Paul Perris cut a striking figure when he wrestled for Can-Am. It was more than just a pretty face and a hot bod, though of course he had those. Especially the incredibly hot bod. Paul also pulled off this delicate balance between beautiful grace and dangerous power. The dangerous power is pretty obvious in even a cursory look at his resume and promotional pics. The guy was a martial artist, and 5’10” and 175 pounds doesn’t come close to describing the physicality that he brought. There was pretty much guaranteed to be totally legit a high kick to an opponent’s face at some point in nearly every match, because why not!? And those muscles were clearly not only beautiful, they were strong. I always had the impression that he carried himself like someone who had, in his private life, gotten his ass kicked and kicked ass on several occasions.
But Paul Perris also pulled off something that’s hard to do, particularly in the modern pursuit of hyper masculinity these days: he moved with breathtaking grace. It’s not hard to miss the toe point when he would lower that stunning physique into an honest to god, full-on, balls to the floor split. The splits themselves are tough to pull off and still look like a full-contact fighter (excluding Jean-Claude van Damme), but Paul would invariably go the extra inch and point those toes like the dancer he clearly had to have been, stunningly conscious of every inch of his body and intentionally positioning absolutely everything about his body to reach for aesthetic perfection.
That grace certainly wasn’t only to be found in the pre-match posing splits and toe points. On the mats, in the ring, he placed each footstep with a deliberate precision, seemingly calculating at every moment the exact position of his center of gravity and maintaining exquisite balance both because it would be harder to knock him off his feet AND because he looked superhumanly beautiful with each movement.
The first time I saw him wrestle was in Can-Am’s Canadian Musclehunk Oil Wrestling 3. His opponent was incredibly lean, 5’9″, 160 pound John St. James. John was quite the bon bon. Handsome, cocky, ripped to shreds, if he walked into a bar my eyes would be riveted on him the entire night. But holy fuck, when he shares the screen with Paul, John St. James looks like a pimply faced adolescent! Ostensibly they were separated by one inch in height and about 15 pounds in weight, but whether or not that was technically true, it doesn’t capture the incredible contrast between them. Paul looks like a god. John looks like a mortal.
There’s a sweet intensity and sincerity about John St. James in this match that I enjoy. He absolutely throws himself at Paul with abandon, giving every appearance of a genuine faith in his capacity to conquer the peak physical specimen in front of him. He works a little offense. He tries to be cocky. But at the very height of his momentum, there’s no missing the plain truth: Paul Perris is in complete control. John keeps throwing himself at the gorgeous grappler. He locks on a hold and flexes, grimacing with the effort to apply every ounce of strength into keeping the bodybuilder captured. And Paul grunts and groans with a rhythm that still haunts my dreams, keeping the metronome pace but growing louder when his lightweight opponent snaps on a full nelson or headlock. And the holds last a while, but there’s simply no way around it: Paul is getting off on letting the little kid clock a little riding time. Because as soon as Paul flexes, as soon as he makes even the slightest effort, John’s hold pops loose like perforated paper.
Paul is luxurious in a pit of oil. He writhes and slides with, again, such self-possession that there’s no mistaking that he knows just how superhumanly sexy he looks doing it. Whereas John is a little awkward in the medium (he accidentally squirts a little in his face before the match, making his pre-match oil down look distinctly uncomfortable as he sputters and grimaces), Paul looks like he could whip his cock out at any moment and unload all over his opponent’s face, because this is turning him on just that much.
This is squash. Not because John St. James is never on offense, but because even when he’s on offense, he’s nothing more than an accessory to Paul Perris’ one-man physique show. I’m trying to think of anyone wrestling these days that captures the same audacious combination of physical domination and exquisitely beautiful grace as Paul Perris. It made for such a potent delivery of wrestling eroticism, and was foundational in sending my homoerotic wrestling synapses firing in my more formative years.