Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Dean Malenko, Ladies’ Man – WWF, 2000
This one started on May 22, 2000’s episode of Raw as the Godfather and Essa Rios took on Malenko and Saturn. The match never even got started as Godfather offered the hos to Malenko, and he accepted two – for himself. They left without Saturn, who made quick work of Essa Rios (thanks, in part, to his dissatisfied manager Lita).
A week later, the Godfather, Malenko, and the Kat teamed against Saturn, D’Lo Brown, and Terri. Malenko went on to make the pin on Saturn for the win.
Godfather and Malenko had Eddie Guerrero and Chyna on the next episode. Eddie went on to get the win, and earn his way back into Chyna’s good graces.
Still, Godfather and Dean got a Tag Team title shot against Too Cool on Smackdown. Grandmaster Sexay hit his finisher, and Too Cool kept their belts.
Dean had a King of the Ring qualifier against X-Pac on Raw. Unfortunately, Malenko’s hos couldn’t overcome the interference of Road Dogg and Tori, and X-Pac advanced.
Smackdown saw Malenko and Terri taking on Taka Michinoku and The Kat. Since this was Memphis, Malenko’s cheating was countered by Jerry Lawler, who ensured that the Kat got the win.
Malenko and Lawler had an “Over the top, off with the top” match on Raw. Malenko lost, but Steven Richards of the Right to Censor put in an appearance to keep Terri decent.
Malenko had Crash Holly a week later for the light heavyweight title. Malenko first gloated about beating Jacqueline the night before on Heat. Malenko retained, and then Jacqueline and Ivory hit the ring to attack him. Fortunately, the hos were able to get Malenko to safety.
On Smackdown, Malenko took on both Ivory and Jacqueline in a handicap match. Ivory and Jacqueline finally piled on top of Malenko and Crash grabbed his ankle to give the win to the women.
Malenko had Al Snow on Smackdown. To counter Malenko’s hos, Al had two of his own – of the inflatable variety. As the match went on, Steven Richards was quick to remove all four women from ringside. Malenko wound up with the win.
A week later, we had a three-way match for the Intercontinental title as Eddie Guerrero defended it against Perry Saturn and Malenko. Eddie won, and then Saturn hit both Guerrero and Chyna with a Jackhammer-like maneuver.
Malenko then disappeared for a week, and reappeared on Raw at WWF New York.
He reappeared on the September 4th Raw. Crash Holly was backstage reading when the Big Bossman showed up and started bullying him. Malenko broke it up. Later, Bossman took on Blackman for the Hardcore title, so Malenko and Crash hit the ring to help. Blackman thanked them by nailing them both with garbage cans.
Malenko then disappeared again until the October 23rd Raw. Chris Benoit was taking on Road Dogg when Malenko appeared to distract Dogg long enough for Benoit to lock him in the Crossface.
On Smackdown, Benoit and Malenko teamed to take on Road Dogg and Triple H. Road Dogg had things in hand until Perry Saturn showed up and gave Malenko the opening he needed to put Dogg in the Texas Cloverleaf.
Benoit had Triple H on the following Smackdown. Malenko and Saturn hit the ring, but HHH had prepared and ran them back. Then Eddie Guerrero hit the ring to get Benoit the win, and the Radicals music started playing.
On Raw, it was D-Generation X (HHH, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy G.) taking on the Radicals. Hunter got the win, but then Kurt Angle attacked him and allowed the Radicals to take out the other members of DX.
Billy Gunn (now known as “The One”) had a shot at the Intercontinental title against Eddie Guerrero on Smackdown. Billy was in control until Malenko and Benoit hit the ring. Saturn jumped in and got Eddie DQ’d, then Benoit locked Chyna in the crossface while Malenko made him watch.
The Radicals then came out on Raw to brag about their new alliance with Triple H on Raw. Commissioner Mick Foley interrupted the fun and set up a match for later in the night – the Radicals vs. Billy Gunn, Chyna, the Rock, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
In the end, Benoit and Rock brawled to the back while Austin handed out stunners. Once backstage, a car screeched at the two. Rikishi leaned out the window and blasted Rock with a sledgehammer, while HHH was driving.
On Smackdown, Austin showed up in the Radicals locker room and leveled all of them.
Road Dogg and K-Kwik took on Malenko and Saturn later in the night. K-Kwik wound up with the pin.
That brought us to Survivor Series, where K-Kwik (better known as TNA’s Ron “The Truth” Killings), Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, and Chyna took on the Radicals. Chyna went first, courtesy of a Guerrero shot with the title. Eddie was next, and the sides were even again. K-Kwik and Road Dogg quickly followed, leaving Billy Gunn alone. Gunn was able to put Malenko away, but Benoit and Saturn pinned him soon after.
Road Dogg, K-Kwik, and Billy Gunn had Malenko, Eddie, and Saturn on Raw. K-Kwik hit a 450 splash for the pin.
Eddie had a shot to regain the IC belt against Gunn on Raw. Despite Saturn and Malenko’s attempts at help, Guerrero lost the match. Gunn went on to be beaten down by Benoit afterward.
Malenko, Saturn, and Benoit had the Hardys and Chris Jericho later in the night. Jericho wound up getting Malenko in the Walls of Jericho for the win, but the Radicals attacked after the match and left their opponents lying.
Malenko, Saturn, and Guerrero teamed against the Hardys and Lita on Smackdown. Malenko got the win after Eddie frog-splashed Lita and put Malenko on top. After the match, Malenko appeared to be concerned about her as Eddie and Saturn helped him to the back.
On Raw, we first saw Malenko watching a Hardys vs. Dudleys match very closely. Later in the night, he showed up in the Hardys’ locker room with flowers for Lita. Malenko tried to apologize for everything that had happened between the Radicals and the Hardys, and then asked her out. Lita blasted him with the flowers and then Matt and Jeff threw him out of the room.
Malenko wouldn’t give up. Later in the night, he showed up with a box of chocolates and offered Lita a deal – he’d give her a shot at his Light Heavyweight title. If she won, she got the belt. If he won, he got a date. Lita accepted, and then slapped the chocolates back at him.
Malenko wound up winning the match with his Texas Cloverleaf. Lita slapped him after the match and stormed off, but Dean just smiled.
Malenko showed up on Smackdown with roses for Lita. He smiled and they left a fuming Matt Hardy behind.
Dean started off by showing his style as Lita was cold in the back of the limo. He offered her his jacket, and then offered to keep her warm himself. Lita just asked to get the date over with.
Dean’s stylings continued as he got caught gazing at Lita’s cleavage in the restaurant. She passed on the champagne, and they called a waiter over to order.
Lita responded by ordering one of everything on the menu. Dean commented that it was good, because she’d need her strength for later. Lita then finally caved in to Dean’s advances, and Dean hurriedly paid the check.
They got to the hotel room, and things went south when Lita pointed out Dean’s wedding ring. Then the Hardys showed up and all three of them attacked Malenko, destroying the hotel room in the process.
That brought us to Armageddon, where the Hardys and Lita were in an elimination match against Malenko, Saturn, and Eddie Guerrero. Eddie was the first to be eliminated, and Jeff soon followed. Saturn was next, and Matt Hardy was the fourth one out, leaving Malenko vs. Lita. Dean beat Lita down, and locked her in the Texas Cloverleaf for the win.
Malenko and Saturn had the Hardys on Raw. In the end, Lita clunked her head on the apron and went down, and the Hardys lost when Jeff was counted out. Dean stole a kiss from Lita as he and Saturn left.
Lita had a title shot against Ivory for the Women’s title on Smackdown. Dean came out to cheer on Lita, but only served as a distraction. Ivory retained her belt, and Malenko looked upset.
Malenko came out later to declare his love for Lita. He was interrupted by Chris Jericho, who talked about how ridiculous Malenko was acting. And the match was on.
Malenko wound up winning the match, with a little help from Eddie Guerrero. After the match, Guerrero interrupted a beatdown on Malenko, and got locked in the Walls of Jericho for his trouble.
Jericho had Saturn on Raw. Jericho won, and then Benoit and Malenko attacked and got the better of Y2J.
Lita was at WWF New York, where she stripped down to lingerie for the crowd. Malenko watched the whole thing on a monitor and enjoyed it.
On Smackdown, Saturn, Benoit, and Malenko took on the Hardys and Jericho. In the end, Jericho got the pin on Malenko.
Benoit and Malenko got a rematch against the Hardys on Raw. Just before the match, we saw Lita refusing to stay in the back. The match ended when Lita sneaked in a low blow on Malenko, which let Matt get the pin. After the match, Benoit locked her in the Crippler Crossface. Benoit went on to mock Lita as she was loaded into an ambulance.
Malenko and Saturn returned the next week on commentary, as the Hardys took on Kaientai (Taka Michinoku and Funaki). Dean mentioned that Matt seemed to be getting a little close to Lita, and challenged the Hardy to a match for Lita. The Hardys won the match, and then Lita distracted Malenko long enough for Matt to get in a few shots on him.
On Smackdown, Matt and Lita tagged against Saturn and Terri. A quick kiss on Lita on the outside got Jeff Hardy brawling with Malenko. He still managed to slip in behind the ref’s back and DDT Lita to give Terri the win.
Jericho tagged again with the Hardys against Malenko, Saturn, and Benoit on Raw. Again, Jericho got the win. After the match, Lita pulled Malenko off the apron. Malenko grabbed a tray from a snack vendor and threw its contents all over her.
Later we saw Lita heading into the shower and shooing the Hardys out of the room. Malenko slipped in and pulled back the curtain to offer her a towel. She screamed and the Hardys attacked.
Malenko returned to TV on the January 29th Raw. He was enjoying a martini and spoke to Lita, telling her that they’d be back together again soon.
A week later, Matt Hardy was challenging Chris Jericho for his Intercontinental title. As the match went on, Malenko came out of the back staring at Lita. The match ended when Malenko attacked Matt (knocking over Lita in the process) and gave Jericho the win. Matt was getting revenge afterward when Saturn intervened. Jericho joined forces with Matt to even the odds, but they couldn’t keep it up when Eddie Guerrero joined the Radicals.
Smackdown saw the Hardys taking on Saturn and Benoit. The match broke down as Terri tried to get into the ring and Lita stopped her. Malenko then grabbed Lita around the waist to pull her back, and Matt attacked him. In the end, Jeff tapped to the Crippler Crossface.
The Hardys and Lita faced off against Saturn, Benoit, and Terri on Raw. Lita hit a moonsault on Terri for the win, and then Saturn started attacking her. Malenko stopped him and helped Lita up, and then clotheslined her back down.
On Smackdown, Matt was talking to Lita and asked her to stay in the back and let him take care of Malenko. She refused.
Matt went on to face Perry Saturn. Sure enough, Malenko made his way down and got a present – he caught Lita when she was knocked off the apron. He put her down and grabbed a kiss, which resulted in another slap. Lita then challenged Malenko to a match on Raw.
Thanks to Matt Hardy, Lita got the win Monday night. Matt was overcome afterward and kissed her. He finally started out, apologizing the whole way, and Lita grabbed him and kissed him back.
And that was that.
You know, sometimes you just get a gimmick that doesn’t fit a wrestler at all. That’s how this one was, for several reasons. Malenko wasn’t good on the microphone, and he was also much, much older than Lita was.
Malenko’s perfect gimmick was seen in WCW, where he was the Ice Man. The Shooter. The Man of 1,000 Holds. Malenko was perfect as the sort of guy who would walk out, twist you into a pretzel, and leave without ever changing facial expressions.
This role focused on too many of Malenko’s weaknesses. While it was entertaining to see, it could have also helped a newly-debuting wrestler to make an impact.
Where are they now?
Dean Malenko wound up disappearing from WWF television not long after as the show’s focus switched to the WWF/WCW war. In the summer of 2001, Malenko announced his retirement from the ring. Today he still works with the WWE as a backstage road agent.
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