Wrestler of the Day – July 27: Dean Malenko

Get a blanket, because today is the Ice Man Dean Malenko.

Malenko got his start all the way back in 1979 but we’ll pick things up in 1992 when he made his debut in the mainstream. From Clash of the Champions XIX.

NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament First Round: Joe Malenko/Dean Malenko vs. Ricky Steamboat/Nikita Koloff

The Malenko Brothers are the seven seed in the tournament and represent Europe. Save for the Steiner Brothers and one other team, the seedings are almost completely arbitrary which we’ll see more of later. To give you an idea of the problem, Steamboat and Koloff, who have seven World Tag Team Title reigns between them, aren’t seeded at all (each match only has one seeded team so the other team is always unseeded).

Steamboat and Joe get things going with Ricky going for an early Boston crab. Joe is quickly in the ropes so Ricky snaps off some armdrags to put him back down. Dean comes in and takes a few armdrags into armbars. A tag brings in Nikita to a big reaction and he grabs a bearhug on Dean. Nikita drives shoulders into the ribs in the corner before catching Dean coming off the top rope in mid air.

Joe dropkicks Dean in the back to put him on top for two. Koloff no sells a snap suplex and throws Dean up in the air for a crash. Back to Ricky who gets caught in a belly to back suplex/clothesline combo for two. Dean puts his knee in Ricky’s back and pulls on his arm and leg before it’s off to Joe for a clothesline. Ricky finally escapes and makes the tag off to Nikita who cleans house with power all around, including the Russian Sickle for the pin on Joe.

Rating: C. There wasn’t anything special here but you had a balanced team against two very competent guys in the Malenkos. Koloff was back and actually having some decent matches while he was motivated around this time, including joining Sting in his war against the Dangerous Alliance. Steamboat was his usual good self and making others look good at the same time.

One of Dean’s first big breaks came in ECW where he had a big feud with Eddie Guerrero. From August 3, 1995.

TV Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko

Dean is defending. Feeling out process to start with both guys fighting over a wristlock. You know this is going to be technically heavy. Both guys try to drop to the mat and we get a standoff. A headlock takes Dean to the mat as Joey talks about Chavo Jr. making his debut in Los Angeles. Eddie lands on his feet to counter a monkey flip and he takes Dean down with a nice headscissors. A hiptoss and armdrag put Dean down and they trade headscissors to give Eddie control again.

There’s the hilo from Guerrero for two as Joey compares this to Flair, Gagne and Thesz. Not exactly but Joey didn’t always make sense. An abdominal stretch has Dean in trouble but he fights out of it and grabs a belly to back suplex. There’s a brainbuster for good measure but Guerrero is up at two. Malenko’s gutbuster (not the awesome middle rope variety) has Eddie in even more trouble and having his tornado DDT countered doesn’t help.

A nice tiger bomb gets two for the champion but he gets caught in a quick victory roll for two. Eddie puts him down and hits the frog splash out of nowhere but his ribs are too hurt to cover. Dean is smart enough to lock on an abdominal stretch but Eddie is quickly in the ropes. Malenko tries a rollup but Eddie reverses into one of his own for two, only to be caught in a sunset flip which he reverses as well into a pin on Dean for the title out of nowhere.

Rating: B-. The out of nowhere part is right as this felt like they were completely out of time and had to go to the finish. I’m not a fan of that kind of an ending at all as it takes away from all the rib work and build they had going on. It’s a good match but their Hostile City Showdown 2/3 falls match is better.

Dean would make it to WCW in late 1995 and he quickly took over the Cruiserweight division. Here he is in a grudge match at Hog Wild 1996.

Dean Malenko vs. Chris Benoit

This works. Jimmy Hart is with Malenko. Now there’s an odd combination. Liz is in leather. This WORKS. Even Woman looks good. Dusty says Benoit is coming out with two devilish women and he’s talking about Woman and Liz. Wow I thought you meant the two flies on his head. So Malenko is the hired gun of the Dungeon apparently to get Benoit out of the way in the endless Dungeon vs. Horsemen feud.

I would tell you they start with some technical stuff but I figured that was obvious. That goes away soon and we’re in straight physical stuff here with Benoit being in control less than Malenko. Dusty talks about the women at ringside which makes sense as he says Dean has to watch out for them. Ok, that’s fine. Tony uses this to talk about Konnan who isn’t on the main card tonight. Benoit takes over and just beats Dean up a lot.

NOW we hit the technical stuff and the pinfall reversals that you knew were coming. Dang these guys are crisp. That was very impressive. Seriously did you expect anything else? Benoit does the short arm scissors lift that Davey Boy Smith was so famous for doing to Shawn Michaels, showing that it’s more of a leverage thing than power. Tony says these two are the wrestlers of the new century for WCW.

That’s just amazing to hear knowing what’s coming. Tony tries really hard to not insult bikers, which makes him all the more insulting. Heenan talks about how awesome the midcard is and my mind continues to be blown over how WCW managed to screw everything up with the talent they had. Malenko gets a jumping tombstone as I’m trying to figure out who is face and who is heel here.

That was the issue with the NWO: EVERYONE became at least half face. That’s fine in some cases, but for others it just didn’t work at all as there are some people that you just don’t want to cheer. It’s fine if you have people that are never associated with the NWO angle, but EVERYONE was. That can’t work and it didn’t at all. Dang these two are physical. Heenan plugs the TV shows which you likely needed to watch in order to see this show. Brilliant indeed Bobby.

Benoit hooks the Liontamer before it’s called that. Benoit busts out a dive over the ropes as the fans are DEAD. That’s in no way the problem of the wrestlers either as this has been a great match. This is the problem with having non-fans, who we now go to a wide shot of, being in attendance as they’ll cheer Hogan. I’d bet on it. Dusty talks about how tired they are and points out that he’s talking about the guys in the ring.

Dang where would I be without the Dream? Benoit hits a nice powerbomb which he should have used more often. We hit a minute to go, which means this match had a 22 minute time limit. And there’s the draw. Actually scratch that as we’re getting a 5 minute overtime. SWEET. The fans boo the heck out of this. Yeah screw this incredible match that has two guys working hard for YOUR entertainment at a show you’re not even paying to see.

I guess because they’re not 6’8 and don’t weigh 300lbs they’re not worth watching. One person shouts to get this garbage out of the ring. I didn’t know fans like that could get in the ring in the first place. Also, don’t call yourself garbage. It’s not nice. Benoit is clearly pissed off at the fans and I can’t blame him a bit. Benoit hooks the Cloverleaf on Malenko to be evil. Benoit goes for the knee and Dean is in trouble. Fans continue to be dead for this.

We have a minute to go and Benoit is dominating. Dean gets a rollup at 3 seconds left for two. WE GET ANOTHER OVERTIME BABY! We’ve gotten 25 minutes of Benoit vs. Malenko….and you can’t hear Dusty over the fans booing. I’ll spare the rant for the rating.

Benoit hits his finisher, the Dragon Suplex (Full Nelson into a suplex) for two as the Crossface didn’t exist yet for him. Malenko gets the Cloverleaf but as Benoit is almost in the ropes he shifts into an STF. And then Woman goes for Malenko and Benoit hooks a rollup to end it. Very good match.

Rating: A-. This was great stuff but the ending hurt it a lot. These two had mad chemistry together and this was no exception. Giving them nearly half an hour is fine as they looked like they had been out there for about 5 minutes at the end. It’s no wonder that they were such sought after guys by WWF. However, there was one reason why this match was hurt, which brings me to this.

This match sums up WCW’s demise in a nutshell. Everything they wound up doing wrong to just die is summed up right here. To begin with, they’re making NO gate money for this show. The fans can come and go as they please. In other words, with five thousand people here at say 20 dollars a person, that’s 100,000 dollars they’re just not getting, and that’s being conservative with it.

We’ll also ignore any potential money from parking, concessions and likely merchandise as there is no indication of anyone wearing anything other than leather out there that I can see. The reason we’re in Sturgis, South Dakota of all places and having a wrestling show at a biker rally you ask? The only answer I can find anywhere is that Eric Bischoff likes motorcycles. Seriously, THAT’S why we’re here.

If that’s not enough reason, as soon as Bischoff was out of power, this show was canceled. They came here FOUR STRAIGHT YEARS. But wait, remember that there was a line in there about these two being the wrestlers of the century for WCW. Well since these four PPVs were around the end of the century, one could assume that they would have moved closer and closer to the main events right?

Let’s see. Benoit’s position on the card over these four shows: 4th out of 8, 3rd out of 9, Off the card, 5th out of 9. Malenko: 4th out of 8, 3rd out of 9, 7th out of 9 (as a referee and not a wrestler), 3rd of 9. On the other hand, let’s compare these guys to Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash. Nash: Next to last, next to last, next to last, main event. Hogan: Main event all four years. But remember that Hogan and Nash were DRAWS BABY!

Yeah the fans are going to pay to see them….except at this show because WCW didn’t get any ticket money here but pay no attention to that. Keep in mind that the fans will boo these two but cheer Hogan. Why do I have an image of Hogan talking to the higher ups and saying well they cheered me and booed those guys. What more proof do you need that I should be on top of the card?

The problem is these fans are all drunken bikers that likely never even watch the show. Yeah, coming from a freaking biker rally really looks cutting edge doesn’t it? I’m sure this got away completely from the wrestling fans are hicks theory. It was an amazing match, but it’s a microcosm of the things that killed the biggest wrestling company in the world.

And now, a match with his biggest WCW rival from Halloween Havoc 1996.

Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio

These two have been trading the title back and forth a bit lately. Rey is champion here and Dean has one of his old masks that he ripped off of him. Song angles never get old. Dean jumps him early and we have Mike Tenay here on commentary for the sake of sanity. Mike says that without the mask Rey is done. Nah he won two world titles after that so I’d think Mike is wrong here.

Rey’s knees are both in one piece here so he’s flying all over the place and is the most exciting thing most of the fans have ever seen in their lives. We kind of stop things for a bit here so Rey can put the old mask that Dean brought with him back on. Ok then. These two had some great matches as they did the whole technician vs. high flier thing and it almost always worked. This would be one of those times that it worked.

Dean grounding him here is the right thing to do as it fits into the psychology of the match here. I can live with it when it makes sense I guess. There’s a lot of this in Doug Williams vs. Kendrick at the moment. I love that spinning backbreaker that Dean can snap off like that. They’re doing a nice slow build here and it’s working very well as Rey is going to make his comeback and it’ll be awesome more than likely.

Ah here it comes. He starts busting out all of his big flips and cool moves and they start to work, playing into the idea that as long as Dean keeps it on the mat he can beat Rey. They hit insane speed for a reversal sequence that is just awesome. Rey starts busting out the ranas so you know he’s serious now. Dean counters West Coast Pop into a powerbomb which looks great. A gutwrench powerbomb off the top gives Dean the belt back in a cool ending. He got a BIG face pop despite being a heel here. That’s odd, but ok then.

Rating: B. Solid opener here as the crowd is very awake now. They’ve had better ones but the psychology was here more than it usually is but this worked out well. Rey did his thing and Dean did his. You combine that with good chemistry and this is what you get. Good match and great opener.

Dean would finally lose the title to Ultimo Dragon at Starrcade 1996. Here’s his chance to get it back at Clash of the Champions XXXIV.

Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Ultimo Dragon

Dean is now a good guy here and is challenging after losing the title to the Dragon at Starrcade 1996. They trade wristlocks to start before heading down to the mat with Dragon grabbing a leg lock. We take an early break and come back with the two of them circling each other and heading into the ropes. Dean slams him into the buckle a few times and gets two off a suplex. A headscissors keeps Dragon on the mat but he fights up and tosses Malenko out to the floor.

Back in and Dean hits a quick tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to set up a legbar. That goes nowhere so it’s off to a half crab instead but Dean shifts back to the legbar for a second time. Off to a stump puller (Dean stands over Dragon’s neck and pulls up on the leg) before Dean covers for two. Malenko throws the champion to the floor and Dragon is holding his leg. Back in and Dean tries a Figure Four but Dragon blocks the hold from going on full. With that not working, Dean throws him into the corner for a running clothesline, only to get kicked in the face.

Malenko is up fast enough to pull Dragon off the top with a superplex but can’t follow up. A rollup gets two on the champion but he counters a powerbomb into a hurricanrana for two of his own. Dragon comes back with a springboard dropkick to send Dean to the floor, setting up the Asai Moonsault (springboard moonsault to the floor) from its inventor.

They get back inside and Dragon hits his moonsault for a very close near fall. A top rope hurricanrana drops Dean but he counters the tiger suplex (double arm hook suplex which won Dragon the title in the first place) into a rollup for two. Malenko comes back with a double underhook powerbomb, knocks Sonny Onoo to the floor, and puts on the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission and the title.

Rating: A-. Another great Cruiserweight Title match here to open up a Clash. There was a very solid story here with Dean using his technical and mat wrestling skills to counter the Dragon’s high flying. Both guys looked great out there and the match was somehow better than Malenko’s match at the previous Clash.

Dean would get a shot at a heavyweight belt at Uncensored 1997.

US Title: Dean Malenko vs. Eddie Guerrero

This is due to Eddie costing Dean the Cruiserweight Title last month. Think this one will be awesome? Fast paced stuff to start as Dean hits a shoulder to send Eddie to the floor. Dean stomps a mudhole (Dusty’s word) into Eddie and adds a suplex so he can yell at Eddie a bit. Dean is all ticked off here and it’s kind of awesome. This is no DQ apparently. Eddie gets all aggressive too and is loudly booed, I guess making him the heel here.

Dean locks on a half crab as we cut to the back to see the NWO standing over an unconscious Rick Steiner. At least we didn’t miss anything as Dean has the hold on still. He shifts it back into almost a half Liontamer as we confirm it was Rick. Dean throws him over the top which isn’t a DQ here as we change the rules again. Despite Eddie being the default heel here, Dean grabs the belt for a shot with it and is booed as well.

Rock Bottom out of nowhere takes Dean down as does a dropkick to the knee. Eddie works over the knee with a shot from the top and a hilo down onto it. We hit the leg lock as Eddie controls some more. STF now as Rick is taken out on a stretcher and into an ambulance. The NWO stands behind him and pretends to care in a nice jerk moment. Out to the floor as Dean is in real trouble.

Figure Four goes on and Eddie actually grabs the ropes. I guess this is around the time he turned heel. Dean tries to speed things up a bit and fails completely. Hilo misses but a baseball slide sends Dean into the railing. Eddie tries a HUGE dive but gets sent into the railing chest first.

They chop it out and Eddie gets a backbreaker and powerbomb for two each. They speed it up and do some technical stuff so Dean kicks him low for two. Nice guy that Dean. Powerslam by Dean for two and he hits Eddie with a Frog Splash but pulls Eddie up in a rather stupid move. More technical and speed stuff results in a German to Eddie for two.

Tornado DDT puts Dean down as this is a very back and forth match. Eddie tries to pay Dean back with the Texas Cloverleaf and there it is. Here comes Syxx with his camera because one NWO instance during the match wasn’t enough I guess. He tries to steal the belt so Eddie goes after him. Dean gets the camera, the camera goes upside Eddie’s head and Dean is US Champion.

Rating: B+. Great match until the ending which makes the whole thing about Syxx instead of the great match which is another example of what was wrong with WCW: there was no payoff to the 20 minutes of wrestling because the NWO becomes the focus of things again. Oh well. Eddie vs. Dean for twenty minutes is hard to complain about and this was no exception as far as great matches go.

Back to the classics on Nitro, October 13, 1997.

Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Apparently the decision in the tag match stands because Larry is an assigned official. Assigned at a PPV but what difference does that make? Also Eric can’t reverse the decision. Rey gives his mask to a baby at ringside but the baby gives it back to him. It’s fast paced stuff to start with Dean taking it to the mat to slow Rey down. Back up and Rey goes from a test of strength into a sunset flip for two. Dean catapults him to the apron but Mysterio pops right back in.

Back in and Rey counters a variety of holds by Dean by flying through the air, only to be caught by a leg lariat for two. A quick victory roll gets two for Rey but a headscissors is countered into a side slam for no cover. Off to a figure four necklock by Dean for a few seconds before he powerbombs Rey halfway back to Mexico for two. Rey comes back and pounds away in the corner but Dean launches him into the corner.

Mysterio lands on the top rope and hits a flip attack to take Dean down again. A sunset flip gets two on Malenko and the West Coast Pop looks to finish. At two though Eddie runs in and rips Rey’s mask off, causing him to break the hold. Malenko backflips up into the Texas Cloverleaf and Rey taps immediately to hide his face.

Rating: B. This was one of the better matches I’ve ever seen them have and one of the best cruiserweight matches they’ve ever had on Nitro. They barely ever stopped moving other than a quick rest hold by Dean. Other than that it was five minutes of nonstop action with an ending that advanced the story and kept Rey looking strong at the same time. Great match here and actually worth checking out for how fast and agile Rey was in his time.

Soon after this, Dean would get in a feud with Chris Jericho, who consistently beat Dean. Malenko went home, leaving Jericho to dominate the division. Jericho beat so many opponents that he held a battle royal at Slamboree 1998 to determine his next challenger.

Cruiserweight Battle Royal

You can be eliminated by going to the floor or pinfall here and the winner gets a title shot at Jericho later in the night. The more entertaining part though is Jericho doing the introductions in Dave Penzer’s place.

Super Calo: This guy’s hat never comes off!

Chavo Guerrero Jr.: He used to be a great bartender but he’s the scourge of the Guerrero family.

Ciclope: From selling chimichangas to WCW!

Damien: He can’t afford a mask so he’s using paint!

El Dandy: The winner of the Lou Ferrigno look-a-like contest.

El Grio: The world light featherweight champion!

Juventud Guerrera: Pulled up in a rusted out 67 El Camino Chevy, the ugliest man in our business, Quasimodo Guerrera!

Marty Jannetty: He’ll rock rock until he drops drops.

Kidman: A lost and lonely soul and Jericho has calamine lotion with him.

Evan Karagias: 0/10.

Lenny Lane: I want my Loverboy tape back!

Psychosis: He has a lot of hubcaps in his collection and can get you one if you need it.

Silver King: If he wins 12 more matches he gets to be Gold King.

Johnny Swinger: Johnny Cinger!

Villano IV: Representing Villano I-LXII!

Everyone goes at it to start and if you go through the ropes to the floor it’s an elimination as well. Evan is out first but there are still too many people to be able to do much. Chavo backdrops Swinger out and hits a tornado DDT on someone I couldn’t see. Psychosis hits a springboard hurricanrana on Damien but doesn’t throw him out. Super Calo is dropkicked out by Juvy and King is out at someone’s hands. Lane and Dandy have a mini match in the middle of the ring as Juvy hits a gorgeous top rope hurricanrana to take Psychosis down.

Grio gets dumped and Lane misses a dive off the top. Jannetty and Villano both go out as we’re down to eight. Lane goes up but Kidman throws Juvy into him to knock Lane out. Juvy dropkicks Damien out and we’re down to six. Dandy is dropkicked off the apron and it’s five: Ciclope, Chavo, Kidman, Psychosis and Juvy. Kidman low bridges Chavo out as Heenan does his schtick of picking everyone in the match. Psychosis misses a charge and goes out as Juvy pulls Kidman out. Juvy sees he’s alone with Ciclope….and eliminates himself to give Ciclope the title shot?

Rating: C. It’s a battle royal so how good can it really be? The high spots were nice but at the same time they made a lot of the guys in the match look stupid for trying something like that. The ending was confusing but all will be explained in just a few seconds. Nothing outside of the ordinary here other than some high spots.

Jericho hits the ring immediately but Ciclope unmasks to reveal…..DEAN MALENKO! The place goes NUTS in one of the loudest pops WCW ever had.

Cruiserweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho

Dean shows more emotion in a fifteen second burst than he did in his entire career, stomping Jericho down in the corner and a suplex puts him down again. A dropkick sends Jericho out to the floor and Dean follows him out with right hands to the head. Back in and Dean opts to fire off more punches instead of rolling Jericho up when he has the chance. A quick hot shot gives Jericho a breather and a backsplash gets two.

Jericho suplexes his down and gets another two off the arrogant cover. The Lionsault gets the same and we hit the chinlock. Dean fights up and tries the Liontamer on Jericho but Chris quickly makes the rope. A top rope back elbow to the jaw gets two on Malenko but the top rope hurricanrana is countered into the top rope gutbuster. The Cloverleaf gives Dean the title back.

Rating: A. The match was decent though nothing great, but the story here is the emotion. This whole story was built up on the emotion the fans felt for Malenko and wanting to see him make Jericho eat his words. It’s a classic story: hero falls, villain reigns and runs his mouth, hero returns to vanquish the villain. No unexplained turns, no politics, no swerves (ok maybe one with the disguise) and possibly the loudest reaction ever in WCW. Clearly there’s nothing to this storytelling idea though right?

Here’s a match with an opponent you may have heard of. From November 23, 1998 on Nitro.

Bret Hart vs. Dean Malenko

Dean is favoring his knee after the attack earlier. Bret goes right for the knee to take over and kicks away but Dean gets in a right hand and some stomps to take over. Dean tries a rolling cradle but the knee gives out and they roll to the floor. We take a break and come back with Tony telling us about a special bonus Nitro tomorrow with another hour. Oh freaking JOY.

Dean tries a suplex and the knee holds up for the most part but he can’t follow up. A small package is good for two on Hart as Tony actually gets a fact right: Windham wasn’t an original Horseman. Dean comes back with a sleeper which Heenan points out allows him to rest the leg. Bret fights out of it with a belly to back but Malenko keeps the hold on. They head outside for a few seconds before Dean chokes with the boot in the corner.

Bret goes right back to the knee to take over though and snaps the bad leg down. He grabs the leg again but gets enziguried down to give Dean a breather. Back up and Dean slams him into the buckle while hobbling across the ring. Nice touch. A superplex doesn’t work but Bret goes down to the apron to keep Malenko out of trouble. The leg lariat sets up the Texas Cloverleaf but Bret is right in the ropes.

They fall to the floor with Dean landing on the leg to keep him down. Bret tries to bring in a chair but the referee takes it away, allowing Malenko to nail a missile dropkick for a very close two. Malenko tries a leapfrog but can’t get the elevation and goes down again. Bret wraps the leg around the post a few times and nails a Diamond Cutter, causing the referee to stop it.

Rating: B. I was really liking this one and the ending actually makes it better. Malenko doesn’t have to do a clean or even dirty job here and goes down fighting the whole way. His comeback was great with the knee being sold the whole way through. But of course we couldn’t have Dean move up the card long term or anything like that as a result of a great performance like this.

Malenko would team up with Chris Benoit and go after the Tag Team Titles. From Uncensored 1999.

Tag Team Titles: Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko vs. Curt Hennig/Barry Windham

It’s a lumberjack with straps match and Hennig/Windham are defending. The lumberjacks are a bunch of lower/midcard guys including Meng and Norman Smiley. Benoit and Hennig get things going and Arn Anderson comes out to replace Chris Adams as a lumberjack. The champions try to leave and get beaten up like the cowards they are. Back in and Benoit chops Hennig to the floor for another whipping before it’s off to Barry.

Chris is find with chopping Windham to the floor as well where the Texan gets whipped as well. Off to Dean who hammers away with more aggression than you would expect from him. The Horsemen double team Barry down but Hennig gets in a cheap shot to take over. Benoit is thrown to the floor and gets whipped a few times before it’s back to a chinlock from Curt. The beating continues but Benoit finally snaps off a German suplex and makes the tag off to Dean. Everything breaks down and Malenko hits Hennig with a PerfectPlex for two but Barry breaks up the Texas Cloverleaf.

Windham tries to low bridge Dean to the floor but Malenko stops himself, only to have Hennig knock him out to the floor for a whipping. Now it’s Dean in trouble as Curt hooks a sleeper. Dean makes the ropes but is sent to the floor for more belt shots. Windham hammers away in the corner but Dean punches his way out of a belly to back suplex. The double tag brings in Hennig and Benoit as everything breaks down.

Benoit takes off Windham’s belt and throws him outside for a brawl. Hennig goes after Anderson, earning him a tire iron shot to the head. Malenko breaks up the superplex and Benoit hits the longest Swan Dive I’ve ever see (Hennig would have been in a good place for a 450) for the pin and the titles.

Rating: C+. The match wasn’t as good as their first one last month but it finally got the job done. Last month’s was brought WAY down by the booking but the wrestling itself was better. This one was more of a tag team formula and that’s a hard idea to screw up. I could have done without Arn’s interference but to be fair Hennig went after him first. That Swan Dive was very impressive and I can live with it only hitting Curt’s arm as he was already out.

Then the rest of 1999 happened and WCW fell through the floor, including this match at Fall Brawl 1999.

Brian Knobbs/Hugh Morrus vs. Shane Douglas/Dean Malenko

Pre-match the face team (Douglas/Malenko) do their thing, but Shane says the wrong city and state. Oh dear. Douglas/Malenko are part of the Revolution, which was supposed to be a youth uprising thing but turned into an anti-American thing like a month after this. Knobbs/Morrus are the First Family, which is Jimmy Hart’s very low level stable. This is also No DQ for no apparent reason. Big brawl to start so Dean kicks them both in the balls to take over. Shane comes back in and the Revolution cleans the ring out.

Double baseball slides take out the First Family as this is still a big brawl. The Revolution is sent into various metal objects and something goes flying that we can’t identify. Either way it half kills Shane. We get things down to normal now as Knobbs rubs his armpit in the face of Shane. Shane gets all ticked off and brings in Dean, who has little trouble taking care of Knobbs. Speaking of Knobbs, why in the world is he on PPV in 1999?

Dean works the arm and then the wrist. When you can make a wristlock look freaking sick, that’s a good sign. Off to Morrus and Shane again as this is more or less target practice for the Revolution. Knobbs and Shane go back to the floor for more brawling so back in the ring Shane is tagged in. Tony gets his first stupid line of the match in by saying they’ve kept this in the ring so far. It’s important to mention that it’s the first stupid line because we’ve been on the air about 40 minutes so far.

The Revolution clears the ring again and Shane takes over on Knobbs soon thereafter. Double teaming gets Douglas down so Knobbs gets to go on his, ahem, offense. Middle rope splash eats a foot which looks like it nearly broke Shane’s leg. Double tag with a small pop for Dean, who I think is half of the face team. Dean cleans house….and gets tripped up by Knobbs, allowing Morrus to take over and hit No Laughing Matter to end this. Clean. On PPV. Hugh Morrus pinned Dean Malenko. In 1999. And people wonder why the Radicals happened in four months.

Rating: D. The match was a mess, there seemed to be no po….oh screw it. WHAT THE HECK ARE THEY THINKING??? Dude, why in the world would this be the booking move? I mean really it’s HUGH FREAKING MORRUS and BRIAN KNOBBS going over Shane Douglas and Dean Malenko in 1999. This is so idiotic I can’t even begin to describe it. Dean, please just leave now. It’s not going to get any better, I assure you.

Here’s Dean’s last match in WCW, from Souled Out 2000.

Billy Kidman vs. Dean Malenko

Kidman is one of the Filthy Animals and Malenko is part of the Revolution which was supposed to be a youth movement stable but it was changed into a military thing or something. This is under catch-as-catch-can which means a regular match but you can’t leave the ring.

Dean takes it to the floor quickly and the fans are loudly booing. We hear about what Kidman has to do tonight and I wonder why Douglas isn’t fighting for the Revolution tonight. LOUD booing now as Malenko keeps backing up. I have no idea if the fans know the rules here or not. Big crowd tonight too at over 14,000.

Kidman hammers away and Dean rolls to the floor, ending the match. Dean starts getting back in and I think he messed up here. This is exactly what this show didn’t need at all. Way too short to grade as it might have been two minutes long but the fans cheer for Kidman winning so uh….good? This was Dean’s last WCW match as he would debut as part of the Radicalz in 15 days.

Here’s one of his first big matches in the WWF, on February 7, 2000’s Raw.

HHH/X-Pac/Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko/Perry Saturn vs. Cactus Jack/The Rock/???/???/???

Before the bell rings, Rikishi and Too Cool come out to even the odds. It’s a wild brawl to start and I’m not even going to try to call it. Rock and HHH are fighting on the ramp as Benoit and Cactus head into the crowd (DANG that could have been an awesome feud). Stephanie is on commentary and the fans are blowing the roof off the place. Grandmaster and X-Pac get things going and Sexay misses a middle rope knee drop.

Off to Saturn and Scotty, the latter of whom has a bandage around his head. He loads up the Worm (with five hops instead of four) but Malenko interferes before Scotty can cover. A big old suplex puts Scotty down and Dean comes in legally. Scotty gets in a shot and brings in Rikishi who runs Dean over. Off to Benoit who charges right into a Samoan Drop. He can’t suplex Rikishi but Benoit pounds on his back and is all like oh yeah boy you’re going and suplexes Rikishi down.

Jack comes in and pounds Benoit down into the corner. This is one of the hottest crowds I’ve ever seen. Jack goes for HHH and they head to the announce table. Saturn and Pac have to save HHH from death and we head back inside. HHH stomps Jack down in the corner and shoves the referee away. Off to Pac who almost immediately walks into a neckbreaker to take him down.

Hot tag brings in Rock and it’s spinebusters all around. Pac takes a Rock Bottom for two as HHH saves. Saturn kicks Rock down but Rock is having none of this Bronco Buster nonsense. Grandmaster hits the Hip Hop Drop but Pac gets up and kicks the goggles off Sexay’s head. HHH comes in again with the flying knee and it’s off to Saturn and Benoit for some double teaming.

Benoit suplexes Sexay down for two and it’s back to HHH. The heels are tagging incredibly fast. Grandmaster hits a double DDT out of nowhere on Benoit and HHH. There’s the hot tag to Cactus but the referee didn’t see it. Everything breaks down and HHH hits the Pedigree on Grandmaster followed by the Swan Dive from Benoit for the pin.

Rating: B. This seems like a match where the crowd reaction carried it to a higher level which is fine. It’s certainly better than I remember but it’s not as good as I’ve seen some people make it out to be. Anyway, you could see the great matches coming and this would give Too Cool a nice push, resulting in their only tag title run a few months after this.

Dean would win the Light Heavyweight Title from Essa Rios and then again from Scotty 2 Hotty. Here’s Scotty’s rematch from Backlash 2000.

Light Heavyweight Title: Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Dean Malenko

Dean is champion and this is Scotty’s rematch I believe. Scotty dances with Lillian pre-match. Scotty starts off fast with some near falls. Belly to back puts Dean down and Scotty nips up into the Moonwalk. He sets for the bulldog to set up the Worm but Dean clotheslines him down instead. Dean, the heel, tries to get the buckle pad off but can’t quite get it. He rams Scotty into the buckle anyway and we head outside.

A dropkick to the knee gets two and Dean works the leg over a bit. After a quick leg lock he wraps it around the post a few times. Back to the leg lock and then a leg lace. Dean hits a knee crusher but Scotty comes back with an enziguri. That gets him nowhere so it’s back to the knee by Dean. He tries a spinning toehold but Scotty kicks him into the corner and rolls him up for two.

Malenko kicks at the knee again but then charges at Scotty, sending both of them out to the floor. Back in Dean hits a superplex to put both guys down. Dean is up first but walks into a backslide for two. Scotty bulldogs him down and it’s Worm time! That gets two so Malenko rolls him up with feet on the ropes for two. Things are speeding way up. Tiger Bomb gets two for Dean and he’s frustrated.

Scotty comes back at him again but walks into a powerslam for two. He tries to put Dean on the apron but gets guillotined down on the top rope. Malenko goes up top but Scotty pops him with a right hand. Scotty goes up for a superplex but Dean counters in mid air into a DDT. FREAKING OW MAN and Dean retains. SICK counter.

Rating: B. Malenko is awesome but unfortunately he never quite did anything of note in the WWF. The Light Heavyweight Title was almost exclusively defended on the late night weekend shows which meant that most people didn’t know the title was around or who held it. Dean would hold it until a few weeks before the next Wrestlemania. This was a really good match though and that ending is GREAT.

Here’s an indy match from the 3rd Annual Brian Pillman Memorial Show.

Eddie Guerrero/D’Lo Brown vs. Dean Malenko/Perry Saturn

D’Lo punches Saturn to the floor to start as Dean and Perry are definitely the heels here. Now Dean and Brown stare at each other so D’Lo brings in Eddie. Eddie dropkicks him down but gets caught in the heel corner to give Dean control. Saturn slams Guerrero down for two and we hit a chinlock maybe ninety seconds into the match. Eddie fights up and makes the tag to Brown, setting up a VERY awkward looking sequence as Saturn and Brown miss each other several times until Saturn finally connects with a clothesline. It looked like they’re on different planets instead of in the same ring.

Thankfully Dean comes in to settle things down but a few seconds later it’s back to Saturn for some arm work. Saturn hooks a short arm scissors but Brown does the traditional power lift to escape. Back to Dean for a kick in the back and the leg lariat to put D’Lo down. The Radicalz work over the arm for a good while until Eddie comes in sans tag and dropkicks Saturn.

Not that it matters as the arm work continues but I guess Guerrero was getting bored. D’Lo finally hooks a neckbreaker to put Dean down and the hot tag brings in Eddie. The cameraman seems to trip as we keep getting shots of the mat instead of the action. Everything breaks down and Saturn accidentally kicks Dean, setting up the Low Down for the pin.

Rating: D-. Oh my this was bad. I don’t know what the deal was with Saturn and Brown but it looked like some horribly bad amateur stuff instead of two former champions. This match had no flow to it at all and was a near disaster. Eddie looked ok and that’s about all there is to say about the match.

Dean’s career would start winding down as he would become a ladies’ man who wanted Lita. Here he is going after her at Armageddon 2000.

Hardy Boys/Lita vs. Radicalz

Radicalz are Saturn, Malenko and Guerrero and this is under elimination rules. This is because Malenko, a ladies man at the time, won a date with Lita due to beating her in a Light Heavyweight Title match. It also resulted in Lita looking AMAZING in white bra and panties. Matt made the save in the bedroom in a funny bit. I haven’t seen that in years.

Eddie is in his old school attire with the half singlet. Jeff does a big dive to take out Perry and Eddie. Fans are all over Eddie as the heels control early. The fans are way behind Lita. Granted if you believe certain rumors lots of people have been behind Lita. And in front of her. Uh on top. Beneath too. Jeff puts out Eddie with a Swanton and Saturn takes a Whisper in the Wind but a Death Valley Driver ends Jeff. I know that came off really fast but that’s all that happened.

Saturn goes out to a Twist of Fate and it’s Dean vs. Matt and Lita. Terri gets speared down by Lita and Malenko gets Matt with a rollup. This makes sense as they’re the most important people to this angle. She uses her lucha stuff to try to get a quick pin but she’s in over her head here. Dean punches her in the boob (it’s kind of hard to miss) and hits a top rope suplex to more or less end her. He pulls her up though and I have a feeling I know where this is going. Never mind as the Cloverleaf ends it. Lita says she knows she can beat him.

Rating: C-. Not bad here but this should have been Dean vs. Lita without the other four guys. I guess they were ok and at least they went out without having it to mean much. This wasn’t much though but it was fast paced enough to get something decent going. It’s cool to see Lita put up a fight against a man though which was one of the major points here.

We’ll wrap it up with a tag match from Insurrextion 2001.

Dean Malenko/Terri/Perry Saturn vs. Hardcore Holly/Crash Holly/Molly Holly

Uh…yeah. See what I mean when I say these cards had a tendency to feel thrown together? Terri is someone I rarely get the appeal of. She has big boobs. End of appeal. Ah ok Terri isn’t going to wrestle. Got it. Yeah I don’t care either. The Hollies get a pop. Dang Molly’s looks are underrated when she’s a blonde. Molly of course beats up Terri for a bit to a big pop.

Ok so it’s Hardcore and Saturn to start. Paul calls Saturn the Bald Bombshell. I like it. Dear lord help me I like it. Cole’s voice sounds a bit horse. Dang it what is the deal with the air horns over there? They’re freaking annoying! Saturn is fun to watch but he’s a bit nuts. For the second time in the match we’re told he’s a machine. Ok good to know. Molly is on the apron even though she’s not in this match that I know of. Crash is freaking OVER. What the heck ??? Terri breaks up a pin and we get a catfight. Saturn hits the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza on Crash to get the pin. Only in wrestling would that make sense.

Rating: D. Again, what in the world was this? It’s just a random match that made no sense and was just there. It’s not particularly good but it’s a good bit bad. This was just a waste of time but I guess they had to pad the two hour and twenty minute show somehow. You would think they would have something better for the Radicalz at this point.

Dean Malenko was never going to be a World Champion but he was a very solid midcard hand who piled up a big share of titles. He could wrestle with anyone but his serious character could only carry him so far. The ladies’ man thing never worked but did give us Lita in some great looking white lingerie so I’m eternally grateful. The guy was talented and could wrestle a great match, especially with someone his size.

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