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Wrestling / Dean Malenko

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After winning the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship via an Impersonation Gambit at WCW's Slamboree 1998.

"He's Back!!"
Mike Tenay, following Malenko unmasking himself as Ciclope at Slamboree 1998.

Dean Simon (born August 4, 1960 in Irvington, New Jersey) is a retired American professional wrestler, trainer and official best known for his work for ECW, WCW and WWE as Dean Malenko. He started his career in 1979 in Florida allied with his father Boris and brother Joe. They had actually broken away from the established Championship Wrestling from Florida to form their own outlaw (runs in the same geographical area as an established territory in opposition) promotion called Sun Belt Wrestling, which did not last very long. He and Joe competed around the Florida independent scene as well as in Japan and in WCW before Joe retired. Malenko became a regular in New Japan Pro-Wrestling's rising Junior Heavyweight scene, often facing and/or teaming with Chris Benoit, who was usually known as either Wild Pegasus or the Pegasus Kid, or Eddie Guerrero, often known as Black Tiger #2. Malenko went to ECW in 1994, where he would go on to hold the ECW World Television Title twice and the ECW World Tag Team Titles once with Benoit. Malenko continued his feud with Guerrero after he arrived in early 1995. All three went to WCW in the fall of 1995, with ECW announcer Joey Styles explaining it as being due to something in their contracts with New Japan, which had a working relationship with WCW. In WCW, Malenko would go on to hold the WCW United States Heavyweight Title once, the WCW World Cruiserweight Title four times and the WCW World Tag Team Titles once with Benoit. He made his PPV debut successfully defending the WCW World Cruiserweight Title against fellow second-generation wrestler Brad Armstrong at WCW Slamboree 96. All three along with Perry Saturn jumped to WWE at the start of 2000. Malenko would have two runs with the WWF World Light Heavyweight Title and would retire from full-time competition in 2001.

In May 2019, he became a producer for All Elite Wrestling. He made a minor appearance in front of the cameras as one of the three judges appointed for the Championship match between Cody Rhodes and his old enemy Chris Jericho at Full Gear, and later got caught up in the feud between the face-turned Jericho's faction the Inner Circle and their rivals The Pinnacle in 2021.

"The Man of 1000 Tropes":

  • Arch-Enemy: Eddie Guerrero, 2 Cold Scorpio, Chris Jericho, the Hardys, Lita.
  • Artistic License Geography: For their match against Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff in the First Round of the NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament at WCW Clash of the Champions XIX, the Malenkos were billed as representing "Europe." Not any specific place in Europe, just "Europe."
  • Ascended Extra: Not immediately, but, he was the referee for the Randy Savage vs. George "The Animal" Steele match and the Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff match on the January 4, 1986 (taped December 19, 1985) episode of WWF Saturday Night's Main Event, which was held at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, FL. His first actual match on WWE TV would happen 14 years later.
  • Badass Wrestling Family: Son of Boris Malenko.
  • Badass Israeli: One of the more recognizable Jews in wrestling over the past 30 years.
  • Badass Normal: Not known for strength or aerial ability, but very well-regarded for his technical skills.
  • Badass Teacher: His trainees include Molly Holly, Kane (at his wrestling school in Florida), Shelton Benjamin and Brock Lesnar (both in OVW).
  • Bash Brothers: Joe Malenko, Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn, Eddie Guerrero
  • Casanova Wannabe: In his "James Bond" "Ladies' Man" gimmick in WWE in 2000-2001. His teammates Tazz and Perry Saturn helped feed his ego, the latter claiming Dean had more women than the Pope had Catholics.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Part of the reason he was given his "shooter" gimmick in ECW (besides this technical skills) was because of his resemblance to early UFC fighter Royce Gracie.
  • Demoted to Extra: During the nWo takeover, Larry Zbyszko and Tony Schiavone said that Steven Regal, the then Television Champion, was the last champion in WCW, before saying that Dean Malenko, the then Cruiserweight Champion, didn't matter because he was a cruiserweight.
  • Determinator: It was reported on November 22, 2010 that he had suffered a heart attack but he was back to work within days.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Fell victim to this courtesy of Jeff Jarrett in summer 1997 after Jarrett had been kicked out of the Four Horsemen. Jarrett suggested they team up against the Horsemen in retaliation, and, after thinking about it, agreed. This led to them facing Benoit and Steve "Mongo" McMichael in an elimination match at the Road Wild 1997 PPV. After some back-and-forth action between Malenko and Benoit, Dean tagged in Jarrett, who pulled Mongo on top of himself so he could basically pin himself and leave. This, of course, led to Malenko losing the match.
  • Finishing Move: Tiger Driver, Texas Cloverleaf, Tiger Driver & Texas Cloverleaf
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Of a sort. After Benoit was split off from the Revolution near the end of 1999, Malenko, Saturn and Douglas declared themselves to be their own country, leading inevitably to a feud with wrestling's resident All-American Face "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.
  • Genre Blindness: Averted during the Benoit/Malenko vs. Raven/Perry Saturn vs. WCW World Tag Team Champions Rey Mysterio Jr./Billy Kidman match at WCW Slamboree 99, when Malenko was able to powerbomb Kidman.
  • Handsome Lech: Despite his "ladies' man" gimmick, he wasn't particularly played as abrasive creep, even offering the women he courted a match with him that if they won, he would move on from them, and even the matches themselves were more based on holds rather than slams or strikes. Problem is, Malenko was famous for being "The Man of 1000 Holds" after all.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He was a three-way example with Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, though the two were closer to each other than they were to him.
  • Impersonation Gambit: After failing to defeat Jericho for the Cruiserweight Title at WCW Uncensored 98, March 15, 1998, he told interviewer "Mean" Gene Okerlund that he was going "home." This led to Jericho cutting hilarious promos mocking Malenko for months, including the "1004 Holds" one. At Slamboree, May 17, there was a Cruiserweight Battle Royalnote  where the winner would get a shot at Jericho's title. It came down to Juventud Guerrera, who was a former Champion, and "Ciclope."note  Juvy eliminated himself, giving "Ciclope" the win, and when Jericho ran out to try and get the jump on his challenger, "Ciclope" unmasked to reveal Malenko. Malenko then proceeded to beat the heck out of Jericho as revenge for everything Jericho had said about him and his family (including bringing out a guy named "Bore-Us Malenko") and ultimately won the title. In the post-match interview, Malenko dedicated the win to his father.
  • It Runs In the Blood
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Two of them, in fact. Jacqueline and Ivory defeated him in a non-title handicap match on the July 6 (taped July 4), 2000 SmackDown! after Crash Holly interfered and held down Malenko's foot during the cover.
  • Malicious Misnaming: During their feud, Jericho would refer to him as "Deano Machino" (which isn't that bad) and "Stinko Malenko" (which is.)
  • Power Stable:
    • (in ECW) The Triple Threat, with Shane Douglas and Benoit
    • (in WCW) The Four Horsemen, with Ric Flair, Benoit, Steve "Mongo" McMichael and Arn Anderson as manager.
    • The Revolution, with Benoit, Douglas, Saturn and Asya.
    • (in WWE): The Radicals, with Benoit, Saturn, Guerrero and Terri Runnels
  • Red Baron: "The Shooter," "The Man of 1000 Holds," "The Iceman"
  • Retired Badass: Since 2019 works as a road agent for AEW.
  • Something Person: "The Man of 1000 Holds," "The Iceman"
  • The Stoic: He was called "The Iceman," after all.
    • Not So Stoic: When Chris Jericho's constant needling of him finally pushed him too far.
  • Tag Team: With his brother Joe.
    • For a very brief time in 1992, Malenko teamed with Ted Petty under masks as the Komodo Dragons in Jim Crockett Jr.'s failed World Wrestling Network promotion.
  • Unrelated Brothers: To Debbie Malenko, aka Debbie Drake, real name Debbie Killian.
  • The Voiceless: Never spoke in ECW until after his and Eddie's last match, and he tended to not say a lot if he could get away with it.
    • One of the very few wrestlers from a traditionally English-speaking country in the 90's, along with Chris Benoit and a few others, to achieve considerable success in the ring, including a number of championship runs, while being given almost zero interview time. The absence was almost never noticed; being a prototype for the technically savvy wrestlers that continued to gain popularity in promotions like Ring of Honor throughout the 2000's after he left active competition, he always let his ring work do the talking for him. After joining WWE in 2000 and being given time on the mic, the change was very jarring.
    • Beware the Quiet Ones
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Not himself, but he held the WWF Lightheavyweight title for so long that after a while they stopped billing him as champion and he didn't even bother carrying the belt around with him.
  • Wild Card: He was very much a tweener during his run in WCW from the beginning until he returned for the Jericho feud, when he became a full-blown Face. He was able to be an effective heel in 2000 in WWE, though.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Put Lita in the Texas Cloverleaf.