Women’s pro wrestling has always been a hallmark for Impact Wrestling, which is why the company’s decision to bring back its all-women event Knockouts Knockdown amid a women’s wrestling resurgence across pro wrestling feels so right.
But the increased presence of LGBTQ pro wrestlers since Impact last held the event in 2017 set the table for a cultural intersection that fits with the positive steps pro wrestling has taken in that time. And one of the people who best represents that is a familiar name: Jamie Senegal.
Senegal will compete in a one-night tournament on the show with a shot at the Impact Knockouts championship on the line just a few months removed from a similar opportunity at the NWA’s all-women event EmPowerrr. She and Mercedes Martinez will be LGBTQ representatives within the eight-woman bracket.
While her NWA debut remains special, the chance to step into the Impact Knockouts division represents something so much more personal.
“Impact has always been my dream - my number one goal,” Senegal told Outsports. “To see how serious they took the women’s division and Impact’s rich history of women’s wrestling inspired such a strong love in me. To be able to reach that goal was the craziest feeling ever. It makes me hungry.”
Senegal will become part of that rich history when she steps into the ring on Saturday. She will be the first out trans woman to ever wrestle for Impact. Breaking that barrier, just as she did with the NWA in August, resonates with Senegal.
“To give that queer representation is the coolest thing ever, because, for so long, we were all like ‘It’s never going to happen,’” Senegal said.
“Being able to be myself on a grand platform like Impact Wrestling or NWA is showing that there is a place in wrestling for queer people. It gets queer people at home who have always wanted to wrestle that are scared to chase their dreams that they can do it too.”
Planting herself further as a voice in pro wrestling’s changing landscape at Knockouts Knockdown is special to Senegal. But there is an even deeper connection - one that inspired Senegal in the same way she wishes to do - that Saturday represents.
Impact Wrestling will celebrate the life and honor former WCW and Impact wrestler Shannon “Daffney” Spruill at Knockouts Knockdown after she took her own life last month. Daffney was a universally loved figure within pro wrestling and her death was another catalyst for addressing mental health openly in pro wrestling circles.
Senegal was one of Daffney’s closest friends and sees special significance in being able to celebrate her life through the craft she loved.
“Daff bled this business. She was so passionate about what she did and to see her get so much recognition and love - she deserves it,” Senegal said.
“I’ve noticed through the past with Hana Kimura and Ashley Massaro that people spoke about mental health and then forgot about it. I hope [Daffney] is the one that really sticks and makes us talk about it.”
Impact is doing its part to continue the conversation as well. The company is participating in the “Tag Me In” PSA campaign in cooperation with the National Alliance on Mental Health focused on mental health and suicide prevention awareness inspired by Daffney’s legacy. Impact is also launching multiple initiatives to benefit The Trevor Project, including selling autographed and ring-used items with 100% of the proceeds going to the LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization.
“What makes it so special that Impact is working with The Trevor Project and other organizations is that I’ve noticed mental health is kind of a silent topic in the business. Everyone struggles with mental health, in and out of the business,” Senegal said. “It’s so important to let everyone know that you’re not alone and it’s OK to speak up.
“Suicide and mental health are huge issues in the queer community that need to be tackled. I think it is great to not only see Impact working towards mental health and concussion issues in general, but also see them working with queer people who are suffering.”
She added: “That, to me, makes Impact the coolest company.”