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Legendary WWE Hall Of Fame Interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund Has Died

“Mean” Gene Okerlund, the legendary WWE and WCW backstage interviewer of the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s, has passed away. He was 76.

Okerlund debuted with the WWE (at the time, the WWF) in 1984 after 15 years with the American Wrestling Association. He worked under the company until 1993, moving on to WCW and remaining there until 2001. When the WWE bought out WCW, Okerlund returned to the company and continued to appear on WWE programming. In 2006, Okerlund was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.

The memorable video below is from January 23rd, 1984. In it, Okerlund is interviewing Hulk Hogan immediately after he defeated The Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden for his first ever World Heavyweight Championship. Keep an eye out for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s father, “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson, at the end.

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Okerlund’s face and voice will forever be a part of wrestling history as he was present for so many famous “promos” and interviews in the business. Names like Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Andre The Giant, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, The British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes and The Undertaker delivered their pre-match speeches with Okerlund standing by them, his microphone clutched in his hand and leveled near their mouths, catching every word. His tone and delivery was one that brought professionalism and excitement to any situation. He was easily a blend of Walter Cronkite, Howard Cosell and Al Michaels for the wrestling business.

While the Attitude Era (the era of the WWE that gave birth to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and D-Generation X) happens to be my personal favorite, I was raised on the golden generation of ’80s wrestling. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, alongside Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, had just as much of an impact on me as a child as watching Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. It wasn’t considered a legitimate “promo”/interview unless it was Okerlund holding the mic. Just like the news of vintage in-ring superstars passing away, I am saddened by the passing of this iconic figure in the business. Thank you for everything, “Mean” Gene.

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Sources: Bleacher Report and the WWE’s YouTube page.

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