As I’ve probably mentioned before in my WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches…List reviews, the Cruiserweight scene in the mid to late ‘90s WCW was awesome. They had big names and big matches. Dean Malenko was a large part of the success, but he wasn’t a typical Cruiserweight wrestler. When you think of Cruiserweight, you think of the high-flying antics of Rey Mysterio. Malenko could do high-flying, but he was more about the ground wrestling. Their styles complement each other very well in this fantastic match.
It’s a similar layout to Mysterio’s match with Ultimo Dragon (#71 on the 100 Best Matches…List. Click here for my review!). Malenko dominates much of the match, using submissions and slams to keep Mysterio down. He focuses on attacking Mysterio’s arm. Of course, this being Malenko, he makes every submission mean something and entertain at the same time. On paper, it sounds dull, but he knew how to keep the crowd’s attention while executing his various submission holds. His nickname of ‘The Man of a 1000 Holds’ was hard earned!
The beatdown of Mysterio sets up his eventual come back beautifully. The comeback itself is typical high-flying greatness from Mysterio. He goes springboard crazy, hitting a springboard somersault on Malenko on the outside, a springboard dropkick inside the ring, and then a springboard hurricanrana! That’s the kind of action we want to see from Mysterio. It’s the wait to see those kind of moves reaps rewards at the end. However, it is in that wait that things can seem a little bit boring. Malenko can do 1000 holds, but sometimes they are to the match’s disadvantage. More often than not he makes his submissions compelling, but occasionally his submissions can feel monotonous.
However, that is a minor flaw of Malenko vs Mysterio. In WCW, Mysterio didn’t have the weight on him that he did in WWE. He’s lighter and therefore more athletic. There’s barely anyone Cruiserweight who could match him for pure talent in his heyday, which was around the time of this match. A similar sentiment can be expressed for Malenko; he was in his wrestling peak at the same time. Both wrestlers’ styles complement each other, making for very exciting viewing. Forget the NWO; the real wrestling entertainment was happening in WCW’s Cruiserweight Division. And Malenko vs Mysterio is just another prime example of that!
VERDICT: 8/10. Malenko was the ‘Man of a 1000 Holds,’ and while he dominates much of this match in a compelling fashion, sometimes the relentless submissions and holds can become dull. However, the final five minutes of Mysterio’s miraculous comeback are a brilliant lesson in high flying wrestling!
Does this match belong in the WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die? Leave your comments below!
Click here for my review of #61 Team WWE (The Rock, Chris Jericho, The Undertaker, Kane, The Big Show) vs Team Alliance (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Booker T, Shane McMahon, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam) (Winner Takes All, WWE Survivor Series 2001)
Click here to view my list of reviews of the WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die