Exactly How Good Was Dean Malenko?

'The Man Of 1000 Holds' was more than just an ARM BAR, but how much more?

dean malenko chris jericho

What's your favourite ever surprise pro wrestling pop?

Edge's 2020 return from retirement at the Royal Rumble? Stone Cold Steve Austin's run-in during the Rock/Mankind WWE Championship match on the January 4th 1999 edition of Monday Night Raw? Hangman Page's triumphant re-emergence as The Joker on the October 7th 2021 edition of AEW Dynamite?

The list could and should go on and on. Your writer's own personal favourite is probably Bret Hart's Royal Rumble 1994 entrance, dead leg and all.

That sort of memory comes from a) being old enough to have a vivid recollection of such a moment and b) wrestling being designed for reactions like this. Wrestling's got to walk a tightrope between being enjoyably predictable and having awesome surprises, and the full-throated roars that emerge from the two things merging is unlike much else.

'The Rated-R Superstar' had denied a lot of rumours about that aforementioned return, but his name was at very least in the conversation shortly before the show. 'The Rattlesnake' had been conspicuous - too conspicuous - by his absence before the glass broke on Mick Foley's finest night. Hangman Page had failed once before as AEW's Joker. It was time to own the role and succeed second time around. These shockers were allowed to exist as possibilities before they were made real.

Wrestling's cool. As was 'The Iceman', who provided a memorable scene many would have as their own favourite answer to the original question posed in this intro. More on Slamboree 1998 later though - Dean Malenko had to wait 20 years for a response like that...


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Michael is a writer, editor, podcaster and presenter for WhatCulture Wrestling, and has been with the organisation over 7 years. He primarily produces written, audio and video content on WWE and AEW, but also provides knowledge and insights on all aspects of the wrestling industry thanks to a passion for it dating back over 30 years. As one third of "The Dadley Boyz", Michael has contributed to the huge rise in popularity of the WhatCulture Wrestling Podcast, earning it top spot in the UK's wrestling podcast charts with well over 50,000,000 total downloads. He has been featured as a wrestling analyst for the Tampa Bay Times and Sports Guys Talking Wrestling, and has covered milestone events in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, London and Cardiff. Michael's background in media stretches beyond wrestling coverage, with a degree in Journalism from the University Of Sunderland (2:1) and a series of published articles in sports, music and culture magazines The Crack, A Love Supreme and Pilot. When not offering his voice up for daily wrestling podcasts, he can be found losing it singing far too loud watching his favourite bands play live. Follow him on X/Twitter - @MichaelHamflett