WWE Hall-of-Fame interviewer, ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund passes

Mean-Gene (1)

He was the voice of the WWF and then the WWE. Interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund died on January 2. He was 76.

As wrestling fans welcomed in a new year, they were also met with sad news as The Wrap reported that iconic WWE and WCW interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund had died. He was 76.

As a wrestling fan through high school and college, I came to know Okerlund in 1984, when he joined the WWF as the short, round and mustached announcer who threw out questions to wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage.

In addition to conducting interviews, Okerlund hosted shows and provided ringside commentary during his initial tenure with WWE. Okerlund also sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at “WrestleMania I.”

“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away,” the pro-wrestling promotion said in a statement on their site. “WWE extends its condolences to Okerlund’s family, friends and fans.”

“Mean Gene,” as he was named by fellow Minnesotan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, first came to prominence as an interviewer in the American Wrestling Association. In 1984, Okerlund made the move to WWE where he became as recognizable as the Superstars he asked the tough questions to, including “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and, perhaps Okerlund’s greatest guest, Hulk Hogan. Countless Hulkster interviews included the indelible phrase, “Well you know something ‘Mean’ Gene!”

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As the respected and reliable man behind the microphone in WWE, Okerlund branched out from interviewing and provided ringside commentary and hosted several shows, including All-American Wrestling, Tuesday Night Titans, Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling.

In the 1990s, Okerlund, like many other big-name stars from WWE, jumped to Ted Turner’s “World Championship Wrestling” promotion, serving in a similar capacity as he did while employed by WWE.

Shortly after the news of Okerlund’s passing, many in the WWE world offered their condolences:

No cause of death was given.

Source: WWE