At the moment, generational talent seems to be dominating the top of the card in WWE. Roman Reigns, a member of the legendary Anao’i family, currently sits at the head of the table as Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, and his most fierce competition has come in the form of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes’ son, “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes. Generational talent getting a push in WWE, or elsewhere, is nothing new, and the same could be said during the attitude era when WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson’s son, The Rock and fellow WWE Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Stasiak’s son Shawn Stasiak, were trying to get to the top of the WWE card.
In an exclusive Haus of Wrestling interview, Stasiak recalled what it was like to grow up in the pro wrestling industry alongside The Rock.
“My father, we traveled all over the place,” he began. “I was yanked in and out of school districts my whole life, like a military brat, right? Because there were territories, the wrestling territories, back in the day. That’s where I met in Portland, Oregon; my dad was a huge sensation out in the Pacific Northwest. So, I met Dwayne Johnson, a young ten-year-old Dwayne Johnson. I’m sorry, I was ten, he was eight, and we would play in the ring when we were kids.
“I remember he head-butted me, and I had a big goose egg on my head. We were out in the ring playing in the ring like it was a playground after the matches were over at the Portland Sports Arena. We met, and it was called the crow’s nest where the cameras were, where they interviewed the wrestlers. And my dad’s in the car going, ‘What’s on your head there, Shawn?’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s Dewey, Dad. Dewey gave me a head butt.’ I thought that was the funniest thing.”
Years later, as members of the WWE roster, Johnson and Stasiak reunited in the ring under much more somber circumstances. In 2001, WWE held a special 9/11 memorial episode of Smackdown just days after the tragedy had played out, and both men were featured on the show.
“I got to work with Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, that night. I was the Wile E. Coyote of the WWE, at the time, you know, the laughingstock and comical relief. It was just fun that I got to rub shoulders with Rock a little bit; I wish I would have had an opportunity to actually work a real program and, you know, develop, but the rest is history. It is what it is. It was bittersweet, you’re, on one end, you’re representing freedom and America, really. A very patriotic night, but it was depressing and sad.
“And again, lots of fear and anxiety going on, but to work with Dwayne was really special for me, too. Again, I wish we had more time or more of an opportunity of working together, but just to have that moment. I was glad to be part of it. It was a stupid, goofy character, but at least it made people laugh, and it put smiles on faces, and it eased up some of the tension that we all felt. So I was I was happy to be part of that.”
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