Iconic Wrestling Announcer GONE:”Mean” Gene Okerlund Passes Away At The Age Of 76
“Mean” Gene Okerlund was a wrestling icon…He also used to be a radio announcer back in the day on WTOB radio in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he worked under the name, Bob Smith…His son Todd Okerlund was a U.S. Olympic hockey player and “Mean” Gene became famous for interviewing professional wrestlers back in the AWA days and then he moved on to the WWF, then he took off to the WCW, before returning to the WWF/WWE and he finished his career there…Okerlund is a WWE Hall of Famer, being inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, back in 2006….
The fans could really identify with “Mean” Gene and the energy and professionalism he brought to his job/profession….I can still hear Hulk Hogan saying in some of his interviews with Okerlund, “What you talking about “Mean” Gene”, or Hogan saying something like, “Let me tell you something “Mean” Gene”….Okerlund made Hogan and Hogan made “Mean” Gene Okerlund….It was almost like the Muhammad Ali-Howard Cosell connection…
(Hogan also known for saying, “What you gonna do, when Hulkamania rains down on you”.)
“Mean” Gene Okerlund even started his own restaurant chain of “Mean” Gene’s Hamburgers and the “Mean” Gene’s Burgers had a franchise in Durham, N.C.
Again, I’m telling you, “Mean” Gene Okerlund was an Icon, and he might just go down as the ‘Top Professional Wrestling Interviewer’, of all time….Some of the skits he did and the interviews he did, are unforgettable…His outfits alone could make you fall out of your chair….
Here is more on the passing today of “Mean” Gene Okerlund, from www.wrestlinginc.com:
(Okerlund died today, at the age of 76.)
Gene Okerlund was the premier voice of WWE programming back in the 1980s, known for his charismatic interview skills and colorful personality. A two-time Slammy winner, “Mean Gene” was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2016.
“In his early days, ‘Mean Gene’, as he was named by fellow Minnesotan, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura first came to prominence by interviewing the greatest stars of the AWA, including Ventura, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan and Hulk Hogan,” WWE said in a statement. “In 1984, Okerlund made the move to WWE where he became a staple on national cable television by continuing to interview the biggest names in sports-entertainment like Hogan, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and many more.”
In 1993, Okerlund went to WCW where he stayed until WWE bought them in 2001. Gene returned to WWE to commentate the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania X-Seven. He continued to be a part of WWE programming, appearing on the WWE Network show Legends’ House in 2014. The last appearance for Okerlund on WWE programming was during the 25th Anniversary of RAW, where he interviewed A.J. Styles.
Twitter Statement from World Wrestling Entertainment:
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.
**********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.**********
++++++++++Okerlund’s name has been associated with fast food concept, Mean Gene’s Burgers, the brainchild of food-distributor Orion Food Systems (headed by two of Okerlund’s nephews), which appeared on college campuses including Duke University and West Virginia University, as well as Mean Gene’s Pizza, a chain of pizzerias located within bowling alleys. These are owned by Hot Stuff Foods, which was headed by two of his nephews. Early in 2006, Okerlund and Hot Stuff split. Okerlund and one of the nephews were planning to start their own food company on the brands, but Hot Stuff sued, claiming they had “Mean Gene” trademarked. Okerlund lost, with the judge saying that Okerlund can’t use the name “Mean Gene” for his new food company. Okerlund succeeded in canceling the trademark registrations held by Orion, but remains enjoined from competing with Orion.++++++++++
from Jason Powell at PWTorch.com and prowrestling.net on a possible cause of death, one has not been determined at this time but, says Jason Powell:….www.pwtorch.com/www.prowrestling.net
Okerlund had two kidney transplants in the past, but it’s unclear whether his death is kidney related as of this update.