During the height of The Attitude Era, a young, second-generation wrestler named Shawn Stasiak was given a rather unique gimmick, even by WWE standards, Meat. The one-word character wasn’t very complex; he was just a jacked-up dude in tight little shorts who was responsible for catering to the sexual whims of the Pretty Mean Sisters: Terri Runnels and Jacqueline. If you had to do a double-take after reading that sentence, I don’t blame you. While the character was certainly memorable, it only lasted about a year before Stasiak was released and jumped to WCW.
At AEW: All Out two weeks ago, meat was on the lips of every fan in the arena as they collectively chanted the word every time Miro and Powerhouse Hobbs threw themselves into each other. The chant was inspired by WWE star Big E, who, years ago, joked on The New Day’s podcast that he loves to watch “Big meaty men slappin’ meat.” The meat chant added a fun new layer to the match between Miro and Hobbs and took it from being a bout many were not enthused about to one of the most satisfying of the evening.
In an exclusive Haus of Wrestling interview, I asked Stasiak what he thought of the meat chant breaking out inside The United Center.
“It’s amazing how, in professional wrestling, things just happen from left field,” he mused. “Some of the best and most successful and fun gimmicks or storylines are just stumbled upon, I don’t want to say by coincidence, because everything happens for a reason, but it just happens, right? It just happens by accident, I guess, to some degree. It’s just, there’s no thought into it, and before you know it, this crowd is chanting meat.”
Stasiak is the son of WWE Hall of Fame inductee and former WWWF World Champion Stan “The Man” Stasiak. He grew up around pro wrestling and even has fond memories of his dad and Andre The Giant staying up late drinking in his living room. As he told me, all he wanted to do his whole life was work for the WWE and be a pro wrestler. Stasiak described to me how he felt when he was given the Meat character by WWE.
“When I first received that, I was very disappointed,” he recalled. “I was really disappointed; I was disheartened. But it was the direction that the company was going, being edgier, and I was bummed out about it, but I was happy at the same time that I finally got to make my break in the business at that level.”
“A big part of me being there and being part of the whole thing was my dad, you know? His influence on me. And my dad had passed, you know, shortly prior to that, less than a couple years prior in 1997, but I’m in the crowd, I’m looking around. They put me by a curtain behind the scenes, and I’m looking out, and I’m seeing however many thousands of people there were, and I could hear my dad saying to me, ‘Shawn, I’m with you.’
“I could feel his spirit, I could feel him, and I could hear his voice saying, ‘Do your thing. You’ve anticipated this your whole life. I’m always with you.’ I just felt his presence, man, and goosebumps. So, I went in there and did my thing, and that is what officially introduced the character Meat: I beat up Tiger Ali Singh. I walked out with the PMS girls, Terri and Jackie, Terri Runnels and Jacqueline Moore.”
WCW was purchased by Vince McMahon in 2001, and with the acquisition, WWE retained the contract of Stasiak. However, the promotion did not bring back his Meat persona and instead portrayed him as the bumbling, clumsy member of The Alliance. Following that, he briefly got to try out his Planey Stasiak gimmick before stepping away from the business entirely, which he has stayed away from.
“When I look at it now, today, in 2023, and then, of course, just fast forward to this whole meat craze thing, it is a funny name; it is fun,” he noted. “I always say this: I’m always open; I’m 53 years old; let’s face it, it’s a young man’s game. But I’ve stayed in shape, and I think I’ve kind of kept myself on the shelf in the sense of maintaining some integrity of health and my fitness and whatnot and, of course, just maturing and growing as we should as we go through adult life.
“I thought, if I ever played a character called Meat, how would I play it now with what I know about the world? About that profession. Now that I’ve had experience, I think it would be really fun, and I think that you could go somewhere with it.”
Stasiak certainly seems open to the idea of bringing an updated Meat character back onto the pro wrestling scene. He has also stoked some interest on social media about it, flexing his still impressive arms and tagging AEW President Tony Khan in photos.
“With Tony Khan, he’s new in the game, so to speak,” he said. “He seems like someone that might be a little more open, and I feel like he just shows a lot more respect, I guess, to some of the nostalgia and throwbacks.”
“With AEW, I think that you can really say, ‘Never say never,’ because I just feel like that company, and I think Tony has a mind of possibilities and is more open to different creative ideas.”
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