Remembering "Mean" Gene Okerlund

On Wednesday morning, word broke that the world of professional wrestling had lost one of its legendary figures. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, long a fixture with WWE, passed away. He was 76 years old. The WWE Hall of Famer will be greatly missed. Sadly, we haven’t had the pleasure of seeing or enjoying Okerlund as much in recent years, but for those fans who grew up watching and listening to him, his presence will live on forever.

Remembering "Mean" Gene Okerlund

I was first exposed to wrestling via Saturday morning programming-typically Superstars and the like. Every so often we’d get a Saturday Night Main Event (I didn’t have cable until the 1990s). One of the key fixtures during all of those Saturday morning shows? “Mean” Gene. To me, he was WWE. He was a practically constant figure, even more than some of the other on air characters like Bobby “The Brain” Heenan or Lord Alfred Hayes. Forget about Vince McMahon the announcer. For me, Okerlund was a signature guy. He was, as Triple H put it “the soundtrack for an era”.

When word of his passing reached me, that was what I first thought: Another part of my childhood has passed away. We’ve lost others, to be sure. We will eventually lose them all. But he was one of those people on TV who have such a big part of your life-and they rarely know it. I know it sounds crazy, but he was as big a reason as any for me to get sucked into this wild and wonderful world of professional wrestling-something I am still a fan of more than thirty years after the fact.

Taking one look around Twitter, I was not alone in feeling the loss:

He was truly a beloved figure-one of the most beloved of that era, including the wrestlers themselves. So many current Superstars, like myself, grew up watching him. He will be missed.

Rest in peace, “Mean” Gene.

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