Gene, WWF, Mario Neil discussed on The Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast


Hi, Ken rats, Nick now. Join me is a veteran Awa and WWF announcer. Ken good to have you back on the podcast today. My pleasure. Wade good to talk you. I just wish it was for a little better circumstances. Yeah. Well, let's let's make this a celebration of what Gino Kurland meant to wrestling fans, but also a realistic look at at what the man was like behind the scenes to work with and there's almost like a lot of people are focused on obviously his WWF days and even hosting tea and Tuesday night titans at the end of that shows, Ron and then WCW that's natural. That's where he had the largest national audience. But you have a tremendous insight. First person insight into gene Oakland in his. Awa days too in the sense that you were his replacement you add to fill some pretty big shoes. When gene went to the WWF. So I guess my first question for you is is what was your first exposure to gene as you're and talk about that a little bit. And then also your first interaction with him on a professional level, obviously being from Minnesota like gene was in living here. My first exposure as a wrestling fan and viewer was watching him on the Awa and even back, then I mean, he brought a different look to to the interviews. I mean, he he was more involved himself as a personality, and and was fun to watch. And then my first. Time meeting him was when Verne hired me I been doing sports for an NBC affiliate and met at a actually a celebrity golf and tennis charity tournament, and he called me later we had lunch. And that's when he hired me. So I was initially hired just to work with gene being the office kind of take some of the the interview load off of him because as you well know in those days every interview was markets Pacific. Unlike today, so on a interview day, you sometimes would have, you know, fifty or sixty interviews you had to do. So I it was very cordial gene tried to give me a lot of tips. And I kinda broke in doing some. Of the smaller markets, and gene was very good. You know, afterwards critiquing what I did. And and giving me tips, but in a trying to be very helpful way. And then it was just a very short time later when he just told Vern he was done and was going to WWF. So then all of a sudden, I was V guy and and doing all of them. You this is mostly about, gene. But I gotta ask you this about you. Or that had in this is in a way potentially about Jean that at the feel big pressure. I know gene had to feel big pressure replacing Mario O'Neill. And gene was beloved. I was at the age where Jeanne was I wasn't the adults who missed Mario Neil. And thought gene was this over the top carnival Barker like some of the people of of the Martin O'Neill generation thought he was my voice and face of the Awa he was the guy who interacted brilliantly on interviews with wrestlers. He's the one who made me beg my mom to take me to wrestling shows before she she even could fathom doing such a thing. And understood what this thing was all about. There's my generation then saw you show up, and we're like who's this guy with the mustache? How how did you feel about that? You're right there were huge shoes to fill and I was still learning on the job. And suddenly there was no more time for a learning curve. But I was so incredibly lucky that I had been around enough where I got such a amazing help and guidance. I mean, just think about being able to learn from the likes of of blackjack Lanza, and Bobby Heenan and Nick Bach winkle and the crusher, and luckily I had been around enough where they were trying to help me already knowing me, and with my, you know, best interest in as a side note. I'm sure you're aware of the story, but you know, Jean was. As like an emergency replacement for Mario Neil when there was a sag strike and Mario Neal is a member of sag after and couldn't be on air talent. And they knew gene a little bit..

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