The unfortunate passing of wrestling legend “Mean” Gene Okerlund today got me thinking about some of my favorite moments of his, and one in particular I wanted to share with you all.
A couple years back, I found myself down a rabbit hole of Macho Man Randy Savage interviews. (As internet rabbit holes go, it’s a damn good one.) The videos would just be Macho Man delivering a fantastic promo, and Gene Okerlund brilliantly reacting to him. Savage would say something and Okerlund would respond according, selling everything Macho said.
This right here is my favorite interview with both Savage and “Mean” Gene:
This is Savage at his best, just riffing with a prop on his upcoming opponent Tito Santana. Okerlund is along for the ride, reacting to all the ridiculous nonsense coming out of Randy’s mouth. His almost shocked facial expression that Savage could consider calling Santana garbage is priceless.
Randy then pops the garbage can across the room. Okerlund jumps at the sound of the can hitting the floor.
Later on, Mean Gene shows more range when he gets a bit excited at the mention of Miss Elizabeth chilling some champagne. Savage soon shuts him down, a beautiful give and take.
This entire interview illustrates just some of the attributes “Mean” Gene brought to the table. He didn’t just stand there and let Savage talk. He reacted to the interview, playing the straight man to Randy’s insanity. So often now, we see backstage interviewers just stand stone faced as wrestlers spout some ridiculous BS instead of reacting appropriately. (This isn’t an indictment on everyone. Renee Young in particular was excellent at appropriate reactions.) Gene would react, in a way representing all of us watching this over-the-top art form. His reactions were varied and always what they needed to be to best serve the promo. Everyone he interviewed was better for it, even a master like Savage.
That was just my favorite. There are thousands of Gene Okerlund interviews out there, and I don’t profess to having seen half of them. So share below which memories of “Mean” Gene are your favorites as we remember the true wrestling legend.