Mean Gene Okerlund Passes Away at the Age of 76

The WWE confirmed news earlier today that legendary backstage interviewer and announcer Mean Gene Okerlund passed away today at the age of 76.

The WWE posted the following on WWE.com:

WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76.

“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!”

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.

Announcing wasn’t all that Okerlund could do with a microphone, as he performed the National Anthem at the first WrestleMania in 1985. Later that year, Okerlund would sing “Tutti Frutti” on WWE’s The Wrestling Album.

In 1993, Okerlund joined WCW where he continued to interview many of the legends he had worked with in the AWA and WWE as well as WCW stalwarts like Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, Goldberg and others.

Okerlund returned to WWE in 2001 to call the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17 along with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and continued to appear on WWE television programming, including as a cast member on WWE Network’s Legends’ House.

WWE extends its condolences to Okerlund’s family, friends and fans.

As someone who grew up with wrestling in the 90s, Mean Gene is pretty much synonymous with that. Without a doubt he is the best backstage interviewer of all time. When he needed to be serious, he was serious. When he could break off and do some comedy he could do that too. Perhaps the best thing he was good at was coming back with quick one liners whenever a heel would rip on him or defend a heelish action that they did. And who could forget the classic hot line plugs every week on Nitro.

I had the opportunity to meet Mean Gene back at Wrestlemania 27 during Axxess. While I only talked with him for a minute, he seemed very genuine in his interaction with me and appreciative of me being a fan of his.

While there is not one standout moment in Mean Gene’s career, who could ever forget how Ric Flair started all of his interviews with him?

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