Wrestling legend and AEW Senior Producer and Coach Dean Malenko was on a recent episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast. Malenko left WWE in 2019 and signed with AEW soon after. Chris Jericho asked Malenko about his relationship with Vince McMahon.
“It was fun. I thought we had a great relationship in the beginning,” Malenko stated. “It didn’t really get bad at the end either. It’s just that I thought it was time for me to go and join someone else. Vince is very stern, and it’s his show and we get that. I don’t think he expected anything less than perfection or didn’t want anything less than perfection. I think he trusted me a lot, just going out there and helping talent, and try to get the best match, and camera angles and teach guys the business a little bit, kind of what I do here.”
Malenko then recalled McMahon’s switch from agent to producer. He revealed what McMahon’s answer was to his question, “Do producers make more money than agents?”
“We were at the Hammerstein Ballroom,” Malenko recalled. “Vince said, ‘From now on, there’s no more agents. I don’t know what agents do. You are now a producer. You help produce the matches. So from this day forward you’re a producer.’ So I couldn’t help myself. I raised my hand. ‘Yes, Dean,’ and I go, ‘Do producers make more money than agents?’ He goes, ‘No, pretty much the same.’ But now I’m a producer.”
Jericho asked how tough the job was especially sitting in the Gorilla position with McMahon. Malenko described the experience of being a producer in WWE.
“You put on a live telecast most of the times, and you want to do the best you can. It’s his show, and if he wants to scream at you, it’s his business,” Malenko pointed out. “Sometimes you have to be extremely hardened to work in that kind of job, in that kind of environment. It’s not the easiest environment to work into. There’s a lot of guys that could have made really good producers.
“They looked at me and go, ‘There was no way in hell I would ever take that job. I couldn’t do what you do.’ I used to hear that a lot. I still hear that. ‘I couldn’t do what you do,’ and it’s a very taxing job. It’s very stressful because there’s expectations of you to succeed every night and make sure things are different. It was a ride for sure.”
Malenko then told another McMahon story. He revealed a unique anecdote about McMahon while talking about the times he would joke around with McMahon.
“One time there’s a match that I clicked on, Vince says, ‘Who is this?’ I go, ‘It’s me,’ because he hated pronouns,” Malenko revealed. “He said, ‘I want to talk about the match.’ I said, ‘Well, if you like the match, it’s Dean’s. If you don’t like the match, it’s Steve Keirn’s.’
“Steve wasn’t even working there. Steve quit before that, but you had to be very selective, very careful when you wanted to do play around with Vince because if he didn’t want it, then you knew that real quick because sometimes, back in the day, he liked to have fun with the boys. You can joke with him and stuff like that, but there’s also a time for when you don’t do that.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.