When the WWE acquired its rival, WCW, in 2001, it didn't bring over big names like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Sting immediately. The reason was that WWE decided not to purchase the hefty contracts these stars held with the then-AOL-Time Warner.
This decision led to a shift in focus, putting lesser-known talents such as Shawn Stasiak, Sean O'Haire, and Chuck Palumbo at the forefront. These young talents, especially Stasiak, came with high expectations. Shawn Stasiak, a second-generation wrestler with an incredible physique and earlier WWE exposure, was seen as a potential main-eventer.
However, his run in WWE was shorter than expected, ending within two years in September 2002.
Kurt Angle Dissects Stasiak's WWE Downfall
In a recent episode of "The Kurt Angle Show," wrestling legend Kurt Angle revisited a match from WWE's developmental system he had with Stasiak in 1998.
While watching, Angle offered insight into why Stasiak's career in WWE didn't reach the heights many expected. According to Angle, Stasiak's Achilles' heel was his lack of self-confidence, which crippled his chances of making a significant impact.
"Shawn was remarkably talented," Angle acknowledged, "He had everything a wrestler needed to succeed. He had the look, the promo skills, and the wrestling ability. But what he lacked, and what ultimately cost him, was confidence." This wasn't the only instance when Angle and Stasiak crossed paths.
They had a match at Survivor Series 1999, marking Angle's official in-ring debut. Reflecting on this, Angle praised their performance together. He also shared a peculiar anecdote involving Stasiak that he believes might have adversely affected his career.
Angle recalled, "Shawn was losing his hair, much like myself at that time. He decided to get a hair transplant a week before his scheduled WWE debut in 1998. He asked WWE to postpone his debut for his hair procedure, which wasn't seen favorably.
This incident might have played a role in his career's trajectory." Returning to WWE in 2001, Stasiak found himself in the ring with The Rock and Chris Jericho as part of the "Invasion" storyline. However, after the storyline was discontinued, Stasiak's career lost momentum.
His new gimmick, portraying himself as an alien from Planet Stasiak, failed to connect with the audience. Consequently, he was demoted to the Hardcore Championship chase until his final departure.