April 12, 2022

Mimi Jean-Louis: #TheWrestlingChic
Wrestling Twitter timelines have been in awe with reaction videos of Victor Perry, a New York City middle school teacher with a wrestling club. Perry's student reaction tweets have captured hearts for months on the social media platform, even catching the eyes of the Legit Boss, Sasha Banks. As fans, we navigate social timelines all of the time, exposing us to all sides of the pro wrestling community. There's something about Perry's posts that make us stop and take in the magic of being a young pro wrestling fan. Perry has taken the lead in his community to create a safe space for his 6th-grade students.

One November, Perry accompanied one of his students to the WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view. With a penchant for serving his community and pro wrestling, Perry knew what he had to do. Soon after, he decided to bridge the commonalities and created a Wrestling Club for the Crown Heights, Brooklyn school. BRP had the opportunity to catch up with the Georgia native singer-songwriter to better understand his work.

Your social posts are outstanding. Tell us, who is Victor?
My name is Victor Perry. I'm from Thomasville, Ga. I've been a teacher for 6 ½  years in NYC. I'm also a professional singer-songwriter/recording artist.

Were you always into pro wrestling? When did you get into it?
I've been a fan of pro wrestling; I’ve been a fan since the third grade. I began watching when I saw Velocity; I believe it was on Saturdays. I became hooked and got my twin brother to watch it with me.

Do you watch both mainstream and independent wrestling? Do you have a preference?
Currently, it's mostly WWE with a mixture of AEW, and a little bit of Impact Wrestling. I am familiar with NJPW, which I do watch occasionally. I don't know if it's a preference or just what I'm conditioned to because WWE has always been a thing for me. I’ve been accustomed to it for years, from childhood. As an adult, I’ve learned of the different promotions worldwide.

Name two of your favorite wrestlers from when you were growing up.
My favorites were Victoria and Randy Orton as a child. I loved them and would spend hours watching their matches, researching them, and following their fansites. My current favorites are Carmelo Hayes, Bianca Belair, Sasha Banks, and Roman Reigns

Was education always your career path?
Education was not in my path initially—it fell in my lap. I had plans to work in the music industry. While at Morehouse, I worked for several record labels in the form of internships and assistant work, but that never panned out. Teaching fell in my lap randomly, and I haven't looked back since. I've been teaching for 6 ½ years and every year it's something new and different.
We’ve seen your fantastic reaction posts of your students to pay-per-view matches. What made you decide to create the wrestling club for your school, and was the reception from your principal positive?
There wasn't a straightforward decision or reason why. I think my love for pro wrestling just translated with my students. I remember talking about meeting Bianca, and one of my students said he loved her. I asked if he watched wrestling, and he said yes. Before I knew it, other kids began to share their love for it. It's so infectious; it just grew and grew. My principal was and is on board and he encourages me to continue to allow this to succeed. 

What is the design of the program?
Currently, the club's design is to watch matches and discuss what made the match exciting and successful. We examine characters and learn the storylines behind the battles. I've also shown several WWE-produced documentaries to my students to show the ins and out of pro wrestling. I've mentioned time and time again the jobs that are available in sports entertainment to my students. Several of them love creative writing; I tell them they can creatively write characters / Superstars. Other students are interested in journalism, and I try to immerse them in that culture. Management is something I plan to get into. I know several of my kids have the personality for all of these areas—I plan to find ways to translate their strengths into the club. It's difficult to determine who will become a pro-wrestler of course, but several have shared interest; I've researched local schools, but the thing is, my students are too young.
Since the club’s inception, how has this been impactful to the students who have joined?
Many kids feel like they don't belong or have a place where they feel like they can be themselves. Several kids tell me that they feel comfortable at school because I started this club. A young female student recently came up to me and said she watched Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair on her own, which made her fall in love with wrestling, and asked if she could join our club. That made my day! The growth is wild because it's only for my 6th graders currently. I haven't opened up the club to the rest of the school, but I'd say we have 30 kids at the moment who are active in the program. Next year, it will be an after-school program, which will be awesome!

The incredible reaction from your students to the Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch match was a phenomenal moment for your students and fans worldwide. As a Morehouse College alum, how did it feel for you and your students to see the TSU’s Oceans of Soul Marching Band perform and usher in our new WWE RAW Women’s Champion?
It was beautiful. To see so much Blackness in such a positive light was everything. I believe this match is significant because it showed my students that redemption can happen, and it's something that you can experience through hard work. I took several students to MSG, and they cried when they saw Bianca Belair lose to Becky Lynch in a triple threat. They had an outrage—similar to the one we all shared when she lost this past summer at SummerSlam. But did Bianca give up? Did she cry about losing? Did she allow the moment to consume her and dim her shine? I think we all know the answer to those questions. That's why this match was so important and necessary. Life is unpredictable. When you feel you've gotten ahold of things, it'll turn upside down and make you think you have no control. It matters not the situation, but how you respond because let's face it, we will always have challenging situations in our lives. That's what this match represented, and to see the joy from my kids meant everything. They've followed her journey, so I hope that this is a lesson they can apply to their own lives as they grow and experience life for themselves.
What is your hope for the future of the club?
I want to make wrestling an authentic culture in my school. That's the goal. It would be incredible if one of my students landed a job in WWE at some point in their lives. Hopefully, this club inspires them!
Tell us where to find and keep up with your incredible journey?
You can find me on Twitter (@wallflowerperry) and Instagram (@wallflowernamedperry).

Mimi, our newest member of the BRP crew is a super-kickin’ copy-gal, a TwitterSpaces co-host via @turnbucklespace, you can find her here on special episodes and weekly Tuesdays at 7p & Fridays at 10p ET.

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