Since the beginning of this series, numerous AEW talents that walk on the wild side have been covered, which continues with Joey Janela. From Jon Moxley to Jimmy Havoc, it’s clear that All Elite Wrestling has no shortage of wrestlers with reckless abandon. When discussing such talents, the one that proudly calls himself “The Bad Boy” can’t be ignored. Featuring his iconic shades and an inclination to take any sort of risk in a match, Janela provides a unique take on wrestling.
The career of Joey Janela is surprisingly lengthy, as he went from fibbing about his age to wrestle for promoters to becoming one of the most recognized talents on the independent scene. In this week’s AEW talent, we will dive deep into the career of “The Bad Boy.”
During his youth, New Jersey native Janela gravitated toward hardcore wrestling. His love for said style led him to wrestle as young as 15 years old. Before he was even of legal drinking age, Janela made his professional debut for National Wrestling Superstars, based out of New Jersey, in 2006. He would work for NWS during the years to come. Janela received his first championship opportunity in April of 2008, unsuccessfully challenging Nicky Oceans for the NWS Jersey Shore Championship. The following November, Janela challenged for the NWS Cruiserweight Championship, against JD Smoothie, but once again came up short.
In January of 2009, Janela teamed with Travis Blake to compete in the NWS J-Cup, the promotion’s tag team tournament; collectively, they were known as The Philly Wiz Kids. They defeated The Gemini Trojans, Jeremy, and Josh, in the first round, Oceans and Rob Eckos in the semifinals, before ultimately falling to Josh Daniels and Damian Adams in the finals. Throughout the rest of the year, Janela fought for the NWS Cruiserweight Championship. At Howlin Halloween Eve, in October, Janela finally claimed the title by defeating Mikey Pacifica.
2010 saw Janela continually defend the NWS Cruiserweight Championship against opponents including Smoothie and Trent Acid. In March, he dropped the title to Pacifica, only to win it back almost immediately after. In April, he competed in the King & Queen of the Ring tournament. Alongside Niya, he lost to Oceans and Jana in the first round. In May, Janela dropped the NWS Cruiserweight Championship to Smoothie in a three-way elimination match, only to win it back later in the evening. In August, Janela lost the title once more, this time in a three-way cage match to Pacifica.
By the time 2011 rolled around, the NWS Cruiserweight was rendered vacant. To determine a new champion, Janela competed in a three-way elimination match against Smoothie and Spyral, the latter ultimately winning the match. In September, Janela debuted for Premiere Wrestling Xperience, losing to The Chiva Kid in the opening match. He went on to challenge Caleb Konley for the PWI Ultra J Championship but was unsuccessful. In mid-2012, Janela started for Pro Wrestling Syndicate under the gimmick Starman, based on the video game character from “Pro Wrestling” for the Nintendo Entertainment System. In November, he won a three-way match to become the second PWS Tri-State Champion. He would win the title once more the following year.
In February of 2013, Janela debuted for Monster Factory Pro Wrestling, defeating Alex Kassidy in his debut. In January of 2014, he made his way to Jersey Championship Wrestling, challenging for the JCW Extreme Championship on multiple occasions. The following March, alongside Rhett Titus, Janela won the 2014 J-Cup and the JCW Tag Team Championship. They would drop the championship the following June, with Janela going solo, to Jarrett Foster and Aaron Stride, Glitz and Glamour. In September, Janela made his Combat Zone Wrestling debut in a Tournament of Valor match, losing to Dave McCall one fall to two. Nonetheless, he would end 2014 with a win, teaming with Rex Lawless to defeat Blake Morris and Ben Ortiz at CZW Dojo Wars in December.
At CZW Sixteen, in February of 2015, Janela bested Sozio in a Best of the Best Tournament qualifying match. In April, however, he lost the first-round three-way elimination match, which was ultimately won by CJP. In May, alongside X-Pac, Janela would win the JCW Tag Team Championship. About a week later, Janela and X-Pac dropped the straps to EYFBO, Mike Draztik, and Angel Ortiz. Janela’s tag team pursuits wouldn’t stop there; at House of Glory’s High Intensity 4, the same month, he teamed with Anthony Gangone to win the HOG Tag Team Championship. In CZW, Janela began working with Penelope Ford, which would lead to a well-known unity across different promotions. In October, Janela bested Tim Donst for the CZW Wired TV Championship. He would defend it until December when he dropped it to Lio Rush at Cage of Death XVII.
In February of 2016, at CZW Seventeen, Janela won back the Wired Championship from Rush in a two-out-of-three-falls match. The month after, Rush reclaimed the title in a four-way match at Proving Grounds. In April, Janela competed in a first-round match in the Best of the Best 15. In September, Janela won his third Wired Championship in a ladder match at Down with the Sickness. From there, he would set his sights on Game Changer Wrestling’s Trent Acid Cup. Janela won the first round four-way, defeated B-Boy in the semifinals, and bested Pinkie Sanchez in the finals to win.
Janela’s winning ways continued into 2017; in February, he successfully defended the CZW Wired Championship against Stockade at Eighteen and Still Like Nothing Else. The following month, however, Janela would drop the title to Johnny Yuma. March was also significant in that it was when Janela and GCW produced the first-ever Joey Janela’s Spring Break event. During this show, which possessed a party-like atmosphere during WrestleMania Weekend, Janela defeated former WWE Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion Marty Jannetty.
In August, Joey Janela made his PROGRESS Wrestling Debut, losing to Jimmy Havoc in a no-disqualification match at the promotion’s New York City event. That same month, Janela debuted for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, competing in the Battle of Los Angeles tournament. In the first round, he lost to Sammy Guevara. In October, however, he won his fourth Wired Championship, defeating Maxwell Jacob Friedman at The Wolf of Wrestling. By December, Janela would drop the Wired Championship back to Friedman.
Janela made his debut for Major League Wrestling March of 2018, defeating Darby Allin in a Fans Bring the Weapons match. In April, the second Joey Janela’s Spring Break event was held. He would defeat The Great Sasuke in a 25-minute main event. Janela continued to wrestle at MLW events, such as against Havoc the same month and Callihan in May. In June, Janela competed at EVOLVE 106, successfully challenging Austin Theory for the WWN Championship. In August, GCW held Joey Janela’s Lost in New York; he lost to Jinsei Shinzaki in the second-to-last match. In September, Janela competed in the 2018 BOLA tournament, making it to the semifinals where he lost to Bandido. Janela would suffer a knee injury the same month in a GCW match against Psicosis, taking him out for the rest of the year and the early part of 2019. Nonetheless, he announced that he would make his return at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3.
The aforementioned event was held in April of 2019. Though he lost to Marko Stunt on night one and Jungle Boy on night two, it was clear “The Bad Boy” was back. That past January, in perhaps greater news, it was announced that Janela would join the new professional wrestling promotion, All Elite Wrestling. He made his official AEW debut at Double or Nothing, in May, competing in the Casino Battle Royale. As part of the “Diamonds,” Janela was eliminated by Luchasaurus via chokeslam through a table on the outside. Joey Janela would have his first major AEW match at Fyter Fest, in June, falling to Jon Moxley in a grueling non-sanctioned match that featured everything from barbed wire to thumbtacks. Fight for the Fallen, which took place in July, featured Janela teaming with Havoc and Allin to challenge Guevara, Friedman, and Shawn Spears; the latter team would emerge victorious. Allin, Havoc, and Janela’s loss would come to a head, with these three personalities scheduled to face off in a three-way match at the end of this month’s All Out.
Though Joey Janela is firmly etched in AEW, he continues to wrestle for various independent promotions. Just recently, he competed in the main event of Beyond Americanrana 2019, besting David Starr in a punishing 60-minute iron man match. Once AEW makes its way to primetime television, expect “The Bad Boy” to continue throwing caution to the wind and taking any risk necessary to win. He has developed a considerable reputation for being his own man and it will be this mindset that takes him to greater popularity in AEW.
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