Bengaluru, January 3: The year 2019 begins on a sour note especially for the old era fans of pro-wrestling as one of the legendary announcers is no longer with us. 'Mean' Gene Okerlund has passed away leaving a huge bunch of memories that we will cherish forever. We will never be able to hear the gentle voice of the veteran conducting interviews of the superstars.
WWE released on an official statement to break this sad news to the fans which are as follows,
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76."
Gene Okerlund appeared on the wrestling scene at the American Wrestling Association in 1984. He worked there until 1993 before moving into World Champion Wrestling aka WCW which was the biggest wrestling promotion of the world. His fellow Minnesotan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura already tagged the 'mean' prefix to his name by then.
He earned this by throwing hard-hitting questions to the wrestling superstars on a regular basis. This was the first of its kind that gave birth to a new genre. The tradition continued with the likes of Jonathon Coachman or Renee Young. Some of his best interviews came with Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and Okerlund’s greatest guest, Hulk Hogan.
He was still an employee of WCW while it was a regular thing to witness Hogan greeting him back with the iconic phrase of “Well you know something 'Mean’ Gene!” Eventually, The Hulkster was the one to induct Gene Okerlund into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. It was the ultimate honor that the greatest sports entertainment interviewer in history has received.
However, his relationship with the WWE was not initially cordial enough. He chose to stay away from the rebranded WWF after Vince McMahon took over the WCW. He transitioned into the job of doing ringside commentary and hosting several shows. All-American Wrestling shows like Tuesday Night Titans, Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling had the honor to work with this legend.
Gene Okerlund finally returned in the WWE in 2001. The company used him for the first time to call the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17 alongside Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The stint continued with various other programs on WWE TV including WWE Network’s Legends’ House show. WWE Raw 25th anniversary saw him gracing the TV for one last time. He was in great terms with the company through a lifetime Legends' contract.
We want to send our condolences to the family and dear ones of Gene Okerlund while cherishing the memory of the lovable persona.