Throughout their time in the ring, the careers of Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko were seemingly permanently intertwined.
The pair feuded over the ECW Television Title in early 1995 before heading to WCW and competing in a series of matches that are still revered to this very day. When the time came for Guerrero to leave WCW for WWE in the year 2000, by then it seemed only fitting that Malenko would be by his side along with Perry Saturn as the trio debuted as The Radicalz on Monday Night RAW.
While Guerrero would famously go on to lift the WWE Championship in 2004, Malenko would move away from being an active in-ring performer in 2001 transitioning into becoming a road agent for the company.
Reflecting on is friendship with Guerrero on Chris Jericho’s Talk Is Jericho podcast, Malenko compared Guerrero to Shawn Michaels before revealing that he didn’t always enjoy the wrestling business.
“Eddie was like a chameleon, he could play a lot of different roles. I’ve heard you say this too but it’s the truth. The only other guy I could think of is Shawn Michaels. Eddie was just as hot as a babyface as he was as a heel. That’s extremely hard to do, you can be booed but nothing like the kind of heat that Eddie could generate. Then in 2 seconds all he had to do was smile and now he’s a babyface. He knew how to play both roles to the top, he was that gifted. And he could wrestle, he had a bit of an amateur career in high school. He had that Mexican blood in him, fuel and fire in the ring. That was great he made it real, he was not shy about showing emotion. The only thing that used to drive me nuts was that every time we went back he was like ‘oh that match was bad.’ In the end I would just walk away. Sometimes I think he didn’t enjoy the business, because he was so critical of himself. That’s just all about being a perfectionist. But when he was on, there’s no one better.”
The former WCW Cruiserweight Champion then went on to tell a story where Guerrero’s frustrations got the better of him during a match in Germany. The result being an x-rated rant followed by a very remorseful Latino Heat.
The only conflict we had was in Germany. For some reason the German crowd can be a little rough. For some reason they don’t like Eddie, who was the babyface and Bradshaw was the heel. Eddie got p*ssed off because they weren’t cheering for him. So Eddie did what Eddie does, in the middle of the match, he rolls out, grabs a mic and tells everybody to go F themselves, they are sons of bitches and he hates Germany. He hopes he never comes back blah blah blah and turns himself heel. Walks out of the ring I said Eddie? He goes ‘Not now! I’ll talk to you later.’ Walks right out and I get a knock on my door about 3am. It’s the apologetic Eddie. I said Eddie? He goes ‘Sorry Dean.’ I say ‘Go to bed Eddie, I’ll talk to you in the morning.’ That was it, I just see him walking away hunched over.”
While Dean Malenko may have been something of an underrated talent during his career, his work has repeatedly drawn praise from former colleagues, most recently from Eric Bischoff, who described how much he admired his former star.
After retiring from being an active performer, Malenko stayed with WWE working as a road agent until 2019. Following his departure, Malenko quickly joined AEW as a Senior Producer just one month later.
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