Wrestling History Lesson w/ Sean Orleans

“Hey Sean, who’s your favorite wrestler ever?” is a question I’m often asked during down time at our MMWA events at the South Broadway Athletic Club (next card on Saturday, September 14–hint, hint).  My mind is flooded with possible answers, but more often than not, I focus on one man: Dean Malenko.

The Iceman.  The Man of A Thousand Holds.  Whatever clever nickname you wish to ascribe him, Dean Malenko was just friggin’ great at the pro graps.  He could stretch you, out wrestle you, counter you, overpower you, or use his quickness to confuse you.  He was not a tall man (5’8″), nor built like some cruiserweights (all cardio and flips, little strength), but the man could flat out go.

So many modern wrestlers want to get on the mic and blah blah blah.  I don’t care what you’re saying; you’re boring me!  Dean Malenko?  He almost never talked.  Watch his entrances.  The dude was like a walking statue coming to the ring.  Sometimes the only thing he’d do is grab at his wrists.  Man was all business before, during, and after a match.

When historians write about the great cruiserweights of the 90s and early 2000s, I have a fear they’ll forget Dean Malenko because he: a) never wore a mask (well except for that ONE TIME), b) rarely–if ever–got on the microphone, and c) was never LOUD.  He was a quiet warrior of the ring.

Companies may talk about how they want a nice looking guy who gets on the microphone and yada yada yada the fans, but wrestling companies need guys like Dean Malenko.

Here he is near the height of his “powers,” taking on Ultimo Dragon (another all-time great cruiserweight) at WCW Starrcade 1996.

A sad fact for me (and probably many of you reading): this match is now old enough to have a driver license and nearly old enough to vote.  It’s probably trying to grow a mustache but it looks like dirt on its upper lip in the mirror.