You may have heard of Joey Janela. Janela is an independent wrestler known for wild matches filled with insane stunts. But perhaps this one is his most daring. At a show put on by “experimental” wrestling promotion Wrestler’s Lab, Janela decided to up the ante. There’s no other way to dress this up. He kicked a child right in the face. The kid was standing up for his father, Janela’s opponent Mr. Grim.
Get the latest indie wrestling news by subscribing to our newsletter.
WARNING: this video features pro-wrestling violence towards a young kid.
HOLY SHIT!!! @JANELABABY
— Jocay 🇪🇨 (@Jocay19) July 9, 2018
Not satisfied with that, Janela then put the kid in a garbage can and slide the can-on-wheels into a wall.
— Jocay 🇪🇨 (@Jocay19) July 9, 2018
A stunt like this is par for Janela. Nothing about his career is ordinary. He doesn’t push boundaries. He takes a bazooka to them.
Joey Janela Does What He Wants
Joey Janela’s nickname is the “Bad Boy.” It is more than just a gimmick. The admittedly self-trained wrestler built his entire career flipping the bird to wrestling norms and the independent establishment. He began wrestling around independent shows in New Jersey but made a big name for himself when he wrestled indie icon Zandig in a death match that ended with the two falling off a roof into a truck bed filled with inflamed wooden boards and light-tubes.
(Warning: besides two people falling into light tubes and fire, this video features some strong language)
Since then, he’s been one of the hottest bookings on the independent wrestling circuit. He’s wrestled all across the world. He also hosts his own bonkers shows that feature match-ups you couldn’t dream up in your wildest fantasy booking. His “Spring Break” events the last two WrestleMania weekends have been THE shows to watch.
Everyone from WWF and Japanese legends to an Invisible Man is featured. Janela’s bravery to do whatever he wants is rare, believe it or not. Most independent wrestlers claim to be free-thinking and free-wheeling, but most are carefully crafting a persona to get themselves a big job for a big company. That’s not Janela. He isn’t some marketing genius or social media savant. He just does whatever he wants. Janela’s brazenness is the key to understanding the real future of independent wrestling.
Joey Janela And Wrestling’s Future
I don’t think Janela will be on NXT TV anytime soon. He operates on his own terms on the fringes of wrestling. Janela is challenging and pushing what it means to be an independent. He’s braver than the Young Bucks or Cody Rhodes because he doesn’t have a big name or (allegedly) a company behind him. He is on his own. Making his own rules. Calling his own shots.
Joey Janela is the future of professional wrestling because he’s independent. Through word of mouth and viral videos, he is building himself into the pinnacle of what it means to be an indie wrestler. In an age when the “dream” is still to go to WWE, or at least get signed by NJPW ROH or Impact, Janela has TNT’d his own path. He takes the “dream match” concept and drops acid on it. He is like a Michelin Star chef making Taco Bell. Everything looks the same, but it is turned on its head and all the way up to eleven. Janela is proof you can make it big without a marketing machine and pedigree. What Janela lacks in training or even body-type he makes up for with bravery.
It is the best time to be an independent wrestling fan. But the market shifts daily. Anyone with a name and skills is getting swept up by the big companies. The true independents are few and far between. Janela stands out because he is doing it his way without asking permission or begging forgiveness.
Contrary to what many think, we need fewer Cody Rhodes and more Joey Janelas if indie wrestling hopes to survive WWE’s sudden interest in independent wrestlers.