AEW senior producer Dean Malenko recently made an appearance on Chris Jericho’s ‘Talk Is Jericho’ podcast.
Amongst other subjects, one of the more fascinating parts of the interview was Malenko going into depth on how he manages to live with Parkinson’s Disease whilst maintaining his position in the wrestling business.
Malenko, who has not previously opened up about his life living with the disease specifically discussed what it was like to be live on stage in front of a crowd:
“What happened was I’m 60 years old. They say usually around 60 is the age when you start to get it. I got it about six – seven years ago. About a year ago, I was at Starrcast in Chicago, and I was asked to do a Q&A session with Tony Schiavone. And I got a little nervous and a little scared because I was going to be out in front of people. I haven’t really been in front of crowds a lot. Of course, at work, which is a different environment, but you get nervous sometimes because you don’t want people to know what you got.
“You’re like trying to hide it. Parkinson’s is a very difficult thing to cover up. It looks like you’re freezing cold. I don’t want people to think that, and that’s one of reasons why I asked you to do this. And that day, when I started talking, I realized the microphone was really light, and what I mean by that is things that are very light, like silverware, if there’s no weight to it, I’ll shake more. It’s very interesting the way all that works.
Talking of the moment when his disease became a talking point amongst wrestling fans:
“So I had Tony and the people there actually get me a stand and put the stand up and the microphone in there. I didn’t have to use my hands. I almost felt like Stevie Wonder playing on the piano. I just kind of blurted out, ‘Damn, Parkinson’s,’ and a couple of people caught it, and kind of got on social media and ran a little bit but nothing really big.”
Malenko was one of the most revered in ring technicians of his generation. His time in WCW and WWE was highlighted by his stints in The Four Horsemen and The Radicalz as well as holding the WCW Cruiserweight title and its WWE equivalent, the Light-Heavyweight strap.
Now, working behind the scenes with AEW, his struggles with the disease are something he works on living with rather than succumbing to the condition:
“I compare having Parkinson’s like having a roommate that never leaves because every morning, you wake up, you have this other person with you. It’s either not going to let you get out of bed really easy, going to make a shake and kind of takes over your body. So that could be a little crazy at times, but I’m kinda getting used to. I’ve really have tried to laugh things off.
“My 15-year-old, if I’m shaking, she’ll come over and put her hand on me and then she starts shaking and just have fun with it. There’s nothing you can do about it. I am not going to get rid of it. It’s always going to be there. Hopefully, with modern medicine and going forward, they can slow this down at one point, and if not, I’ll deal with it whenever.”
The Iceman continues to impart his wealth of knowledge to the young generation of AEW talent and long may he continue to be an active part of the business.