DVD showcases two sides of Stasiak
JOE LINDSAY - For SLAM! Wrestling
Like Clark Kent, Shawn Stasiak is having a bit of identity crisis. By day he is Dr. Shawn Stipich, a thirtysomething professional drinking a cup of Starbucks coffee while pondering his burgeoning chiropractic practice in Dallas, Texas.
By night, he is Shawn Stasiak, a second-generation wrestler full of piss and vinegar aching to get back in the ring for one last push for the WWE Title.
Shawn Stasiak's Determined DVD is an attempt to bridge the gap between the two Shawns. With over three hours of footage, by the time you are done watching you know the story of Shawn Stipich, of Shawn Stasiak, and every form of Shawn in between.
For those not familiar with Stasiak's history, he is the son of Stan "The Man" Stasiak, a former WWWF Champion and master of the heart-punch. He grew up around wrestling, and the DVD includes family photographs of young Shawn posing with his father's belt.
It was no surprise then when Shawn followed in his father's footsteps and began a career as a professional wrestler. Unfortunately, once he made it to the big-time, Shawn was unable to find the same success as his father. Saddled with unfortunate gimmicks, "Meat" the boy-toy of the Pretty Mean Sisters, and "Planet Stasiak." An injury-prone, lost-in-the-clouds lunatic, Stasiak never really advanced past a low-card jobber in the WWF. In WCW, he fared a little better but still never reached the top.
But Stasiak always felt as if he had the potential to be more than that. The Determined DVD is an attempt to show Stasiak's fans all different facets of his life, to bring forward the man behind Meat. Determined is about family, history, spirituality, weightlifting and most of all, wrestling.
On the telephone, Stasiak is honest and candid. He lamented how hesitant people are to reveal their true selves to a more general audience. "Screw it," Stasiak said, "I'm gonna open my life up. Show the wrestling world who Shawn Stasiak really is."
The original plan was to do a shoot interview, said Stasiak. "But as we started filming it just grew into something more than that," he explained. "It's not exactly what we were trying to put together, but I'm pretty happy with the story. I wanted to just let wrestling fans seen to see what I've been through, and how I've managed to maintain a healthy spiritual outlook."
For wrestling fans looking to know the real Stasiak, you get more than enough of it here. The director, Howard Feintuch, follows Stasiak all across the country. They visit the Sportatorium in Portland, Oregon, where Stan "The Man" used to work matches against Andre the Giant. They make a stop at Boise State University, Stasiak's alma-mater, for a workout routine. And finally on to Dallas, Texas, for a look at Stasiak's new chiropractic practice. Stasiak is our guide along the way, peppering the scenes with anecdotes from his life, advice for up-and-coming wrestlers and body-builders, and a healthy dose of his own unique spiritual outlook.
Clocking in at over three hours, there is a lot that could have been trimmed out of this documentary. Also, many of the scenes tend to drag on and could have been spruced up by incorporating more clips and cuts from Stasiak's life in the ring. This is not the fault of Stasiak or Feintuch -- unfortunately World Wrestling Entertainment refused to grant a license to use any footage of Stasiak in the ring. As a result, people unfamiliar with Stasiak's career might find themselves falling asleep in places.
For Stasiak's fans however, there is plenty of interesting material that would warrant at least a viewing or two. As an added bonus for wrestling fans, Rob Van Dam is featured in a scene where he and Stasiak sit at Van Dam's yin-yang emblazoned dining room table and discuss the philosophic and spiritual importance of coincidences.
On the whole, Shawn Stasiak's Determined is a message to the professional wrestling community. Shawn Stasiak is back. In his own words, he is "refocused, refueled, and ready to get back on track." He is Shawn Stipich, the chiropractor, and Shawn Stasiak, a second-generation wrestler ready to make good on his legacy and determined to be a champion in the professional wrestling business. One can only wonder if the WWE or TNA are listening ...
Shawn Stasiak bio and story archive
Stan "The Man" Stasiak in our Canadian Wrestling Hall of Fame
Order Determined at Musculargalore.com
Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!
Shawn Stasiak Determined DVD
Joe Lindsay is a student at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Like Stasiak, he is determined. About what, he's still trying to figure out. Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.