He is the Man of 1,000 Holds, and is considered one of the most proficient and talented technical wrestling in the sport of professional wrestling.
Real Name: Dean Simon
Stats: 5′ 9″ 216 lbs.
Born: August 4, 1960
Some wrestlers enter the sport after other career opportunities fall through. Dean Malenko was destined for the profession. Dean was the son the great Professor Boris Malenko, one of the greatest heels in the business. The elder Malenko wrestled all over North America, infuriating fans from Canada to Florida. Boris was also a great teacher, training hundreds of young pupils. None, however, was more exceptional than his son Dean who would go on to show his fathers skills as he went on to gain championship status.
Dean began wrestling professionally in 1982, sometimes teaming with a young toughman named Ken Shamrock (who would go on to be known as the World’s Most Dangerous Man). His success at this stage was rather minor but he began to gain notoriety after moving to Japan. He started in the in the UWF, strangely wrestling under the name Dean Sockoff before teaming up with his brother Joe in the All Japan wrestling promotion.
After a few years in Japan (including a stint in the New Japan promotion) Malenko headed back to the United States, entering Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1994 where he began a feud with 2 Cold Scorpio. After winning the ECW Television title twice (over Scorpio and Eddy Guerrero) he quickly developed a reputation as a highly skilled performer and helped to elevate the level of the promotions matches. In addition to his singles matches, Malenko teamed with Chris Benoit, capturing the ECW tag team belts by defeating Sabu and Taz on February 25, 1995. The duo of Benoit and Malenko attracted the attention of ECW’s “Franchise” Shane Douglas, who teamed with them to form the “Triple Threat'” the most feared group in the promotion.
In late 1995, Malenko and Benoit both left ECW and moved on to World Championship Wrestling. Although they enjoyed immediate success in the tag team ranks, Malenko also excelled as a singles performer, capturing the WCW Cruiserweight title on four occasions. He also defeated Eddy Guerrero for the WCW U.S. title in 1997. In addition to his success as a title holder, Malenko helped to elevate some of the younger talent in WCW and his matches with Rey Mysterio, Jr. Ultimo Dragon and Chris Benoit were some of the most entertaining in the promotion’s history.
Malenko seemed to be approaching a springboard to stardom when he was named a member of the Four Horsemen along with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit. The group never seemed to gel, however, as Flair became embroiled in a long, heated dispute with WCW management, keeping him off of television and house shows and pay per views. Malenko and Benoit did manage, however, to briefly hold the WCW tag team belts but things reached a boiling point when Malenko ran down Flair on a television broadcast , chastising him for holding back younger performers. Very soon after, the Four Horsemen disbanded. His claim of being held back may have been valid in that he was never given the opportunity to fight for the WCW Heavyweight belt but was named the Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine Wrestler of the Year. After more time spent outside of the the Heavyweight title chase, Malenko, Benoit, Eddy Guerrero and Perry Saturn asked for their releases from WCW and went to the WWF.
Dean Malenko is known for his cool, calm demeanor, giving him the nickname “the Iceman.” Within the wrestling community, however, he is among the most technically sound and gifted performers in the sport.