WWE.com called Okerlund "the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history," and that's the honest truth. While he spent roughly 14 years working as a ring announcer and interviewer in Minnesota's American Wrestling Association territory, Okerlund left in 1984 to work for the WWE, where his humor and impeccable microphone skills were a staple of the WWE's nationally televised broadcasts during their late-'80s/early-'90s run. He perfected the art of asking the right questions for stars like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage to cut some of their most engaging and memorable promos from that era.
Okerlund became a constant on WWE programming of the era, from singing the National Anthem at the very first WrestleMania in 1985 to hosting many of the WWE's shows, from Prime Time Wrestling and Tuesday Night Titans to Wrestling Challenge.
Okerlund ended up leaving the WWE in 1993 to work for World Championship Wrestling, adding his signature flair to their Monday Nitro show for stars like Sting and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
After his tenure with WCW ended in 2001, Okerlund returned to the WWE to make sporadic appearances for the company, hosting WWE Madison Square Garden Classics on MSG among a number of series highlighting the previous four decades of WWE history in various capacities. He also leant his voice to the animated series WWE Story Time on the WWE Network. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
Many took to social media to share their condolences in light of Okerlund's passing.
A voice of my childhood and a legend. Rest In Peace to the greatest to ever do it, Mean Gene. pic.twitter.com/gyVgKcNpCl— Kazeem Famuyide (@RealLifeKaz) January 2, 2019
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. https://t.co/9ddj6372eE— Triple H (@TripleH) January 2, 2019
RIP MY BROTHER GENE MEAN. YOU PUT ME OVER LIKE NOBODY. I LOVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY SINCE THE MINNESOTA. GIVE MY BROTHER NIKOLAI BUG HUG. GOD BLESS YOU. CAMERA MAN ZOOM IT. pic.twitter.com/5k0VRXbKMI— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) January 2, 2019
So sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest voices in wrestling. Mean Gene you will be missed and we will continue to love you. What a true class act. I am very fortunate to work with you.— Charles Robinson (@WWERobinson) January 2, 2019
Mean Gene was the voice of millions of childhoods. Mine certainly. An honor to meet him. Condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/krsMtbeNIl— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) January 2, 2019
Join us in celebrating the life and career of WWE Hall of Famer, "Mean" Gene Okerlund. https://t.co/6Mi9YDGVBC— WWE (@WWE) January 2, 2019
One Of My Closest Friends Since 1972 Until This Very Sad Day In 2019. Not Only The Greatest Voice And Personality In The History Of Announcing, But A Man Who Touched Everyone’s Life Who Were Fortunate Enough To Know Him. Rest In Peace Knowing No One Will Ever Replace You. pic.twitter.com/i7illbxQgw— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) January 2, 2019
R.I.P. Mean WOOO BY GOD Gene pic.twitter.com/TY7EHjbJk9— MaffewBotchamaniaGuy (@Maffewgregg) January 2, 2019
As of this writing, there's no word on the cause of Okerlund's passing. Fans of professional wrestling worldwide will miss his voice and his charm. Rest in peace, "Mean" Gene.