Today brings some very sad news for wrestling fans, as wrestling legend "Mean" Gene Okerlund has passed away. Having appeared in the spotlight for decades interviewing various major wrestling stars, fans will never forget Okerlund's unmistakable voice. News of the WWE Hall of Famer's passing comes from a press release issued by the company, with no specific details on the cause of death. The famous wrestling personality is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Jeanne, and their two grown children. Okerlund was 76 years old.
Okerlund's "Mean" nickname was first coined by Jesse "The Body" Ventura during an interview for the American Wrestling Alliance, where Okerlund first got his start. The name stuck, and Okerlund would use the moniker for the remainder of his career across various promotions. Okerlund would spend 14 years working for the AWA, where he'd interview many future wrestling stars before they'd later become very famous. Along with Ventura, this includes people like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Andre the Giant. By the end of 1983, however, Okerlund noticed the rising popularity of the World Wrestling Federation, jumping ship to the WWF in 1984.
Over the course of nine years, Okerlund would serve as the WWF's top interviewer. He'd participate in some of the most memorable interview segments in wrestling history during this time period, speaking with such stars as Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. Okerlund even took part in a tag team match for the company, teaming with Hogan against Mr. Fuji and George "The Animal" Steele. Humorously enough, Okerlund scored the victory for the team by pinning Mr. Fuji. Also during his WWF tenure, Okerlund appeared on an episode of The A-Team and was even featured as a character on the cartoon series Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n Wrestling.
In the early '90s, Okerlund would move on from the WWF to join World Championship Wrestling. He'd reunite with several famous stars he'd interviewed previously in the AWA and WWF, providing memorable new interviews with them once more. Among others, this includes Hulk Hogan, who'd become a villain during this period with the rise of the NWO's popularity. Okerlund would mostly participate in interviews, but managed to have two more matches in the ring during his WCW run. Along with partner Buff Bagwell, Okerlund defeated fellow announcer Mark Madden and Chris Kanyon in a tag team match. Madden and Okerlund would have a one-on-one match a week later, with Okerlund again scoring the victory. For those keeping track, this means that Okerlund is undefeated as a wrestler.
Okerlund would finally return home to WWF in 2001, with the company becoming WWE a year later. The wrestling legend would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, appearing in various WWE programs in the years since then. Okerlund made his final appearance on WWE television in January of last year, interviewing WWE World Heavyweight Champion A.J. Styles. It's fitting for his last TV spot that was of him doing what he did best by providing yet another memorable interview with a wrestling world champion. This information comes to us from WWE.com.