Paul London discusses his past working relationship with Dean Malenko.
From 2003-2008, Paul London was contracted to WWE and throughout his time in the sports-entertainment company, he held the tag titles on three occasions and became Cruiserweight Champion.
He reflected on moments from his career and his experience at WWE while guest appearing on René Duprée’s Café De René podcast. London candidly shared his thoughts about the agents/match producers he worked with. He felt that with the exception of Ricky Steamboat, most agents would throw talents under the proverbial bus if they had to.
London recalled working with Dean Malenko and expressed that in his personal opinion, Malenko too often used his agent role to speak highly of himself or present himself a certain light.
See, I feel like the agents — it’s weird. Rarely would you have agents that were really mega-over as stars themselves, I think with the exception of Ricky Steamboat, who I thought was an awesome agent. He was great, he was great because he knew what it took to get over and he knew how to simplify the instruction or the advice and he wouldn’t use him agenting your match — he wouldn’t use it as an opportunity to put himself over. You know, I think Dean Malenko is probably the most notorious of that and mind you, Dean was a fabulous technician and a great wrestler. But he wasn’t the most charismatic and he wasn’t, you know — he either did it for you or he didn’t, you know? So you’d either change the channel or you’d watch his match and try to learn something. But any time he was your agent, he would — I mean it was just a given that he would tell you, ‘Well you know what Rey and I used to do… Well you know what Rey and I used to do…’ It was like, ‘Okay. Well we’re not you or Rey.’ Pull your head out of your ass and pay attention to this match and into what we’re trying to do. ‘You know what Rey and I used to do…’ It’s like, God, and the thing with Dean was — so like I mentioned that I think a lot of these agents at the time and I certainly don’t know who they have up there now but, I feel they were guys that they approached — again, with the exception of Ricky Steamboat and possibly a couple of other guys who I can’t think of at the moment but, you had guys that were just happy to get another opportunity whether it was a job or this or that so of course they would kiss ass and of course they’d be ‘yes men’ because they didn’t wanna jeopardize their work opportunities or their opportunity to make a living and so, you know, very rarely would an agent fight for you or stand up for you. If anything, they’d throw you under the bus and tell the office that, ‘Well we tried to tell him.’ No you didn’t.
London continued speaking about his interactions with Malenko and told the story of when Vince McMahon instructed him to stop doing the ‘Shooting Star Press’. When London and Malenko attempted to clear things up with McMahon, London said Malenko did not fight for him.
As London tried to reason with Vince, he was asked if the company should make an exception solely for him. He also addressed the perception that he had an attitude problem and feels that came from Bruce Prichard, stemming from comments Prichard made about London on his ‘Something to Wrestle with’ podcast.
The worst experience I had [dealing with an agent] was with Dean [Malenko] because Dean and I got along really well. You know, I think he always liked the cruiserweight guys and he had something — he was always in their corner for the most part, but then there was a time when [Billy] Kidman had recently been let go and I thought, here’s the green light for me to start doing this Shooting Star [Press] that I can do better than him and probably better than anybody at the time. So I was like, great, this is gonna help me get over even more or whatever. So I did it on like one ‘Velocity’ onto Nunzio. I remember it was I think in Buffalo and the crowd popped huge and they exploded and I get to the ramp and I get into the Gorilla and of course, Dean was my agent. I get into the Gorilla and I think it was Jerry Brisco who’s back there who was like, ‘This is coming from Vince: No more 450’ and I looked at Dean and I was like, ‘All right. That wasn’t a 450.’ ‘Well whatever it was, you can’t do it anymore. No more off the top for you,’ and I looked at Dean, I was like, ‘What the f*ck?’ You know? And Dean looks at me and he goes, ‘Let’s go. Let’s take care of this right now. Let’s go talk to Vince right now.’ So we power-walked from Gorilla past the big monitor. Everyone was standing, clapping because this was — you don’t really get a standing ovation from the boys for a ‘Velocity’ match, you know? But like, I was busting sh*t out and I had walked past, everyone was giving me a standing ovation. We’re walking past, I’m like, ‘Okay, yeah, thanks.’ I couldn’t even acknowledge it because I was so pissed off and we’re walking down the hallway and right as we get into Vince’s office, Dean stops and he looks at me and he goes, ‘Let me handle this. I got this’ and I was like, ‘All right. You’re the agent’ and we walk in and I kid you not, in under a minute, he — you know, we go in and he looks at Vince [McMahon] and he goes, ‘Excuse me sir, what is this you don’t want him — no more top rope moves or something?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, no more off the top!’ And Dean just goes, ‘Okay’ and he just walks out [London laughed]. Like just walks out. The tail was not only in between his legs, it was up his ass and he just leaves me there and so, of course I’m not just, you know, do the same thing and be like, ‘Okay,’ you know? I was like, well f*ck it. If he’s not gonna fight for me, I’m gonna fight for myself and I’m just gonna — and very diplomatically. I wasn’t like, ‘Well this is bullsh*t!’ You know? Apparently, I had this reputation that I had an attitude problem when I worked there and I was whatever and I don’t really know where that comes from unless it’s being said by somebody who works in the office there now — Bruce Prichard — and it’s like I wasn’t difficult or I didn’t have an attitude, I just gave a f*ck. I gave a f*ck about my work, I cared about it. I had known what I had sacrificed just to even be in the locker room at my size so like, forgive me for giving a f*ck about myself and having confidence. Oh, God forbid, you know, so of course I was gonna stand up for myself and I was like, ‘Excuse me sir, I just don’t understand where you’re coming from with this’ and he was like, ‘Oh, well you know, I don’t want guys getting hurt and going off the top and everyone’s gonna get hurt’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t understand. This is my move. This is my finisher and nobody else was gonna do it, plus did you see the reaction? The people liked it, they popped.’ He was like, ‘It’s not about what the people like!’ I swear to God and I was just like, this is crazy land. He goes, ‘It’s not about what the people want. You know, it’s about guys getting hurt.’ I said, ‘Well, nobody’s gonna get hurt because I do it better than anybody and nobody’s gonna do this move because it’s my finisher’ and he looked me dead in the eyes and he goes, ‘Oh, so you want us to make an exception for you?’ I was like, ‘That’s kind of what finishers are you dumb f*ck.’
As of this writing, Paul London has not wrestled since 2018. He was a part of season three and four of Lucha Underground and at Ultima Lucha Cuatro 2018, he challenged for the Trios Titles alongside Mascarita Sagrada and Killer Kross.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the Café De René podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.