RIP Mean Gene!

4 January 2019 Views From The Booth Sports

Greetings from the Booth!

Happy New Year everyone! As we get into 2019, I’m embarrassed to say that I still have my Christmas tree up in my living room. This is more a by-product of laziness than a desire to hold on to the Holidays. My Frazier Fir is so dry now that if Uncle Lewis is anywhere nearby with his stogie, that sucker is going up in flames like a roman candle. I think this is the weekend we’re finally going to pack up the Christmas decorations and get back to normal…maybe.

A quick mid-season snapshot of the Shenandoah University basketball teams shows the SU women at 6-6 and 2-3 in the ODAC, while the Hornet men are 4-8 overall, and still looking for their first league win.

And, as we transition from college football into the NFL postseason, it’s Wild Card Weekend as the Super Bowl tournament begins. I like Indy and Dallas on Saturday. I think Andrew Luck and the Colts are hitting their stride at the right time and will have too much for Houston. And the Cowboys will prevail at Jerry-World against a Seattle team that will be away from it’s so-called “12th Man.”

On Sunday, I like the Phillip Rivers and the Chargers against a very good Ravens defense. Lamar Jackson is the X-factor for Baltimore, who will have the home crowd on their side. In the nightcap, I think the Bears have too much for an Eagle team that found a way to get into the playoffs with Nick Foles at QB. Enjoy the games!

Finally, as we blur the lines between sports and sports-entertainment, I wanted to mention the passing of legendary pro-wrestling announcer “Mean Gene” Okerlund, who passed away this week at 76. Mean Gene was part of some of the greatest moments and greatest interview segments (called “promos” in pro wrestling parlance) of all time.

Okerlund was part of a mainstream revival of professional wrestling in the 1980s with the then World Wrestling Federation, and his interview segments with the likes of Macho Man Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and others are classics. A Randy Savage-Gene Okerlund interview involving a pack of half-and-half is worth a Google.

Mean Gene moved from the WWF (now WWE) to rival World Championship Wrestling in the 90s and continued his great work as the two organizations ruled the cable ratings war. In WCW, Okerlund held the mic as Ric Flair,Sting, and others went on their rants. His interviews with “The Nature Boy” almost always began with Flair shouting, “Mean…By God…Gene!”

The most memorable Mean Gene Okerlund moment for me was at the mid-90s “Bash At The Beach” WCW pay-per-view when a stunned audience saw Hogan turn “heel” by unveiling the NWO (New World Order). As Hogan berated the fans and garbage rained down into the ring, Gene kept his composure, even while being hit with a full beer.

His main attributes were his sense of when to interject a quick, dry sense of humor into his interviews, and when to shut up and let the wrestler do the talking. Somewhere, in that “squared circle in the sky” today, The Macho Man is holding that pack of half-and-half, and telling Mean Gene that the cream has definitely risen to the top.

That’s it from The Booth! Have a Wild (Card) weekend, and until next visit, GO HORNETS!


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