An impactful moment in pro wrestling is measured in multiple ways.
It’s part of the beauty of the medium’s mixture of athletics with art and expression. Such an accomplishment can derive from a death-defying in-ring feat or a showcase of heart that erupts from the drama of a heated battle. The burst of emotion following a cathartic victory or a rousing response from an audience can easily stick in the mind. And, of course, those moments where historic sights that many believed would never happen unfold before our collective eyes.
These slices of time define careers in pro wrestling, but few create a snapshot of historic proportions the very first time they step into the ring. British pro wrestler Amber Jo is one of those exceptions.
Known by her “Notorious Angel” moniker, Amber Jo is still very early in her pro wrestling career. She only started training in the summer of 2019 in her native Portsmouth, but she already represents history in the British pro wrestling scene.
Amber Jo became the first out trans pro wrestler to appear under the banner of Revolution Pro, one of the U.K.’s largest wrestling promotions, in the company’s Revolution Rumble match in Jan. 2020.
It was also Amber Jo’s debut match.
Though she didn’t win in her first in-ring outing, etching her name into British pro wrestling history simply by stepping into a RevPro ring brought similar feelings as victory. “I cried,” Amber Jo said on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring. “I was speechless … I honestly didn’t know I was making history.”
The significance of her appearance that night didn’t really set in until afterward when the Portsmouth grappler was chatting with her mom over a kebab later that night. But Amber Jo’s response to the news proved just how much the recent rise of trans representation in pro wrestling resonates with the new generation of wrestlers just entering the industry. “I’m [Revolution Pro’s] Nyla Rose,” she said.
But while making history in her debut match will surely remain on Amber Jo’s list of accolades going forward, the true power of her journey in pro wrestling is best seen in Amber herself. Amber Jo struggled with common cultural ideals of femininity as she transitioned, feeling as if she had to present more “girly.”
Seeing top women wrestlers with muscular physiques that still fully embraced their femininity like Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, Nyla Rose, Paige and Beth Phoenix on WWE programming in her youth emboldened Amber Jo to feel confident to push through those societal definitions. “Wrestling has really helped me transition and really helped me find myself as a person,” Amber Jo said.
“It was all because of wrestling and these people that I watched growing up. I thought one day I was going to pretend to be like them and it helped me find myself,” she added. “I can’t thank them girls enough because they have really helped me find who I am as a person, athlete and woman.”
Amber Jo now carries that forward as she hopes to become a role model for trans and autistic communities who wish to see themselves in pro wrestling. And she’ll be doing it while fulfilling her own Chyna body goals.
Check out the entire interview with “The Notorious Angel” Amber Jo on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring. Download and listen to new episodes every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and all other podcast services.