Mean Gene Okerlund 1942 – 2019

“Bobby Heenan taught me, be the first one up and the last one to go to bed.”

“If you were to hang the chef for making a great taco, you will have hung an innocent man.”

“Hillbilly, I don’t want to spend the weekend shoveling horseshit.”

In 2012, I had the great privilege to work on the (so far) only season of WWE Legends’ House. I pride myself on being cool around celebrities but when I had to interview Mean Gene Okerlund for soundbites, I was genuinely star struck. I stumbled over my words, couldn’t ask questions clearly, ugh, it was awful. But Mean Gene being a 40 year pro thought nothing of and easily carried me through the interview. I was beating myself up and I learned in that moment to never again be star struck – he was a colleague, a coworker, not a celebrity.

 
It’s no exaggeration to say that Mean Gene became one of my closest friends on the entire cast & crew of the show. I asked a few questions about Wally Karbo & Verne Gagne and he knew I was legit. I got so good at interviewing Mean Gene he would request me daily – “you’re interviewing me today, right, Timmy?” We got our interviews down to where I got the bites I need to with one or two word questions. Mean Gene did indeed become my colleague, my coworker – and my friend.
 

It’s a wild thing to work closely with someone who was such an ingrained part of your childhood. But Gene Okerlund could not have been nicer, more cordial and above all – more professional. He was an industry pro who was game to do anything to make the show everything it could be.

Gene was also always complimentary to folks, making sure people were smiling and laughing. One time in an elevator at a casino, it was just me & Gene. A grandmother and her young grandson came on. Gene could be have been quiet, kept to himself but instead lit up and told jokes to the young boy. He then says to the grandmother “Anything goes wrong at this place, you send them to me.” No cameras looking. No one looking. Just Gene wanting to make people – everyday people – feel good.

My girlfriend at the time visited us on set. Gene was very taken with her and would ask the other wrestlers if they met her. “Hey, Hacksaw, did you get a look at the armpiece on this kid? Stunning!” he would bellow across the dinner table. Yes, that’s an antiquated saying but Gene was from another era and the intention was of the highest calibre.

Gene paid me two enormous compliments. It’s legend in the business that Gene like an after dinner cocktail. He didn’t say no to a before dinner cocktail either or one during. Several days he’d say to me “Timmy, when are we drinking?” I pride myself as one who never drinks on set or during. But after hours, the second to last day of shooting, myself, another crew member got to enjoy a nightcap with Mean Gene Okerlund & Pat Patterson who shared with us some of the best stories of their time in the business.

The second one came a few weeks into the shoot. I kept my experience on the small indie scene in the early 2000s to myself. I wanted to the wrestlers to know me as a TV Producer with a wrestling knowledge. When I opened up to Gene that I did in fact go to pro wrestling school in Rhode Island and reffed some indie matches, he beamed. “You should have gotten in the business! You’d have done great!” I don’t regret my decision to concentrate more on TV & movies than wrestling especially as I’ve been involved with producing wrestling from 2011 – 2018. So in a roundabout way, I did get in the business. To have the endorsement of someone with the success of Mean Gene Okerlund give me his own personal stamp of approval, well – that’s one award no one will ever be able to steal off of my shelf.

I never asked Gene for an autograph or to record a voicemail message as some other folks had. He had become a friend and that seemed wrong. When I got home from the shoot, I was delighted and flattered to see an email from Gene thanking me for all my hard work and the hope that we would work together one day. And it wasn’t lip service. A LinkedIn request soon followed. Unfortunately, we didn’t work together again but during the time with Lucha Underground, I got the chance to reconnect with Gene at a convention in Chicago. He lit up seeing me and was ever bit the gentleman his sterling reputation suggests.

Safe travels to my dear, long-time close personal friend, Mean Gene Okerlund who leaves us at 76 years young…

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Making Lucha Underground: An Interview With Chavo Guerrero

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As a lifelong wrestling fan, I’m thrilled to welcome third generation pro wrestler Chavo Guerrero to the Express. In 2014, Chavo became involved in an innovative new program, Lucha Underground which combines Lucha Libre with Grindhouse Cinema. Made by Mark Burnett Productions, airing on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network and importing Luchadors from Mexico’s premiere Lucha League, AAA, Lucha Underground brings all those worlds together to make a hybrid wrestling show never seen before.

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Chavo Guerrero tells us he came to be involved in Lucha Underground not only as a wrestler but as a producer, helping to design wrestling matches for television. We also talk in-depth about why screenwriters should study the storytelling techniques of pro wrestling. And also, Chavo tells us how his wrestling career prepared him for his recent ventures in action films. A fun listen for wrestling fans & TV buffs alike. Enjoy: 

For more on Lucha Underground:

http://www.elreynetwork.com/originals/lucha

https://www.facebook.com/LuchaUnderground

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaVwpbqM8dkhQvbL8XileAA

For more on Chavo Guerrero:

https://twitter.com/mexwarrior

http://vivalarazashop.com/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0346144/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Blood Red Turns Dollar Green: An Interview With Paul O’Brien

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How did an Irish playwright became a highly regarded author within the world of professional wrestling? When Paul O’Brien sat down to write his first novel, a crime drama, he decided to use the sometimes honorable, sometimes seedy but always fascinating world of territorial pro wrestling as his backdrop. A lifelong fan of the squared circle, Paul was surprised to find that no one had really delved effectively into this world before. As a result, his years of studying the wrestling business became an armory of knowledge which helped structure his story.

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“Blood Red Turns Dollar Green” is a trilogy of books that takes place during the 1970’s and 1980’s as the world of pro-wrestling and pop culture in general went through dramatic sea changes. In those days, pro-wrestling was a world highly protective of its secrets convincing their audience it was a legitimate sport. Paul has masterfully created a bevy of three dimensional characters in a world driven by deception and where greed pushes some people to the most horrible crimes.

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Wrestling icons such as Mick Foley, Bret Hart, Jim Ross and William Regal have proudly endorsed this series. However, this novel is not just for wrestling fans as it will open the eyes of people unfamiliar with that world but love a gritty crime story. Paul has become an international hit because he wrote honestly about one of his passions. A great listen for those to endeavor to do the same. Enjoy:

You can purchase “Blood Red Turns Dollar Green” here:

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Red-Turns-Dollar-Green-ebook/dp/B007Q6EMCI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423158196&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+red+turns+dollar+green

For more information on Paul O’Brien and his stories:

http://www.paulobrien.info/

You can find Paul O’Brien on twitter here: @tweetpaulobrien

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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