For the past 24 hours, the wrestling world has been reacting to the tragic news that 'Mean' Gene Okerlund passed away at the age of 76.
After a year that was sadly packed with far too many wrestler deaths in 2018, fans will have been hoping to start 2019 off on the right foot. Unfortunately, that was not possible. Less than 48 hours into the new year, WWE broke the news that legendary announcer and interviewer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund had passed away suddenly at the age of 76.
When someone from the wrestling business passes, some groups of fans are normally more upset than others. That's not a slight on anyone, it's just a case of fans growing up during different times and in different eras. What makes Mean Gene unique is his career wasn't confined to one particular era. He broke into the business in 1970 and worked with WWE as recently as Raw 25 less than a year ago.
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Mean Gene. The first person I had the absolute pleasure of working with at WWE. Learning from the absolute best in the business. But so much more than that, developing an amazing effortless friendship with. I always loved getting to work side by side with you. Long shoots were always so fun and you always happily kept everyone entertained. Never losing a beat or missing a quick joke. And capped off with the Capital Grill and some vino or an ‘Okerlund’ for the final final. With a heavy heart we say goodbye to an absolute legend. See you on the other side, Genie. And I’ll remember to stick to the script 😉❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😘
Due to Okerlund's career spanning such a massive amount of time, he has touched an awful lot of lives. He has also influenced a lot of careers as has been evident by the thoughts and well wishes pouring out on social media since news of his death broke. Current stars doing the same job he did such as Renee Young and Charly Caruso took to social media to thank Mean Gene for the invaluable advice he gave them on their way up the WWE ladder.
I remember the first time I met Gene.— Drake Maverick (@WWEMaverick) January 2, 2019
Gene: “Spud - I was walking around the offices of Titan Towers in Stamford CT. Do you know who was talking about you?”
Me: “OMG - Who Gene?”
Gene: “Absolutely f’n NOBODY!”
God bless you sir #RIPMeanGene
Of the hundreds of tributes to Okerlund from the wrestling industry that continue to pour in, our favorite so far has come from Drake Maverick. The 205 Live GM recalled the first time he ever met Okerlund while he was working at Impact. Mean Gene asked if Maverick knew who was talking about him at WWE. When Maverick excitedly asked who it was, Okerlund replied with absolutely nobody.
The best partner I ever had. We never rehearsed or did anything scripted from a writer. Gene would ask me “hey big man what do u want to do?” I would always answer “just follow you brother” and it worked from 1980 - 2017. RIP my brother HH pic.twitter.com/OBtn6NxT1E— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 3, 2019
More tributes to the Hall Of Famer than we could ever have room for in one article have been posted in the last 24 hours alone. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, even Vince McMahon himself. WWE has also been posting clips of some famous Okerlund interviews demonstrating exactly why he is considered the best ever at what he did. We already miss you Mean Gene, and you will never be forgotten.