Dean Malenko is long retired but recent revelations have revealed that he wrestled one last mystery match in 2007, helping to get a Mexican legend signed to the company during a dark match on Smackdown.
In 2007, Dean Malenko wrestled one final match with the WWE. He had been a behind the scenes worker for a number of years, producing matches with the talent as one of the agents in the company. His expertise in putting matches together was invaluable to the company and he was regarded as one of the top agents working backstage with the company.
His final appearance, six years after hanging up his boots, came against a legend in Mexico trying his hand in the WWE. He wrestled Mistico in a tryout match prior to Friday Night Smackdown on February 27, 2002. The Mexican star was one of the most popular wrestlers in Mexico and was set to become a huge signing for the WWE.
Malenko had not wrestled since 2001 so his inclusion in the bout was surprising at best. He retired six years prior due to mounting injuries and not seeing a spot for him in the Sports Entertainment style in the WWE at the time. He was given a job backstage and excelled in it, but saw one more match in his future against the WWE hopeful.
There is little-to-no information available about the details of the match. It is known that Mistico won the match, but details about the match – even how long it was or how Mistico beat Dean Malenko – is absent from the internet and solely known by the company themselves. The match itself has also never been released to the public and remains a piece of “lost media” for passionate wrestling fans.
Mistico would not be successful during this try-out, but would return to Mexico before signing a deal with the WWE in 2011. He was repackaged as Sin Cara and had a botch-filled career that saw very little success , considering the huge amount of promise that was shown by the Lucha Libra star. He would eventually be replaced by Hunico as the man under the Sin Cara mask and was released in January 2014 with little fanfare and with nothing to show for his spell in the WWE.
Meanwhile, Dean Malenko slid back into his backstage role and back into retirement. He continued in his role as a road agent in the WWE, a job he worked for 18 years between 2001 and 2019. He left in 2019 to sign for new promotion AEW, where his long-time friend Chris Jericho was the first ever World Champion.
It was recently revealed by AEW commentator Tony Schiavone that his health is deteriorating, due to Parkinsons and various other conditions affecting the former WCW wrestler, although he continues to work backstage in the promotion. Speaking on his What Happened When podcast, Tony Schiavone said;
“His health is not good. We had him on Starrcast in Chicago. No one had really talked about it, but he mentioned that he had Parkinson’s. He’s also had a heart attack. He’s got diabetes. So he’s had some serious, serious health problems, but he’s still a part of AEW backstage.
“They always make sure that he’s, of the big matches when you see like Moxley or Danielson or one of those main events, big main events, Dean is always the coach. One of the reasons that they have Dean as the coach for it is he doesn’t put up with any bullsh*t at all. I’m glad to see him still working, but I’m very sad about his health problems that he’s had these days.”
It is unknown why Dean Malenko was chosen to face Mistico, but it could be due to his excellent work wrestling against Mexican cruiserweights like Rey Mysterio in WCW and WWE. He is also considered one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time and it is a crime he is not in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.