To the adults reading this, I implore you – cast your minds to the days of your youth, when your bright eyes watched professional wrestling with childlike wonder. Do you remember how it all felt? That moment, where these people look and feel tangible, yet carry the aura of superheroes – real life superheroes? Whether you knew it was all a persona or not, it was a form of entertainment that entranced you in some form or another.
We carry with us now, the feeling of being lost in wrestlers with the further exposure we gain. You may have loved Ricky Steamboat’s arm drag, while now you enjoy Kenny Omega’s Snap-Dragon Suplex. Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter now has the weight of Bryan Danielson’s LeBell Lock. So on and so forth.
That’s the feeling that Victor Taylor Perry’s The Wrestling Club is all about. An after school get-together, The Wrestling Club (TWC for short), educates the New York students, and allows them to become lost in the narratives and characters portrayed by the people we see weekly or monthly, as well as revisiting the classics. He’s simultaneously keeping the children updated while also informing them and teaching them of history.
I’m sure that all of us that are still learning about the other corners of the professional wrestling industry can relate to the magic of discovery. And the passion as he shares his lesson plans really gives the impression that he loves imparting this knowledge in sharing something special. Sometimes I wonder just how damn big he’s grinning when students experience something new that they haven’t seen or heard yet. Either way, I know his heart has to be full by the end of each session.
Perry introduces students to these levels and echelons of professional wrestling, curating the content and matches from various eras, yes, but also of different cultures. Wrestling from Britain, Japan, Mexico, anything that garners attention.
See, Victor actively searches out the plethora of material, finding matches that would hype up his students, such as Starlight Kid and AZM’s battle for the High Speed Championship in Stardom or Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada’s series of matches, and watches them react.
Not only does he cover matches, however, as he will share promos and moments that enamor fans all over. It’s perfect for teaching the importance of care with narratives. My personal favorite example is Perry teaching why Sami Zayn’s chair shot to Roman Reigns, and everything that preceded and followed Royal Rumble 2023, is theatrical and literary levels of storytelling. A moment that had been building up for years, and that just had to be shared. It was a powerful moment and the students could learn not just from the storytelling perspective, but a life perspective as well, because far too many people are in positions similar to those who deal with people like Roman Reigns.
In the videos he posts on social media of the matches, moments, and promos that he shares, as he shows the moments, you can hear his club losing their minds or cheering or booing, whichever, as they connect to the wrestlers. I still feel my eyes well up when I see their reaction to Kofi Kingston defeating Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35. That’s powerful in and of itself, and a message is turned into another.
This brings me to my next point as to why The Wrestling Club is a wonderful force in its wholesome crusade. Wrestlers can be inherently relatable, and while anyone can find themselves in whichever character or person, the members of TWC can find theirs in the talents that remind them of themselves. The love the students have for the likes of Bobby Lashley, Jade Cargill, or any other black wrestler gives these kids hope and motivation that they too can reach their goals, because they’ve watched their heroes and role models struggle and fight to get what they want, in spite of the world’s adversities.
TWC exerts such a feeling of love and kindness that is hard to ignore. In their joy for professional wrestling, we could learn a lot from them. These students aren’t worried about what company or talent is the best – they’re here to see the stories and the matches. They’re here to believe and suspend disbelief. In this, the love they’ve gotten each time Victor’s videos of their reactions goes viral, they elicit love from the community and of wrestlers themselves. Whether they’re interacting with Grayson Waller in character or being visited by the likes of Mercedes Varnado, Big E, and various other wrestlers, the love they share is infectious. They’re fans, not critics, and they can find the brightest things in wrestling content.
The Wrestling Club is an inclusive group of people who enjoy wrestling for what it is, and it’s enjoyed with the wanderlust of those who are still learning and growing. They get to believe that superheroes are real, and get to live with hope, something we all need.
Perhaps one day, if we could all learn to fall in love with wrestling the way we used to, maybe we can be cool enough for The Wrestling Club.