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WRESTLER OF THE DAY: JOE MALENKO

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We always hear about comedown matches so if there is such a thing as a comedown Wrestler of the Day this is it. I fucking love Joe Malenko but I know I am the only one and really nothing is going to compare to Andre... at least not the next day.

 

The late, great Scott Mailman made me a Joe Malenko comp tape and it is one of my prized possessions (despite the VQ being borderline unwatchable at times.) And the irony is not lost since I hate Dean Malenko so much.

 

Anyway - I will leave you all to find another one of WCW's great lost opportunities. I instead share my review of the Malenkos vs. Fantastics... which seems to be one of the few fucking Joe Malenko matches not on the interwebs.

 

 

Dean and Joe Malenko vs. The Fantastics- All Japan Classics #97 - 7/15/89- (PHIL RIPPA):
The bizarro part of my brain clicked in and that could only mean trouble. I started looking at this match as a match-up of the traditional wrestling style that had been prevalent up to that point in time versus the flashy, fast paced style that the sport had been moving towards during the 80s. Akin to the Colts vs. Jets in Super Bowl III, Joe and Dean Malenko are the Johnny Unitas/Earl Morrell of the wrestling scene - with their short-cut hair (“A haircut you can set your watch to.” - Abe Simpson) and no nonsense style. They were what wrestling was. But now, much like the NFL, the Brothers Malenko were being challenged by an upstart, flamboyant rival yearning for acceptance - the Joe Namathesqe Fantastics. With their fancy mullets, Chippendale good looks and New York rush-rush wrestling style, Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton stood before Joe and Dean, as the men who would challenge everything the old school brothers knew. While there is a mutual respect between the two teams, the tension lies more in the controversy of whose wrestling style is “right”. The Malenkos wanted, no needed, to prove that they could STILL wrestle and that they weren't going to be discarded like some cheap pair of cleats. For the Fantastics, it was a question of proving that they COULD wrestle despite doing things just a little left of center. Because of this motivation, both teams turn out an outstanding match. The Malenkos breakout everything their Daddy taught them, as they work on various points of balances (Joe, a fountain of hurty submissions, does a reverse crossface that makes your own arm throb) and bust out a counter to every hold imaginable (Joe shows off a second variation of How To Escape a Head Scissors that made the one that Dean busted out in a different match mundane by comparison. Dean, however, does an elaborate escape out of a crucifix into a Samoan drop that will have you hitting the rewind button multiple times.) Simple and effective is the Malenko way and it works. Rogers and Fulton are more than up to the challenge, though, as they match the Malenkos wrestling move for wrestling move. (Tommy Rogers is one of the forgotten great workers of his time. Hell, now he is a billion years old and he can still go.) The Malenkos dictate the early pace and style of the match despite the Fantastics vast attempts to make it THEIR match - quick tags, elaborate double teams (during the course of the match, all the trendy late 80’s tag team moves get showcased by Rogers and Fulton - the Rocket Launcher, the Doomsday Device, etc…), wear down your opponents with speed, speed and more speed. Rogers is one of the premiere dropkickers in wrestling and he shows everyone that the cheekbone compressing height method of delivering a dropkick is the way to go. As the match extends past the 15-minute mark, the Fantastics moved the match from 33 to 45 as a frenetic finishing sequence begins. Those fans, worried that Joe and Dean might not have it anymore, will be delighted to see that the Malenkos aren't as stuck in their ways as one might think. Joe actually leaves his feet to throw a dropkick, Dean comes off the top rope and the Brothers get the win using a fancy (for them) double team (a dropkick into a German suplex). The entire match was well received by the audience, who was popping from start to finish. The combatants hug after the match, a sign of acceptance, something along the lines of “there is more than one way to wrestle a great match.”

 

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I think my first glimpse of Joe was in the GWF right after the Cigar Incident where Rusty Brooks kayfabe put a lit cigar in Dean's eye after a non tag-title loss.  I was surprised to see a fed where fucking Rusty Brooks was soemthing more than a mid-card Jobber To The Stars.

 

Here is one of the blow-off matches of that feud with Joe tagging with his dad, THE MOTHER FUCKING GREAT MALENKO, against Rusty Brooks and Jumbo Barretta.

 

 

Joe was great.  I love that dude.

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Here is Joe going all shoot style against Yoshiaki Fujiwara.

 

 

Yeah, Fujiwara of Fujiwara Armbar fame.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBzkrYulGfw

 

The bodyslam to the floor spot in this match is really clever. I hate that Kikuchi doesn't sell it. The transition to tag was pretty memorable but it led to a reset instead of a Malenko kills everyone segment which was a little disappointing. I think Malenko was really good at portraying a sense of struggle. Kikuchi falling off the ropes has maybe the best recovery I've ever seen as Rogers just immediately takes over without even a second's hesitation. Good on him. It's so well done you have to wonder if it was planned. The subsequent kickout after the piledriver on the floor is total bullshit though. It's fine to have that not end the match but have Malenko break up the pin if you're going to do that. Fantastics double second rope dropkick is so cool but leads to another bullshit kick out. Rogers is really good at changing direction on the fly. The head plant at 9:57 is scary. Holy jeez. The subsequent kickout is bullshit. Match didn't have enough Malenko. It's pretty much a surreal beating of Kikuchi with the Fantastics kicking out insane offense and Kikuchi kicking out of all of it. I'm not going to say it wasn't fun candy though.

 

I'm sorry I have nothing else to contribute!

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I just read that he worked the All Japan tag tournament in 2010 with Nishimura, none of it seems to be online sadly. Amazing to think what seems to be his first match in 14 years was a half hour draw against Masa Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, it could be shite I suppose, but damn I want to see it.

 

Did Joe referee in WWF like Dean did?

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I made this dvd set, sorry it has both Dean and Joe Malenko on it.

 

THE MALENKOS IN ALL JAPAN

 

Volume 1
Running Time: 1:59

 

2/20/88 Malenkos vs. Tiger Mask, Shinnichi Nakano
1/20/89 Joe Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi * (World Jr. Title)
1/28/89 Malenkos vs. British Bulldogs
7/1/89 Joe Malenko vs. Mitsuo Momota * (World Jr. Title)
7/11/89 Joe Malenko vs. Dean Malenko (World Jr. Title)
7/15/89 Malenkos vs. Fantastics

 

Volume 2
Running Time: 2:02

 

2/29/88 Malenkos vs. Tiger Mask, Masa Fuchi
3/5/88 Joe Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi
1/5/89 Malenkos vs. Masa Fuchi, Great Kabuki
1/15/89 Malenkos vs. Toshiaki Kawada, Samson Fuyuki
1/25/89 Joe Malenko vs. Mighty Inoue * (World Jr. Title)
7/21/89 Malenkos vs. Masa Fuchi, Yoshinari Ogawa
7/28/89 Joe Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi
9/30/89 Joe Malenko, Shin-ichi Nakano, Kenta Kobashi vs. Dan Krofatt, Doug Furnas, Ken Shamrock
10/11/89 Joe Malenko, Kenta Kobashi vs. Dan Kroffat, Doug Furnas (All-Asia Tag Titles)

 

Volume 3
Running Time: 1:56

 

10/1/89 Joe Malenko, Kenta Kobashi vs. Dan Kroffat, Ken Shamrock
10/20/89 Joe Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi (World Jr. Title)
10/28/89 Joe Malenko, Ken Shamrock vs. Dick Slater, Joel Deaton
3/31/90 Joe Malenko, Kenta Kobashi vs. Dan Kroffat, Doug Furnas (All-Asia Tag Titles)
9/1/90 Joe Malenko, Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. The Fantastics
10/21/90 Malenkos vs. The Funks
2/25/91 Dean Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi (World Jr. Title)
3/4/91 Joe Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi (World Jr. Title)
8/17/91 Joe Malenko vs. Masa Fuchi
10/10/91 Malenkos vs. Firecat, Isamu Teranishi
10/27/91 Malenkos vs. Stan Hansen, Dan Spivey

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Malanko vs Fujiwara is probably my favorite Joe Malenko match.

 

Those 1989 AJPW midcard workrate tags are really fucking fun. I think Malenko and Kobashi vs the CanAms is on ditch's site and it's one of my favorites.

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That could have been a Goldust comeback. The Joe/Dean vs Eddy/Jericho feud that never was.

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