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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Shawn Stasiak
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling

Shawn Stasiak. Courtesy WCW

REAL NAME: Shawn Stipich
BORN: 1971 in Haywood, California
6'4", 255 pounds
ALIASES/NICKNAMES: Meat, The Perfect One

 It was always in the back of Shawn Stipich's mind that one day he would follow his father, former WWWF World champion Stan 'The Man' Stasiak, into pro wrestling. It just took a little longer than he thought it would.

"I kind of dilly-dallied around out of high school, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew deep, back in my mind that I said, 'Wrestling will probably always be there for me because it's in my blood.' Then it sort of hit me while I was in college," the current 'Perfect One' Shawn Stasiak told SLAM! Wrestling. "I was 25 years old and thinking, then I'm 26 and said 'I've got to do this.' So I was kind of in a battle with myself: Why am I doing this college crap? I wanted to get my degree. That's what kept me in school."

School was Boise State University in Idaho, where he studied Communications, with an emphasis on video and audio productions and competed on the wrestling team.

Stasiak, now 29, got involved in high school wrestling while living in Canada. "I just wanted to do something that had the word 'wrestling.' Of course I didn't realize until I got into it that it was a completely different thing. But I started doing well and liking it."

While at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, he was a provincial champion in OSFSA in 1990 in the 130 kg weight class. In club wrestling, he was Ontario Espoir champion in 1990 at 130 kg, and placed second the same year nationally at a meeting in Pierrefonds, PQ.

The success continued at Boise State, where he finished second in the Pac-10 championships two years in a row. A dual Canadian and U.S. citizen, Stasiak also went to the NCAAs ranked in the top 12 in the United States out of all Division-1 schools.

"I didn't quite achieve the goals I wanted to in college wrestling. Partly it was a transition to go from freestyle all through high school to the college ranks, which is very, very tough and competitive," he said. "So they were accustomed to those rules. So for someone coming over from freestyle, it was an adjustment, especially if you're making the transition later, at such a high level. I still managed to do well through conditioning and just my takedowns."

Shortly after graduation, his father passed away from heart failure. A few months later, Stasiak had sent in a tryout tape to the WWF. He had only ever wrestled a handful of times for Sandy Barr out in Oregon. But he had a pretty good physique and was the son of a former WWWF world champ.

The video tape didn't have any wrestling on, just promos that Stasiak had done while at college. One of the segments was his Halloween character Phobia on Channel 7 news telling kids safety rules for trick-or-treating.

In October 1997, Stasiak had a tryout at the WWF headquarters in Stamford, CT. He got called back in January 1998 and started training full-time with Tom Pritchard. A short while later, Dory Funk Jr. began running his Funkin' Dojos with the WWF and Stasiak got a chance to train with future WWF stars like Edge, Christian, Test, Prince Albert, Val Venis and more. In all, he spent 10 months at the camps.

"I think I hold the record for most dojos participated in," Stasiak laughed. "Every day we'd bump at least 150 times. They were pretty brutal. For someone who never really had much extensive professional wrestling training, and not used to bumping, the first couple were just unbelievably brutal."

Eventually, he was sent to Memphis for seasoning, where he roomed with Prince Albert (now just 'A' of T&A). They both got the call to the WWF at the same time after WrestleMania XV.

He was dubbed Meat, and his lineage was virtually ignored.

It was a weird situation for Stasiak. "Being around your dad, who's a wrestler, all your life and anticipating to do this [wrestle], I just didn't anticipate being called Meat. But then the way I looked at it was, hey, they're giving me an opportunity here in the WWF to finally get on TV. They obviously feel I'm ready to contribute to their show. It's a gimmick. It won't last forever. I just looked at it as an opportunity to finally get on board."

Being on the road gave him new respect for the wrestlers he admired growing up like Paul Orndorff, Ultimate Warrior, Rick Rude and Lex Luger -- all wrestlers with better physiques. "I could appreciate what they had to go through as far as travelling, working the shows and still maintaining that kind of build was tremendous."

The Meat gimmick eventually morphed into just Shawn Stasiak, but still he didn't really click in the WWF.

Using the heart punch as a finisher like his father did was discussed. "I've thought about [using it]," Stasiak said. "I know that in the WWF I was kind of discouraged by Vince [McMahon]. I don't know why, he didn't really give me an explanation." Instead, the WWF wanted Stasiak to use his athleticism to get himself over.

Could the heart punch still get over as a finishing move in today's wrestling? Stasiak believes so. "I think it just depends if they played it up right, [if] they gave a little history about what it did. It's actually a martial arts move that's done in the Orient that would actually put people away," he said.

"I thought maybe that it's a little too simplistic, but then again, what's a Stone Cold Stunner? What's a People's Elbow? I think it's just how someone would go into it. I think that if I milked it right, maybe not necessarily as a finisher, but a signature move, like Hunter's knee-to-the-chest to turn the match around kind of thing."

Talking about the heart punch gets Stasiak pumped up. "If the commentators are really pushing the crap out of it, and the guys are selling it the way that I go into it, educate the fans a little bit on the history of it ... There's actually been a few people [who] try to imitate it, but no one can quite do it right. There's only one way to do it, and it remains a secret in the Stasiak family."

Shawn Stasiak's dreams of becoming the first father-son WWF World champions in history were dashed when he made a mistake taping a few conversations and was released by the WWF for 'unprofessional conduct.' [More on this tomorrow.]

"My dad was the fifth wrestler in the history of that company to become the WWF champion. Back then it was the WWWF champ. Even though it's a worked business, it's entertainment, but to me that's pride. I had pride in the WWF that if I were ever to attain that goal one day to become the WWF champion, it would be the first time in history that a father-son duo ever held that title."

SHAWN STASIAK STORIES

  • April 30, 2010: The Doctor is in: Stasiak 'back' in the ring
  • December 14, 2007: DVD showcases two sides of Stasiak
  • May 19, 2000: Stasiak explains taping conversations
  • May 7, 2000: Stasiak targets Hennig at Slamboree