Impact Wrestling is a pro wrestling promotion that has shown a unique ability to reinvent itself, all while staying true to some of its founding tenets as it prepares to celebrate its 19th anniversary at Saturday’s Slammiversary pay-per-view event. Through multiple changes in leadership, ownership and even the company’s name, Impact has stood the test of time.
Now, as it prepares to welcome fans back to live events for the first time since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Impact stands ready to celebrate one fan in particular whose loyalty has never waned.
Contreras was already widely known as an Impact diehard long before the company announced the contest, whose grand prize included a paid trip to Nashville, Tenn. to see Slammiversary and tapings of Impact’s television show in-person.
“To know that I’m going to be one of the first few fans back for their big event is very exciting,” he added. “
After discovering Impact, then known as NWA-TNA, though a pay-per-view preview channel, Contreras made Impact a weekly tradition, even forgoing his weekly allowance in favor of having his mom order the company’s weekly pay-per-events.
Contreras’ “allowance” morphed into annual trips to Impact’s premier annual event, Bound For Glory, beginning in 2016, including an odyssey-level trip to Ottawa for 2017’s event, despite the show moving there from Orlando, Fla. at the last minute.
It was in Ottawa that Contreras, complete with custom Bound For Glory sneakers and a sign reading “I flew more than 1,850 miles for Bound For Glory,” caught the eye of Impact management. That connection led Contreras, who is openly gay, to accompany out Impact Knockouts Tag Team champion Kiera Hogan during her “Coming Out Party” at Bound For Glory weekend 2019.
“[Impact] invited us fans to go to a gay bar and watch a drag show with a lot of their wrestlers. My friends and I went to the drag show in Chicago and had a blast,” Contreras said. “There’s no wrestling company out there willing to go to a drag bar to watch drag shows with their wrestlers and fans together.”
Though his love for pro wrestling began with WWE in 1997, nothing else matched Impact in Contreras’ eyes once he discovered it. From early X-division favorites like Low Ki and Amazing Red, to current-era stars like Trey Miguel and Impact Knockouts champion Deonna Purrazzo, Contreras found personas he could latch onto throughout the company’s history.
“It just had some sort of grit to it,” Contreras told Outsports. “It just looked and felt different. It felt like, for the first time, I was watching pro wrestling instead of an entertainment show ... You felt like you were a part of a company that was building. Once they made it to Fox Sports Net I was like, ‘Oh, man. We made it. 3:00 p.m. time slot.’ It wasn’t a good time slot but, you know, progress.”
Contreras’ Impact fandom also provided an opening for his LGBTQ identity to intersect positively with pro wrestling. Contreras loved what he saw so much that he stepped into the ring himself, wrestling as “El Hoto Loco” (“Crazy Gay”) in independent promotions between 2009 and 2013. Unfortunately, Contreras exited his own in-ring career because “It didn’t feel like the right environment as a gay male.”
“It was very hard to be openly gay in a wrestling locker room; being around a lot of macho men, having to lock up with them and be very close in that kind of setting. A lot of guys don’t want to work with you because they’re thinking something obviously negative when it comes to that sexuality,” Contreras said.
Though his own experience pushed him out of the ring, the current shift in LGBTQ acceptance within pro wrestling has Contreras feeling hopeful and seen within his lifelong love.
“I’m excited and wish that it would have happened sooner because I probably would have still been wrestling,” he said. “I see it building up and I think it’s about time. I’m glad that we are experiencing this during our lifetime.”