So I met Pete Gas from the notorious Mean Street Posse at WrestleCon, shook his hand and made mention that I had bought his book, “Looking At The Lights: My Path From Fan To A Wrestling Heel” and started reading it on my flight to Orlando for WrestleMania. What followed caught me a bit off guard and unprepared.
Typically, when you meet someone in the public eye and drop a line, they’ve probably heard that same line hundreds or thousands of times, so the reaction is usually pretty standard. On this occasion, Gas hit me with an instant rebuttal and asked me what I thought about his book, how it read and if it had a certain tone to it. I was kind of taken back. In fact, I was a little star struck considering that back in the late 90’s my friends and I had a backyard wrestling “promotion” where ironically I played “Pete Gas” (except I was referred to as “N. Gas”, short for “Nick Gas”). Most of all though, I was disappointed in myself as I had only read through about 40 pages and couldn’t give him the feedback I felt I owed him.
Ya see, I don’t do well with turbulence, so I had to put the book down and pick up my Titos & OJ to calm my nerves. I did my best to cite some early stories about him and Shane growing up and getting into trouble, but I felt I owed him much more. After all, if you’ve heard the podcasts he’s done over the last month, you can tell he’s a genuinely relatable guy, who just like any of us, loves to tell stories about him and his friends. Above all, you could tell that he was really curious about how people received the book. Because of this, I made it my mission to zone out the turbulence on the flight home and knock out some pages. It was an easy and ENJOYABLE read, and needless to say, I finished the book. I may not have been able to give him feedback at WrestleCon, but I sure can here.
The book is forwarded by two legends, Edge and J.B.L., and from their opening remarks describing Pete, you get a good inclination into the type of book it’s going to be. Gas sets the stage by explaining the origin of his relationship with Shane and his experience growing up around the McMahon family. Now, let me be clear, this book is not just a bunch of Shane McMahon stories, and while you do get your fair share (they’re all hilarious), the real story is about Pete Gasparino, the 29 year old rookie who just so happened to be the best friend of Vince McMahon’s son, who just so happened to fall in love with professional wrestling. Pete’s the story here and it’s a great one.
I’m 31 years old at the moment, so the first thing that stands out to me is that Pete’s start in professional wrestling took place roughly around where I am in my life right now. He talks about how he had to balance his “real life” work with his new venture as a professional wrestler. He wasn’t exactly straight out of college either. At 29, he had a legit job, a job that he had to use up vacation days in order to show up to Monday Night Raw. He had security, which as I get older, you start to understand how truly important that is. Could you imagine sitting in a cubicle or working sales one day and the next Monday you’re in front of 15,000 people on Monday Night Raw? No? You can’t? Well, while it may seem completely outlandish, by reading this book you at least know it’s possible.
In the meat of the book, Pete talks about his experience on road with both Shane and other Superstars. He talks a great deal about making sure he gained the respect of “the boys”. Whether it was taking a chair shot to the head from J.B.L. that had Mick Foley concerned or making sure to give a new comer a “receipt” after a few stiff shots, Gas knew that earning respect was just as crucial as knowing how to take a bump. He also knew that while being Shane’s friend was a unique and fortunate spot, that it also meant that he could draw some resentment from the other Superstars. Luckily for him, he never found himself being prosecuted in the infamous “Wrestler’s Court”, although he does tell a story about a trial he witnessed first hand, which is arguably one of the best anecdotes in the book.
There are tons of stories that a reader is going to find themselves smiling at. I mean after all, not many people can say they’ve shared the ring with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and took both of their finishers …. but Pete Gas can. And while these are the stories you would think would be the most alluring, I have to say that the stories about Pete Gasparino, the man, are by far my favorite. No spoilers here, but there is a part in the book where Gas uses his “fame” to help a special needs fan. I’ll save the details, but let’s just say I started to tear up a bit, and this time it wasn’t the turbulence that was getting to me.
Gas will also show you the ups and downs of the business from a perspective only he can. You see, the majority of the Superstars that have written books have experienced longevity in the wrestling business, but as Gas will point out, his dream in the squared circle only lasted about three years. From shooting “Posse” vignettes to featured storylines on Monday Night Raw to getting shipped to Puerto Rico to ultimately being released, Gas has experienced it all. He also does a great job of bringing his story full circle by telling us how he found himself ringside at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, rooting on none other than his long time friend, Shane O’ Mac!
In summation, it’s safe to say that this book has a different tone than the other wrestling books I’ve read, and in a good way. The book made me feel as if I was having a conversation with the author, rather than reading about unrelatable content that I’ll never experience first hand. His humble approach to his story is definitely one to admire. It’s an interesting footnote for a guy who was so damn good at playing a guy who everyone loved to hate. The title is “Looking At The Lights”, but make no mistake about it, this book definitely goes “over”.
Lastly, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for a sweater vest sighting on SmackDown Live one of these days. As the saying goes in the WWE, never say never.