November 19, 2019

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., Nov. 19, 2019— A professional wrestling charity event will serve as a final project in a Centenary University Sports and Entertainment Management class that pulled together many disciplines to give students a unique outside-the-book learning experience. Students planned all aspects of the fundraising event, which will take place on Nov. 23 and support Camp Kesem, a camp for children impacted by their parents’ cancer.

Held in Centenary University’s Reeves Gym, Cyclone Slam will feature World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star Frederick Douglas Rosser III, who fights as Darren Young, vs. NYU All-American Ray Jazz and Kelly Madan vs. Sonya Strong, plus Hackettstown native Damian Adams. Rosser will also speak at a #BLOCKTHEHATE presentation on Friday, Nov. 22 at Centenary.

The innovative course, Bodyslams Instead of Books, was developed by Associate Professor of Sports Management David Perricone and Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Stephen Davis, working in conjunction with theatre arts, business, social media, communication, English, and other Centenary programs to give students a unique opportunity for practical work experience.

The joint venture was launched after Perricone reached out to Davis. “We were discussing how our programs could work together to create a multi-disciplinary learning experience for students,” Perricone said. “It snowballed from there to include almost every department in the University—it is a truly cross-curricular course.” Perricone and Davis looked to the wider Centenary academic community for skills that would dovetail with planning the event.

Dana Benbow, assistant professor of business, helped with the business side of entertainment, such as reviewing WWE financial reports. Tim Guella, adjunct professor of business and director of social media for #the VIBE, the University’s Social Media Center of Expertise, taught how to execute and promote the event on social media. Assistant Professor of English Arlene Young, Ed.D., helped draft scripts. John Del Re, operations manager of, the internet voice of Centenary, is giving students air time to present their scripts. Assistant Professors of Communication Matthew Mendres and Boris Gavrilovic will video the students.

Davis is still on board, helping the students with the basic movements of theatre and performance that will be showcased at the November event. Although professional wrestling is considered more theatre than professional sport, students are learning real-world skills and will be graded on their effort. It is very much a real college class, Perricone said.

“My time in the class this semester has shown me that everything pro wrestling does, from creating characters and storylines, to setting up the arena, all the way to the financial side of the business, entails that the wrestling industry has a variety of work, day-in and day-out,” said Michael Menkin, a student in the class who goes by the name, The Gladiator. Fellow student Kaitlyn Dunne, known as The Angel of Darkness to students, added, “This class has also helped me learn leadership skills and working well with a team. It has been a fun experience and I am glad to be helping out a charity with such great qualities and inspiring goals.”

The wrestling weekend will also touch on issues of social justice and diversity as the University hosts Frederick Douglas Rosser III, known by his professional wrestling name, Darren Young, at 7 pm on Friday, Nov. 22, in the Little Theatre of the Edward W. Seay Administration Building. Rosser, a New Jersey native, is the first WWE star to come out as openly gay. He promotes #BLOCKTHEHATE, a movement that fights bullying and promotes LGBTQ equality.

Cyclone Slam will take place on Nov. 23 at 7 pm. Floors seats are $20, general admission is $15, with $10 for Centenary faculty, staff, and students. All proceeds will support Camp Kesem, a nationwide initiative promoted by college students that helps children as they go through parents’ cancer. In addition to providing campers with the opportunity to get away and have fun, Camp Kesem has a lasting impact by introducing children to peers who understand exactly what they are going through.

For more information about Cyclone Slam, visit or email For more information about #BLOCKTHEHATE, email


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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