WWE Hall of Famer Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away at the age of 76, WWE.com reports.
Okerlund has to be the biggest and most well known backstage interviewer in the history of professional wrestling. He worked for AWA, WWF and WCW, following Hulk Hogan through most of his career. The famous phrase, given by Hogan regularly, “You know something Mean Gene” is part of the wrestling culture, well known by all.
Gene worked for WWE as an ambassador, making his last appearance on Raw 25.
It’s a sad day in the wrestling world today. Rest in Peace Mean Gene
WWE.com is reporting that former AWA owner and promoter Verne Gagne has passed away at the age of 89. Verne had been in an assisted living facility for over five years and suffered from dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, which led to his death,
Verne Gagne is one of the most prolific promoters in history and one of the few old timers who tried to give Vince McMahon a run for his money in the 1980s. The AWA continued all the way until 1991, when it shut its doors forever. He eventually joined the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, with him graciously accepting the award, all the while saying ” I haven’t joined the Vince McMahon club”
Verne has been used many times in this blog as an example of a wrestler type which doesn’t exist anymore, with our reference to Uncle Verne. He really looks like your uncle doesn’t he. I, for one, will still celebrate our fun uncle…
Balding Uncle Superstar Verne Gagne
We will all miss the personality and the toughness of Verne Gagne. I will do a full breakdown on Verne in the next few weeks, in the meantime enjoy some of the man: Verne Gagne.
Football Player. Heel Eliminated Big John Studd at Wrestlemania 2
Hall of Fame Rating
1 out of 10
The Celebrity Wing is a joke. I have mentioned this fact over and over again while covering these inductees. Ninety-five percent of people (made up stastic), agree that celebrities are at least extranious and at most offensive to the most presitgious (for its WWE pedistal alone) professional wrestling Hall of Fame. Maurice D. Proffitt on Rant Sports recently wrote an article which summarizes why this concept should just end.
William “The Refriegerator” Perry is the second worst inductee is history. Drew Carey is the worst. He is also a grand example of why celebrities shouldn’t be included and is also the inherent problem with the WWE Hall of Fame in general.
Up until recently, anyone could be inducted in the Hall. The bar was set extremely low. Many of the hardcore fans followed up by dismissing the Hall as a joke and something to be ignored. Too many classes had amazing uppercards and catospheres of undercard inductees. I blame 2006 with Tony Atlas and William Perry for the pattern which emerged. Drew Carey? Oh that’s Perry’s fault.
But James, How is that Perry’s fault?
Easy. William Perry competed once for the WWE. He participated in the Wrestlemania 2 Chicago semi-main event (remember the three venue Wrestlemania 2? Passionate Overkill) He and five other football players competed in the battle royal with such legends as Sammartino, Morales and Andre. William Perry was the most well known of all the football players. The others were just you know, random football players. These men were brought in to allow Perry to participate (and perhaps coax him) Does anyone really remember who Bill Frolic or Harvey Martin are?
Bet you can’t tell me which one this is without using google!
Perry would need to be coaxed because his and all the players invovlement was a stunt. Stunts are WWE’s specilaity. Almost all the celebrity involvment in WWE is done by non fans who are advertising something (Drew Carey’s Improv Extravanganza!) or showing off (Floyd Mayweather). Perry falls into the second category as well. He did this cause some advisor said to and he was paid a lot. He had just won the SuperBowl with the Chicago Bears and was as famous as a football player was going to get. Milk that fame time!
So he participates in the battle royal. The WWE advertised the hell outta it. And Perry doesn’t even win. He doesn’t even get close. He wasn’t even the last football player (Russ Francis was) He particpated. Plain and simple. BTW, my favorite moment of the battle royal is when Perry jumps off the top rope and Gene Okerlund jumps up and down as if Perry created a wave of energy. None of the wrestlers do this, making Gene look stupid. WWE defintately got better at this stuff as they went on. By the way all of Perry’s involvement fits on this one video below. All of it.
The fight starts and eventually, Perry fights Big John Studd. Studd pushes Perry and eliminates him. What an exciting end.
But Perry isn’t finished. He must avenge himself. So he turns heel and holds out his hand. At this point, Studd greated by the Heel power of Perry, immediately turns baby-face and falls for it. Studd is pulled out by Perry. Wrestlemania moment or something.
Apart from being the only celebrity in history to do a double turn in a battle royal, that is the only accomplishment for William Perry. He never returns to WWE programming until the Hall of Fame. He never talked about wrestling and probably never thought about it again until the Hall of Fame. This is like CM Punk being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, for throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game.
Can I be in the Cubs Hall of Fame?
The induction itself was mostly not about Perry. Cena and HHH used it to continue their kayfabe feud at a non kayfabe event (Something WWE did for a little bit, annoyingly). The induction speech was ridiculous, and Perry obviously was uncomfortable (as by the way all celebrity inductees seem, gee I wonder if they are out of place?)
And so ends Perry’s involvement. He did the thing WWE wanted. He got attention. Congrats William Perry, you ruined everything.
That’s Not Cool!
2006 was in Chicago. This was the first year that WWE began using the area they were in to define the class. Sometimes this works (Gordon Solie in Flordia) and in other cases such as Perry’s it doesn’t.
WWE began the Celebrity Wing in 2004 and ignored it in 2005. Supposedly this was due to Mr. T declineing in 2005. So when 2006 hit, the WWE wanted to bring back. HOW TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?
I imagine the discussion between Vince McMahon and Johnny Ace went like this.
I want a celebrity this year!
GREAT Idea! Who?
I don’t know. Who is from Chicago that has done something with us?
I don’t know. Lets ask this random temp.
Uh…didn’t the Fridge do that battle royal with Andre
Uh…Fridge…That’s an appliance…..
I meant William Perry…at Wrestlemania 2….
Yes! YES! That happened! Get him! Get him! Good work John.
He likes me!
Opens Door For?
Drew Carey. The worst inductee ever. Carey was Perry but in the Royal Rumble and not at Wrestlemania. If the WWE were to continue this pattern, Snooki would be in by 2020.
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
He doesn’t belong. Oh and he doesn’t even know or care about the product and just probably did the induction for the payday. All these reasons. Yup.