By Chuck Carroll
Pete Gas will be remembered in WWE for his argyle sweaters and khaki pants. His illustrious run with the Mean Street Posse and two reigns as WWF Hardcore Champion live in infamy among fans of the Attitude Era. But the lasting memory I will have of Pete Gas is that he blew off Shane McMahon to do this interview. Just before we started recording, the new author told me that his boyhood friend and current SmackDown Live commissioner was calling. I asked Pete whether he wanted to call me back, and he emphatically said no. He’d call Shane after we were finished. It would be at least a half hour before that call was returned. And I now have a lifetime of bragging that Pete blew off Vince McMahon’s famous son to talk with me. Thanks, Pete!
But that isn’t nearly the biggest takeaway of our conversation. Pete Gas is a true storyteller and acquired a lifetime of anecdotes in a memorable three-year run in WWE, then known as World Wrestling Federation. He chronicles his time on the road in a new book, Looking at the Lights: My Path from Fan to a Wrestling Heel; a fun page-turner for longtime fans of the squared circle. Among them is perhaps the most vile and disgusting story I’ve ever heard. Ever.
But the stories from the road weren’t really ever supposed to happen. They were a matter of happenstance. His entire run in WWE spawned from the popularity of what he thought would be a one-time appearance to help out his childhood friend. Plucked from the “mean streets” of Greenwich, Connecticut, Gas would embark on an unexpected three-year thrill ride with pro wrestling’s elite and have his legacy firmly cemented as a member of the infamous Mean Street Posse.
This is really a story about dreams coming true, and this dream hit you right out of left field.
Shane called Rodney (Lienhardt) and I into his office. We used to work out at Titan Tower, which is part of WWE. He asked if we would do him a favor, and he didn’t really know what that was. He had a script, but he tore it up and said he need us to go to the studio on Sunday and do a bunch of tapings. Just tell stories about when we were kids, getting in trouble, getting in fights, and you’re going to be on Monday Night RAW the next night. We did that, and then they’d show a bunch of vignettes over the next few weeks. And then they brought us to Albany, New York the week before WrestleMania, and we jumped X-Pac and sped off in Corvette convertibles. Then they brought us to WrestleMania the week after in Philadelphia, and we thought that was it and so did the boys in the locker room.
About 10 days later Shane called us back into his office. We walked in and sat down, and he gave each one of us an envelope and said, “Here, this is for you.” We didn’t know what it was. It turns out it was a paycheck. We did it not knowing we were going to get paid. We were just doing our friend a favor. There was no talk of money and no expectations of money. We just loved doing it. Then he asked if we had any vacation time. Since Rodney and I were pretty much broke and never went on vacation, we said okay and we went on TV for about a month and a half. We lost a “Loser Leaves Town” match to (Gerald) Brisco and (Pat) Patterson, and then we thought our career was done, as did the boys in the locker room again. We were bummed out, and the next thing you know, they told us they wanted us to start training so they could bring as back as a part of the Corporate Ministry.
Were the other wrestlers a bit stiff with you guys because you didn’t come up through the traditional ranks and were friends with the boss’s son?
Stiff is an understatement. It’s understandable because those guys paid their dues… JBL beat the heck out of me with a chair one night and literally wrapped it around my head. When we went backstage, I stuck out my hand. I think he was expecting me to be a little hot, but instead I shook his hand and said thank you. Basically it was my way of saying “you brought it and I took it and I can handle it.” He told me months afterward that was the day I earned his respect. It didn’t happen overnight, but after a while they started to accept us for being there and respecting the fact we were putting them all over. I think I took every finishing move in the business… I would take every finisher again tomorrow. That’s how much I love this business.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you literally asked for some of these beatings. Didn’t you ask Mick Foley to really lay into you with a chair one night?
We were trying to earn respect, and we knew the more of a beating we took and were able to walk away from it, we knew that would help get us the respect we wanted so badly. So, Shane was having a match against Mick Foley, and the Posse went down to jump Mick, but Mick had a chair. And I said to him, “Hey, Mick when you hit me with the chair lay it in. Make it really good.” I explained to him we were trying to earn everyone’s respect, and he laid it in good.
Do you think that Shane also struggled to earn the boys’ respect because of the way he came into the business as Vince McMahon’s son?
I think there’s a bit of truth to that. But Shane is also an adrenaline junkie. You think about some of the things he’s done over the course of his career with WWE. It’s pretty impressive and pretty ballsy in the same sense.
>>MORE: From the world of Pro Wrestling
True or false. The Undertaker was the head of the wrestlers’ court.
True. He is the judge. The judge is typically the wrestler with the most seniority in the locker room. I tell a story in the book where, unfortunately Undertaker was there, and Triple H had to step in. It was probably the funniest thing that I ever got to see in WWE. The A.P.A. (tag team of JBL and Ron Simmons) was actually suing Teddy Long. The charges that were brought up were that Teddy was a cheapskate (editor’s note: he was actually called much worse).
The room was set up just like a courthouse. The bailiff was played by The Godfather. Ron and JBL were the plaintiffs and Teddy Long was all by himself as the defendant. Triple H explained that wrestlers court was a lot different from regular court because you can lie, cheat and steal, bribe, whatever you need to do. So, JBL reads out the charges and it was stuff like when they came up to a tollbooth Teddy wouldn’t put his hand in the pocket until they were 30 yards passed it because he didn’t want to pay the toll. And he never put his hand in his pocket for meals and gas and all of that.
After the charges were all read, Triple H says, “Teddy, you’re pretty much screwed here…”
We saw the Spirit Squad come back briefly last year. Have there been any talks about bringing the Mean Street Posse back into the fold?
I wish I could sit here and play with this and say yes. But the answer is no. I know they’ve brought some guys back. I saw The Headbangers not too long ago, and I was happy to see that. Mosh’s son got to enjoy seeing his dad in a WWE ring, and that meant to the world to him.
But there haven’t been any talks of it. They has so much talent there. Not that age is anything but a number, but I’m going to be 47 in May. Not that I wouldn’t do it, because I’ve always said, and I mean it, that if WWE calls, I would pack my bags and be out the door in five minutes. That’s how much I love the business. And Shane knows it.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.