Dean Malenko On Darby Allin’s ‘It Factor’, His Days As A Referee & The Late Boris Malenko
Photo Credit: Dominic DeAngelo
“The Man Of 1,000 Holds” Dean Malenko happened to be the most recent guest on Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards’ AEW Unrestricted. One of AEW’s top coaches took some time to talk about how his late father Boris Malenko is still influencing the wrestling industry as The Iceman continues to teach younger talent, but before that, he talked about how it was Chris Jericho who brought him into the AEW fold. Dean admitted being a bit nervous about the move, but also had a sense it was a time to move on from his 17-year WWE tenure.
“It’s the start of the company so you get a little nervous, but at the same time I like taking chances and taking risks. Did that when I left WCW with three other gentlemen with me at that time, going over to WWF/WWE. It’s always been a lot of fun and I like anything that’s new or exciting is something different and gave me a challenge.”
Tony asked Dean what it is like to be coaching talent that has such a different in-ring repertoire in comparsion to the days when Malenko took to the mat.
“I think the fundamentals and mechanics, the overall blueprint of what we’ve done for the last 40 or 50 years, that hasn’t changed. Just I think some of the outlook of some of the young guys and wrestling fans have changed a little bit with their expectations of a match and what they want to see is all these crazy high-flying stuff which is great, but just putting stuff at the right place at the right time. And that’s kind of what I’m here for.”
This is when Dean does bring up his dad and mentions how one matter that is unfortunate is that Boris never got to see Dean wrestle at the peak of his career.
“Unfortunately my dad died a little early back in 1994 he was 61-years-old so really he never really got to see me at my peak working for a major company like WCW and then of course WWE/WWF.” Dean did find that being a second generation wrestler really had it’s benefits for him. “I really think has given me a little bit of an edge,” he said.
Aubrey brought up how Boris would get legitimate heat from fans because he was such a great heel and Dean validated such, saying that he’d wake up to see the family car on cinder blocks. “Back then, that was his applause.”
Schiavone briefly goes over a short list of talent that Malenko was credited for training which includes stars that range from Brock Lesnar to Sean Waltman. Dean relates that to his father’s influence onto him as an in-ring worker.
“It’s great when you can sit back and watch the Sean Waltmans and the Kanes and just know that I had a little bit to do, mostly my dad, had a little bit to do with these guys’ success in the business and now that they’re working and having good matches and instilling the philosophy of the psychology of what my dad did for so many years.”
It may have gone unnoticed that Malenko actually began as a referee and “The Shooter” recalls one of his first experiences happened to be officiating a WWF classic between two legends.
“When I was 18, 19 I was training for Japan and while WWF was working in the Florida area I’d get a call from Pat Patterson who was booking at the time, and give me a couple dates. Dates, nuts, figs everything. I was working west Palm Beach, Tampa area. In fact, the one that everybody can actually see me still on is the I think it was a Saturday Night Main Event it was in Tamapa at the Sun Dome, USF and I was refereeing Randy Macho Man Savage with Elizabeth at the time against, ahh what’s the guy who used to eat the turnbuckles? George The Animal Steele! “What’s the guy who eats the turnbuckles?’ You can’t say that in any job,” Dean joked. “That was my first real kind of known as being a ref so that was pretty cool. Had a full head of hair. I was 6’2″/6’3″.”
Since Dean is an AEW coach, Tony and Aubrey asked what young talent on the roster has stood out to him from a star standpoint.
“The first guy who sticks out to me number one, I always mention this, is Darby Allin. We always talk about the “It factor.” He’s just got this thing that just makes him different. Yeah there’s a lot of guys that can do flips and tumbling acts and dive through the ropes and all that, but just something about him that he does it different and has his own stamp on it more than anybody else and he understands the audience, he understands that part of the business. Understands about getting himself over and doing anything he can to get your name out there and your face out there and he’s done a great job. I look forward for the future for his career for sure.”
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)
You can listen to Tony and Aubrey’s entire conversation with The Iceman below: