Jungle Boy showed on Sunday at AEW Double or Nothing why he is the future superstar of wrestling.
The young wrestler, real name Jack Perry, won the Casino Battle Royale and earned himself a shot at Kenny Omega’s AEW Championship. He entered with the last 5 entrants before the Joker card, and the fan reaction showed exactly who the big star of the match was.
Perry is the son of the late actor Luke Perry, but has distanced himself from his father with his character of the Wild Man, inspired by Tarzan. He has paired himself with the imposing Luchasaurus and the less than imposing Marko Stunt, as the team known as Jurassic Express.
He made his debut in the Casino Battle Royale at the first Double or Nothing show, and his win to finally get his first AEW title shot 2 years later seemed very apt. At age 23, he’s not even close to hit his prime.
He had his first great AEW Match in a Fatal 4-way at Fyter Fest, facing MJF, Jimmy Havoc and Hangman Page, the latter winning the match. He followed that up with a fantastic bout, losing to the Lucha Brothers in a tag team match in the inaugural AEW Tag Team Title Tournament.
He has shown a discernible quality to have the fans invested in him. He draws the crowd to him, and they love him simply for being himself. It’s a quality very few possess, but the ones that do have the entire business at their feet.
The Jericho Match
This was no more apparent than when he faced Chris Jericho. Jericho challenged Perry, who Jericho viewed as a young upstart trying to take his spot, to a match, and claimed that the young wrestler could not last 10 minutes in the ring with the then AEW Champion.
This climaxed on December 14, where he faced off with Jericho in a 10 minute challenge. In heroic fashion, he took his lashings but lasted the full 10 minutes, and as the clock crashed down the zero, the crowd erupted with glee. Not because he won, but because he survived.
He lost the match in overtime, but it showcased him as a wrestler who was a very talented youngster, one who was not ready yet but would be very, very soon. I believe he is now ready.
The Arrival on the Big Stage
His match against MJF at AEW Double or Nothing 2020 was one of the best in AEW history, and showed him to be the big game player that he is.
The match wasn’t a flashy high spot affair. The likeable quality of Jungle Boy drew you in, and the despicable MJF made you root even harder for him. It was an old school, technical affair which drew from over a century of wrestling to build upon an incredible display.
Jungle Boy’s selling deserves extra praise, torturing the crowd into willing him to victory, while MJF’s cheating and shit talking the crowd made the crowd baying for his blood. You’d have thought MJF destroyed Perry’s left arm for real, the level of selling on display.
They also turned the idea of finishers on its head, the last 3 minutes of the match showcasing a unique number of reversals and rollups, each man desperately countering every the other threw at them. MJF came out the winner of the match, but Jungle Boy arrived on the big stage that night as the true victor.
Double or Nothing 2021
If that match was Jungle Boy’s arrival on the big stage, the Battle Royale was him returning home. His victory built upon a disappointing year, with no crowd in sight, he struggled to get over, his ring work designed to evoke reaction from an empty arena of seats. Other teams like Best Friends took the shine from Jurassic Express, as well as injuries to Luchasaurus which made them an afterthought in the division.
His title shot against Kenny Omega is sure to be a match to be remembered. With a full crowd at Double or Nothing, he showed Tony Khan why he can be THE guy to lead the company for the next 20 years, and why he deserves to mix it up with main event talent like Omega.
He does not associate with his father on television, but he sure is carrying his legacy. And making him proud.