The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
May 31, 2022

Joey Janela Is Making More Money Since Leaving AEW

Joey Janela Is Making More Money Since Leaving AEW

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Joey Janela (@thebadboyjoeyjanela) is a professional wrestler. He joins Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios in Las Vegas to talk about his contract not being renewed with AEW, recently lighting his foot on fire for a flaming superkick in GCW, the original plans for him and Sonny Kiss in AEW, his regrets about drunkenly trying to fight Enzo at a Blink 182 concert, breaking Eddie Kingston’s orbital bone with a kick to the face, the hate he gets from fans on social media and more!


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On the flaming superkick:

“So this is the situation. The night before, me and Drew Parker, who is one of the top deathmatch wrestlers right now. So he’s from England and he moved to Japan to wrestle some of the best deathmatch wrestlers in the world. So he went over there, he lives there, and we bring him over sporadically for GCW maybe once a year. So this match was supposed to happen on New Year’s Eve, but he didn’t want to come over because of the COVID restrictions. So we delayed the match until Los Angeles, and he is one of my favorite dudes. The night before I said to him ‘You are doing a lot of deathmatches, let’s take it easy.’ Instead we did a Joey Janela hybrid plunder match. Outlaw mud show bullsh*t. So we are at The Rainbow Room in South California and I drink a ton of whiskey. |I go ‘Drew, I got an idea. Let’s do 15 minutes of a regular wrestling match, but then it’s like an M. Night Shyamalan twist. All of a sudden it turns into a deathmatch.’ He’s like ‘Let’s do it!’ The next day I’m like f*ck, why did I agree to this? At this point in my career, I don’t want to do deathmatches. I don’t want scars on my face, I got glass still from the last one I did in my arm. But I’m like, let’s do it. Then I came up with the idea, what if I light my foot on fire while doing a superkick? Just playing with the idea and he’s like ‘That sounds cool, can we get lighter fluid?’ I ask Rob Sh*t, that’s his wrestling name, to go out and get me some lighter fluid. Within 10 minutes he comes back with lighter fluid. OK, I guess this is going to happen. I go to Brett Lauderdale, I go ‘Brett, I’m going to light my foot on fire and give Drew a superkick.’ He thought I was bullsh*tting him, being like whatever.’ 

‘So we get out there, and fire spots rarely work perfectly, they go to the right or the left. Either the fire goes out and you look like an idiot, or the fire is blazing and you nearly die. I didn’t want to make it a sh*tty fire spot, so when I took the lighter fluid, I used probably ¾ of that bottle on my foot. When we were ready to go, I took that lighter and that foot was blazing. I didn’t feel it at the time and it was a perfectly executed superkick with the fire, couldn’t have gone any better. But then I am waiting for the water, the only people that [knew about the spot] were me, Drew, the ref and some young guy that was helping out and building stuff and Rob Sh*t. I didn’t want a fire extinguisher, usually they are pointless. Usually you put water on the fire and it goes out. The last thing I want is some f*cking guy spraying a fire extinguisher at me and me breaking out in a rash and my eyes swelling up. The chemicals in a fire extinguisher are terrible for you, these are real and I don’t want that sprayed at me. Usually a bucket of water will do, and that’s what they had. So they get the water and I am trying to get my shoe off. I tied the shoe so tight, I didn’t want there to be a chance that my flaming shoe flew off and went into the crowd. So it was hard to get it off, I get it off and the shoe is on fire, and I look and the sock is on fire, how the f*ck did that happen. So I try to grab my foot and try to put it out with my hands. Eventually Rob Sh*t got his leather jacket out and saves the day.”

On the contract not being renewed:

“There’s chances that I might have been renewed either here or in Ring of Honor. But I just ran my mouth in an interview saying that I hadn’t heard from anyone. Then I heard that Tony was hot about it because it made him look bad and the talent relations look bad. But at the same time, it made them improve their communications with talent. I had talent from the company saying ‘You are 100% correct. That was cool for you to take that risk.’ So I said yes to an interview with Denise Salcedo, I had it and I was stressed out and frustrated. It was just a situation, but I created a lot of good out of it, and I haven’t talked to Tony since. It’s kind of a little, it kind of irked me. We were so cool and I would go out with him after the early shows, because I would stay up with him until 7am drinking tequila. I’m sure it irked him but there are no hard feelings on either side.”

On Tony Khan:

“Tony tries to make everyone happy. It is a fantastic working environment for professional wrestling. There is going to be a lot of politics, but when you have 25 minute matches every week, you are not going to fit everyone on the show and make everyone happy. He tries to make everyone happy.”

On the Joey Janela social media backlash:

“I love it, I love being polarizing. Growing up I was always drawn to the celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Tommy Lee, Marilyn f*cking Manson! When I was a kid, that was who f*cked up my life, ECW and Marilyn Manson. I know he is cancelled at the moment, but back then I was obsessed because he was always in the headlines for doing something controversial. People think I have thin skin, certainly not. I have been dealing with this harassment for years. When I rattle the hornet's nest, it can rattle so much attention. I can light my foot on fire, say something to someone, and then I am trending. Not only am I doing something stupid, but I am acting like an asshole. I am blurring the lines more because I am not with AEW anymore. Now I am an independent guy, I don’t have to worry about TNT or whatever.They would go to Tony Khan ‘This is one of your wrestlers?! Why the f*ck did you hire him?’ This happened to me a few times over there.”

On Joey Janela being creatively stifled:

“I could never completely be myself while being under contract. The Joey Janela before AEW is similar to the Joey Janela now, I am a lot smarter and more mature than I was then. But to the outside people, I am just as idiotic and immature. I watered myself down a lot, I made money every 2 weeks for 3 years. What I learned being part of a TV company is that you can’t buy that sh*t. I learned so much from a lot of the guys there, you learn so much. People think I am untrained, but that’s not the case. I trained the same way a lot of their favorites did in the 70s and 80s. I went to camps and travelled the schools in the United States.”

On Joey Janela not re-signing with AEW:

“So this is the situation. People are going to take this and say that I am creating false narratives and craziness. So the plan was to bring me back to TV, that’s why Tony was like ‘Listen, your act with Penelope was stellar. We have to find a way to replicate your act, we need an athletic female that we can pair you with so we can do a similar act and bring you back to TV. I said that I would start to look on the indies for gymnasts or former cheerleaders that can do some amazing stuff. We looked at a few girls and were on the fence about it, when the lights are on you’ve got to be able to hit those big moves. Penelope was able to do that, she was able to while teaming with me on the indies. But I said to her ‘You have to hit this in one shot!’ And she was like ‘OK, let’s f*cking go!’ Tony wanted something similar to that, I see the girl Kayla doing Phoenix Splashes and Moonsaults, I find out she is a former Olympic gymnast and pro bodybuilder, so I’m like alright! This is different and this is great, she could be Chyna but with crazy aerial moves. We pitched it to Tony, and he is like let’s bring her in. I wanted it to be in the United Center, they debuted her there and was only training for a couple of months in one of the biggest shows in AEW at that point. But she Powerbombed Robert Anthony a bit too hard, he leaped right into it, she’s not a wrestler so she tried to make it as good as possible. It all went around the botches so Tony didn’t like it. So I then did this match with Sonny Kiss and we had 12 minutes on Dark. Right before we go out we are told we have 6 minutes, no 5 minutes, that usually happens on TV. So f*ck, we are supposed to have this big match in our home state, but that match was hot. All action, not a lot of psychology, but a hot crowd. We had them and we had her do the Moonsault on Sonny afterwards and the crowd loses it. Tony is like ‘We have something.’ And Big Show is giving her advice too. Some of the girls were not too happy that someone comes in off the street after 2 months and is on TV. So Tony says the plan is to do another Sonny Kiss and create the whole storyline. So I did and I pitched it to Cody, he liked it and OK let’s go. I’m told after we do the street fight, which I win and another great match, I’m told I’m going back on TV. But after that I am just rolling with the punches and I don’t know what happened.”

On what’s next:

“I want to explore my options and do international tours. Right now I’ve got it down that I am making more money now than in my AEW contract. People think I am bullsh*tting but I was making 6 figures there. Now I am selling my merchandise and stepping up my creative [items]. I am walking out with a ton of merch money. I was doing the indies on top of AEW, but I wasn’t allowed to sell my own merch or take Friday bookings. Tony doesn’t want people promoting their indie shows when they should be promoting the show that signs the cheques. Some of these guys are asking for $6,000 a show, all I ask for is a hotdog and a handshake. They are paying me, but as long as you work hard and want to take this route, I recommend you do. But I am gone 4 to 5 days a week, but I don’t have a family or pets. I’m not mailing in any shows, I am just brutalising myself. But I love wrestling again now.”

On joining NXT:

“Probably not. I have gotten feelers before and I know I am local, but I thought I was restricted and watered down in AEW and walking on eggshells. But NXT is a whole new level, they have the password to your Twitter. If you post something wrong they will take it down and take you into the office and yell at you. But this is me, 95% when I am on social media I am working, I don’t give a f*ck. But I do know how to blur the lines enough.”

On his teeth:

“I just decided that 2022 will be bad boy summer part 2. I want to get buff and get my teeth fixed, which we are in the process of doing right now. Thank you Britt Baker! These are just temps, the real teeth go in in June. These are just temps that are glued in dentures, but they look good for the time being. It’s expensive but it’s worth it. New teeth, new physique and bad boy summer part 2!”

On  Joey Janela fighting Enzo Amore:

“The week later I am at PNC Arts Center and I keep on saying ‘I’m going to f*ck with Enzo.’ Well, we couldn’t find him. I see some guy with a beard walk by dressed in what looks like a potato sack. I go ‘Oh sh*t it’s Enzo.’ So I start punching him in the arm and he didn’t take too kindly to that. The whole thing got caught on video and I look like the biggest f*cking idiot ever. It’s like ‘Tony, this is the guy you put in the main event with Moxley? This f*cking idiot!’ Some of the guys were like ‘F*ck this guy, he makes us look bad.’ There’s guys who are p*ss drunk at Blink 182 concerts and I look like the biggest f*cking idiot. Me and Enzo have talked out and I have apologised, if there is one thing I wish I didn’t do in my life it was that. If you get in a fist fight in New Jersey it’s a $15,000 fine and jail.”

On what Joey Janela is grateful for:

“The places I have gotten to see, the wrestling business and for the booze, drugs and whores!”