By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
Ohio Valley Wrestling’s demonic Amon terrorizes the denizens of the Davis Arena each week. Aside from some of his antics and tactics in and out of the ring, the surprise may come from the fact that the man behind the character is a gay minister.
Stu Perry has been a mainstay of OVW since 2012. In that time, his character has gone through many evolutions. But each of them have served a purpose – to have people think, in some way, shape or form, about Jesus Christ.
“Wrestling started as this cool, fun thing and now it’s a means to get the word out about Jesus,” Perry said in an exclusive interview with The Gorilla Position. “Even the demon – people don’t like that but it causes them to think. I was a character before Amon – Reverend Stu. Reverend Stu was a heel first and he came out as a holier-than-thou Christian. I was a bad guy, and therefore a liar so the things I was saying were lies. Every time I came out holier-than-thou, the crowd got to hear about Jesus because everything I said was the opposite. Reverend Stu turned [face] and I actually got to preach. Now Amon is out and it causes people to at least think about something spiritual. Maybe he’s not a preacher or anything, but maybe it can be just the start of a conversation with someone.”
Perry explained that his love of pro wrestling – the passion that he would come back to full-circle that now serves as his pulpit – started when he was very young.
“I was in elementary school and I was obsessed with it,” Perry said. “I still have my wrestling action figures that I played with back then. My family didn’t have a ton of money so we couldn’t afford the pay-per-views so I would watch the pay-per-views through the fuzz. My friends and I would hang out and wrestle on trampolines, and all that kind of stuff.”
The early origins of Amon seem to have come from this time as well.
“What got me interested was that I loved the characters,” Perry said. “Characters like Kane and Gangrel, who was one of the coolest to me.”
Perry’s sexuality also became evident about this same time.
“The earliest I can remember was in the second grade,” Perry said. “There were some boys in my class that I thought were really cute. But then I thought that I shouldn’t think that way, but they were. Just like boys do with girls and snicker, only I didn’t think I could really say that.”
Aside from his love of the personas of pro wrestling, the desire to perform was also ingrained in Perry at a young age.
“My background was in theater,” Perry said. “Towards the end of elementary school, all through middle and high school I was obsessed with theater. I wanted to be in all the shows. I was on a theater scholarship in college. I just loved – and still do love – to perform.”
It was in college that Perry slid a downward spiral. A spate of addictions affected his life and his health to the point that one of his fraternity brothers not only noticed, but helped lift Perry out of the downward spiral and in a clearer direction.
“At the time, I was extremely unhealthy,” Perry admitted. “One of my fraternity brothers came to my room and told me, ‘Hey Stu, we’re not going to let you live like this anymore.’ He started taking me to the gym every morning and started getting me healthy. I’ve been addicted to pretty much every negative thing you can be addicted save for very few and I got addicted to fitness. It was awesome, I started getting healthy and enjoying the changes I was seeing. I needed to fuel that addiction so I needed something to make it continue.“
The love of pro wrestling Perry had held since childhood had never left. On a new path with renewed purpose, Perry circled back to what he loved when he was younger. A revelation came to him that helped push him toward his dream.
“I had this thought rekindle – what about professional wrestling? I’m fit now and like to perform, so maybe this is something I can get into,” Perry said. “I was born and raised in Louisville, and I’d seen [OVW] on TV and at Kentucky Kingdom before. I found out that they were 20 minutes from my house. So I signed up and the rest is history.”
Perry wasn’t sure of his chances of success. His original intention was to train, have a match and be able to cross an item off his bucket list. But it was his love of Jesus Christ that convinced him to stay. Not because he felt he had work to do there in spreading the word, but because others counted on his spirituality and support.
“A little over halfway through [training], some of the wrestlers came to be and said, ‘I don’t believe that crap you believe’ – talking about my faith – ‘but there’s something going on, can I tell you about it?’,” Perry revealed. “One of them divulged a pretty intense secret to me and asked me to pray for him about this issue and his family going through it.”
From one instance, word spread to the others.
“People started coming to me and asking me to pray for them,” Perry said. “Jamin Olivencia, former OVW Heavyweight Champion, was backstage at a Saturday Night Special one night and told me, ‘You need to come pray for us.’ He brought me into this room and everyone’s holding hands in a circle waiting for me to pray. Adam Revolver, who’s an atheist, is standing in the circle. Others who were either not believers or practicing believers were standing in this circle waiting for me to pray for them to stay safe and put on a good show.”
Despite having people of different beliefs surrounding him, Perry believed he had a duty to those who requested he tap into his faith to help them.
“In my life, I’ve said that Jesus is not my first priority, He is the center of my life,” Perry said. “If he’s your first priority, you can check Him off and move on to the next thing. I truly believe I try my best to keep him at the center. No matter what I’m doing, it’s for Him.”
Perry’s spirituality was called upon by a legendary trainer during one of the hardest times that the company faced – and it convinced Perry he was where he needed to be. Spreading the word is Perry’s biggest passion, and being able to do so in OVW – by whatever means he can – is at his core.
“When Matt Cappotelli was going through his battle with cancer, Rip Rogers called me and asked me to go pray for Cappotelli in the ring, in front of the crowd, out of character,” Perry said. “I love Rip, he’s an incredible human to me and for me to get a call from someone I admire based on my faith and do something like that was so honoring. I really hope that everything I do – from wrestling to the way I treat people riding the bus – can lead someone to Jesus. If I truly believe what I say I believe then I should be living my life to try and help other people see what I’ve seen.”
In addition to being one of the most transfixing fixtures of Ohio Valley Wrestling, Perry also sits at the head of the Lost And Found Evangelical Organization,
“The ministry that I have is an online ministry so I go live on Facebook and Instagram live every Tuesday night and preach for 30 minutes.” Perry explained. “It’s a quick lesson, hopefully fun and hopefully something that people can take and use. Our thought for The Lost And Found Evangelistical Organization is that we exist to help people meet and fall in love with Jesus Christ by any means necessary. That last part is important – we shouldn’t expect them to come to us. We should go to them, so were going to. We have plans to take over a bar in Louisville in the near future and actually having church in a gay bar. We’re going to have church in a gay bar! Wherever it needs to be, by any means necessary.”
Perry explained that the idea behind the formation of the ministry was to be able to reach those who may not be inclined to seek out Jesus by conventional means.
“The reason I do it that way is because I think so many people have been burned by churches and hurt by the way they were treated there,” Perry said. “That shouldn’t be the only place or way they can hear about the love of Jesus. There are too many church people that will tell you that everything is fine and it’s not. You just watched porn on your phone and then scrolled to your Bible app, so no it’s not fine. I think too many church people won’t admit those things and I think that’s why I got so frustrated. So I started to do what I do now as a way to go out and serve in places where those people are rather than anticipating that those people need to come to me.”
While some would question the idea of a gay minister, Perry said that his sexuality is an important part of him but not what defines him.
“There aren’t may stereotypical gay things that are true of me,” Perry said. “I never thought I was supposed to be a girl, I never wanted to wear really tight clothes or makeup unless it was in a theater. That may be the experience for other people but it was never mine. I always liked boys but I was just the same as all other boys. It’s much more now because I’m in a relationship with someone I care very strongly for and love. I hope that, not just for myself but I work with kids who I can see are gay. I hope I can inspire them later in life by showing them your sexuality does not at all need to define you. Let’s choose something else to define us. Let’s do something cool then tell people you’re gay. I’d rather be the OVW Heavyweight Champion who just happens to be gay rather than the gay wrestler who just happens to be OVW Champion.”
Aside from the desire to be the flag-bearer for Ohio Valley Wrestling, Perry cites being able to make pro wrestling his proper livelihood as a long-term goal. But he will always be loyal to the company that made it possible.
“OVW is killing it right now,” Perry said. “If you are not watching Ohio Valley Wrestling, you should be. It is incredible. We are selling out show after show, month after month, for a reason. If the opportunity came for me to move up to Impact or WWE or AEW now, I would love that. Wrestling, for me, is an outlet but I would love for it to be a full-time career. I’m a minister so I have to preach about the Bible and take in people’s thoughts, concerns and prayer requests and meet with people in the hospital and be there for other people. Wrestling is this huge release. Even if it just stays how it is, I’m incredibly blessed to do it. I text Al Snow every week since he’s taken over and thanked him for letting me be a part of his company because I am so blessed to be there. Anything I can do to help them, I’ll be there.”
Overall, Perry said he is in a much better place than he once was. Being able to live out a childhood dream and spread the word about Jesus while doing so has seen him become happier than he has ever been.
“People ask me in passing how I’m doing and my answer is always the same – ‘Living the dream’,” Perry said. “I’m really living the dream. It means the world to have people buy tickets to watch me do something that I so deeply enjoy. It truly is the dream. I really like my life, it’s awesome. Wrestling is a huge part of it and it’s my outlet that keeps me sane for everything else. It’s just an incredible blessing.”