TAMPA, FL — Former WWE, WCW, and ECW superstar Dean Malenko (real name Dean Simon) was arrested this morning on charges of fraud, said Florida police. The retired mat-based wrestler is being held on $50,000 bail, and a court hearing has been scheduled for February 10.
The charges stem from Malenko’s time with WCW, during which he claimed he was the “Man of 1,000 holds.”
It was a gimmick that got him over as a submission and mat-wrestling expert, which spawned dozens of great matches with the likes of Chris Jericho, Eddy Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and most of the luchadores from Mexico.
Authorities investigated the matter for the past 5 years, and discovered Malenko actually knew only 999 holds. Police now believe they have enough evidence to convict Malenko in a court of law.
“To say I’m shocked is a huge understatement,” said Mike Tenay, who announced most of Malenko’s matches on WCW Monday Nitro.
“We all really believed he knew 1,000 holds, and to hear that isn’t true breaks my heart. To think, I lied to the television audience for years, because I believed this man’s garbage. I feel betrayed, ashamed, and embarrassed. I don’t even want to see his face right now, I’m so upset.”
Wrestling legend Bret Hart, who greatly respected Malenko, decried the day’s events.
“Is this how Professor Boris raised his son?” Bret asked.
“To lie, cheat, and deceive the general public? My father knew Dean’s father; they trained together. He was a man of honesty and integrity. Obviously, Dean didn’t get handed down those genes. Disgusting.”
“That’s it, I’m changing my last name,” said Joe Malenko, Dean’s brother. Joe wrestled in tag team matches with his brother frequently, including in both ECW and WCW.
“The Malenko family name stands for truth and justice, not deceit. Dean is no brother of mine. Quote me on that in big, capital letters. NO BROTHER OF MINE.”
The bookers of WCW at the time of Malenko’s prominence, namely Kevin Sullivan and Terry Taylor, said they were led to believe Malenko knew the amount of holds he claimed to know.
“Don’t shoot the messenger here,” said Taylor, who now helps book for TNA. “We sat down with Dean and tried to think up ways to get him over. We asked him if he had any special, marketable talents. He then said he knew 1,000 wrestling holds, and the light bulbs went off in our heads. Technically we didn’t know if he was telling the truth, but why would we doubt him? He looked the part.”
It is still unknown whether or not Malenko will keep his job with WWE, where he currently works as one of their road agents. As part of his job duties, Malenko helps younger talent put together their matches, critique their performances, and occasionally books finishes on house show matches.
“At this time, we haven’t decided what to do with Dean,” said John Laurinaitis, who heads talent relations for WWE.
“We’re all pretty much still in shock. Once that wears off, I’m sure a decision will be made.”
Perhaps the wrestler most disappointed with the news was Chris Jericho, who feuded extensively with Malenko in WCW. As part of the feud, Jericho called Malenko “Dean-o Machine-o,” and mocked his knowledge of 1,000 holds by once going to the ring with a printout of all the holds on an episode of Nitro. During the famous promo, the commercial break interrupted the segment, which Jericho said was planned.
“I did a lot of research on which holds Dean knew,” explained the wrestler known as Y2J.
“It was exhausting. I stopped at 336, and talked with the production staff about just cutting to commercial break after the first dozen or so. That way, the gimmick would work, without my having to finish up my research.”
But looking back, Jericho wishes he had done the research.
“Had I finished, perhaps I would’ve discovered then that he knew only 999 holds. I feel partly to blame for this, because had I acted on my instincts, Dean would be in jail right now, as he should be. Instead, we did a long feud that has now turned out to be built on nothing but one big lie. One big fraud. What defamation to both of our careers.”
Meanwhile, court proceedings will continue, and Malenko has until next week to select a public defender to represent him in court.