Shawn Stasiak wants his side of the story told. Yes, he was caught taping a conversation in the WWF and was fired shortly thereafter. But there’s much more to the story than just that.
The entire situation turned out to be a huge learning experience for Stasiak, a reminder of how the world of business differs from the fun hi-jinks of college life.
“It was my own mistake, though. I’m not blaming anybody. I’m not blaming the WWF. I’m a little bit upset and bitter …” he said trailing off in thought before continuing. “Man, what a harsh business for them just to throw you out and say you’re done.”
So what exactly happened? To understand the whole story, one has to go back before the ‘incident’ that got Stasiak fired.
As a graduate of Boise State University in Communications, specializing in audio and video productions, Stasiak had always fooled around with tape recorders and video cameras. He has one in his apartment to work on promos and gimmicks. On a couple of occasions, he did bring a recorder to the WWF locker room to show the other wrestlers.
“I remember I was playing it in the locker room one day, just goofing around playing it for The Big Show I think, and Bulldog,” Stasiak explained. “I said ‘Listen to this.’ I was just doing some voices. They just looked at me like ‘You’re nuts kid.'”
Before one trip, he just threw the tape recorder in his gym bag to take with him, not giving much thought to it.
A short while later, Stasiak was in a car with Steve Blackman and The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith in Montreal, trying to find their destination.
Stasiak takes over the telling of the story:
“We’re in the car and those guys, Blackman and Bulldog are arguing. It’s in French. They’re getting pissed off. Steve Blackman is an irritable person to be around, just period in general. I guess he was like hungry, and tired. Sometimes this business is just a pain in the ass. The travelling and you don’t get to eat right, and you don’t know where you’re going and you’re lost. It just kind of ads fuel to the fire.”
“We’re pulling around asking people for directions and everyone’s speaking French, no one speaks English. I thought it was kind of humorous. I’m going to catch this on tape for a joke and play it back for them to say ‘This is what you guys sounded like — like a bunch of girls arguing today.”
Later, he taped some more at the Montreal airport.
“Where I went wrong was that I had it out in the Montreal airport, recording Blackman. I said ‘Hey Steve, what do you think of the Montreal airport?’ He said, ‘You weren’t recording that, were you?! You weren’t recording in the car with that were you?’ Just the way he looked at me, the way he approached me, honest to God, it scared me. At that point I realized that he didn’t know who I was, and I don’t know who they are. It was my mistake. I shouldn’t have had that thing out there because they’re going to take it the wrong way. Even though my attempt was just to have fun, that’s all it was for.”
Over and over, Stasiak insisted that things got “blown completely out of proportion.”
“I meant absolutely no harm by what I did. I wasn’t working for any company. I wasn’t working for Hard Copy. I wasn’t working for WCW. I wasn’t blackmailing anybody. I had no prerogative, no motive whatsoever to do anyone harm. The problem with this business is that it’s a paranoid business. And among the boys, the wrestlers, there’s a lot of talk. You sometimes share sacred stuff. There’s just certain truths that you just don’t cross. I guess because I was new, no one quite knew who I was, I think the rib, the joke that I was playing on a couple of people obviously got taken the wrong way. It was my mistake for doing what I did. But anyone who’s known me, or if they knew me for who I really was, they would realize that they had absolutely nothing to worry about. There was nothing, no motive behind that whatsoever.”
Stasiak claimed that it’s just part of his personality to fool around and record things. “My major in college was communications, audio-video productions. So come on, that’s just me! I’ve always just goofed around with video cameras, audio. I just like making my own little productions of people. I like to send people tapes instead of writing letters. It’s just part of entertaining, part of my personality.”
Word spread quickly through the WWF locker room about the incident. At first reluctant to place blame on anyone in particular for his firing, Stasiak eventually tells what he thinks happened.
“I hear that Bulldog got in Vince [McMahon]’s ear and said that he’s not going to be good for the locker room. The boys are going to be pissed off.”
Two weeks after the Montreal incident, Stasiak was fired for unprofessional conduct. He was given six-weeks of severance pay.
“I lost my job, I lost my dream, which was to be in the WWF. I think it was a bit extreme for them to do what they did,” he said.
He went to every individual on the WWF roster to explain to them what happened. Some didn’t even want to hear his side. “Mick Foley was especially nice and concerned. A couple of others. Kurt Angle, who’s a friend of mine. I think that everybody realized that I meant no harm by what I did. It was just a stupid thing to do.”
But he never got an audience with the powers that be in the WWF. “Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon never even gave me two minutes of their time to even explain myself, to talk. Nothing. That, to me, hurts a lot.”
In the crazy world of wrestling, however, Stasiak would not go so far as to say that he would never work for the WWF again. In fact, he’s thankful to them for his career. “I’m very, very grateful to the WWF. They trained me, and they spent all that time and money and effort into me by getting me ready for that Meat thing. But that’s what makes it even more surprising and more shocking to me.”
Initially after his release, Stasiak was concerned about being blackballed from wrestling, that some taboo had been broken and that he would be unable to find work. He got nibbles from WCW, but was constantly frustrated by the front office situation, and never had any idea whom he should be pitching himself to until Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff came to power recently. Before getting hired in WCW, he was sent to the Power Plant to train with Paul Orndorff for two weeks.
Once on the roster, he knew that he would have to face up to his mistake from the past, and knew that the wrestlers would be very wary of him.
“I still sense among certain people that I am not very well received. They’re not mean to me, but I can just tell those who come around more than those who don’t,” Stasiak said. “It’s just going to take some time. But I can’t pull people’s teeth to get them to like me.”
One of the first to ask him about the situation was Curt Hennig, with whom he is currently feuding with in WCW. “I think in time, they’re going to realize who I am as a person. I’m not some piece of shit that records people’s conversations in locker rooms like they were making it out to be in the WWF.”
“It’s very frustrating and it’s caused me a tremendous amount of grief. It was something that I meant absolutely no harm by.”
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 18, 2000: Shawn Stasiak’s roundabout route into The Man’s footsteps
- May 7, 2000: Stasiak targets Hennig at Slamboree
- Canadian Hall of Fame: Stan Stasiak was indeed ‘The Man’