Where Are They Now? Shawn Stasiak
Once known by the unflattering moniker of Meat, Shawn Stasiak competed for both WWE and WCW during the sports-entertainment boom of the late ’90s. Learn more about the man from Planet Stasiak and find out what he’s up to today with WWE.com’s latest “Where Are They Now?” feature.
Shawn Stasiak is ready for his comeback.
It has been more than a decade since the son of former WWE Champion Stan “The Man” Stasiak was an active competitor. Back then, when sports-entertainment was as hot as it had ever been, the second-generation Superstar wrestled in WWE and WCW as a dimwitted hunk known as Meat, a Mr. Perfect knockoff named “PerfectShawn” and a loony goofball who claimed to hail from Planet Stasiak.
He’s 42 now, a Dallas-based chiropractor with a burgeoning career as a motivational speaker. Yet, he can’t help but wonder how his ring career could have turned out differently had he only been a little more self-assured. Stasiak lacked confidence back then. He crippled under the pressure to live up to his father’s considerable legacy. And there was an incident with a tape recorder he’d like to forget — if only the world would let him.
“He put way more pressure on himself to carry on the family tradition than he needed to,” WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross told WWEClassics.com. “I think that was one of the things that eroded his progression.”
All of this stood in the way of Stasiak’s goal to win the WWE Title and make history alongside his old man as the first father-son duo to hold the granddaddy of all championships. Did Stasiak have what it takes to become a WWE Champion? In many respects, he did. When he was signed by WWE in 1998, Stasiak was a 6-foot-4, 240-pound genetic anomaly with legit amateur wrestling credentials from Boise State. However, while his dad was a rugged, punishing bruiser with a debilitating Heart Punch, Shawn found his spot as a smug pretty boy — looking like an NFL quarterback will do that to a wrestler.
His inability to find his place in sports-entertainment was surprising considering he grew up around the business. Born in July 1970, Stasiak was three years old when his father beat Pedro Morales to win the WWE Championship in Philadelphia. His pop’s reign was brief — only nine days — but Stasiak still has grainy home video of himself as a kid, clutching the title by the family Christmas tree.
Stasiak’s early years were spent on the road, traveling from territory to territory with his dad. He grew up in locker rooms around guys like Andre the Giant and Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and roughhoused with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when the two were just third graders. The family lived in Portland for a time — a city where his dad was a local hero and his classmates worshipped him. Then it was over to Dallas, where his father was so hated that the kids wanted to string Shawn up by his toes.
“I’d get chased after school, because my dad was the guy that feuded with The Von Erichs,” Stasiak remembered.
The family eventually settled down in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, when Stasiak was a teen and Stan “The Man” was ready to call it quits. There, Shawn hit a growth spurt and became a champion high school wrestler as a heavyweight. A scholarship to Boise State followed, where Stasiak was a top Division I competitor.
“Amateur wrestling requires so much discipline,” Stasiak said. “All my work ethic up to this point has been because of my amateur wrestling career, and I can’t thank it enough.”
Although Stasiak had been interested in the ring since he was a kid, he did not pursue sports-entertainment after college. It wasn’t until his dad passed away in June 1997 that he got serious about becoming a WWE Superstar. He more or less glossed over this point, but it's an important one: Did Stasiak have a desire to become a professional wrestler? Or did he feel compelled to carry on the family name in the wake of his father’s death?
“Sometimes, second- and third-generation kids feel obligated to get in the family business,” J.R. told WWEClassics.com. “Although it’s admirable, sometimes it’s just not the right decision to make.”
Regardless of his intentions, Stasiak was signed by WWE in January 1998. Yet, instead of being introduced to the world as the second coming of Stan “The Man” Stasiak, he was dubbed Meat. The athlete’s daytime TV good looks and enviable abdominals had set him up to portray what was more or less the male equivalent of the long line of Barbie dolls that had pranced around rings for years. He was, quite literally, a piece of meat for longtime WWE valet Terri Runnels, and he struggled in the spot.
Stasiak’s DNA allowed him to develop quickly, but the persona did not work. Still, WWE fans remember it, because A.) It came along at such an integral point in WWE history, and B.) The name Meat was so absurd it’s hard to forget. Stasiak ditched the moniker eventually and rechristened himself Shawn Stasiak, but then he did something so misguided that it has affected him ever since.
At this point in his life, Stasiak was, admittedly, an overgrown kid who — despite being on the cusp of his thirties with a strict athletic background — could be a little goofy. That’s why he thought it would be funny to record a conversation between Steve Blackman and The British Bulldog without their knowledge.
According to Stasiak, it was meant to be a joke, but in the fiercely private world of professional wrestling, it was the type of thing a rookie simply should not do. By the time Blackman found out he had been taped, the stunt had cost the young Superstar his job and, worse yet, his reputation in sports-entertainment.
“I don’t think Shawn was doing anything mean-spirited,” Jim Ross said. “It was a sophomoric prank that was more serious to the veteran talents than he perceived it would be. You can’t allow yourself to get into a situation where you’re not trusted by your peers.”
Unfortunately for Stasiak, the move painted a scarlet letter on his chest that barely faded for the remainder of his ring career.
“I think there was just too much stigma with it,” he said. “I really don’t know all the real reasons why. You could bash your head up against the wall trying to figure it out, and I think I did for the longest time.”
Stasiak wasn’t blacklisted entirely. WCW signed him soon after his WWE release and presented him as the heir apparent to Curt Hennig. Using Mr. Perfect’s entrance theme and even his PerfectPlex finishing maneuver, Stasiak was dubbed “PerfectShawn” and beat Hennig on pay-per-view weeks into his tenure in WCW. The victory may have meant something, but in typical WCW fashion, it was abandoned before long.
He stayed relevant as a member of The Natural Born Thrillers — a group of promising young upstarts that was ready to take the spotlight away from tenured competitors like Lex Luger and Kevin Nash. At one point, the faction — which included studs like Sean O’Haire, Mark Jindrak and Chuck Palumbo — seemed to hold a legitimate claim to being the future of professional wrestling. Yet, somehow, not a single member of the stable ended up as a major sports-entertainment player.
“As time progressed, we realized they didn’t know what they were doing,” Stasiak said of WCW’s notoriously misguided management. “They were breaking us up, making tag teams. Things weren’t consistent.”
WCW was problematic, but Stasiak made his greatest strides as a talent with the company, becoming a two-time WCW Tag Team Champion while beating major stars like Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow. When WCW finally buckled under the weight of corporate ineptitude in 2001, Stasiak returned to WWE as a foot soldier in the invading WCW army. It was an unexpected homecoming for the second-generation Superstar, and another opportunity to realize his goal of reaching the mountaintop.
Stasiak did not become the imposing WWE Champion he had imagined himself being, but he did find a decent mid-card spot as an oddball villain. He lost matches by literally tripping over his own two feet and acted spaced out as the man from Planet Stasiak.
In his mind, the persona — inspired by Jim Carrey’s portrayal of The Riddler in “Batman Forever” — could have been menacing, but it ended up as a punchline. Stasiak had a gift for over-the-top physicality, but the recurring disconnect between who he was and who he wanted to be impeded upon his ability to succeed in sports-entertainment. Ultimately, he was released by WWE in fall 2002.
“I knew at that very moment that I was not moving to Japan, I was not going to work the indies,” Stasiak said. “I was going to purse another career I always questioned whether or not I could do, and that was to become a chiropractor.”
Today, the man WWE fans once called Meat is better known to his patients as Dr. Shawn. After receiving his certification in 2007, Stasiak settled down in Dallas — the city where his father once terrorized The Von Erichs — and started a growing practice.
“It’s such a blessing to be able to make so many positive life changes for people, to get them out of debilitating pain and to guide them to a better quality of life not just physically, but mentally and spiritually,” Stasiak said.
His interest in helping people has also led the former WWE Superstar to pursue a passion for motivational speaking. Years ago, when Stasiak was still at Boise State, he developed an alter ego he called Fobia. The character’s strange origin story began after Stasiak found a nest of spiders living under his bed. The incident horrified him, but it also led him to create a persona inspired by larger-than-life figures like Ultimate Warrior and KISS’ Gene Simmons. Painted up as the heroic Fobia, Stasiak delivered public service messages to children on local Boise TV around Halloween time. (He later used these videos to help grab WWE’s attention back in 1998.)
Today, Stasiak dresses up as Fobia to talk to school children about facing their fears and bringing an end to bullying.
“It’s something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Stasiak said. “I love kids. I’m a big kid myself. But we’ve got an obesity issue going on with our kids. We’ve got a bullying issue going on. It’s so important to plant the seed at an early age and to make a difference.”
“I’m not big on dissuading anybody from chasing their dreams, but I feel like he is now on the path that is right for him,” Jim Ross said.
Indeed, Stasiak has gained the confidence and maturity that he lacked in his early ring years, which has naturally led the good doctor to imagine what he could have done differently. The talented athlete had every gift necessary to make it in sports-entertainment; it was just the mental aspect of things that held him back.
“I didn’t realize it back then, but I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Stasiak admitted. “I just don’t think I dealt with my father’s death.”
More than a decade since Stan “The Man” Stasiak’s passing, the loss resonates with his son. Even at 42, Shawn is still a big kid trying to make the old man proud. But while the second-generation competitor looks toward a comeback, he seems to have missed the fact that he has already arrived.
“I think [Shawn Stasiak] has become his own man,” J.R. said. “At the end of the day, that’s a very happy ending to the story.”