On October 30th 2007 411mania.com had the chance to interview former WWE and WCW Superstar Shawn Stasiak. In this one-hour interview Larry Csonka interviews Shawn about the impact his father had on his life, becoming a Dr. of Chiropractic Medicine and Motivational speaker, a possible comeback to wrestling, his new DVD Shawn Stasiak: Determined, his pitch to WWE about a comeback and much more!
411mania.com: Welcome back to the 411mania podcast. It is my pleasure today to be joined by former WWE and WCW superstar Shawn Stasiak. Shawn, how are you today?
Shawn Stasiak: I’m doing great, how are you?
411mania.com: I am excellent. Shawn, as many wrestling fans know, you grew up the son of Stan ‘The Man’ Stasiak, former world champion. What was that like for you as a child, growing up with a very popular father?
SS: Well, it was very unique and dynamic. Basically it really…my memories really stemmed from the territory days during the 60’s and 70’s.Of course my memories would be early 80’s when we lived in Portland, Oregon when Don Owen had a territory there Portland Wrestling. A lot of the biggest names had come through there – the Jesse Ventura’s, the Bushwhackers, Harley Race, Andre the Giant, Rocky Johnson, the names go on and on….Ric Flair – you name it, they came through there. So I was just exposed to a plethora of just great, legendary wrestling names, and of course my father, he was just huge over there in Portland, became pretty popular. It was pretty unique, no matter where we went, like a restaurant or grocery shopping or go to a mall or to a park, he was always bombarded by people who wanted his autograph – everyone loved Stan. He was my hero in the wrestling ring but also, more importantly, in real life I really looked up to him *laugh* more than literally. In a respect way. That was the big influence on me and from a very early age.
411mania.com: Growing up, as you said, you got to be with many top name wrestlers and you were with, more importantly, your father. As a child, I mean did you want to be a pro wrestler as a child due to all this?
SS: You know I think when you’re a young kid and your dad’s a famous whatever – it could be a football player, baseball player, hockey player, or in my case a professional wrestler, I think…you know, I thought about it, and of course you go through stages where, you know, I became interested in other sports like baseball and football and that kind of thing. But it really dawned on me when I was in high school, my last year in high school – my senior year, actually watching a Mr. Perfect match in the WWF at the time and it just dawned on me and I said you know, this is really what I want to do, and then it just kind of reverted back to all my childhood growing up memories and exposure to the business, that that’s what I was supposed to do at least make an attempt at really trying to do it. So, you know, I think so, I think the seed was planted from day one.
411mania.com: Now if I did my research correct, you went to Boise State when you went to college, correct?
SS: Yes, yes I did.
411mania.com: And you did some NCAA wrestling there?
SS: I sure did. Of course I had a pretty extensive background through high school. I wrestled outside of Toronto, a suburb in Oakville, Ontario and I was the very first provincial champion for our school. Provincials, with the provinces in Canada, is equivalent to like a state champion. Basically, I took up wrestling back then and basically became a three-time provincial champion, and I ended up placing second and then third, respectively, in back to back years in the Canadian national championships for 18 to 19 year olds, and it just grew from there.
I wrestled freestyle then. When I came to the United States to wrestle on a scholarship for Boise State, it was collegiate rules. It was a little bit different, you had riding time and you had some different things that I wasn’t quite used to, so it was a little bit of an adjustment. It’s tough, you can be very competitive and be really great in amateur wrestling in Canada, and I had a very successful career all through high school, but there was a big adjustment – there’s a difference between that and Division One wrestling. I really started to come into my own, and it was a little bit of a later start, but I came into my own towards my last couple years.
I had a respectful career, you know. I was a two-time Pac 10 silver medallist and I ended up losing to Stephen Neal, who actually, he was from Bakersfield, California, he’s actually…he was an NCAA champion, I think two-year NCAA champion, and I think he won the…he was like the next heavyweight to go to the Olympics pretty much. He was the guy that beat Brock Lesnar in one of the NCAA finals that they had, but I lost to him by a point, and I had some really close matches with some great wrestlers, but win, lose, or draw, I mean I look back at my career and that’s one of the things when you’re 37 years old, and I’m a young 37 year old, I’m a huge MMA fan and being away from professional wrestling for the last five years not only enabled me to pursue my other aspiring career of being a doctor of chiropractic and having to take my discipline that I learned from day one from wrestling and applying that in real life and then, of course, to medical school. But I really reverted back to my roots, which was amateur wrestling. I kind of forgot about who I really was, you know, and even though I’m 37, I’m still, I’m a young 37 year old. I’ve just started taking up Muay Thai boxing and I do some MMA just roll around jiu-jitsu wrestling. I do it more for fun and just learning new skills, and I’m a huge MMA fan. As much as there’s fans for professional wrestlers and myself, you know, I’m just as much of a fan for MMA. I just respect the hell of those guys, they’re warriors.
I guess where I’m going with this whole thing is that I’ve had to gut through some, some….pain I guess, mentally. Reverting back to some of those matches I had in college, there are some, there are some people that I never beat, you know, or that I lose this match or I lost a close one there or whatever, and I realize that I never gave 110% at that time. That attitude is foreign to me today, because I know hypothetically, and talk is cheap, but I can honestly say that if I ever had the opportunity of wrestling or doing anything in a real competitive sense, or even professional wrestling, if I ever go back to that I’d give it 110% and win, lose or draw, as long as I know I gave everything I had, that’s all I could ask for. There are some matches I just can’t get back that I lost, and they didn’t beat me – I beat myself. They might have beat me still if I gave 110%, but I guess you live and learn. Hindsight is 20/20. You look back and I guess if I didn’t have to go through some of those pains and griefâ€™s of reverting back to those moments then I wouldn’t be where I am today.
411mania.com: Excellent. You spent time at Boise State, you did a lot of wrestling through there. Yourself, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas are some names that have had success at the collegiate level and then you all moved on to professional wrestling, and do you feel that that really helped you athletically and such, when you got into professional wrestling?
SS: You know, it’s a completely different thing – professional wrestling and amateur wrestling. I think, for me, where it helped me, and I’m sure a lot of the other guys that you mentioned would probably agree, is that what you learn as an amateur wrestler, especially at a Division I level, is discipline and hard work ethic. I believe that I really developed my hard work ethics and my seeds were planted back then, of course at high school, as early as high school, but it really picked up in Division I wrestling. And regardless – I wasn’t the NCAA champion, I wasn’t even the Pac 10 champion. I came very close, and I beat people who became national champions or placed top three in the country, but my point is that win, lose or draw, when you’re at that level, and you’re consistent, I was a heavyweight at Boise State for three years [technical problem] What I was getting at is that you learn that you have to have discipline. You have to have the ‘it’ factor or else none of us would have been as successful as we were in our own respectful ways. You know, I think that if your style of professional wrestling exudes that of an amateur style, like I see in Shelton’s matches a little bit or in Charlie’s…Charlie Haas’ matches. Kurt Angle, of course, I mean there’s no questioning that. I wish I would have incorporated a little bit more amateur stuff, and if I ever come back, if I ever have a real opportunity to go back to – whether it’s the WWE or TNA or any wrestling promotion – I’m definitely going to exude my amateur roots and incorporate that a little bit more into my professional wrestling style.
I think when I got to the WWE back in 99, I think because things were changing so much, it was getting very gimmicky and had these one-word name gimmicks… like I was Meat, you know. There was Edge. There was Test. There were these different one-word names, where I just… I didn’t know – am I walking right? Am I talking right? Am I supposed to be… You know – screw all that, man. What I am today is Shawn Stasiak, second-generation wrestler, world-class athlete full of piss and vinegar, that’s realized where he came from, who he is, and where he should have gone, but should of, could of, would of, right? Everything happens for a reason. If I ever do go back to wrestling, I’ve got a few good years left in me and I don’t want to waste any wrestling company’s time and I certainly don’t want to waste mine.
Why even…I would never want to go back and do any of the stuff that I did before. Not to be ungrateful, but for me I wouldn’t want to go back just to be on TV again. That’s not a big thing for me, I don’t care about that. My main focus would be, to basically exemplify a piece of my reality and [?????] times 10, and that is overcoming adversity. I’ve lost both my parents, I’m the only child. Professional wrestling is a rough business, and medical school is a rough business too, and it’s even rougher now getting into the real world and having to start all over again – but the point is that I’m making is that I’ve realized people today want to see real. They’re into reality TV shows, they’re into UFC, and even though in professional wrestling, the cat’s out of the bag, and I’m not going to expose the entire business, obviously, but I mean it has been exposed – people know it is choreographed, but people gravitate towards real storylines, real history. For me, I just want…you know people always knew Shawn Stasiak as the guy that would do goofy stuff and I get a lot of critics out there. You know you’ve got some real haters out there, I read some of these blogs and I was like oh my God, it’s like these people act like they know me. I didn’t realize I had that much, THAT MUCH, of an effect on someone that they were going to hate me that much. But my point is that people always knew Shawn Stasiak as a guy who was one of the better well-conditioned, better built physiques – I didn’t say best-built, but just one of the better, fine-tuned athlete’s physiques in the industry. I guess that there was a sense of, I hate to use the word pride, but I guess that was an accomplishment I guess in itself. But for me, anymore, I want to be known as Shawn Stasiak, the guy who tremendous passion and brought so much energy into the ring and in his interviews, because I know that if I ever had a chance, a fair opportunity, a real business opportunity, to do something of merit, there’s a Shawn Stasiak that no one’s ever seen and thank God I finally realized who he was, and basically it’s just an extension of me, of the real Shawn and the real Shawn is actually pretty cool, he’s a pretty kickass dude.
There’s just some people who aren’t going to like me no matter what I do, it doesn’t matter. People in the business and even fans – but that’s their problem, all I can do is give everything I have, and if they understand what I’m standing for, what I’m doing, which is overcoming adversity and never say never, never die attitude, and go in there with tremendous energy and that… Losing both parents and having to be on your own, and as you get older you start to look back and you realize, man we’re not here that long. We live to 100 years old and I’m already 37 – it seems like every Christmas comes by faster and faster, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me. It’s just a matter of finding your purpose here on this planet, for me I know its not just entertaining millions of fans. I know I’m an entertainer, God gave me that gift and it’s one of my passions, but I also became a doctor of chiropractic because I really, truly want to help people and help heal people with my hands, but even more importantly with this documentary film that I’ve shot recently, entitled Shawn Stasiak Determined, this is something, a platform, that’s been built for me and made me realize that it’s been a blessing in disguise because it was basically an opportunity for me to reflect back on my life and instead of seeing the cup as half-empty, I’m seeing it as half-full and that, man I really have done a little bit of this and that.
I’ve done a lot of different things in my life and so I want to put this all together and I realize that more than anything, it’s all about sharing and spreading the right message and the good word. I’m a communication major, I’ve got the gift of gab. You’ve asked me one question and I’ve ran on for the last 10 minutes, but I’m thinking to myself, “what the heck, man” I mean I’m a chiropractor now, I’ve got the professional wrestling background, I’ve got the amateur… Everything I’ve done in my life, be it professional wrestling, amateur wrestling, just being a fitness enthusiast my whole life – everything’s revolved around one thing, and that is the health and fitness industry and that’s why I’ve continued my discipline. Between amateur wrestling and just being part of that whole realm of fitness and health, that is what’s built my discipline and is a big part of Shawn.
Thatâ€™s just a taste of the over one hour interview with Shawn Stasiak! To listen to the streaming version of the interview, head over to 411mania.com!Or you can just download the interview by clicking HERE!!
Interview transcribed by 411maniaâ€™s Rod Oracheski