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R.I.P. WWE personality and legendary interviewer "Mean" Gene Okerlund

Screenshot: YouTube

“Mean” Gene Okerlund, the WWE broadcaster who shared a mic with the industry’s most memorable personalities, has died. WWE.com confirmed his passing on Wednesday. He was 76.

Known for his golden voice and perpetually straight face, Okerlund began his career in radio and local TV before becoming a wrestling announcer in 1970. He found his way to the World Wrestling Federation (later renamed the WWE) in 1983, remaining a ubiquitous host and backstage presence until 1993, when he pivoted, like so many in the industry, to WCW. In 2006, he was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, but remained active with the company through 2018, when he returned for Raw’s 25th anniversary episode to interview WWE superstar A.J. Styles. He also warmed our hearts last May when he appeared alongside comedian Kevin Hart in a Mountain Dew commercial.

Okerlund will be remembered as the relentlessly calm eye in the storm that is professional wrestling, a bizarre and unwieldy product by any measure. . As the Ultimate Warrior of “Macho Man” Randy Savage bellowed their utter nonsense into his microphone, Okerlund’s straight face and matter-of-fact questioning both bolstered the sport’s innate comedy while also lending it all some much-needed gravitas. He also proved himself adept at navigating some of the industry’s most baffling stunts, such as the audience-deflating “Gobbledygooker” who emerged from a giant egg at the 1990 Survivor Series. As he did with so many segments, “Mean Gene” was just about the only thing from keeping it all from flying completely off the rails.

Okerlund was beloved by the community in which he built his career, and WWE’s biggest and brightest quickly took to Twitter this morning to share some personal tributes to the man. See a handful of them below.


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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.