It’s a sad day for professional wrestling fans around the world. Gene Okerlund, better known as “Mean Gene,” has passed away at 76 years old The news was confirmed by CBS News and WWE, where he became one of the most recognizable interviewers in the history of the industry.
Okerlund got his start in the professional wrestling industry in 1970 when he began working for the American Wrestling Association as a part-time ring announcer and interviewer. During this time, he was given the nickname “Mean Gene” by Jesse “The Body” Ventura. It was in 1983 that he moved to what was known at the time as the WWF, becoming a mainstay on the company’s various shows during the pro wrestling boom brought on by the rise of Hulk Hogan.
He stayed with the company for a decade before moving to WCW, where he stayed until WWE purchased the company in 2001. At that point, Okerlund returned to the company that made him famous and appeared sporadically over the years, even filming a reality show for the company called Legends House, which is available on the WWE Network.
In the wake of Okerlund’s death, a number of WWE superstars, both past and present, shares their condolences online. “A voice and [soundtrack] to an entire era of our industry,” Triple H said in a tweet. “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.”
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
Mean Gene I love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) 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
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
GENE MEAN WAS BEST MAN AT MY WEDDING. WE DO HE SING HE DANCE HE ALWAYS WAS THERE FOR ME. ALWAYS LEADING THE WAY AT THE BAR WITH THE LEGEND. GOD BLESS HIM.
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) January 2, 2019
WWE universe has lost one of its greatest announcers and truly one of the nicest guys you’d ever know. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, RIP my friend pic.twitter.com/u3bS6pePmY
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) January 2, 2019
When I was younger and just starting out in wrestling all the guys at the wrestling gym went by 2 rules to pick a name..
1) You had to be able to imagine Vince McMahon saying the name on commentary
2) You had to be able to hear Mene Gene saying it with a question#RIPMeanGene
— 🇺🇸TJ Perkins🇵🇭 (@MegaTJP) January 2, 2019
Super bummed about Mean Gene. Literally JUST sat down last week to do an interview about his legacy. He was the most iconic backstage interviewer in wrestling history in my opinion. #RIPMeanGene
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) January 2, 2019