Growing up a professional wrestling fan in the early nineties provided entertainment for most of my friends and I. We were apart of a world of gimmicks that for us continue to stand the test of time. One of the best parts of watching professional wrestling though was viewing an interview with various wrestlers and the one and only “Mean” Gene Okerland who sadly passed away at 76 years old.
Okerlund suffered a fall in December according to the New York Post. His son reported that his father’s health drastically declined after the fall. It appears this prompted the decision to get Okerlund more care by admitting him into a nursing home a mere four days before his death. Okerlund had problems breathing and the facility rushed him to the hospital for further assistance where he passed on with his wife Jeanne by his side on January 2nd.
Back in the 1970s Okerland started his career in professional wrestling, which spanned over four decades, in the AWA. In the early eighties, Okerlund made his way onto the WWF, now known as the WWE, and slowly became the most sought after interviewer in the industry. He attained his name during an interview with Jesse “The Body” Ventura once upon a time and the name stuck despite everyone knowing that Okerland was anything but mean. Moving to WCW in the early nineties, Mean Gene’s career marched forward until his return to the WWE back in 2001.
I had the pleasure of meeting Okerland at last year’s annual Days of the Dead convention in Atlanta, GA. He was a pleasure to speak with and my only regret is that I did not have enough money for the chance to have him to interview me. The thought puts a smile on my face though as I’m sure most of Mean Gene’s promos do. The wrestling community and fandom have expressed their condolences on Twitter and other social media platforms alike as seen below.
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) January 3, 2019
He made me a fan. I had the honor of meeting him and being interviewed by him. I’m grateful I got to tell him how much he meant to me. I wonder which wrestler he’s interviewing out there somewhere now. My heart goes out to his family & my respect to the legacy of Mean Gene pic.twitter.com/NudcwkTXdo
— David Arquette (@DavidArquette) January 3, 2019
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) January 3, 2019
I met Mean Gene in 1985 while promoting the first WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden. He was Cool, and He made Wrestling Fun and Exciting. Nobody did it Better! He Will Be Missed. #MeanGene #RestInPeace
— Mr. T (@MrT) January 3, 2019
Super bummed about Mean Gene. Literally JUST sat down last week to do an interview about his legacy. He was the most iconic backstage interviewer in wrestling history in my opinion. #RIPMeanGene
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) January 2, 2019
Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice.
Condolences to his friends and family.
— Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) January 2, 2019
So sad to hear of the passing of our friend, Mean Gene Okerlund.
I’ll always remember Gene with a smile on his face and a drink in his hand and always wanting to help. His was “The Voice” of @WWE RIP Gene. pic.twitter.com/tgS1Yy3VpA
— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) January 2, 2019
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) January 3, 2019
There will never be another wrestling announcer with as much heart and passion as Gene Okerlund. In our hearts he will remained signed on with the WWE from now until eternity as the best interviewer of all the times. Fans and wrestlers alike will miss Mean Gene, but we will continue to cherish the time that we could watch him do what he did best. Make sure to tune into Monday Night Raw tomorrow evening for a tribute to the late great wrestling announcer led by the one and only Hulk Hogan.
Monday Night Raw airs Mondays on the USA Network at 8pm EST.
Additional Source: WWE.com