You get more talented and get better at something if you can work with people who are better than you.Debbie Malekno on the Joshi Podcast
The term pioneer gets tossed around so often that sometimes it loses its meaning. Debbie Malenko is a pioneer of Joshi-Wrestling. From 1991 to 1993, Debbie was one of the most dominant competitors in All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling. On August 28th, Debbie competes at the first NWA Women’s Pay-Per-View EMPOWERRR.
Debbie Malenko got into professional wrestling by happenstance. Growing up in Tampa, Florida, she was always playing sports. From the intramurals to high school, she played many sports. She started her amateur wrestling career in high school. At the age of 18, her natural progression was to go train in wrestling and found a great school.
Training at the Malenko Dojo
Her training came at the hands of Boris Malenko’s wrestling school. There she would be under the tutelage of Boris, Joe, and Dean. She was in the same class as Norman Smiley and Sean Waltman. Malenko was responsible for training, Marc Mero, Perry Saturn, Gangrel, Bob Orton Jr., Buddy Landel, Barry Horowitz, Tugboat, and many others. Karl Gotch also trained at the Malenko Dojo. Gotch would give Debbie additional training while at the school. Gotch had never trained a woman wrestler before and never after. It was Boris who bestowed the name Malenko on Debbie before she embarked on her first tour of Japan.
All Japan Woman’s Pro Wrestling
Debbie had a few matches in Florida before she embarked on her journey to All Japan. On August 31st, 1991, a little after a year from her first match Malenko had her first championship match. The IWA World Championship, vacated by Medusa Miceli when she left for the WWE. Debbie lost to Kyoko Inoue. In November of 1991, she challenged for the AJW Title against Takako Inoue. Debbie would team with Sakie Hasegawa, as Jungle Jack. They would win the tag titles at Korakuen Hall on January 5th, 1992. They defeated Mariko Yoshida and Takako. They held the titles until April. Malenko would win the AJW Title on December 10th, 1993. She defeated Karou Ito. She would have one successful defense against Terri Powers later that month. However, tragedy would strike. In a tag team match for TV, Malenko would injure her ankle. Debbie Malenko would have to vacate the title. At the time it was described as a career-ending injury.
The National Wrestling Alliance had an agreement to produce a Women’s Pay Per View in 1999. The centerpiece of that show was supposed to be Debbie Malenko. Unfortunately, the show never happened. In 2001, Malenko would wrestle an Exhibition against Bionic J for ARISON. In 2001 ARISON was an up-coming Joshi promotion in Japan. In 2017 Debbie would return to Japan In to face her long-time rivals. Double Inoue (Kyoko and Takako) with Mariko Yoshia would defeat Kaoru Ito, Jaguar Yokota, and Debbie at Mariko Yoshida’s Retirement match. Last year she returned to Mexico to step back into the ring with Esther and Cynthia Moreno. And last month on July 9th, 2021 Debbie made her in-ring return in Florida at CWF’s Reloaded. Malenko will join Chelsea Green, Lady Frost, Tootie Lynn Ramsey, Jamie Senegal, Biance Carelli, Masha Slamovich, Jennacide and two more to be named opponents for the Women’s Invitational Cup at EMPOWERRR.