Explaining Why Dean Malenko Retired From Wrestling

Hamish Woodward


Former WWE and WCW wrestler Dean Malenko has recently been suffering with some ill-health and his role within AEW has been in jeopardy with the news coming out. This has led to fans to look back at his long and storied career and marvel at just how good “The Iceman” truly was inside the ring.

He was ice-cold, unmoveable and a technical wizard in the ring, and was a childhood favourite of many wrestlers, including former WWE Champion Bryan Danielson. He inspired a generation and was instrumental into popularising the cruiserweight style of wrestling in WCW.

He was seen as a wrestler that other wrestlers aspired to be. Ahead of his time in the ring, he was an incredibly crisp wrestler whose best moments were in his legendary feud with Chris Jericho in WCW. However, in WWE his quiet, ice-cold personality was seen as a lack of personality, and he was never pushed anywhere near his talent level should have gotten him to. His lack of promo ability hurt him the most, as it was the key part of being a WWE superstar during the Attitude Era.

However, after a brief run in the WWF he retired from wrestling in 2001. He moved to a backstage role in the company and worked as a road agent as he transition from full-time wrestler to retire. However, the details behind Dean Malenko’s retirement are barely known and will be discussed in this article.

Why Did Dean Malenko Retire?

Dean Malenko retired due to a growing list of injuries and a desire to work backstage and help other wrestlers achieve their potential. The former WCW United States Champion hung up his boots in 2001, aged just 41, after a career which showcased his skills as one of the best technical wrestlers to ever perform inside a ring.

He quietly retired in 2001 after a 20 year career in wrestling and moved backstage to become a road agent for the company. In his role, he helped produce matches and relay messages from Vince McMahon back to talent regarding their matches and promos. For a man with such an incredible mind for the business, it was the perfect role for him outside of the ring.

He wrestled one more match for the company, six years after his retirement. He faced Mexican superstar Mistico in a try-out match before Smackdown in 2007, to see if WWE would sign the Lucadore. Very few details about the match are known and the footage has never been released, but we do know that Malenko lost his last match in WWE. Mistico did not get signed due to the match, but gained a WWE contract in 2011 instead and was renamed Sin Cara.

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.”

Malenko currently works for AEW in backstage role, despite his various illnesses.

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