling was beginning to take off. He then had opportunities in other places and moved east to upstate New York. For over a year he spent some time in another part of the country acquainting himself with the business on the east coast.
Life is an ever-evolving process, and eventually, life would take Jack on another journey. On January 19th at Washington Hall at DEFY’s 2nd Anniversary show, Jack made his triumphant return to the Pacific Northwest wrestling scene by taking on none other than Moose! He may not have won that match, but the fans couldn’t be more pleased to see one of their favorites return!
Jack is a fascinating young man. His journey is amazing. He is one of the earliest students at the Buddy Wayne Academy and learned directly from the man himself. He lost nearly 200 pounds to earn the privilege to wrestle. 200 pounds! That should give you a fairly good idea about how determined this young man was to follow his passion and dreams.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of the best talents working in the business today. Jack Stewart!
Philip Jones: Here you are back in the Pacific Northwest! How is it being home again?
Jack Stewart: Overall, it’s really good to be back. I went through some pretty big life changes that resulted in the return home. It wasn’t a bad transition by any means, but certainly a difficult one. I feel really good these days though. I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
Philip Jones: Tell us about New York, you spent approximately a year there. Did you get an opportunity to perform while you were there? Who were some of the talents you got to meet and work with?
Jack Stewart: New York was cool. I’m really glad I went. It was very interesting to see a different part of the country, push my comfort zone a little, and meet some new people. I wrestled for Southern Tier Wrestling and Empire State Wrestling. I also trained at a school called Grapplers Anonymous while I was over there. Brandon Thurston is the head trainer there. It’s a really great school and it has a lot of hungry young workers. It’s fun to still watch their journey through social media.
Philip Jones: In what ways are the wrestling scenes in New York different from here in the PNW?
Jack Stewart: First off, there are WAY more shows out in the North East. People out there get a little spoiled. I heard guys complain about a 30-minute drive to a show. I would just laugh and think “Man… if you guys only knew.” It’s super common to drive four to six hours for shows out here. It’s just part of the game. Secondly, the style out there is way more spot based. We often complain about how the PNW has been a black hole or wrestling bubble, but in some ways, I think it may have been a good thing. We have kind of separated from the rest of the wrestling world and made our own little style out here. PNW has way more focus on storytelling, psychology and character work. I really hope we don’t lose that now that the scene is growing.
Philip Jones: If you could drag any of the talent you met over there and introduce them to the fans here in the PNW who would you bring over?
Jack Stewart: It’s funny you ask. I always keep a fantasy draft in my head of people I wish we could bring in. There’re so many guys out there I would love to steal and teach our style. If Danny Garcia stays healthy, he’s going to be a star someday for sure. I wore his shirt during my entrance at DEFY a little over a year ago. He would fit right in with DEFY. I would love to have him, Vinnie Moon, Dakoda Orion, and Kenny Brown at the Academy.
Philip Jones: How long have you been in the business now? Tell us about some of your career highlights thus far.
Jack Stewart: My first match was 4/20/2013. So, a little over six years now, I guess. As far as highlights go;
- Winning the WrestleSport Heavyweight Championship at the Buddy Wayne tribute show, and celebrating in the ring with Nick Wayne, and Carl.
- Wrestling the Singh Brothers at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. They were the first team I ever tagged against.
- Wrestling Jeff Cobb at DEFY’s first show.
- Doing extra work for WWE
- Then my favorite match I’ve had was a tag team match; Johnny Flynn and myself vs. Hawlee Cromwell and Rebel Kel. It was Hawlee’s third match, and Kelly’s first. It was also the last match of mine that Buddy got to see live. I’m really, really proud of that match in so many ways. Props to Ethan HD for making it happen.
- Then, just all the travel, and hanging out with my friends on the road and backstage at shows.
Philip Jones: You trained at the Buddy Wayne Academy. Tell us about your training and working with Buddy Wayne himself.
Jack Stewart: When I graduated high school, I weighed 500 pounds. I knew I wanted to be a pro wrestler and emailed Buddy Wayne. He told me to lose 200 pounds first, and then we’d talk. One year later, I walked into his school over 200 pounds lighter. When he saw me, he laughed, had a huge smile on his face, and just said, “I’ll take him!” Those were the first words he ever said to me, and I still remember it clear as a bell. My first class was just with him. Bumps, rolls, running the ropes. He told me that my appointment was for two hours, but that I should stop whenever I needed to. He said that nobody ever goes the full two hours. Buddy just had this vibe and energy where you really wanted to impress him. You wanted his acceptance. So, I went for the full two hours. The next day, I literally couldn’t walk, my body was covered in bruises, and I was pissing blood. Luckily for me, my body adapted, and it got easier over time.
I think the school is in a really good place right now. Especially after Buddy’s passing a couple of years ago. Shayna, Buddy’s wife, could have easily closed the school down, kicked us all out, and nobody would have blamed her. She really doesn’t get enough credit for that. Buddy brought us all together, but she has been the one keeping us from splitting apart. I was in Europe when he passed, and she held his service off for like over two weeks so that I could be there. It was unbelievably kind of her. The fact that the school is still running at all is kind of a miracle, but we all have our individual pieces of the Buddy Wayne puzzle, and together, we’re making it work.
It’s been incredible to watch the school grow into what it has over the years. When I started, it was basically just Carl and me, with the occasional appearance by a five-year-old Nick Wayne. Now we have these big classes a couple of times a week, and there’s just so much talent coming out of that little garage.
Philip Jones: Tell us about some of your ring brothers and sisters and who has come out of your school.
Jack Stewart: If you just look at the six-ish years, the school has produced/trained or co-trained:
Carl Randers, who has wrestled multiple matches for WWE,
King Khash, wrestled for WWE and Zero 1,
Darby Allin who’s wrestling for AEW and Evolve,
Danika Della Rouge, ROH, WWE tryout,
“Classic” Cody Chhun
Nick Radford, for WWE
Rebel Kel, from Stardom,
The Cook Brothers,
Clark Conners, with NJPW,
“Kingpin” Johnny Flynn,
And that’s just a handful of the people that are regularly working shows. Plus, all of the students that haven’t debuted yet. The PNW scene has not been this good in a very long time, and I would still put our roster up against anyones.
Philip Jones: Were you always a fan of Professional wrestling? Was there a specific moment that made you a fan or has it always been there?
Jack Stewart: I have always been a fan. My older brother was a fan during the attitude era, and I would watch the shows with him. I have been obsessed ever since. I remember even leaving Disney World early one night as a kid so that I could get back to the hotel and watch RAW. Pro Wrestling has always been a top priority.
Philip Jones: What wrestlers do you fanboy out for?
Jack Stewart: I love it all. All styles. They’re just different flavors of ice cream. My favorite to watch has always been the fast-paced cruiserweight style. So right now, my favorites are guys like Pentagon Jr., Akira Tozawa and my personal greatest of all time… Rey Mysterio! Who I believe is still the best in the world. He’s untouchable.
Philip Jones: Did going from a fan to a professional wrestler change your perspective as a fan? Did it change the way you look at matches and performances in the ring? What do you look for? What makes you a fan these days?
Jack Stewart: Absolutely. I was talking to someone recently who was thinking about training, and I warned them that they would never see it the same way again. I don’t watch wrestling anymore, I study it. Match types I used to love like TLC or hardcore matches are honestly hard to watch now because I have a sense of the pain and risk that is involved in them. These days, I still love flashy moves and high spots, but I’m much more focused on story and moments. How can you take the same move and get twice the reaction for it based on where you put it in the match. Stuff like that.
Philip Jones: You have done some stand-up comedy. Tell us a little bit about your stand-up work.
Jack Stewart: I’ve been doing stand-up off and on for longer than I’ve been wrestling. When I started, I was super into it. I still perform and respect the art form immensely… but as soon as I started wrestling, it definitely took the back seat.
Philip Jones: Which is harder stand-up comedy or professional wrestling? And why?
Jack Stewart: Wrestling is way harder than stand up comedy. Worst case scenario in comedy: you bomb. In wrestling, the stakes are much higher, because you’re gambling with your health and physical well being. They both have their hurdles, but you don’t have to take bumps in stand up.
Philip Jones: I saw recently you and Mr. Randers reunited for a tag team match. Could we be seeing a Cunningham reunion or was this a fluke? It seems the fans, and possibly some local promoters, are conspiring to make this happen.
Jack Stewart: The Cunningham name is dead I’m pretty sure, but Carl and I are still tagging together. In six-plus years, we never had an actual break up or split. We just take time to focus on other ventures as well. We bicker and argue a lot, but I love Carl. He will always be my brother. In the ring, and out of it.
Philip Jones: When we were speaking earlier you mentioned you live in Bellingham and thus spend a great deal of time on the road. What would we find you listening to when you’re on those long road trips?
Jack Stewart: I do a lot of driving. Even just for training. I listen to a million different podcasts. Comedy Bang Bang, Threedom, My Favorite Murder, Throwing Shade, GameScoop, Doug Loves Movies, Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend. For some reason, I have stopped listening to wrestling podcasts. I’m not sure why I think I overdid it and got sick of them.
Philip Jones: When you aren’t on the road, wrestling or working out, what would we typically find Jack doing with his free time?
Jack Stewart: I work out, a lot. That’s probably where most of my free time goes. I enjoy video games, reading, hanging out with the people I care about. I’ve restructured my life to be a lot more meditative and self-focused.
Philip Jones: How would you describe your move set? Are there any moves that are your favorite? Are there any moves you would like to add to your move set?
Jack Stewart: I would say my move set is innovative? I think that’s the thing I’m good at in wrestling. Buddy used to always call me the idea guy. I used to really like my Dovahkiin Driver. That was my finisher for a bit, but I’ve noticed a couple of other guys start using it, so trying to branch out a bit. I have a new one called the Claremont Cutter, which is a reference to where I lived in Buffalo. I have a couple of really cool ideas that I’m just sitting on until the moment is right. Good ideas never go bad.
Philip Jones: You’ve had some very impressive opponents thus far; Moose comes to mind among several others. Who is on your bucket list of professional wrestlers you would like to face off with in the ring?
Jack Stewart: Rey Mysterio is the ultimate dream opponent. He had so many amazing matches against bigger opponents, and I think it would be really fun to tell that story. One of the reasons I moved away in the first place was because it felt like I had wrestled everyone out here already, but there are so many new people now. I’d really like to work with all of the kids that come down from ECCW… get well soon Eli… Plus, the Buddy Wayne Academy seemingly has its own tag team division now with C-4, The Cook Brothers, and The Academy. I’d love a chance to tag against all of them.
Philip Jones: Do you hold down a day job like the rest of us common folk?
Jack Stewart: I have a 9 to 5 in a boring office. It’s not very exciting, but it pays the bills.
Philip Jones: There is a new promotion emerging from your hometown of Bellingham. This is great news and a clear sign of professional wrestling is thriving here. Is there much history of professional wrestling in your community? How exciting is this?
Jack Stewart: I know there used to be more wrestling around here. I think ECCW used to run in Bellingham. Since I’ve been around though, I’m pretty sure only one show has ran here. I think Bellingham could be a great wrestling town with the right building and the right roster. Excited to see how it goes.
Philip Jones: Tell us something about yourself that people do not necessarily know about you.
Jack Stewart: Hmmm. I’m kind of an open book so it’s hard to say. I think the surprising thing would be that I heavily consider myself an introvert. I can be really loud and outgoing and I really enjoy time with friends while it’s happening, but afterwards, it feels super draining. During every show I work, at some point, I leave the building and take a walk to just disappear from all the social interaction for a bit. I need a little recharge. Again, it’s not bad by any means, but it feels difficult in a lot of ways. I live alone off in the woods in Bellingham and sometimes I feel like Thanos in his garden. I’ve always kind of been a loner.
Philip Jones: As someone who is familiar with the local scene who are some of the people you see working hard and killing it who only need to get noticed to go to that next level.
Jack Steward: Number one has to be King Khash. Say what you want, but he can work circles around almost anyone in the area.
I have said for years that Johnny Flynn is the most under-appreciated talents in the PNW. He’s so good. People have no idea just how good he is. I try to watch every match he has, and I feel like I still learn so much.
Danika Della Rouge is one of the most well-rounded wrestlers in the area. She can do it all. It has been so much fun to watch her journey.
It seems silly to say Ethan HD because everyone in the area kind of agrees that he’s one of the best. Like he’s so good, that you almost assume you don’t even need to mention it. He is one of the trainers for 321 Battle, and I send people to him all the time.
I think Cat Power has one of the coolest looks/gimmicks in all of wrestling. She has already done a lot of cool stuff, but I don’t think she’s hit her peak yet.
Then just to rattle some off The Voros Twins, Mike Santiago, Nick Radford, Jordan Oasis, 4 Minutes of Heat, and Dave Turner, that dude is everywhere! There are so many more, but they jumped to mind first. Also, he is still brand new to the wrestling world, but keep your eyes on Jet Knight. Good lord, that dude is going to be something big!
Philip Jones: In terms of working hard and killing it, where are we going to see you in the coming months, in so far as you are at liberty to tell us?
Jack Stewart: I have recently started working at WCWC again in Salem, Reactive Pro Wrestling out of Eastern Washington, and I will be on the debut shows for both ECC Wrestling in Bellingham and Reign in Tacoma.
Big Jack… Jack Cunningham… Jack Stewart… This is a man who has put a smile on thousands of faces. When he comes out into the ring whether its cheers or jeers, he’s loved. When he walked into an auditorium in a way it’s like watching one of our own fulfilling their dream. Really what is more magical than to see someone doing what they love. Perhaps that’s why Jack has connected with so many of us.
He has had an incredible journey, one that is admirable and a testament to his drive. Few people twice his age have accomplished so much. Chasing a dream requires hard work. Few people have the kind of drive it takes to make it so far. Even fewer continue to work so hard after a journey filled with so many peaks and valleys. From having to lose over two hundred pounds to losing his beloved trainer, he never gave up. There is a great deal of inspiration to be taken from someone able to work against so many obstacles.
Jack is someone we can learn something from. He has a wicked sense of humor. He’s talented and there is little doubt we haven’t seen everything this young man has to offer his fans and professional wrestling. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn about this incredible gentleman. I sincerely hope you enjoyed meeting Jack Stewart as much as I did.
“I’ve known Jack for about 7-8 years now and I’m so very happy I could call him my brother. We’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, and till this day, we’re still making memories together. I’ll never let you go, Jacky. I’ll always have your back. Love you homie!” –Nick Wayne, Professional Wrestler
“Jack is very special to me. He and Randy have been with us the longest now. He’s dedicated, committed and loyal. His love for pro wrestling is present in ALL he does. He is constantly and consistently working. And not just for himself! He thinks for the betterment of everyone! He’s charismatic and quick-witted with a heart of pure gold. Jack is one in a million. He is deeply embedded in the fabric that makes up our family here at the BWA. And if I can say something on a more personal note… NO ONE could make Buddy laugh like Jack could. I’m talkin’ that head back, bring tears to his eyes, from the belly, laugh… I can still hear Buddy laughing at Jack’s jokes in class… It is my heart’s favorite thing about Jack.” – Shayna Edwards, Owner of the Buddy Wayne Academy
“Jack is a really nice guy and a very creative wrestler who helped some of the guys in Buffalo think differently about wrestling.” – Daniel Garcia, Professional Wrestler
“I’ve known Jack since he started training at Buddy’s. He put in a lot of work just to get in the door and continues to this day with that same drive. Jack is very passionate about his craft and what he feels pro wrestling can be as an art form. Like a lot of artists, better or worse, Jack is insistent on making it his way and on his terms.” – Carl Randers, Professional wrestler, and former tag team partner
Jorel Nelson vs. Big Jack Cunningham, DOA Pro Wrestling
Jack Cunningham vs. Pete Powers, ECCW
Big Jack Cunningham vs. Darby Allin, Project 42
Erick Locker & Big Jack Cunningham vs. Cougar Meat
The Cunningham’s (Carl Randers & Big Jack) vs. The Flynn’s: WrestleSprot
Kaine Jaiden vs. Big Jack Cunningham: DOA
“Kingpin” Johnny Flynn vs. Big Jack Cunningham: MPW
Rebel Kel & Hawlee Layne vs. Kingpin Johnny Flynn & Big Jack Cunningham: Project 42
The House of Hell vs. Scotty Mac, Big Jack Cunningham & Andy Bird: oWo
WCWC Six-man Tag Team Match: Grappler, Kassius Koonz & Jack Cunningham vs. Adam Thronstowe, Mikey O’Shea & Marcus Malone