WWE announced that long-time announcer and the interview correspondent Gene Okerlund passed away today at the age of 76. This man was incredibly endearing, and he was so proficient at his job that Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair himself said that promos and storylines would not be carried out without the man setting them up. This is how we will remember Mean Gene Okerlund.
- The way he set up PPVs. Him running down the card was legendary. I remember bugging my parents every year to having them spend $40 to call that local cable operator. Every match was important. How he organized the reports where legendary promos from Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage would be forever remembered. Just listen to this man running down the Wrestlemania VII card. Hell, he made a BLINDFOLD MATCH must see TV!
2. Setting up the promos. The way he sets up a lobbing baseball allowing the wrestler to knock out the promos out of the park. The way that Gene Okerlund would sell Randy Savage’s “Cream of the Crop” promo was legendary.
3. He made a hokey character like Papa Shango seem terrifying and real. Look at how he sells Papa Shango. This made me scared for him as a child. He seemed genuinely concerned about Papa Shango’s well-being too.
4. If you botched on your promo, he was not afraid to laugh in your face. Look at this promo with Dr. David Schultz.
5. Gene asked the tough questions. These questions were so critical because it built sympathy for the babyface and it enhanced the storyline. He really sold Ric Flair’s heel tactics and made it to where the fans wanted to cheer on The Giant. This is what is missing from wrestling. I used to love the interview segments because it enhanced the storytelling. Here is Gene Okerlund interviewing Ric Flair.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdsJToKyk-c
Gene Okerlund left an impact on the sport of professional wrestling, and him retiring left a void that hasn’t been seen since. We need to have wrestling back to interviewing segments to enhance the stories instead of boring promos and matches. This allowed us to suspend disbelief and be invested in the storyline. Gene Okerlund made the elite like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Randy Savage that much more famous.
- Photo Credit: WWE