Legendary WWE and WCW interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund has died, WWE announced Wednesday. He was 76.
Okerlund first joined WWE back in 1984 — the Hulk Hogan days. Watch one of their most famous collaborations via the video above. Consider all the Donald Trump talk in it a bonus.
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away,” the pro-wrestling promotion said in a statement. “WWE extends its condolences to Okerlund’s family, friends and fans.”
Okerlund got his start with the American Wrestling Association, where he interviewed the likes of Jesse “The Body” Ventura (who gave him his “Mean Gene” moniker), Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Hogan. Okerlund became a staple on national cable TV after he made the move to the WWE, where he had notable interviews with “Macho Man” Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior, among many others.
He sung the National Anthem during the first-ever Wrestlemania in 1985.
Okerlund later moved to doing ringside commentary and hosting shows including “All-American Wrestling,” “Tuesday Night Titans,” “Wrestling Challenge” and “Prime Time Wrestling.” He moved over to World Championship Wrestling in 1993 where he again served as lead interviewer, until he returned to WWE after it was bought WCW in 2001.
Shortly after the news of Okerlund’s passing, many in the WWE world including Hogan and fellow WWE broadcaster Jim Ross, offered their condolences and remembrances.
Mean Gene I love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 2, 2019
RIP “Mean” Gene. Thanks for the memories and being a Gentleman.
God Bless. ???? pic.twitter.com/AJn3HsY7Am
— Bully Ray (@bullyray5150) January 2, 2019
I remember the first time I met Gene.
Gene: “Spud – I was walking around the offices of Titan Towers in Stamford CT. Do you know who was talking about you?”
Me: “OMG – Who Gene?”
Gene: “Absolutely f’n NOBODY!”
God bless you sir #RIPMeanGene
— Drake Maverick (@WWEMaverick) January 2, 2019
A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. https://t.co/9ddj6372eE
— Triple H (@TripleH) January 2, 2019
Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice.
Condolences to his friends and family.
— Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) January 2, 2019
Man Mene Gene was the greatest. He made every moment feel like it was the Super Bowl. He was the best. I’ll miss all the great talks and moments we had. Rip brother. Send my love to Andre, Curt and Rod. pic.twitter.com/rcjXcK5jD1
— Virgil (@TheRealVirgil) January 2, 2019
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. ???? pic.twitter.com/PQ4ZZGmXnx
— Jim Ross (@JRsBBQ) January 2, 2019
Of the very few regrets I harbor in my career, one was never getting to scream "Mean Gene" when answering the queries of a man who presence was larger than life and ingrained in the better memories of my childhood.
RIP Mean Gene.
My condolences to the Okerlund family.
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) January 2, 2019