WWE Hall of Famer “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who for years interviewed wrestling icons from Hulk Hogan to the Iron Sheikh, has died. The legendary announcer was 76.
WWE said in a statement that it is “saddened” to learn about the announcer and host’s death, and extended its condolences to his family, friends and fans. No further details were provided about the cause of death.
Okerlund got his “Mean Gene” moniker from fellow Minnesotan Jesse Ventura. He first made his name by doing interviews for the American Wrestling Association before he moved to the WWE in 1984. Okerlund was known for his “tough questions,” says the WWE, and his interviews with WWE superstars, especially Hogan.
Hogan, who was known for saying to Okerlund, “Well you know something, ‘Mean’ Gene!” paid tribute to him on Twitter, saying, “Mean Gene I love you my brother.”
Mean Gene I love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 2, 2019
As Okerlund’s star rose, he started to provide ringside commentary and host shows, including “All-American Wrestling,” “Tuesday Night Titans,” “Wrestling Challenge” and “Prime Time Wrestling.” He even sang the National Anthem at the first WrestleMania in 1985.
Okerlund left the WWE in 1993 for the WCW before returning to the WWE in 2001. He marked his return by calling the “Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17.” Recently, Okerlund appeared on “Raw 25,” which celebrated the 25th anniversary of “WWE Raw.” Okerlund was also a cast member on WWE Networks’ “Legends’ House.”
WWE stars, past and present, remembered Okerlund on social media.
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
RIP “Mean” Gene. Thanks for the memories and being a Gentleman.
God Bless. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/AJn3HsY7Am
— Bully Ray (@bullyray5150) January 2, 2019