It was 1999 and I was watching Monday Night Raw with my younger brother Braydon. On the screen the Mean Street Posse appeared looking serious and ready to fight. Braydon smiled and I was curious to find out what had amused him. He told me that he didn’t think anything was funny, but he said, “It is Pete Gas. That guy always looks so happy to be there.” Years later I relayed that story to Pete Gas. He laughed and said, “I was.”
Pete Gas is best remembered for his WWE run as a member of the Mean Street Posse with Rodney Lienhardt and Joey Abs (Jason Arhndt), but he is so much more than that. He is college educated, a scholarship football player at the University of Connecticut, a wrestler, a developer of relationships, a loyal friend, a husband, and now an author.
His book, Looking at the Lights: My Path From a Fan to a Wrestling Heel hit the shelves in March of 2017 and we at SLAM! Wrestling wanted to know what inspired him to write a book.
“There are two reasons why,” said the 47-year-old Gas. “The first one is I never had an ax to grind against the company because Mr. McMahon gave me the best three years of my life that he could give. I can never pay them back for it. I always felt that having the ability to do what they did for me was something so special. I always took it as a very positive thing this business. I enjoyed every day of being there and I never had any issues with the company or the McMahon family.”
“I just thought it was time. I always wanted to, but to be honest with you I didn’t know how to get started with the book until I did a project with Jon Robinson. He wrote a book on the Attitude Era and he and I were talking about stories that, when I would tell him would have him laughing his butt off. He said that I should write a book and offered to write it with me. So we started about two and a half years ago.”
Reading Gas’ book you understand quite quickly that his wrestling odyssey is based on two themes — relationships and respect. The relationship part is straightforward enough, as he and Lienhardt were school friends of Shane McMahon. Gaining the respect of the WWE locker room was no easy task, but when you are as positive as the 6-foot-4 Gas you quickly realize that he would be a coach’s dream in any sport.
“First of all, that was one of the biggest accomplishments that I feel like I succeeded with when I was with the company,” said Gas with pride. “You want to get the respect of the locker room and that is what it is all about. You want to get the respect and have your peers respect you. That was one of the most important things that Rodney and I wanted to do.”
“The only way we could do that, and we didn’t take the traditional route of a professional wrestler, the book explains how we didn’t get in there the same way by going to school, working the indys and being discovered. We had to pay our dues by literally getting our butts kicked, putting people over and after getting our butts kicked go in the back and shake hands. A guy like Edge, I had known Edge for two or three years prior. Rodney and I would lift at Titan Tower which is where WWE is and he would come in. I kinda knew him, it was hi, how are you, like that, just small talk. When we got up there a few of the guys we knew, but the guys that didn’t know us looked at us kinda like we were a novelty. Then we kept sticking around and then it started… We had to win them over and that is how we did it.”
One of their biggest supporters was their first trainer Dr. Tom Prichard. Gas was still working a full-time job when his wrestling dream started and Prichard opened the gym to his new protégés after working hours to get them ring ready.
“God bless him,” said Gas. “The things we put him through and the things he let us do every move, while we were learning, to him. When we threw punches, we obviously hit him in the face sometimes. He was always a good sport and he really helped us a lot, especially in the first six months to first year.”
Pete Gas was no athletic slouch. The former university football player found he was able to use his schema from high level athletics and transfer it in to the ring. “It’s funny, because the skills do compare a lot,” said Gas. “Everything is about footwork in wrestling and it is important in football. Your first step in football on the line, I played offensive tackle for U Conn, the first step is crucial. It has to be precise. Everything in the ring, all of the footwork they do when they are locking up or hitting the ropes, it is all footwork.”
Even though the training was tough Gas found that he flourished in the structure it gave him. “Every morning I got out of bed I would be so excited about what I was doing that night,” said Gas. “That could have been from going to a pay per view, a Monday Night Raw or going to practice Thursday afternoon in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s funny because it was fun to play a bad guy. I enjoyed playing the bad guy and telling the crowd to shut up and telling the crowd that I’m going to fight them, just to get a rise out of someone was always fun. So when I was a kid I always used to love to make people laugh. I was always a class clown. When our characters got to be funny, I really enjoyed that part of it.”
One of the teams Gas and the Mean Street Posse often got paired with to learn their trade in the ring was the combination of Farooq (Ron Simmons) and Bradshaw. Many wrestlers would shy away from facing such bruisers. Perhaps, some would even pull up lame so they wouldn’t have to get in the ring with the heavy handed tandem. Not Gas.
“You learn how to really fight,” said Gas. “You really get in there. We had some really big battles with them and they really beat the piss out of us. When we got our chances we tried to beat the piss out of them. When you are stiff in the ring you really get a feel for the match, it doesn’t look as phony either.”
After his time on the main WWE roster wound down he and his partners were sent to Memphis to continue to improve their skills. While there Gas received his Master’s degree in wrestling from William Regal.
“When we went down there he was our trainer,” said Gas. “How lucky can you get? I have had some incredible trainers and Regal and look at the guys they have now at NXT. Robbie Brookside was there, William Regal, we had Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart, ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton. We were very fortunate to have the opportunity that we had and the trainers that we had.”
Reflecting back on his career Gas was honest in his appraisal of why the Mean Street Posse stuck as long as they did on WWE TV. “We got the opportunity because we were Shane’s friends, I agree, but the truth is if we weren’t doing our job properly we would have been gone after a couple of weeks,” said Gas. “This thing would never have lasted for almost three years. There were better workers than us, but we got a reaction from the crowd. It is not a knock towards them, but we were able to do it, Vince always gives the WWE universe what they want and they loved hating us and he was going to give them every bit of us. Unbelievable.”
The relationships that Gas made in the WWE mean a lot to him even today. “I was talking to some old friends and said, ‘Wrestling friends, the ones you meet in the locker rooms are different than your high school buddies. They are different than your college buddies. They are a lot closer.'” said Gas. “We were kinda talking about it and said, ‘Is it because we spent more time together then with our own families or is because we get in the ring and trust our lives in the hands of others?’ It really does play a huge role in your relationships. I would rather spend my time with them, and no offense to my friends, but those guys to me were amazing all of the time we had together.”
Recently Gas has been a staple of The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness and he was very excited to be on the WWE Network with his buddies. “For me personally I don’t have a role with the company but I do have a role with the Edge and Christian show, which by the way, does totally reek of awesomeness,” said Gas. “I play a part as a mailman and I am happy to report that I will be in season two which I am so excited about. When we go there all we do is laugh and bust on each other and at the end of the day we go out for dinner. Because it is in Stamford both guys don’t know the area as well so I pick the restaurants, go out have a good time and it is a lot of fun. This goes back to being respected. Edge and Christian respected me enough to have me in their show. The business itself is amazing but then to get the respect of the guys is even more so.” [The future of The Edge and Christian Show That Totally Reeks of Awesomeness is up in the air about season two airing.]
Besides the WWE Network show, Gas leads a life outside of wrestling. Today he lives with his wife on a beach in Long Island. He works in sales for W.B. Mason and religiously watches WWE shows. His connection to his wrestling brothers has grown even more important to him over the years.
“I am trying to move down to Florida to be closer to Matt Bloom in the Orlando area; I am waiting for the transfer over and waiting for my company to okay it and hopefully they do so I can spend more time with wrestling friends because like I said they are important to me,” said Gas.
Pete Gas’ life has been filled with remarkable and positive events. The relationships he built and the work ethic he displayed has carried on past wrestling to create a wonderful life.
“Your brother was right,” chuckled Gas. He was happy to be there.