Joey Janela On His New AEW Deal, Working For Free In The Indies, & How Wrestling Changed His Life

Photo Credit: AEW

Joey Janela was a recent guest on the Prime Time Wrestling with Sean Mooney podcast. The injured and newly signed AEW star opened up about how wrestling helped save him from a troubled childhood, “Before my father passed, I was a bad child. I was going to the psychologist and they tried to put me on meds because I was getting suspended from school. My parents always had to pick me up.” Janela then suffered the loss of his father, “From there, when my father passed, I was really just one of those kids.  At around 15, 16, 17, I got arrested and what not, and would get into fights with cops, or the cops would come to my house every other day.”

Professional wrestling acted as a saving grace for the young Janela, “I think getting into wrestling around 15 years old really really helped me. I knew the more that I wrestled and the more I did it the more I would stay out of trouble. Of course [wrestling saved me].” Janela attests that without professional wrestling, he would have only found more trouble, “I definitely would have gotten myself in trouble eventually pretty bad just from doing stupid stuff, but wrestling definitely really helped me out a lot.”

Janela continued to pursue his passion and made a name for himself on the independent circuit, but things were far from easy. Janela details how he worked without pay, “I was still doing free shows two years ago sometimes because I wanted to wrestle. That’s legitimate. I was doing free shows. I was traveling two hours to do a free show on Wednesdays just because I wanted to wrestle.”

When Janela was rewarded with capital, he was given only a modest sum, “Most of my career I made $25-$60. There was no merchandise. There was none of that. There was bring a couple 8x10s that you printed at Staples and hope that they sell.” Janela describes himself as ‘one of the most humbly paid guys in the indies’ even up to the point of his injury he suffered in September of last year. The 29 year old independent star still lives with his mother, doesn’t use banks, and keeps his earnings in his dresser drawer. Through it all, Janela managed to keep a positive outlook, “I do have my merch and I do well on that, but I was making money. I was making more money than I was delivering pizzas, so I was happy with that. I was happy with what I was making.”

Things are certainly looking up for Janela, who just signed a deal with the upstart All Elite Wrestling. Janela learned about AEW while wrestling at the indie super show ALL IN, “They hit me up and told me they were starting this wrestling company and I told them I was 100% in. My goal in wrestling was always WWE, but after ALL IN, I realized there was more to do and more out there. I realized I’d rather be a part of something history making and life changing for a lot of people.”

AEW offered Janela a contract, despite suffering a significant knee injury, “When they offered me a contract I’d never signed a contract in my career and I’ve always wanted to sign a contract that was going to be worthwhile.” Janela describes the new deal as life-changing, “For me to sign that piece of paper last week was really great for me because it shows all the hard work I’ve been through and all the ups and downs, that I’ve made it in wrestling and was offered a big money contract for the first time in my life, and I don’t have to look in the past and say, ‘What if I don’t make money? What if I get hurt?’ That I don’t have to go back to delivering pizzas and driving Uber, I realize that I did something and I’m proud of it.”

(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone) 

Readers may listen to Sean Mooney‘s interview with Janela in its entirety below:

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