Originally an interviewer in the American Wrestling Association, Okerlund joined the WWE in 1984 as a regular correspondent, quickly developing a reputation for his provocative interviewing style. In addition to interviewing, Okerlund also spent his career providing ringside commentary, as well as hosting several WWE events.
For the uninitiated, here’s one of Oklerund’s most iconic interviews with “Macho Man” Randy Savage from 1987:
Tributes from some of the biggest names in the WWE — including Hulk Hogan, who gave Okerlund the nickname “Mean Gene” — have been pouring in on social media: “I’m so heartbroken to hear of the passing of Mean Gene!” Vickie Guerrero tweeted. “Thank you Gene for the laughs, advice, and most of a wonderful friendship!”
Added WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase, “WWE universe has lost one of its greatest announcers and truly one of the nicest guys you’d ever know. ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, RIP my friend.”
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“As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable,” wrote Steve Austin. “Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice. Condolences to his friends and family.”
WWE fans, how will you remember Okerlund? Drop a comment with your memories of “Mean Gene” below.