WWE Hall of Famer "Mean Gene" Okerlund Passes Away
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
2019 has started off on a sad note for wrestling fans as it was reported that WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster “Mean” Gene Okerlund passed away at age 76.
Okerlund was arguably the most recognized and beloved backstage interviewer during his tenure in the wrestling business. After spending 14-years making a name for himself in the AWA, Okerlund was hired by WWE to become the backstage interviewer and would be a part of classic backstage moments with Hulk Hogan, Andre The Giant, The Iron Sheik, and “Ravashing” Rick Rude.
During his tenure with WWE, Okerlund made history by becoming the first person to sing the American National Anthem at WrestleMania 1 in 1985, and also made an appearance on the popular NBC show The A Team, along with other notable superstars including: Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, The British Bulldogs, Corporal Kirchner, Big John Studd, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
After his WWE contract expired in 1993, Okerlund signed with WCW, where he would serve as an interviewer until 2001, when the company was sold to WWE.
“Mean Gene” remained active following WWE’s purchase of WCW in 2001; he played a role on many shows such as: WWE Confidential, WWE Vintage Collection, and WWE Legend’s House, and served as the narrator for WWE Story Time. In January 2018, Okerlund made his final on-screen appearance for WWE during the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw, where he interviewed AJ Styles.
Okerlund was recognized for his legendary career in 2006, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by fellow Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan.
Here are some of the reactions to “Mean” Gene Okerlund’s passing.
Tracy Murray (Former NBA player and BarnBurner contributor):
RIP to the WWE Hall of Fame Broadcaster Mean Gene Okerlund. From the first time I watched the WWF back in the day until the WWE hit cartoon series Story Time and Legends House, Gene has always been the voice of the WWE. You will be missed. #RIPMeanGene
Aron Stevens (Former WWE superstar Damien Sandow and BarnBurner contributor):
Praying for Mean Gene and his family. This one hurts. Not only was he a legend, the voice of a generation, and the best at what he did, he was truly larger than life. As a child, my world would hinge on what he had to say every Saturday. I was very lucky to have known him as an adult. I would always make time to sit and talk with him every time I saw him. He will be missed by many. #ripmeangene #geneokerlund #wwe #wwf #prowrestling #legend #oneofakind #rip #impactwrestling #roh
Jim Ross (WWE Hall of Famer):
So sad today to hear of the sudden passing of my dear friend @TheGeneOkerlund
I just saw Mean Gene in North Carolina at WrestleCade.
It’s so true that our tomorrow’s are never guaranteed.
Say hello to Jan, Mean Gene.
Ken Shamrock (UFC Hall of Famer and former WWE superstar):
Sad to hear that 'Mean' Gene has passed away. 76 seems too young. Gene was a WWE Hall of Fame icon for all of pro wrestling and known by fans worldwide. Prayers to the family and friends. God bless
Chris Jericho (NJPW Intercontinental Champion and former WWE/WCW superstar):
He was the greatest interviewer in wrestling history. He taught me SO MUCH about how to do a wrestling promo. He was a great guy, with a glint in his eye and a joke in his heart. He was @thegeneokerlund. Thanks for being the best in the world at what you do #MeanGene!!! #GeneMean
Ric Flair (WWE Hall of Famer):
One Of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You. You Will Forever Be MEAN BY GOD GENE!
The Iron Sheik (WWE Hall of Famer):
RIP MY BROTHER GENE MEAN. YOU PUT ME OVER LIKE NOBODY. I LOVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY SINCE THE MINNESOTA. GIVE MY BROTHER NIKOLAI BUG HUG. GOD BLESS YOU. CAMERA MAN ZOOM IT.
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Photo Credit: @WWE