Many of the colleagues of Mean Gene Okerlund have posted touching tributes upon hearing of his death. But since Okerlund was the centrepiece of WWF’s expansion, he was much more than just announcer.
Perhaps The Blue Meanie (Brian Heffron) said it best, comparing Mean Gene to a legendary Philadelphia Phillies baseball announcer: “The passing of Mean Gene is hitting me the same way the passing of Harry Kalas hit me in 2009. Another key player in the soundtrack of my childhood is no more.”
WWE producer Adam Pearce posted something similar: To Chicago kids of my generation, he was THE voice. I’d “cut promos” in the living room like he was there with me, and sharing the air with him was a literal dream come true. I was no Bockwinkel, but he was still #MeanGene. Godspeed, sir. Thank you for the soundtrack to my youth.
There are plenty more weighing in. Here are a selected few:
Jim Ross: So sad today to hear of the sudden passing of my dear friend @TheGeneOkerlund. I just saw Mean Gene in North Carolina at WrestleCade. It’s so true that our tomorrow’s are never guaranteed. Say hello to Jan, Mean Gene.
Gerald Brisco: So sad to learn of the passing of friend Gene Okerlund a true Legend that I believe was one of the best ever to hold a microphone always gave you the best lead-in to go with. AwowaChipsala’Cho please give Brother Jack a big hug.
Bruce Prichard: Gene was the mold others aspired to be. Without a doubt one of the most talented individuals I have ever had the privilege to work with. Rest in Peace Gene and thank you for all of your wisdom and help throughout the years.
Jerry Lawler: So sad to hear of the passing of our friend, Mean Gene Okerlund. I’ll always remember Gene with a smile on his face and a drink in his hand and always wanting to help. His was “The Voice” of @WWE
Lilian Garcia: I will forever remember this amazing human being @WWE Hall of Famer “Mean” Gene Okerlund! Gene was a class act! Always had such a smile on his face when he greeted me and the warmest hug! Gene, I thank you for your kindness & making such an impact in this world!! RIP Gene! ??
Steve Austin: Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice. Condolences to his friends and family.
@TripleH: A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.Triple H added,
Diamond Dallas Page: I am so sadden by loss of my very close friend @TheGeneOkerlund You brother were one of the truly GREAT ONES. You will be miss more than you know! I Love you Man! RIP Geno?? @RealDDP DDP
Virgil: Man Mene Gene was the greatest. He made every moment feel like it was the Super Bowl. He was the best. I’ll miss all the great talks and moments we had. Rip brother. Send my love to Andre, Curt and Rod.
TJ Wilson: RIP Gene . I got to spend some time with Gene the last 6 months. We’d talk about the ‘88 Winter Olympics in Calgary and the WCW hotline. Such a funny and witty guy. A true icon and will be missed by many
Tony Schiavone: Devastated to hear the news of my friend Gene Okerlund’s passing. He was, and will always be, pro wrestling greatest stick man #meangene
Michael PS Hayes: So sad to hear of the passing of Mean Gene. What a classic and was in a category all his own. Will always treasure doing the Legends of Wrestling shows with him.
Nattie Neidhart: A voice of my childhood, and one of the greatest of all time — you will be missed, Gene.
Christopher Daniels: I’ve seen “the voice of a generation” and “synonymous with pro wrestling” in many accounts regarding the passing of Mean Gene Okerlund. Both absolutely true. Rest In Peace Mean Gene. Sorely missed, and never to be duplicated.
Kevin Kelly: Gene Okerlund was not only a great performer but he was loved by the crews and producers he worked with throughout the years. He made everyone around him better. Just a genuinely great guy…
The referees have stories too:
Billy Silverman: A Gene Okerlund story one time we were flying first class he was ordering vodka for both of us the flight attendant kept bringing them after the third one i excused myself to go to the lavatory told the flight attendant when she brings them in the future make mine water but dont tell him he never caught on and could not figure why after 7 or 8 vodkas i was still sober..I told him my tolerance for vodka was higher he was like how..You are 150 pounds soaking wet how can you drink so much and not affect you..He never did catch on! RIP Old Friend!
Mickie Henson / Mickie Jay: “Today we have lost another who I had the privilege of knowing and working with. I will never forget sitting next to him in the bar at the TV hotel in Norfolk Virginia in the middle of a conversation when a mark excitedly came up and got in between us and interrupted him. As soon as he could get a word in edgewise he said””hey you know Kevin Sullivan is sitting right over there!” And pointed at the other end of the bar. I sarcastically said “oh Kevin is going to love that”. He looked right at me and said “why do you think they call me Mean Gene?” Rest in peace mean Gene Okerlund”