Mean Gene Okerlund

Height: 5'9"

Weight: 213 lbs

Real Name: Eugene Okerlund

DOB: 11/29/1942

Hometown: Robbinsdale, Minnesota

Other Names: "Mean Gene"(AWA/WWF/WCW)

Involved In Wrestling Since: 1974

Finishing Maneuver: None

History: (Last Edited: 5/12/2006)

For much of the '80s and '90s, Eugene Okerlund was the most well-known interviewer in professional wrestling. He is credited with helping, if only in a small way, to the monstrous growth of Hulkamania, and worked with several of the biggest wrestling companies in the world. But it all started in a small radio station, far from any wrestling roots.

Going into the 1970's, Okerlund was working at an AM talk radio station, KOIL-AM 1280 out of Omaha, Nebraska. He honed his work as a DJ, earning a small following around the area. However, Okerlund was also interested in other ways to earn more money, as he began working as a substitute announcer & interviewer for the American Wrestling Association, replacing Marty O'Neill, who was having health issues. When O'Neill retired in the late '70s, Okerlund took his place as a full-time announcer for the AWA, becoming better and better at his job as the years went by. Okerlund also made friends with several AWA stars, among them a young wrestler going by the name of Hulk Hogan. Okerlund also earned a new nickname thanks to his broadcast partner, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who began calling him "Mean Gene".

In 1984, Okerlund heard from the World Wrestling Federation, run by Vince McMahon, Jr. McMahon was working on building his traditionally-Northeastern company into a nation-wide wrestling powerhouse at the time, and was looking to sign some of the best wrestlers & announcers from his competition. Okerlund joined Hogan (who had already signed), Ventura, and other AWA talent in making the move, helping the WWF in their growing organization. Hulkamania had already taken off with Hogan's winning of the WWF World Heavyweight Title from the Iron Sheik in January '84, but Okerlund soon became a major part of its run, as he was the normal interviewer of the champ. It became routine to hear Okerlund ask a question to the Hulkster, and be answered "Well, you know, Mean Gene...", followed by the Hulkster's speech about taking down another foe.

Okerlund didn't just hold the mic during this time. He also ran several WWF shows, including All-American Wrestling. He also did once get into the ring, wrestling in a tag-team match with Hogan against George "The Animal" Steele & Mr. Fuji. Surprisingly, thanks to Hogan's help, Okerlund got the pin on Fuji, giving him an undefeated record inside the squared circle. Okerlund also has the claim of being the first person to sing the Star Spangled Banner at Wrestlemania, belting out the song at Wrestlemania I. Okerlund would stay with the WWF until 1993, last appearing on PPV at Summerslam '93. He then made the jump, along with Bobby Heenan (and other talent), to Ted Turner's money machine, World Championship Wrestling.

Okerlund worked regularly as the interviewer for WCW for the next decade, again being the primary interviewer for Hogan, as well as other WCW stars. Ric Flair had his own way of beginning Okerlund interviews, yelling out "Mean, By God, Gene!" Okerlund would be the first man to interview "Hollywood" Hogan after he joined the Outsiders and formed the new World order at Bash At The Beach '96, demanding to know why Hogan would turn on the fans. He talked about how long he had known Hogan, and how his joining up with Nash & Hall made him absolutely sick! Okerlund would appear regularly as a WCW interviewer for the next few years, then began to be used less regularly, although he remained a member of the company until WCW was sold to the WWF in 2001.

Okerlund would appear occassionally in the WWF/WWE after the sale, joining Bobby "The Brain" Heenan at Wrestlemania X-7 to do the commentary for the Gimmick Battle Royal. He also hosted WWE Confidential in '02, showing some of the behind-the-scenes activities of WWE personnel. Okerlund was honored for his years in the wrestling business in '06, when he was placed in the WWE Hall of Fame. He was inducted the night before Wrestlemania 22 by his long-time friend, Hulk Hogan, and had one of the biggest lines of the night, as he told them to bury him face-first when he died, so that all of his critics could kiss his a##. With lines like that, is it any surprise that Mean Gene Okerlund is known as a wrestling icon?

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