A second generation wrestler that eventually ascended in the mainstream beyond the heights of his hugely respected Father Boris, Dean Malenko spent his proving ground years in relative obscurity. This couldn't have been anymore helpful a start for someone like him.
Immensely skilled but of a notably short stature and with a less-than-obvious charisma, the future 'Man Of 1000 Holds' wouldn't have been permitted to get one of those in on some of the giants in WWE at the time. Having worked a few times as a referee, he honed his abilities in Mexico and Japan, often teaming with brother Joe in contests where the learning curve was steep but varied and valuable.
His time was coming anyway. The pomp and pageantry of the 1980s was suddenly looking absolutely ancient by the mid-1990s, and this played perfectly into his specific offering. With a reputation now in place amongst pro wrestling's most dedicated hardcore base, Malenko was forced into proving himself on a stage that didn't remotely look like it suited him - until he played a crucial part in transforming it completely.