By Chuck Carroll
The world of pro wrestling is pretty much unlike any other. It floods our televisions and arenas with colorful, larger-than-life, loud-mouthed characters who captivate our imaginations. The funny thing is many of the people who portray those characters are themselves also colorful and loud-mouthed. Pete Gas knows this very well.
As a member of the short-lived but memorable Mean Street Posse during the Attitude Era, he traveled up and down America’s highways and byways while completely immersed in the sophomoric shenanigans.
Some of the stories are stomach-churningly disgusting, while others may conjure memories of your own teenage experience. Mind you, these guys were in their 20s at the time and probably should have had a smidgen more maturity than they displayed.
Gas’s time in WWE, while filled with practical jokes, also gave him wisdom to understand a business that can be incomprehensible from the outside. There’s a code of ethics to follow, and God help you if you run afoul of management or veterans in the locker room. While today’s locker-room environment is much more subdued and professional, some things never change. Case in point, the bizarre series of events that occurred following a controversial tweet and interview from Rusev regarding his match with The Undertaker at next week’s Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia.
WWE reportedly pulled the casket match from the card after Rusev tweeted “bury me softly, brother.” The Bulgarian Brute then followed up by taking a shot at Undertaker’s age during an interview with TMZ. The latter caught the eye of The Dead Man’s Wife, former WWE women’s wrestler Michelle McCool, who blasted back on Twitter. It was at that point that the match was pulled and Chris Jericho was announced as taking his Rusev’s place. But just a few days later, Rusev was reinserted into the match following a storyline tweet from his real-life wife Lana.
WWE’s motives for the flip-flop are just conjecture, but Gas believes that it was indeed meant to be a punishment for Rusev’s shot at the well-respected veteran. The Wrestling Observer reports the entire episode was scripted, while others remain skeptical.
We touched on that during a recent conversation, where he also weighed in Shane McMahon’s toned-down WrestleMania performance and told a pretty good tale about landing on Jim Ross’s bad side just for taking a ride with a fan. Of course, the fan happened to be a limo driver.
The last time we spoke, you described your friend Shane McMahon as an adrenaline junky. This year, he had a much tamer performance at WrestleMania. He was in the hospital leading up to it. Is that why he was a little bit tamer this year, or do you think it’s just that time is catching up overall at this point?
No, I think that’s exactly why you saw what you saw out of him. Not to mention, he had an infection as well, which added to the fact of why he was in the hospital. He also has a hernia. Anyone who has ever had a hernia can understand what kind of pain the man was going through.
But for the people who knocked the guy, I don’t know how you can. He puts it all on the line for the company and really gives an effort like no other. He does some crazy stuff for a guy who’s not a full-time wrestler. The guy’s in a lot of pain, but he’s not gonna allow that to stand in the way of performing at WrestleMania.
He goes above and beyond. I know that he’s got some of those things fixed. I know that [for] a hernia alone, from what I understand, a normal person can’t do anything for six weeks, let alone wrestle. So I wouldn’t expect to see him in the ring doing anything for at least that amount of time.
I haven’t spoken to him since right after Mania, so I don’t know what his intentions are. I know that he has a very high pain threshold, and he got through that match. He did a lot. Kudos to him for being able to do what he did.
Hernia and infection aside, do you worry about his antics? Like, “man, my friend is really gonna get hurt one of these days.”
The only time I can honestly say I’ve ever worried about him was the first time he went off the cage. That’s why I was there, I sat in the fourth row, he got me tickets. I remember when he was climbing. He didn’t tell me he was doing it, I knew he was gonna do it.
I know everyone who was around me had their cameras out. I remember my wife saying something about me just having like a worried look on my face. I remember watching him jump. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever actually [worried]. It hit me that he’s nuts. I mean, I’ve always known he was nuts, but I just didn’t know.
I remember when Mick Foley did it and remember the outcome. How banged up he was and all that stuff. The things that Shane is willing to do for his body and the business — mostly for the business — is just crazy. But I’m used to him being nuts. Ever since we were kids. So, to answer your question, no. That was the only time that I really think I was ever really nervous for him.
When you were with the company, if Vince came to you and said, “Pete, we want you to go off the top of the cage.” What would you have done?
I would think, “where’s the air bag?” I’m glad I was never asked that question. I don’t know. I don’t think he would ever ask me to do that. I don’t think he ever asked Shane to do that. I think that’s just Shane being Shane and Shane putting himself through it. I don’t think Vince ever said, “Hey, Shane. You’re gonna face Taker and you’re gonna jump off there.” That’s Shane coming up with his own stunts.
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Can you recall a time when you actually landed in hot water and had a little heat on you?
I got called in once. For one incident, I got called in probably like two or three weeks in a row. Got yelled at for doing something. It’s never fun, and I still claim innocence on it, but it doesn’t matter.
We were in Memphis, Tennessee for training. So when we weren’t on television, we were there. We were told that we had to do all these shows in Memphis. So we had one loop where we had to go down to Louisiana through Mississippi. We had a huge loop on our off time. Then get back up to Memphis to travel.
It was a lot of driving and I had a car that I didn’t want to put all the miles on. I had met this guy in a bar who had a limo service. He goes, “Hey, I’ve got this stretched Navigator. How about you guys hop in and I’ll drive you guys around? I’ll do it for nothing.” He was just a wrestling fan, you know?
Now we’ve got eight guys piled in. Actually, it was a bunch of guys from MCW, Memphis Championship Wrestling. Some of the guys were also doing developmental for WWE stuff, where they were on television as well, but they weren’t doing much. We all piled into this big stretched limo with cans of beer and stuff. We’d pull up to these shows and open up the limo door and literally have a couple cans of beer falling out of it. Kevin Kelley would pull up and he’d be doing commentary for us in Memphis.
So, he’s pulling up in a Ford Taurus and we’re pulling up in a stretch and have all these cans. So word got back to the office that we weren’t paying our dues in driving on the road, we were driving in stretched limo. So, literally, I got called into the office. They literally yelled at me two to three weeks in a row, and talked to me. Said, “Do you understand why you’re doing that? You’re supposed to be paying your dues.”
I understood, but I also thought, it’s a free and it’s someone driving us. We don’t have to put the miles on the car. My theory was like, “I understand but the guy was doing it for free.” The guy never took a dime or nothing, gas money, nothing. He was just happy to be driving us.
This was just the one infraction that they brought you in two or three times for?
Yes. I was in there for at least two weeks, minimum, and I was getting my butt chewed out by [Jim Ross]. I remember, it was in Los Angeles the following week. I got called in and went into the locker room. Road Dog had said to me, “What did you get chewed out for?” I told him what it was.
He goes, “Wait a minute. All you did was get a ride from someone?” I was like, “Yeah.” He says, “Give me that guy’s number. If they don’t like it, you can tell JR [to shove it].” It was just the way he did it, it was just so funny. He made light of it.
People are still getting chewed out today, it seems. There is an alleged situation with Rusev where he was booked to face the Undertaker in a casket match at The Greatest Royal Rumble. As I’ve understood it, and in speaking with you in the past, if there’s one guy you don’t mouth off to, it’s the Undertaker. Are you surprised that things wound up playing out the way that they did?
I just don’t know why he made the comments he did. Why he would pick on the Undertaker. I don’t know if it was trying to build up things. Maybe it was his idea of building up some heat for the match. That’s what I hope it was. I don’t even know the exact comments, but whatever the comments were, that’s the only thing I can think of. Because the Undertaker is so well-respected and so well-liked in the locker room and throughout the business, I can’t see any other reason why someone would knock Taker other than that reason.
Gas is the author of “Looking at the Lights: My Path from Fan to a Wrestling Heel”, a book chronicling his time in WWE that’s filled with some of the more peculiar stories you’ll ever read. Most fall under the “so crazy it has to be true” category.
He will also be taping segments for the second season of “The Edge and Christian Show that Totally Reeks of Awesomeness” shortly. He’s good friends with Edge in real life.
News & Notes
The national television debut of Major League Wrestling will take place this Friday night. The company is run by former WWE writer Court Bauer, who has coaxed longtime WCW announcer Tony Schiavone out of retirement and back into the broadcast booth. He’ll be joined by Rich Bocchini to call the weekly one-hour shows.
Jake Hager, who performed in WWE as Jack Swagger, has signed a multi-fight deal with MLW. He is scheduled to debut at the May 3rd television tapings in Orlando. Hager will be managed by Colonel Robert Parker.
The annual WWE Superstar Shakeup is in the books, with a total of 36 talents changing brands. WWE appears to be bolstering the Tuesday night roster, perhaps in an effort to increase ratings as negotiations continue for a new lucrative broadcast rights deal.
Moved to RAW: Jinder Mahal, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Zack Ryder, Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Natalya, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin, Konnor, Viktor, Bobby Roode, Mojo Rawley, Mike Kanellis, Chad Gable.
Moved to SmackDown: The Miz, Jeff Hardy, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Samoa Joe, Big Cass, Asuka, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Cesaro, Sheamus, R-Truth.
NXT call-ups Andrade “Cien” Almas, Zelina Vega, as well as Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain (SAnitY) will also be joining SmackDown.
Ring Of Honor has added Jushin “Thunder” Liger to next month’s War of the Worlds tour. The legendary Japanese wrestler, who catapulted to fame in the U.S. while wrestling for WCW during the 1990s, has been booked for all four shows on the tour, which includes stops in Toronto and Chicago. Each show will stream live on HonorClub streaming network.
Speaking of HonorClub, what a difference a week makes. Following a disastrous launch at Supercard of Honor, the service worked nearly flawlessly for The Masters of the Craft event last Sunday.
Chuck Carroll is a former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality who now interviews the biggest names in wrestling. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.