This year has proven to be a breakout year for out pro wrestler Jai Vidal.

The purveyor of the Power Bottom Bomb made a name for himself in Las Vegas’ emerging independent wrestling scene over the past two years, mainly working with Future Stars of Wrestling. But Vidal couldn’t be contained to the Nevada desert this year, especially as he is set to make his debut with Impact Wrestling on Thursday night.

His appearance on Impact’s nationally televised program caps a whirlwind year for the young high-flyer during which he wowed audiences at editions of EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch, Full Queer and multiple No Peace Underground events.

During an appearance on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring, Vidal pointed to his Impact debut as an indescribable achievement.

“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Vidal said. “I don’t think I ever would have guessed I’m going to be a part of something associated with GCW, including the Big Gay Brunch, as well as being PCW Ultralight champion. And even now having appeared on Impact — this all happened in less than a year and I’m super grateful for it.

“The blessings are coming from the universe, and I’m here to receive them.”

The experience with Impact definitely left a mark for Vidal personally, including meaningful moments with X-Division champion Trey Miguel and Impact veteran Rhino. But what stuck even more with Vidal was having Impact provide him with a national stage on which he could be his full self without apology.

Jai Vidal

Vidal’s rise in profile has also coincided with him becoming a favorite of LGBTQ fans, sometimes giving them their only slice of visibility during events. Vidal has embraced that role with humility, understanding from his own experience as a young pro wrestling fan just how important it is for those communities to see themselves in that world.

“That’s why representation is so important, having somebody that you could look up to and say, ‘That person reminds me of myself,’” Vidal said. “I don’t think that it really clicks in my head until after I do a show and I see a trans kid or non-binary kid come over and, with a big smile on their face, like, ‘Oh, can I take a picture?’

“You look at the rest of the roster on the card, they really don’t got anybody who is as close to the community as I am. So they tend to come over and share experiences with you, connect with you. I think that even the fact that Impact had me on with my nail polish and coming in letting me be Jai Vidal speaks volumes to the positive direction that they’re going.”

Stepping into the Impact locker room also presented Vidal an opportunity to meet the person who he latched onto as young, queer pro wrestling fan: Knockouts champion Mickie James.

Vidal points to James’ same-sex crush-turned-obsession storyline with Trish Stratus in 2006-07 as what cemented her legend status in his mind while also highlighting the need for better, authentic LGBTQ identities in pro-wrestling programming.

Vidal described meeting James as “one of the most amazing experiences” of his life, but it also spoke to his own vision for his role in the pro wrestling world.

“I do believe that I have a purpose in life, and I used to think that purpose was professional wrestling,” Vidal said. “What I love to do is professional wrestling. I feel like my purpose is to try and inspire people to be the best version of themselves and to comfortably be themselves.”

Watch Jai Vidal’s Impact wrestling debut on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 8pm ET on AXS TV. Check out the full interview with Jai Vidal on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring. New episodes release every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and all other podcast services.