Vidal announced the signing on a special episode of the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring, saying that he was on “cloud nine” after signing his first contract with a major televised promotion.
“I’ve been in the business going on seven years. In February, it’ll be seven years,” Vidal said. “All the times that it’s been hard to pay the bills, it’s all finally worth it.”
Vidal’s signing comes a little over three weeks after he re-debuted with IMPACT alongside fellow LGBTQ pro wrestler Gisele Shaw in one of the first LGBTQ tandems seen on televised American pro wrestling. Vidal was introduced to audiences as Shaw’s executive stylist and content creator ahead of her Knockouts World title match against Jordynne Grace.
Vidal previously appeared on IMPACT programming in late 2021, wrestling matches against Eric Young and Jonah.
Vidal caught the eye of IMPACT after becoming a notable star in multiple independent promotions across Las Vegas, Florida and California. He also became a staple of “EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch” events.
According to Vidal, the contract offer came “out of nowhere.”
“When I got the call to sign with IMPACT, I had actually just come back to Florida from the [IMPACT] show in Vegas,” he told Outsports. “I was running on zero sleep. I got back and saw the voicemail and called them right back.”
IMPACT shared the company’s enthusiasm about the signing.
“We’re excited to sign Jai Vidal, a talented and charismatic wrestler who brings a diverse skill-set to the ring,” IMPACT Wrestling Executive Vice President Scott D’Amore told Outsports. “We’re proud to welcome another member of the LGBTQ community to the IMPACT roster and further our outreach into that community, which has a deep fanbase for pro wrestling.”
The groundbreaking element of his signing didn’t sink in until days later. Multiple LGBTQ pro wrestlers have stepped into an IMPACT ring over its existence, including current IMPACT stars Shaw and “Speedball” Mike Bailey. Yet no out gay man has ever been under contract with the company until Vidal.
“That’s groundbreaking,” Vidal said. “That’s knocking down barriers. It’s everything that I’ve always wanted to do for my community and professional wrestling because — I talk about this a lot — growing up, I had nobody to look up to really when it came to representation.
“Maybe one day down the line, somebody will see me on TV and will be inspired by me being openly gay to chase whatever goals and dreams they have as an open person in the LGBTQ community.”
IMPACT as a company has taken steps to work with LGBTQ groups in 2022 as well. Notable among those is its partnership with the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance. Shaw represented IMPACT as a special guest speaker at the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series opening ceremony in Dallas in August.
Community outreach is major part of why Vidal is excited to join the IMPACT roster, due to his own struggles to find community and people who understood his experiences growing up as a gay teenager in South Florida.
“When I was 17, I used to go to an LGBT youth group … I dealt with a lot of homophobia. I didn’t have other out people to talk to, so I had to find my own way to talk to LGBTQ people my age. It was something way more, to learn how to confidently be yourself in a world that might not accept you.
“But they showed us the importance of being yourself because, if somebody sees you being yourself, another person will see that and it’s almost like a domino effect until finally it just becomes so widely accepted that you’re not presented as the ‘gay friend’ or ‘gay wrestler.’ You’re presented as a wrestler who happens to be gay but who still puts on for his community.”
Inside the ring, though, Vidal has one goal in mind.
“I do think it would be pretty cool to be the first openly gay X-Division champion,” Vidal shared with a chuckle. “Gisele Shaw, Knockouts World champion. Jai Vidal, X-Division champion. Holding the titles side-by-side and just dominating the roster because we can—like a community takeover.”
Listen to the full interview with IMPACT’s Jai Vidal on the Outsports podcast LGBT In The Ring and catch Vidal and the rest of the IMPACT roster every Thursday at 8pm ET on AXS TV.