AEW's Jungle Boy Talks Facing Kenny Omega, 'Tarzan Boy' Intro Music and More
This Saturday, Kenny Omega will defend the All Elite Wrestling World Championship against Jungle Boy Jack Perry in what is easily the biggest match of the young wrestler's career.
Jungle Boy earned this opportunity by winning the Casino Battle Royal at Double or Nothing, which is the same show where Omega retained the title against Orange Cassidy and Pac.
When AEW launched two years ago, Jungle Boy was among one of the first rounds of people to be signed to a contract. At just 22 years of age at the time, he found himself performing for an international audience on TV every week.
We had a chance to speak with Jungle Boy regarding his upcoming title match, having special entrance music, being the son of a famous actor and much more.
Discovering a Love for Pro Wrestling
The vast majority of wrestling fans get into it at a young age. It was no different for the man who would eventually become Jungle Boy.
"A couple of my friends showed it to me and I was instantly hooked on it," Perry said. "Growing up, I really liked Rey Mysterio. I had never really seen anything like the stuff he was doing before. I thought I was going to be a lot bigger than I ended up being, so I liked John Cena a lot. I kind of imagined myself looking like him, which is not the case."
Almost anyone who grew up with siblings knows roughhousing is part of the deal. This meant Jungle Boy found himself doing his first body slams and suplexes with his sister.
"I would go out with my sister to our trampoline and try out all the stuff they tell you you're not supposed to do. It got to fourth grade and I started doing some really crazy stuff, so my parents found a place where I could go practice pro wrestling."
The Formation of Jurassic Express
The first step anybody takes on the journey to becoming a pro wrestler is finding someone to train them. Luckily for Jungle Boy, he was able to begin this process at a young age.
"I trained with this guy named Ric Drasin, who is a retired wrestler. He had a ring set up and would have classes. That is where I met Luchasaurus and Miro. That's where they both started. I was about 10 years old I think."
Little did he know that one of those men would end up becoming his tag team partner years later when Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus were paired up at an indie event. When they were signed by AEW, Marko Stunt became the third man in the trio.
"Luchasaurus and I got put together at an independent show. We both thought it would be cool, but it ended up catching fire and people were really into it. When I first signed with AEW, the [Young] Bucks had this idea for me to tag with Marko Stunt. When we came together, we all kind of got put together. It was kind of a blank sheet for us to fill in and make what we wanted."
Working with His Idols
Signing a contract to work for All Elite Wrestling immediately put Jungle Boy into the same locker room as some his idols in the business.
"This one coming up with Kenny was my dream match for a long time. I would like to work with Rey Fenix and Pac. You can't walk backstage and throw a rock without hitting an amazing wrestler at AEW."
Now, Perry has to put aside his fandom for The Cleaner as he prepares to challenge the belt collector for the AEW World Championship on Saturday's Dynamite.
Learning from His Peers
All pro wrestlers talk about how they continue to learn throughout their careers. Even the most experienced veteran can learn a trick or two in their later years. For Jungle Boy, there are certain people he feels helped make him better at his craft.
"That [match] with Chris Jericho is right up there. That was my first big opportunity, and I felt like it was make-or-break for me. I feel like the second I touched Chris, I almost became a better wrestler. I feel like I have learned a lot from him. I had a title match with Cody, and this Battle Royal recently was a big one.
"I feel like FTR are two guys I learned a lot from. I think a lot of that is because they are so different from my style. The Bucks are guys that I wanted to be like, and that is my style. When I wrestled FTR, that is very different from what I am used to. We had a handful of matches, and I feel like I learned things from them that I couldn't have learned from anyone else."
One thing AEW has done to set itself apart from WWE is licensing popular music for some of its stars. Jon Moxley comes out to Joan Jett's version of "Wild Thing," and Orange Cassidy has been using Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?"
For several months, Perry has been coming to the ring to "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora, a one-hit-wonder group from Italy. We asked Jungle Boy about acquiring the song and its significance to his character.
"Joey Janela booked me on a show and said if I was going to appear, I had to use this song. I had never heard it and when I was listening to it, I thought it was kind of goofy. The people were really excited by it, and because it's interactive, it got them going.
"Tony said he was going to get it for me, but I didn't think anything of it. Then, at the beginning of the year, he told me he got it. It's crazy to see how enthusiastic people are when it comes on. It makes it so much easier for me because I am automatically having fun seeing people singing and dancing. I think it has been really helpful.
"Tony is a very generous guy, and it feels special to know he has that kind of faith and trust in me to make that investment. I think about that every time I hear it."
Getting the Fans Back
AEW launched in 2019. Less than one year later, the company had to figure out how to do shows without fans during the coronavirus pandemic. This led to the residency at Daily's Place in Jacksonville, Florida.
Like everyone else at AEW, Jungle Boy had to suddenly learn how to work on television without the benefit of the live crowd. He spoke about what it means to finally have fans back for shows and the difference it makes to his performance.
"It changes everything. When we first started wrestling with no people, it was so strange and nobody really knew what to do. Over the course of a year, we all got used to it because it became the new normal. To have fans back immediately reminds you that it was not normal at all. Having the people here to interact is amazing."
Being the Son of a Celebrity
While it may be common knowledge among wrestling fans these days, there was a time when AEW first launched that a lot of people did not realize Jungle Boy's father is the late, great Luke Perry. One of the reasons he uses the name Jungle Boy is to make his own way in this business.
"A lot of people tell me they had no idea [I am Luke Perry's son], and that was kind of the idea behind Jungle Boy in the very beginning."
Many children of celebrities have tried to follow in their parents' footsteps instead of making their own impact, as Jungle Boy has done. We asked if there was a chance he might consider a career in acting down the line.
"I don't think I would be a great actor," he said. "I wanted to be a stuntman for a bit because that seems like the coolest part of that job. That's not a goal at the moment, but if it fell in my lap, I might give it a try. I don't know. I would much rather be a wrestler than an actor."
Facing Kenny Omega
Jungle Boy has already had some big matches in his career, but his upcoming World Championship bout with Kenny Omega is arguably the biggest. The gravity of the situation is not lost on the 24-year-old grappler.
"This one feels really big to me. Omega is a guy I used to watch a lot. Pre-AEW, he was my favorite wrestler. I have kind of styled myself after him in a lot of ways. This is a big opportunity to get in there with him and show the world what I am all about. I'm nervous, but I am excited and looking forward to it, as well."
Jungle Boy can be seen challenging Omega for the AEW world title this Saturday on a special edition of Dynamite.