Five-Star Match of the Week: Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko - 2-out-of-3 Falls Match - ECW, Aug. 26, 1995
Every Wednesday, WWE Classics and Greatest Matches team up with your favorite Superstars to bring you the Five-Star Match of the Week. We ask a Superstar in the WWE locker room to select one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time, and WWE.com brings you that full-length match, uncut.
For many sports-entertainment fans, ECW is remembered for its sadistic brutality, intensely dedicated fanbase and groundbreaking programming. But in addition to defining hardcore brawling, ECW also put a spotlight on other wrestling styles including high-flying lucha libre and technical mat grappling.
Matt Striker is one Superstar who recalls those more technical ECW matchups.
“I always gravitated toward the interesting in-ring competitors. Not so much the fanfare, the pageantry, the entrance, the lights, the costumes. I love the catch-as-catch-can ‘puroresu’ Japanese style,” Striker explained. “And that brings me to the match that I choose, which is Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko from 1995, two-out-of-three falls.”
The match was both Eddie and Dean’s final bout in the ECW Arena before departing for WCW, where each would become stars in the promotion’s heralded Cruiserweight division. After learning this news, the Extreme faithful inside the famed “bingo hall” began chanting “Bischoff sucks” and “You sold out.” But as the match progressed, each competitor used their extreme athleticism to draw the crowd into the drama of the bout.
“During this time, I had dreams of being a professional wrestler,” Striker recalled. “I would study these tapes and steal these moves. I tried to emulate Dean and Eddie to a tee and I was nowhere near as talented as either of those guys.” ( MORE STRIKER)
After trading the first two falls during nearly 20 minutes of fast-paced action, the match was declared a draw.
“Watch that match and see the story that these two men are telling. There are no catchphrases. There are no T-shirts being sold. There’s no cool fanfare on a TitanTron behind you,” Striker said. “It’s just two guys in a dingy wrestling hall in front of true wrestling fans doing what the sign on the arena says. They are wrestling.” ( MORE DEAN)
Although the infamously tough Philly fans had chided Eddie and Dean at the beginning of the match, the entire ECW arena was chanting “Please don’t go” as the contest came to a close. Both men thanked the fans for their support and Eddie gave Dean a hug and told him he was one of the best wrestlers he’d ever faced. Paul Heyman and other ECW wrestlers poured into the ring and hoisted Malenko and Guerrero on their shoulders as they bid Philadelphia farewell. ( MORE EDDIE)
“The ovation, the appreciation, the camaraderie and the brotherhood is something that transcends all of sports, all of pop culture,” Striker explained. “For one brief moment, you believed in what Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko were doing. And because of those men and their dedication to our craft, that moment that you believe stays with you for the rest of your life.”
PREVIOUS FIVE-STAR MATCHES:
Oct. 3, 2012: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XII
Oct. 10, 2012: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero, Halloween Havoc 1997
Oct. 17, 2012: Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk, Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knockout
Oct. 24, 2012: CM Punk vs. John Cena, Money in the Bank 2011
Oct. 31, 2012: Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase, WrestleMania IV
Nov. 7, 2012: Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog, SummerSlam 1992
Nov. 14, 2012: Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania X
Nov. 21, 2012: The Hart Foundation vs. The British Bulldogs, Madison Square Garden
Nov. 28, 2012: Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar, No Way Out 2004
Dec. 5, 2012: Ric Flair vs. Big Van Vader, Starrcade 1993
Dec. 12, 2012: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect, SummerSlam 1991
Dec. 19, 2012: Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage, WrestleMania III