WWE legend ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund has died aged 76. The Hall of Famer – who made his name as one of the most iconic interviewers in the history of the wrestling business – sadly passed away one year after he was last seen on TV.
In a statement, WWE said: “WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognisable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76.”
He first joined WWE in 1984 and became a staple of its TV programming through his entertaining skits with the likes of close friend Hulk Hogan, ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior.
Okerlund played a huge part in the company’s expansion around the world when Vince McMahon signed him up after his time in the American Wrestling Alliance, and he went on to host shows like ‘Tuesday Night Titans’, ‘Wrestling Challenge’ and ‘Prime Time Wrestling’.
He later joined WCW in 1993 as lead interviewer, working with legends of the industry including Sting, Goldberg and Diamond Dallas Page.
The charismatic star would continue to appear on WWE TV over the years after returning to commentate on the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17, and more recently, he was a cast member on the WWE Network show ‘Legends’ House’.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Hogan, who offered a simple tribute on social media. He wrote: “Mean Gene I love you my brother HH (sic)”
Current WWE boss Triple H tweeted: “A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments.
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’ was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. (sic)”
Fellow Hall of Famer ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin was also among the many stars and fans to pay their respects. He said: “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. (sic)”
Longtime WWE referee Charles Robinson also paid tribute. He said: “So sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest voices in wrestling. Mean Gene you will be missed and we will continue to love you. What a true class act. I am very fortunate to work with you. (sic)