"Mean" Gene Okerlund
Interviews Ventura & Adonis
After match celebration with Hulk Hogan
"Mean" Gene Okerlund was one of the greatest wrestling announcers of all time. He was at his best in the WWF boom period from 1984 to 1987.
MEAN GENE OKERLUND RETURNS
One of the most recognizable faces behind the microphone is making his return to World Wrestling Entertainment television. Mean Gene Okerlund last seen on WWE TV at WrestleMania X-7 - will be the host of the new WWE show 'Confidential' which will air every Saturday nights on TNN from 11PM till Midnight.
Confidential will be a behind the scenes look at the WWE as well as features an up-close look at a WWE superstar every week.
The show, debuting this coming Saturday, will have the Montreal screwjob as the subject and participating in the show will be non other than Shawn Michaels.
Mean Gene Okerlund on WWE Byte This May 2002:
Mean Gene commented on showing up in the studio earlier this week and it was like a homecoming. Nothing has changed at all...
Kevin asked Gene if he regretted leaving and he said not at all. Guys will always admit that change is good for everybody. At times, you get into a bad grove but change makes you step up a notch or two. He joined WCW, which was second rate but in a year or two they got that up and became a competitive factor in the market place.
On Hulk Hogan's return:
- He was proud and probably as happy and overwhelmed as he was in both Toronto and Montreal. He was gone but not forgotten. His comeback was like a second coming. He showed us a whole lot of class and this is the way that his great career should end, back in the WWE.
Mean Gene said that he was in semi retirement until Confidential came along. He has been in the restaurant business since 1996. They've got Mean Gene Burgers all over the world and they've got pizza that goes into bars. He's also been involved in classic wrestling which has been intriguing.
- Mean Gene isn't worried about pissing people off. None of it is going to be off limits. They are putting a Television camera on themselves and they are going to take a real close look at a lot of the things that happen behind the scenes and that includes what happened in 1997 in Montreal between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Shawn talked with them this past week and made some candid and controversial comments that are going to air on Confidential.
- This is not going to be a rehash of Smackdown! or RAW. It's going to be a totally new show somewhat like "Behind the Music."
- They are going to be discussing things on Confidential that they normally wouldn't be talking about. They are going to talk about the British Bulldog in the future and he talked to the WWE years ago and hopefully some of those comments will come out. Shawn Michaels is going to shock some people and we're going to find out if he's going to come back to wrestle again tomorrow night.
- Mean Gene updated us on Bobby Heenan. He dealt with a bout of throat cancer and he's on the comeback trail. Gene has talked to him and he thinks we're going to see him back on the air in the not too distant future. Gene has always been a big fan of him and they wish him nothing but the best of luck.
They wrapped it up with Mean Gene and you can see him tomorrow night on WWE Confidential. Before he left, he plugged the Bra and Panties match on Velocity and he asked Kevin and Tom if all Stacy would have to do is pull the clothing off of Trish to become the Women's Champion? Kevin said that's exactly what has to happen and Gene said it sounds like he's been there before but it sparks his interest!
Mean Gene Interview with Chris Yandek of New Era Of Wresting.com
Mean Gene Okerlund has been around for 32 years, and as the host of WWE Confidential he truly is enjoying his time back in the company he was with before WCW. Mean Gene discusses numerous topics including Hulk Hogan's health, the September 11th comments made on WWE Raw, and his thoughts on what happened to WCW.
First off how are you?
"I am doing well Chris. When I think about how long I have been in wrestling, and it flashes through my mind it seems like I have been in the business for 20 minutes. In reality though it has been a great 32 years."
How did you end up on WWE Confidential show, and is there ever a possibility you might do something else on one of the other WWE shows in the near future?
"I had talked to both Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn, the executive producer of then the WWF TV programming. We had talked for the last two years in regard to something that would be a good fit for both us considering my experience and kinda my style. I probably wouldn't fit into a WWE Raw or Smackdown, as it were so Kevin Dunn called me one day and said we were good to go, and come up to New York so we can hopefully be on the air, and that was back in the middle part of May."
You have known Bobby Heenan for years. What are your best memories of working with Bobby Heenan?
"I have so many great memories of Bobby. I am going to say probably the great memories I have in general were back in the days when he was a manager, and that would go back to the days of the AWA and the early days of the WWF. He became a broadcaster in the WWF, and when I moved on to WCW in 1993 he was probably five or six months behind me. He came in to WCW in early 1994, and we once again had an opportunity to work again. Bobby was always clever and always had one of the great minds of the wrestling business, and he would also talk about it on the air and talk about great issues amongst the promoters. He was also very good on laying out some feuds, concepts and issues, and communicate those to the public."
Why did you decide to go to WCW in the first place?
"My contracted had ended with the WWF in September of 1993, and at that time I had some philosophical differences including with Vince McMahon as great minds don't think alike or whatever the case may be. I thought it was time for a change after ten years in the same position and doing the same thing, and perhaps the best thing would be to move on. I still feel that was the right move just like this juncture to come back and host WWE Confidential, and maybe down the road work on some pay perviews."
When you look back at what happened to WCW, did you ever think you would be back in the WWE?
"Yeah Chris I did. I felt that someday that is where I would end up as long as they were intact, and I have no eyes to retire. This business has been very close to me for the last 32 years, and you kinda live and breathe it, and when you're away from it from any extended period of time you feel uncomfortable. Yeah I definitely felt I would end my career with the WWE in New York."
What do you think went wrong with WCW?
"Well, I think that is very simple. It was horribly mismanaged, and actually it was a rudderless ship. It was never being run by anyone at anytime during the nine years that I was there. As close as I was to the product and the role I played in the TV programming how do you think that some of these other guys felt? I think especially the locker room mentality those things were really out of whack, and people just were clueless because they had no direction."
What was the reason for you wrestling Mark Madden back in WCW?
"If you can tell me for a second what that would have possibly accomplished I would like to know. It was just some brain storm of Vince Russo, and the angle was a total piece of garbage. I did it because I wanted to be a team player, and let everybody amongst the ranks know that I was gonna be a team player and do what they asked me to do. I wasn't really in love with that angle."
What are your thoughts on the Steve Austin situation at this time, and do you think he will ever go back to the WWE?
"That is a tough one for me to answer. I think there a couple of things we need to think about when we think of the Steve Austin situation. Steve has been around in this business for 15 to 16 years, and maybe with that high volume of appearances and with the exposure he had probably burned himself out. It is also not to say he wouldn't come back once he recharged his batteries. I kinda had the feeling Steve had burned himself out, and finally just threw up his hands and said God I don't like the way this storyline is going that pertains to me. So I am gonna take a hike, and gonna jump on a plane to San Antonio and the hell with it. I don't need it anymore, and he probably doesn't because lord knows he has made enough money to live comfortable for the rest of his life."
What have you heard about the Hulk Hogan situation with him not going to Australia?
"Well, I think it was purely a physical situation. He is beat up, and I mean this guy took a lot of bumps for a lot of years especially for a big man. Andre The Giant and some of these other big guys didn't take as many bumps as a Hulk Hogan. I have to give him credit because when he was the WWF Champion he worked 300 nights a year, and those were ring appearances where he gave good matches. He probably got beat up to the point where it is just a little tough for him to move, and a 14 hour plane ride right now could not do the back of his any good. He has a knee that needs to be operated on, and he has really put it off way too long. I think his health issues are going to have to be faced head on before he is gonna give that 100 percent, and I think he really is giving it 100 percent but he is working with some injuries that are perhaps attaining his performance somewhat."
Do you think the comments made about September 11th were appropriate for the WWE?
"Absolutely not. I would have to say that goes back to some of the material when we're doing the Gulf War when I was in the WWF, and I really thought that was tasteless. I think a national or patriotic situation we need to stay away from because it is going to generate some cheap heat, and really not the kind we need in this industry."
Did you ever think your former boss Eric Bischoff would be back in the WWE?
"Chris, nothing surprises me in this business because I have seen stranger things happen. There was one situation where I won't mention any names where a promoter just about had been killed. Then six to eight years later the perpetrator was back working with him. I think to see Eric Bischoff in the WWE after some of the things he said about Vince McMahon is a bit of surprise, but it is nothing beyond reality."
What do you think of the current state of professional wrestling?
"I think it is probably in a down cycle. People ask me about wrestling as compared to 25 to 30 years ago, and consumers always want change. If people today liked the 1975 Pontiac, and people wanted it today that is what we would be driving. People want change for sure, and they certainly are getting a different wrestling product today then 10 to 15 years ago. I think the wrestling business is very healthy, and we have a great fan base. I think you just have to tell the right stories, and get the combinations going to draw those big numbers on TV, and again fill up arenas and countries around the world."
Looking back on your career when it was the WWF you sang the national anthem at WrestleMania 1. What are your best memories of your time in the WWF back then?
"Well, of course that was a very exciting time because that was a whole new era. We were coming out of old school when everything basically was kayfabe, and there was a lot of psychology that went into wrestling. They had high spots back then not as much. There was a lot of psychology, and a lot of great work. I saw a match nine or ten years ago, a legends match between Wahoo McDaniel and Dick Murdock, and both of those men are dead. I saw a match in the later stage in both of their careers, and I just thought it was one of those great matches. I saw it at the Bayfront Center in St. Peterburg, Florida at the legends reunion."
How are your food franchises coming along?
"The burger franchise is going great. We are up to 83 of them worldwide, and of course they go into military installations and colleges around the country, and we are doing quite well with it. I have also jumped into the pizza business with Mean Gene's Pub Pizza, and I think we have roughly 30 of those up. We are very excited about the food business, and we keep the product very tight trying to give people a little edge to it. We do have some great burgers the Mean Gene's Blazin Cajun, All Star Burger, and a Tobasco Burger that would eat your shorts up."
Finally, what is in store for the rest of your career in wrestling?
"Well, you know Chris I just take it one day at a time. I am look forward to tomorrow as I am looking forward to talking about the great days of yesterday. I am just very happy to be here, and health of course becomes something very important to guys as they get a little bit older, but I got my health and I am happy and I would love to do it forever."