WWE Hall of Famer interviewer Gener Okerlund passed away on Wednesday at the age of 76. Nicknamed as the “Mean Gene”, Okerlund was the most recognizable interviewer in the history of sports entertainment. As per a report by news agency AP, Okerlund passed early morning at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife Jeanne by his side. Gene’s son told the news agency that his father, who had suffered three kidney transplants, fell a few weeks ago, and “it just kind of went from bad to worse.”
Okerlund first came to prominence in the American Wrestling Association. In 1984, he moved to the WWE circuit, where he gained popularity for asking tough questions to superstars such as “Macho Man” Randy Save, The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan.
His interviews with Hogan gained massive popularity among the professional ring circuit, and Hogan’s opening dialogue – “Well you know something ‘Mean’ Gene!” became a catchphrase among the fans. Apart from interviewing superstars, Okerlund also provided ringside commentary and hosted several shows, including All-American Wrestling, Tuesday night Titans, Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling.
In 1993, Okerlund had moved to WCW, where he interviewed several other superstars including Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, and Goldberg. He returned to WWE in 2001 to call the Gimmick Battle Royal to Wrestlemania 17. Several WWE superstars including Hogan and Triple H expressed their condolences over the dismissal.
The best partner I ever had. We never rehearsed or did anything scripted from a writer. Gene would ask me “hey big man what do u want to do?” I would always answer “just follow you brother” and it worked from 1980 – 2017. RIP my brother HH pic.twitter.com/OBtn6NxT1E
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) 3 January 2019
Of the very few regrets I harbor in my career, one was never getting to scream “Mean Gene” when answering the queries of a man who presence was larger than life and ingrained in the better memories of my childhood.
RIP Mean Gene.
My condolences to the Okerlund family.
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) 2 January 2019
A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. https://t.co/9ddj6372eE
— Triple H (@TripleH) 2 January 2019
It was impossible not to crack a smile whenever “Mean” Gene Okerlund entered a room. He was the voice behind so many of WWE’s most iconic and entertaining moments, and the WWE family will miss him immensely. pic.twitter.com/zbrkQAvtug
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) 3 January 2019
Gene Okerlund was an incredibly rare talent. He made everything and everyone better. #ThankYouMeanGene for all the incredible memories. Our condolences to his family and loved ones. https://t.co/IxpjiLo9UN
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) 2 January 2019