Jack Perry on Bringing Jungle Boy to All Elite Wrestling & Making Late Dad Luke Perry Proud
The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions for Jack Perry, known to pro wrestling fans as Jungle Boy. The 21-year-old joined the rest of the world in shock when his father, beloved actor Luke Perry, passed away in March.
This came at a time when Jack’s in-ring career is just taking off, signing with the hot new company in All Elite Wrestling. Concentrating on the business at hand and feeling the love and support of fans has helped him get through some of the bad days.
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“It’s good for me to keep busy,” Perry said. “It’s bittersweet because I wish he could be here to see this. It’s really the first time for a lot of this stuff. I know he’d be proud. I feel like I learned a lot about how to take this all in from him.”
The Jungle Boy greeted attendees at his first wrestling convention in Starrcast II, which was held during AEW’s inaugural event Double or Nothing in Las Vegas. The experience got him reflecting about the positive example his dad set. Luke Perry became a household heartthrob thanks to the success of 90210 and his James Dean-esque portrayal of rebel Dylan McKay. Before the star’s death he garnered new admirers thanks to playing Fred Andrews on Riverdale.
“My dad never really lost sight of who he was before he was successful,” Perry said. “The thing I was always proud of about my dad was that he was just a really cool guy. He was always really nice to everyone that he met. To do that, would be the greatest thing I could do.”
Away from the cameras and paparazzi, Luke Perry was a dedicated family man who wanted to help Jack see his dreams realized. He did research to find places for his child to train. Jack’s memories of starting out go as far back at age 10 with a break until he rededicated himself to the business when he turned 17 or 18. It helped Luke Perry was a lifelong pro wrestling fan himself.
“He used to watch with me growing up,” Perry recalled. “He loved wrestling as a kid. It was something we can connect over. My dad’s favorite wrestler growing up with Dusty Rhodes, which is kind of cool the way it has worked out. My dad told me the only time he got starstruck was when he met Dusty Rhodes. I just think it’s really nice how it’s happened in this roundabout way for me to be here with AEW.”
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Interestingly enough, among AEW’s driving forces is Rhodes’ own son Cody, who also serves as an executive vice president. There is a generational bond.
“Ever since meeting these guys at AEW they’ve been there for me and supportive and helped me with whatever I needed,” Perry said. “They’ve really welcomed me into their family. I’m really glad to have them…I’ve always wanted to do something big. I didn’t know what it would be growing up. Wrestling was really the first thing I fell in love with. Obviously, it was different than what my dad did. But in a way I think I am carrying on that legacy.”
The Jungle Boy ended up having a great showing in the Casino Battle Royale at Double or Nothing’s preshow The Buy In. Perry admitted to thinking about his father the day before, taking solace knowing he did get a chance to watch him wrestle in the crowd before his death. The sold-out crowd, which included members of the Perry family, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena gave the curly haired dynamo a warm reception.
“It’s wild because this really is history in the making,” he said. “It’s really cool to be a part of it, especially at the start of it all at AEW. I feel really lucky and blessed to be here in the right place and right time. I’m looking forward to growing with these guys.”
Expect to see upstart in the future as AEW heads into its weekly primetime series coming to TNT in the fall.
Up next for the buzz-worthy promotion is Fyter Fest on Saturday, June 29, from the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.