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[2001-02-26-WWF-Raw] Dean Malenko vs Taka Michinoku


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Fresh off losing to Lita on Raw last week, Dean Malenko is on it this defending the Light Heavyweight title.  That tells you all you need to know about how much they think of that belt.  JR notes that is rare to see a Light Heavyweight title defense on Raw, it’s also rare to see Malenko actually carrying the belt as he only seems to have it with him when he’s defending it.  Kaientai have a woman with them who they claim is Taka’s girlfriend.  This looks like that Vince humour of the young Taka having an older, slightly overweight and not very attractive woman as his girlfriend.  The woman does the “Indeed” line rather than Funaki after Taka’s promo.  Malenko’s momentum takes him through the ropes to the floor where he’s caught by Taka’s springboard crossbody.  Ross and Lawler are back on it with Malenko being a ladies man, ‘the King’ having a funny comeback when Ross describes his wife as an angel, Lawler saying “you’re lucky, Dean’s wife is still alive!”  Texas Cloverleaf is countered with a small package.  Malenko sits Taka upstairs, suicideplex, but on landing Taka hooks him with an inside cradle for a near fall.  Nice superkick.  He signals for the Michinoku Driver, hitting it at the second attempt, however he hurt his back in the process and is slow to make the cover which allows the champion to kick out.  Taka leaps off the middle at Malenko, who rolls through and locks on the Cloverleaf for the submission.

If there is any plan whatsoever to rehabilitate the Light Heavyweight title they need to do better than this.  I did wonder whether the blow off to the Lita angle was Malenko done as a wrestler and moving onto a backstage role, but he’s around for about another six months before that happens.

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