In my humble opinion, there are very few “icons” of professional wrestling. The term is used a little too loosely and only an elite few can truly be labeled “icons” of the professional wrestling industry.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund is certainly one of them.
I was born in 1991 and missed Okerlund’s prime. I knew him as the interviewer for WCW and, later, as the host of WWE Confidential. It was until years later when I broke out of the WWE bubble and expanded my professional wrestling viewing and was introduced to the brilliance that was Mean Gene.
Okerlund was always a bright-spot of those mid-to-late 80s WWF broadcasts. He was someone who demanded attention and respect — and he was particularly great with Hulk Hogan. Hell, you don’t have to be a mega fan of pro wrestling to have heard “Well let me tell ya somethin’, Mean Gene!”
I first met Okerlund in June of 2016 at the Legends of the Ring convention in Monroe, NJ. Okerlund was incredibly nice and, of course, asked if my girlfriend was my sister before giving her a friendly wink.
I was fortunate enough to meet a couple of old times and he always incredibly nice. I observed him at the hotel bar the night before a couple of Big Event conventions and I was amazed how everyone gravitated towards him. All the wrestlers wanted to have a drink with Mean Gene.
Rest in peace, Mean Gene. Thanks for the memories.