Wrestling fans if you do not know this man, you are not a WWE fan. The LEGENDARY ‘Mean’ Gene Okurlund has passed away at the age of 76!
WWE called Okerlund “the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history,” and for once that’s not an exaggeration. He had long stints in the American Wrestling Association, the World Wrestling Federation (later WWE) and World Championship Wrestling, and was the primary interviewer for WWF when it began the pro wrestling boom in the 1980s. He was with WCW during the Monday Night Wars.
Okerlund studied broadcast journalism at the University of Nebraska, and eventually stumbled into wrestling with the AWA while working for a TV station. He eventually became their top interviewer before departing, like many of the wrestlers did, for the WWF in the early 1980s.
It was in WWF where he made his role. When Okerlund interviewed a wrestler, it was real. It felt unscripted, even if it was. Okerlund played the role of sports announcer perfectly. He always kept a straight face as wrestlers shouted around him, occasionally spewing nonsense. It was a real performance, and he elevated it to something like art. [DeadSpin]
It’s unclear how Okerlund died, but he had two kidney transplants in the past – one in 1995 and the other in 2004.
R.I.P. to a LEGEND!