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“Mean” Gene Okerlund (1942 - 2019), iconic wrestling announcer

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The face of professional wrestling interviewed the biggest stars

“Mean” Gene Okerlund (1942 – 2019) was the star announcer for professional wrestling for many years. He came to fame as the face of the WWE, moving later to the rival WCW, returning to the WWE for the remainder of his career.

Okerlund interviewed wrestling’s biggest personalities, helping to turn stars into superstars. He played the straight man while the wrestlers would do their trademark over the top trash talk. He shared the screen with Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, the Ultimate Warrior and other legends.


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Wrestler Jesse Ventura gave Okerlund his nickname, calling him the “Mean Gene Hot Air Machine,” during an interview.

He was also a singer in rock and country bands and sang the national anthem at the first Wrestlemania in 1985.

He was inducted by Hulk Hogan into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Died: Wednesday, January 2, 2019 (Who else died on January 2?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 76.


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Notable Quote: “Verne, I know zero about wrestling.’ He said, ‘Do you have a suit and tie? That’s all you need.’ There were a few bucks involved, so I dived in.” – Okerlund in an interview with the Star Tribune talking about his first wrestling interview

What people said about him: “He was the best at what he did, the best straight man interviewer in wrestling history. ... Gene and I had a chemistry between us like no other. ... Gene and I had a great rapport.” – Jesse Ventura

“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." – Stone Cold Steve Austin

"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." – Triple H

Full obituary: Minneapolis Star Tribune

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