The professional wrestling world lost a beloved legend this past week when Mean Gene Okerlund passed away at the age of 76-years-old. Okerlund started his professional wrestling career in the AWA where he met and became friends with superstars like Hulk Hogan and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. That allowed him to move on to the WWE in 1984 where he was the backstage interviewer who was part of some of wrestling's most memorable moments.
Okerlund moved on to WCW in 1993 before signing back on to the WWE in 2001 as a legendary superstar who eventually moved into special appearances over the years. Okerlund's final WWE televised appearance came in January 2018. After a 49 year career in professional wrestling, here is a look at the 10 most memorable moments in Mean Gene's career.
10. MEAN GENE INTERVIEWS HOGAN AFTER FIRST TITLE WIN
The turning point for the WWE came when Hulk Hogan showed up to battle the Iron Sheik for the world championship and won decisively with a leg drop. This was the start of Hulkamania, the start of the Rock and Wrestling Connection and was the first real boom period in professional wrestling history.
It is no surprise that Mean Gene Okerlund was there to share in this memorable WWE moment. Okerlund was in the locker room to interview Hulk Hogan after the huge win, and they were soon joined by Andre the Giant who poured champagne all over his friend's head. It was one of many moments that made Mean Gene and Hulk Hogan the perfect duo.
9. MEAN GENE TEAMS WITH HULK HOGAN
While Mean Gene Okerlund was almost exclusively a backstage interviewer or highlight show host, there was one moment where Okerlund actually put on the tights and wrestled. He didn't actually wrestle -- but he was in a tag team match with his close friend Hulk Hogan against Mr. Fuji and George "The Animal" Steele.
The match had a very interesting moment where Okerlund was just standing on the apron while Hogan took care of business. However, Hogan high fived Mean Gene and the referee forced him to enter the match. Luckily, Okerlund got back out, Hogan did his work to finish up and then Okerlund came in at the end and pinned Mr. Fuji.
8. SUMMERSLAM 1989 BLOOPER
Mean Gene Okerlund was a great interviewer -- knowing when to play it seriously and knowing when to play the jokester. However, at SummerSlam in 1989, Okerlund lost it when he was about to interview Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and his charge, the Intercontinental Champion Ravishing Rick Rude.
Just as he was about to start the interview, the SummerSlam sign from behind them fell to the ground, making Okerlund jump. He then yelled out some profanity and asked if the person who put that sign up made $200 an hour. The interesting thing is that the interview was pre-recorded and a corrected version was also shot but the WWE accidentally used this blooper version in the broadcast.
7. RIC FLAIR: 'A TEAR IN MY EYE' INTERVIEW
With Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in the background celebrating, Flair told Mean Gene that being the world champion in the WWE means you are the best. Okerlund even got a classic moment when he told someone off camera to "put that cigarette out."
6. THE GOBBLEDY GOOKER
Mean Gene Okerlund has been involved in some of the most beloved and famous moments in WWE history but he has also been part of some duds. Possibly the most embarrassing moment in WWE history came at the Survivor Series in 1990. For months, a giant egg was shown at WWE events and no one knew what it was all about.
Finally, at the Survivor Series, the egg mystery was solved and it hatched to produce -- much to Mean Gene Okerlund's astonishment -- the Gobbledy Gooker. It was Hector Guerrero in a giant chicken suit dancing for about five minutes while the fans booed.
5. THE MEAN GENE HOTLINE COMMERCIALS
Back in the pre-internet days, some companies would get away with charging fans money to call into a 1-900 number to get information about anything. Professional wrestling did this as much as anyone and one thing that Mean Gene Okerlund remains remembered for is hawking his Mean Gene Hotline.
In WCW, fans could call this 1-900 number and get information about anything from injury updates to free agent signings to upcoming title matches. During every episode of WCW Saturday Night, a commercial would air hawking the Mean Gene Hotline and his exclusive tips.
4. MEAN GENE INTERVIEWS THE NWO
When WCW wasn't having Mean Gene Okerlund hawk his 1-900 number, they were having him interview some of the biggest names in the company. His biggest moment came at Bash at the Beach when Scott Hall and Kevin Nash battled Sting, Lex Luger, and Macho Man Randy Savage.
Hulk Hogan came out, seemingly to help his WCW friends, but then turned heel, joined the nWo and changed the wrestling industry. The first man in the ring for that interview was none other than Hogan's old friend Mean Gene, as Hogan explained that he was ditching WCW and joining the nWo to take over.
3. HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
In 2006, the WWE inducted Mean Gene Okerlund into the WWE Hall of Fame. It should come as no surprise that the man who inducted him was none other than Hulk Hogan, the two men tied together to the end. Hogan told everyone as he inducted his friend that it was Okerlund who helped wrestlers along with their promos when they weren't sure what to say next.
Hogan also said that Mean Gene Okerlund was the "life support of Hulkamania." In his acceptance speech, Okerlund talked about his wrestling match and told a ton of stories about wrestlers he worked with. He also made fun of the Gobbledy Gooker. He finished by saying that, when he passed away he wanted to be buried face down so all his critics could "kiss my a**."
2. WWE NETWORK LEGENDS' HOUSE
The last major project that Mean Gene Okerlund took part in for the WWE was Legends' House on the WWE Network. That show had a number of iconic WWE legends live together in a house with cameras always running like Big Brother. They included Okerlund, Roddy Piper, Pat Patterson, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Hillbilly Jim, Jimmy Hart, Howard Finkel, and Tony Atlas.
Interestingly, the normally jovial Okerlund was frustrated more often than not with his fellow WWE legends. While Okerlund was not a major player on the show, he was a familiar face for fans to latch onto while men like Duggan and Atlas brought drama and Pat Patterson officially revealed his sexual orientation to the world.
1. AJ STYLES INTERVIEW: MEAN GENE'S FINAL WWE APPEARANCE
The final appearance of Mean Gene Okerlund in the WWE came on the Monday Night Raw 25th anniversary special in January 2018. It was an exciting moment as AJ Styles prepared for a backstage interview but then stopped Charly Caruso and said he had a special guest who was going to interview him.
AJ Styles then introduced Okerlund to the WWE faithful to a huge ovation. Then, Styles proclaimed "let me tell you something Mean Gene" in his best Hul Hogan voice. Hilariously, Okerlund backed up and muttered his disbelief at the homage as Styles admitted that he had to do it. The moment was classic Mean Gene Okerlund, one of the best in the professional wrestling world at what he did.