Mean Gene Okerlund
Hey, it's garnering and Thompson, and you're listening to a very special edition of eighty three weeks with Eric Bischoff. Or celebrate the life and times of the wind only mangino, Colin Eric. What's going on, man? How are you? I'm great Conrad. Just literally just pulled into the house here in Wyoming after a weekend. Fast and furious one down in Houston. Hey with you boy, Bruce is awesome. I'm glad you guys had fine. And I guess I should give him everybody heads up before we get going today. But Eric, and I are going to be coming to see us Saint Louis. Stay tuned to Twitter. We're going to have all the ticket details coming in the next week. Or so the first place defined is eighty three weeks on Twitter. So if you haven't already go give us a follow their we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programing next week. But we felt like an audible was necessary this week just to celebrate the life and Tom's of meaning Oakland. I gotta say, man. This is news that obviously is inevitable. Eventually, we all are, Tom. But I just saw me gene in November. And you know, he was clear and sound mind. And you just never think when you see somebody. It's going to be the last time was the last time we saw, gene. It's interesting, Bruce, and I were talking about that this weekend on the last time. I saw Jean was I think in August. I went to an event actually Bruce was there as well. We were both there pep Patterson was there, Larry the accent was air bear run around a lot of the old timers from around the midwest Awa era, but that was my saw in. I have to say, you know, Santa's it is when a friend in appear someone in my case, I grew up watching before I ever came to know him personally or professionally you always hate to see people like Jean pass. But the one thing I guess. I don't know. It makes me I don't want to say better about it. But I guess it keeps me from being sad. Let's put it that way. Is that less time? I saw Jean. He was having a blast. He's seventy five years old seventy six years old, whatever he was he was he was hurting. You could tell physically it was hard for him to get around his hand. And I went to shake his hand when I saw him and his hand was swollen up very very badly. I think is a couple of some of the kidney issues he had and you could just tell physically. He was probably very uncomfortable to say the least, but he was having a blast. You know, he'd loved he loved being around wrestling fans. He really really did. He'd loved entertaining him. Whether it was just two or three people sitting at the end of the bar or a room full of people or locker room full of people. He just loved to be around rustling fans in the wrestling business. And I I will say he was having a blast that let's say I saw. Well, let's let's start from the beginning. Obviously, you grew up as an Awa fan and main gene for modern life. Tom was all about the WWF. But realistically, he cut his teeth in the Awa not all that differently. The new apparently the situation was he was working in radio. And all of a sudden one of their announcers was out. They asked Jean to stand in awe. He's in the wrestling business. Does that sound a little familiar to you, so bizarre. I read there was an article, you know, Jean passed last week. There was a lot of you know. New information in past articles that were floating around on social media. And I came across a story that was written a while back in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about, gene. And how he got started and Russell units. I I don't know if you read the same thing I did. But it's almost forbade them. You know, what she stated, you know, he was working at over at WTN channel eleven where Vern used to tape a show in the studio there, and it's house like kind of a similar situation. You know, gene, just happened to have a tie. I'm sure, you know, I know ver I knew her pretty Well I- Vern would've immediately jumped all over, gene. Just because of his voice Vern really loved announcers with that deep rich powerful kind of baritone thord of type of voice that gene had. So I can just see are now snatch achieve the Tien. Dragged him into a TV studio throw Mike is a here, you're wrestling announcer. Do you remember anything about? Gene, when you were just watching as a fan of home on television. You know? There was there's a lot of things I remember. But I tried to recall last week when the news hit tried to recall. What is my very first memory of Gino, Oakland? And ironically it. It was a scene where they have been building up hulk HOGAN that he was like this big mystery coming to town coming you know, that happened when when big names would come into the territory for the first time or maybe like an Andre the giant. They only came around once a year once every two years, whatever it was. And they would always make a big deal out of this next big attraction coming into the Awa. Well, there was a period of a couple of weeks or month. I guess where there was all this buildup about this, you know, fee nom that was coming to the Awa and not a lot of information. You know, kind of kept it a secret kept everybody talking wondering who it was and the shot was single camera, right, gene? Oakland standing there with a stick in front of the eight of your way logo in enter, you know, there's giant bicep from behind enters the screen covers jeans face. You can't even really see gene you could just hear him. And all the cameras sees is this arm, you know, flex in a bicep curl. And the cameras in the back of the is the figures moving closer and closer closer to gene and a camera pulls back wide, and it it reveals that its hall Cogan. Ironically, that's my first memory of Jeanne. I know I I'd seen a lot of them before. But that's like the one the one moment that I remember being the first. That's cool that it involves hulk HOGAN because I think so many people really closely associate Gino Carlin with either hulk HOGAN, RIC flair is at the same for you that that's sort of the two that you think about when you think of, gene. It definitely, you know, in and I have to say, you know, hulk I because again, you know, I didn't really know who refer was to got to WCW. So for me, you know, when I was impressionable was at the peak of my wrestling phantom, I guess in my early teens or mid teens hulk HOGAN was the one that I remembered with, gene. And those two were just they were they were synonymous, you almost can't imagine one without the other. It's it's fine to talk about you know, what he said when I was at the Honda fandom in my most impressionable because that is sort of what I mean, I think that's the reason people listening to this show right now. Because so many of our listeners, you know, when you were running WCW, that's what it was. So it's fun to hear what that was for you. I I did a little research about, gene. And I realized that when he came to WCW, or I guess I should back up when you did you try out with vents no chance you ran into, gene. And gene was still living in Florida. He wouldn't have been in the studio that day, right? No. He wasn't. He wasn't at all. So your first time meeting jeans, probably in WCW is that right? Correct. So when he comes to WCW nineteen Ninety-three, I didn't know this. But he had the same agent as Jesse Ventura. Would that be one Barry bloom correctomundo at is? Correct. So when you first meet, gene, are you still an announcer or at that point? Are you do you have a little bit of stroke in the company? No. But that's house executive producer because I would have hired, gene. In would have had to have a little bit of stroke to do that. So I was already I believe executive present on the vice president yet, but I was the executive producer. And I I was the one that basically brought gene in Turnberry talked me about how that happened. Like, you know, I it is shocking after nearly ten years in the WF even think about somebody like Jean being on another wrestling program. How did you hear that? He might be available. And how did that all come to be? Well, I was pretty close with berry at that time and bury new, you know, I talked to bury a lot very had a pretty good idea where I was going on what my plans were. And what I was trying to do. He knew that. I wanted to upgrade, you know, the the production values of especially our syndicated product. He knew how I felt about announcer. He knew I was looking to to refresh the announcer Rosser so berry made meeting, gene releasing. So when you meet with Jean talk to me a little bit about what what that conversation was where their concerns about. Are you gonna make me move to Atlanta? Because when we talked about, Gino Caroline with Bruce. He was pretty adamant he didn't wanna leave Florida. He's starting to didn't wanna live in Stanford. And I don't blame him on a lot of people would pitch a fit about living in Stamford, whether it's Jim cornet or whoever, you know, even Bruce opted to now, I really need to live. You know where I'm from. Nobody wants to upper their family and got another part of the country now dumping on Connecticut. Just saying everybody wants to live where they are was that a concern or what were his concerns or was it just all about the dates in the money? Well, it was all of the above. It was about the dates. It was about the money. We did talk about his schedule. And gene was gene was pretty by this time he was kind of ready to wind it down a little bit. You know, he wasn't looking to work, you know, five or six days a week and be on the road fulltime. He wasn't looking for any kind of office position or management position. In addition to announcing. So there was never any need for him. Our need for us. Stephen talk about him moving to Atlanta didn't didn't make any sense. Most of the stuff that Jeanne was doing he was doing for us. You know at television tapings and pay per views and things so there was no need for him to move to Atlanta that was never miss you. But he was concerned about dates like I said, he was you know, he was he was ready to he was fifty five or six years old when he got the WCW. So he was ready to start one. Now, what are you remember about your painting with Jean? You know, the because we had so many mutual friends and mutual history and a unique relationship with virgin was pretty close with farm. I know there was it was a tumultuous time. And there was you know, I don't know what the politics were when gene Ashley left firm. We never never really had that conversation. But. He I don't know, gene. Gene was easy for me to talk to. Because like I said we just had so much in common. Right. You know, we could we could talk about we could talk about hunting. We could talk about Fisher. We could talk about Nick balk. We'll talk about later the accident. We could raise seeing that said, you know, why who may ten we talked about because we had so many similar connections. Even though we weren't France. And the one common denominator was, you know, a relationship with her. So you struck a deal with Jane same that you make the deal the very first time y'all are together. Or is that all work? They bury bloom or how does the contract process work? I mean, really when somebody has an agent or an attorney that they want representing them. I I don't negotiate with the talent. If once once they say, here's my Turney, or here's my agent, then all of the business dealings, at least the way, I do it then goes directly through the attorneys or ages, and actually if they have an attorney than I don't then I take myself completely out of it. And I won't even talk to their attorney. I have my attorney talk to. Their attorney. So I'm pretty sure because it went very smoothly with Jean. I think Jean probably had a pretty good idea. What he was looking for as as a result of that. So to bury bloom is is agent. I knew what I could afford. I knew a we're willing to pay him. And it was a fairly easy deal to get done. It was not a complicated deal. One of the things that's become a bit legendary. And we've touched on it before briefly. But I love to have you sort of recap it, and I'm just revisit it for a minute since we're talking about Jane is the hotline because the hotline became synonymous with, gene. So the point that they even spoofed it on F television and called him scheme, gene and allegedly. He would run a little fast and loose with that. Sometimes just to start up some interesting, the telephone rang and most importantly, the cash register ring and allegedly he helped grow that quite a bit and the rumor and innuendo is that you sort of help carve that off and make that is by me to where he was able to participate. What can you share with us about that? Yeah. I mean, really. Gene was passionate about the idea. He believed that we could generate significant revenue, and you got you know, go back to nineteen Ninety-three early nineteen ninety four. Every bit of revenue was important in. We were again tried to stop the bleeding and ninety three by ninety four. We're trying to find a way to make that first dollar profit. And along the way every nickel mannered, you know, in the in the hotline generated significant revenue once it got up and running and we worked out the bugs, and yeah, when it was g came to me with the idea that he wanted to manage it. He wanted to produce it. He wanted to do the work. So we carved out I think he got thirty or thirty five percent. We got the balance of the revenue that came in. And that was his baby find money for me. I mean, it was money that we that. It was money that wasn't previously in in our books. So I was picking up change that we we weren't currently making a previously making it makes us debut on November sixth nineteen Ninety-three on addition of WCW, Saturday night and. Apparently enforce some sort of non compete clause. Is that right where he wasn't able to do anything for a couple of months is that the way remember I do not remember that. So let's talk a little bit about Jean's relationship with you because he's got on record as saying that he likes you any fancy refreshing. And that you said something to him the minimum Puga like we need you here. And we want you here, and that was a bit of a an ego Bush for him because you know, you've had this long term relationship that just ended. Did you have any sort of conversations with him about the way things ended with vents or the WWF or how that may be affected in one way or another? You know, I was thinking about that today and on the way home, and this one of the things I think that made me respect, gene, so much is that he didn't have a a negative thing to say about WWF or vents or anybody in WWF at that time. You know, unlike many people who would come over from the WWF, and they would look it's human nature. I don't think less of people necessarily. It's kind of common. But so often people would come from the WWF for people who had previously been on the W WWF and. You know, they would make comments that they think you want to hear because they're the competition in you'd hear a lot of negative things. Did you hear a lot of ridiculous stories? And I always kind of let it go in one ear and out the other because I understood what it was. And why people were doing it. But gene was different than that. Jay, gene. Gene thought the world of Kevin done, in fact, Jean and I probably spent more time talking for the first year or two that he was with us about production. Then we did anything else, gene. Gene came from the advertising world. So we understood the business of the television slash rustling business. He looked at it as a business, which is different than a lot of people who who don't really understand. What goes on the business side of the equation? They only understand what goes on inside of a ring or an incentive Nerina, and I'm not knocking that. But gene, gene was one of those guys that had experience on both sides of that equation. But what gene was most yet? He was almost obnoxious about it. He was he was relentless in in in a good way was the production values, and I think Jean probably had more influence on me than just about anybody else that came over from WWF early on. Because I I knew intuitively that we needed to upgrade our production values. But I didn't see the extent to which we needed to until I really started spending a lot of time with Jane. And he would point out a lot of little details. And we talk about ways to make shots look better in ways to make arenas, look better. And you know, just e. Gene, had amazing. I for little details. And that's really what television is it's a it's the some of a lot of little details. And he he he really wasn't pressed with Kevin Don and everybody at WWF and didn't have a bad word to say about anybody when he debuts he debuts with two other former WWF talents. Tony shivani. It was up there for a whole year. And of course, Jesse Ventura really made a name for himself doing commentary there in the WWF. And now they're both ear being stick man for WCW. And Jesse announces that he's got a bit of a surprise for Tony. And it's going to be a reunion, and he introduces gene, and they're at center stage, and it's a huge pot Progen. Were you surprised at how well gene was received as not really an in ring talent. But someone that was really our TV bad for a lot of us. I know I wasn't surprised at all. I would've been surprised if it would have been any other way, you know. And it's a really interesting thing about gene is, you know, the W W W. Audience back, then, you know, ninety three ninety four there were still it was still very much a former NWEA kind of audience. Right. You know, they they grew up watching wrestling on TBS in gene was an outsider Jean. What did didn't Jeannine come from the NWEA didn't come through? You know, the the south at all he he's he was a WWF guy in most everybody's mind, and you would think coming into WCW, you know, that would get kind of an adverse reaction, but it didn't quite the opposite. Because gene was so likeable man, he was like Switzerland. You know, he's the one guy that could be up. There could be the face of WWF come down to WCW walk into center stage and get a big pop because he was everybody loved him. Yeah. And that was true in real life too. I mean, not just on television. One of the things I've always been fascinated by is the way you guys built the stark eight nineteen Ninety-three saga because originally the plan we've talked about this before is supposed to be said versus Vader. The whole stabbing thing happens with Arn. It's insurance you call an audible, and instead he built the story about the aging former world champion in the twilight of his career up against this unstoppable. Beast of a champion who hasn't been beaten hasn't even really looked Molnar -able he's nominated everybody, and you're showing highlights of him. You know, breaking Joe Thurmond's back and just destroying people. I mean, while you're telling this sob story of sorts where it's like Ken this man, possibly do it. And he even get footage of gene interviewing and visiting with Rick as he kisses his family goodbye. And then they jump in the limo. And they're talking about how his family's worried. How Rick's worried really really great stuff and a lot of people in wrestling still point to that today and say man that was some of the best storytelling ever, and they really hang their hat on. The fact that wasn't for lack of a better word overproduced talk to us about that scene. And how you just had faith and confidence and those two guys to get that done. Because even now, it's an awesome thing to go back and watch. No it is. And I think I saw lasts about four five months ago. Somebody actually sent me that clip, and that's one of the things I I did notice it about it is the way it was produced. It looked believable it fell believable. And we've talked about this before anytime in my experience, but I think anybody's ever worked with re probably feels the same in my experience working with Rick the closer you can get. To his core is emotional core. Something that he's sensitive about the better. He is. And you know, Rick even in ninety three and ninety four year. We wasn't worried about his age. But you know, he was he was getting older, you know, when you're in the business when you're in a business that is populated primarily with twenty year olds and thirty years thirty year olds by the time, you're knocking on forty five forty eight years old, you're certain to be pretty self aware. And in Rick was like that. And it was so believable to wreck and again because it was his home, and it was in Charlotte, and you surround him with his family. I mean, you know, better than I do at this point, but working with within professionally like, I said if you could get somewhere close to his emotional core. You don't have to script them. You don't really have to point them into many different directions. He know Rick would know what the story is. He he knows what his role in. That story is in gene was. Exactly the same way. Gene is that's the other thing. I talked about this on patriot. And I don't mean to go all over the place, but I'm going to anyway, Jean was so unique because he could in one minute he could be the ultimate straight, man. You know, he could he could he could set you up to be as funny as you could possibly be in. He was so great at being a straight, man. He was also a clown. He was a comedian. He was a really quick witted guy is so fast on his feet. And we talk about improv and ad-lib and all that. I mean Jean was on. It was the best when it came to improv in it's because of the way he came up. You know, I know how he came became the same way. I did in Awa and you you're learning on the job, and you're learning from people like burn gone you who I who. I think was was a master. When it came to teaching people how to do. Interviews, and in helping characters find themselves, you know, in in a stand up interview, he worked Vern worked really hard at that in gene took to it. But a lot of the stuff that Jeanne did early in Awa I guarantee those guys in their scripts. I know they didn't they will look at you like, you're nuts. If you even suggested somebody bring a script or a note pad into into do promos. So as a result of that gene was forced to learn how to be fast on his feet and work with these guys and have fun with them without making fun of them. Because that's the other key. You know, so many eat office thinking about the soccer hall about this. We're I don't think we're ever gonna see another Gino Oakland wherever because the talent and nothing against anybody. That's out there doing it. Now, I not I'm not being critical at all. But the environment in the process and the protocols that they're working under now are so much. Different that you don't get a chance to learn how to improv right? And and and you never find out, you know, one million, you know, personality that's going to be really quick witted and funny. But most importantly know, how to get the talent over, you know, you see people that are inexperience go out. And the first time that, you know, they're interviewing a wrestler, and they're trying to be a smart to try to be as tile for try to be whatever they're competing in in their own way, they're competing with a talented interviewing, and they don't realize their job is to make that talent shine. And that's what gene was so good at he could make just you know, you've probably heard this a million times about Rick. You know, everybody loved to work with requisite could make anybody look good, right? Like work made me look good. Well, made me look marginal. But for me marginal was pretty frigging awesome. But matter than you, expect better than others expected. Absolutely. Yeah. But that was all Rick that has zip to do with me. That was all Rick and gene was the. Same way when it came to you know, promos gene could make an average guy. Look good, good guy. Look great in a great guy looked phenomenal. And that's why people it's enough reason why everybody loves, gene. So you mentioned a minute ago hulk HOGAN, obviously, the name that most people probably so not, you know, put them together. I mean, it's peanut butter and jelly, all the all not all. But most of the video clips that I saw in the the last few days start celebrating gene, involved, HOGAN one way or another when you talk to hawk about gene this week. What did he say? I think I think when the news hit him it hit them pretty hard. He just got back from Miami. And Jennifer dent, we're down there for New Year's Eve, and he had just got back and was out up lake got home late and early in the morning is when he got the phone call and it hit them pretty hard. I know I tried to reach him in the morning, and I couldn't get a hold of them to later on that afternoon or early evening east coast. And by the time, I got him. He was I could tell he was it was pretty sad. But he, and I we talked about it. And we both kinda came to the same conclusion the guy just love life in any lived at really, really hard. And well, and and he's hard to feel too bad about a guy. That's lupus entire life was surrounded with friends and loved go out there, you know, he'd love going up to to to WWE going up to Stanford and see and Kevin Don. Christine burgers and some of the boys and production. You know, the that he's known for so long. He just loved it in the fact that he loved life so much, and he was happy right up until the very Anonima was personal life was like at home. I only saw them when we were events. But man talk about a guy filled with joy that was that was, gene. Yes. What terry? And I both talked about us. You know, can't feel too bad about it guy. Lewd the great life. The other guy, of course, that everybody has clips of this week with gene is is RIC flair. And I think most people remember him with Rick because of the way Rick would start interviews whenever gene was holding the stick for him main Baga, gene, Wu or some variation. But in the typical over the top nature boy delivery, how much fun did these two Goss have working together. It's funny. When with when it came time for Rick in gene to shoot, something usually on the P, those people standing around some the talent Santa around or the production people that weren't really busy at a particular moment, it would draw route because it was entertaining as hell, and they had so much fun that everybody else had fun watching it. And I think that's again, one of the things that translates to the home viewer in a when you can have that much fun at your job in performing and still getting business done chances out of the audience is gonna dig it. So yeah, they had a blast. We all did watch it one of the things that Rick has talked a lot about even back on our podcast together wound nation and the RIC flair show, we had the honor of having Maine, gene as our guest on not once but two times, and they often talked about the fun. They had after the show at the bar with what gene called a couple of clear ones, and he good after the show drinking stories. With a genie can share. Didn't. I'd hang out with gene pretty regularly. You know after nitro for twenty minutes or so not not not all evening because gene was a social butterfly sure. He just loves socializing at the bar. And so I never really hung hung out and drank hardwood, gene, or Bobby or anything like that. The only thing that comes to my mind. And this is just it just makes me chuckle is Gino such a flirt I mean, and he had game, gene. Oakland had game. No matter where we were. You know, what town however, bigger small, you know, after nitro everybody get together at the TV hotel Ed down to the bar most often in gene would always have three or four young. Ladies just totally captivated, you know, laughing away giggling away, and he totally would charm them and it never failed. I mean, I think means you mean, Jean Oakland probably attracted more more women after nitro than probably any of the talent combined. And to be clear because I've seen gene in action on some of this. He was just as he said keeping the the skill sharp. He wasn't trying to close the deal. He's just wanted to make sure a salesman can still sell and. Absolutely. And he was good at it actually was a doctor about Bobby Heenan. He mentioned Bobby there. And I think a lot of people when they think about main, gene, but can't help. But think about Bobby Heenan Bobby comes in not too terribly long. After gene he makes his debut and January twenty seventh nineteen Ninety-four. It's a clash of the champions and very fittingly the show opened with gene welcoming us to the show. And then in his earpiece, he gets told something and introduces Bobby the brain that's such a great time in the WB F. And now they're here in WCW that had to be something gene was looking forward to. He was he he obviously thought the world of Bobby in who who didn't or who wouldn't. But yeah, he was very excited to to get back together with Bobby again, just had such natural chemistry, and you talk, and I know you. No you've been around, gene. I don't know if you've ever had the opportunity to see Bobby before he got real sick or hang around Bobby before he got real sick. But when you know when Bobby was at the top of his game. And gene was as well those two together. I swear to God they could've they could've had a show in Las Vegas. You know, seven nights a week, if they wanted to I were just so funny together, you know, I get asked all the time because I have at this point too, many damn podcast. But I gotta ask all the time. Hey, if there was one dream podcast who had to be, and it's always either Bobby Heenan or dusty Rhodes, but could you imagine a Bobby Heenan main gene podcast, what that might be like the stories, especially with Bobby? You know, if if podcast would have been around, you know, when Bobby was available and interested in doing them the stories that you could have heard from him. I mean, just this weekend, you know. He goes around Tito Santana. The demolition accident smash and Bob Orton and a bunch of much older guys, and you sit around and you talk to hear these stories, but you listen to a guy like, you know, Bobby Heenan and the stories he could've told it would have been amazing. The good old days, man. That's what I enjoy about. This show was as we give chance to relive some of those memories and one of them that I think is probably most iconic with me, gene is bash at the beach ninety six and we've talked about that show here before of course, it's the legendary he'll turn of whole Cogan one of the biggest moments of his career and arguably in wrestling, no without question. One of the biggest moments in wrestling and the man right in the middle Holden stick well who else manging Oakland. That scene wouldn't have been the same with anybody else in there. What? Nope, dr. Nope. What are you? Remember about that scene in jeans importance to it because I mean, he really is selling it. I mean, we didn't see gene talk a lot in those. He usually just set it up, and you know, this Friday night, you know, you're refacing Tito Santana, but Jane took it to another level and said something like excuse me, what in the world. Are you thinking I've been with you for so many years to join up with these men makes me sick. You've got to be kidding me. I mean, just really selling, you know, even to the point where he points out the garbage in the ring, which you've talked about gave you Woodrow before he says look at all this crap in the ring. That's what's in the future for you. If you hang around with these two or something like that. Gene made that I mean, obviously, the the turn was the big critical thing. But without gene, really driving the point home. I don't know that it would have been nearly as effective. I. I don't know who could have done it. I mean, I know I couldn't of it. It would wouldn't have been the same at all. I don't think shivani could've right because shivani didn't have that history with hulk Shabani wouldn't have been or and shouldn't have been anything other than a little angry and disappointed. But gene because he was so close will and people associated them, you know, from from the beginning of what most people recognize as the beginning a hulk Hogan's career so for gene to have been impacted emotionally the way he was the way he set that up. Absolutely to your point sold the hell out of that. No. Here's what here's the best part of that we didn't rehearse it. Man. That's just the magic of Maine gene is not just the right off the top of the head. He he knew his business. Right. He he didn't have to tell them. You know that? That's you know, sometimes I listened to myself. I'll listen to the show back, and I and I get mad at myself because sometimes I don't articulate what I'm really trying to say as well as I wish I could or I I do. But with gene that was the magic the magic is putting people in a situation and getting a real reaction out of them is real as possible. We all know what we're doing here for a living, but to to to figure out a way around that into get natural real reactions that people at home feel. That's the magic know. She was so good at that. He was so good at it. He just had a great instinct for it. Let's talk a little bit about a few months later because I think the sort of gets lost in the shuffle in like September of ninety six not too terribly long after the HOGAN turn his contract expires and he's off TV for a while. And Meltzer would even write that. He said goodbye to a lot of people in the office early that week and by Thursday, a memo circulated to all w me, please that Oakland was no longer with the company, but he's not going to terribly long. Eventually he works on another deal and manages to come back. But not before he at least has a conversation with Vince McMahon. What's the thinking after you know, he's done such a great job? But we're not going to renew your contract at the on six. It was just an ago Chichan, you know, sometimes sometimes they're easy. Sometimes they're hard by that time, you know, ninety six everybody started smelling blood. Sure everybody wanted to get rich everyone. Everybody felt that they deserved more. And there was a big run on on WCW. Because with everybody knew we were rocket. Gene was no different. He's not gone terribly long. He winds up coming back on November eleventh. And according to Meltzer the rumor and innuendo is that he was offered a pretty good contract. Only work five dates a month, which would be the nitro 's at one pay per view and doesn't have any office or hotline duties at that point is that what you remember it. Well, he never had any office duties, so yeah, if we would've phased the hotline out then. Yeah, we would have sounds right. I mean, we that that was our schedule. You know, we have four TV's in pay per view. That's all we need a gene four. So that would that sounds right. Let's talk about some not so awesome stuff. Some of this. She were here for some of it you weren't. But one of the things that stuck out to me as he joined the millionaire's club and feuded with Pamela, Paul shock book this ship. Oh, I was Mr. Rousseau. Well, let's just move. But that was but I was there. So look, I got a taste. I could've probably should come out. And I didn't. So I can't put it all on him. I was there, but you weren't there. I mean, I'm not I don't wanna put words in your mouth. Let me start it over where you there when he teamed with buff Bagwell to wrestle canyon and Mark Madden on thunder or the next week where Mark Madden wrestled me, gene. And then pulled his Cup out and rubbed it. Mark Madden's face. No. Thank god. Yeah. I can't believe those were real things but in consecutive thunders eight teams with Bagwell to take on Kenya. And Mark Radin maddened goes to low blow, gene, gene reveals that didn't hurt and he pulls out a Cup to reveal why rubs at Madison mad face Bagwell's gives them the blockbuster. That's the end the next week. Gene has his first ever singles match it's against Mark Madden in a street fight, which is pretty freaking unbelievable. But it happened. And. Yeah. So let's talk about you know, the the good times that you've had with Jean and what you're going to remember by what you think jeans legacy is going to be. What are we think is legacy is going to be? Well, the great thing is because of the WWE network. Kids are going to be watching me, gene, Oakland for the for decades and decades and decades to come. I don't think as I said earlier we're ever going to see anybody come close to being as entertaining is credible in his consistent is Gino killing was what we're never going to see that again. And when I think about what am I gonna remember most? I'm just remembers laugh 'cause he laughed a lot. He was always cutting a joke. He was always he he had one liners for everything. And for whatever reason when I closed my eyes, and I think about gene, Oakland, I think about him sitting at the end of the bar with a couple of young ladies just having the time of his life that to me. That's that's how I choose to remember, gene. Well, I think most of us choose to remember holding the microphone for some of our favorite wrestlers. And of course, there's a couple of fun blooper videos that are out there outtakes and whatnot. And even an interview in WCW that you may remember where you guys let him sort of go after. The natural born thrillers, and he's telling them to blow it out their ass. He showed a little personality, which is the gene that if you met him and realize that's really met. He was with WCW until it closed. They got a contract. Renewal not terribly long before. But was still able to pop wrestlemainia seventeen and do commentary for the gimmick battle, Royal? And then of course, he worked on and off with the WWE for hosting their confidential and lots of twenty four seven things and on demand classics popped up for some skits here and there, but he was almost like the an ambassador, or like, the the elder statesman of the WWE was not he was, you know, and it's funny when you think about, you know, people talk about branding and know, how to get your brand across and all that branding means to everybody. But Gino Clinton, I think was in many ways the face of WWF before Vince McMahon acknowledged that he owned the Cup. And you know, while he was still an announcer, and nobody really knew what his his real role within WWF. Was. There was one guy. We when you thought of WWF other than the talent, you know, will, you know, RIC flair ultimate warrior, whoever you thought of as a talent. But the one consistent face and voice that you heard so much from was, you know, Kalim. So I think in in many ways, he was the unofficial brand ambassador for WWF without question. Let's run through some questions that we've gotten on Twitter. Lots of people have wanted to know stories from you about main gene, do you know of anybody that he ever had an issue with backstage? I know Bruce Prichard said that he didn't really get along with the ultimate warrior on the WCW side of things you remember Mangena ever having a particular issue with anybody one way or another because I've never heard not one soul. Anything bad about, gene? No, no. I don't recall him ever having. You know, listen, gene. Gene can have a temper gene was a little bit of a perfectionist ee was patient. He was tolerant to a point. But when he came to his business. He he was a bit of a perfectionist. And if you didn't come ready to work in the you're just half assing it or you weren't prepared or you weren't putting anything into it. He'd hot you know, if production wasn't right? He'd get hot. He likes things to be on time when they weren't on time. He could get hot. Now, it wouldn't last long and half the time when he was bliss review. It was kind of funny the way did it. So you just kinda roll of it and chuckled along with it. But he did have a temper, but like I said, I never recall him having a personal issue with with anybody. Tony shivani has said that occasionally they would have some flare ups because Tony was supposed to be producing. And he would say that maybe Turner didn't have quite the structure that the WWE had. That's not what gene was accustomed to. And as a result, gene could be difficult at different times as sort of what you're referring to. Yeah. It is in Tony's right about that. You know, Jean came to WCW G knew what he was getting into. There was no there was no illusion. You know, we didn't. We didn't try to pretend we were something that we weren't, you know, but I can only imagine, you know, how dramatic of a of a cultural shift that would have had to been for gene to come from WWF because WWF even back in the nineties. It was a machine. I mean productions second to none and extremely well organized and everybody there knew their jobs and did their jobs. Very very well. Even have that Turner. We've talked about this before about where we're Turner production was in the WCW from the time. I took it over till the time I left. We eventually grew to become fairly sophisticated but never as well organized and structured is the WWF in that would drive gene a little bat shit from time to time. I'd hear about it a lot. Well, I mean, this really nice a profit. Yes. We do want to talk a little bit about some of the promos that really stick out to you. You know, the two that really resonated with me or stark eight ninety three with flair. And then, of course, the whole batch at the beach deal with all Cogan and from comedy purpose. The the natural born thrillers thing anything stick out to you about his work. And w w that you want to mention. No, I think those are good examples of some of the best stuff that that gene has done or did I should say with WCW. And again, it's his it was his instinct it was his natural ability in this Dallas. It was him knowing his job and his role, and how to tell a story that was the other thing about was a great storyteller. There's all these little these little facets of what made him such a the crown jewel of wrestling announcers. But he he was a great storyteller. But yeah. Those those to those shoe promos, I think he picked were were excellent representations of some of his best work the one that I get the kick out of because I I have seen a lot of them. It didn't happen in WCW. And there were a lot of WWF too. I mean, if you're going to do like a best of me, gene, Oakland. I'm sure somebody's going to do it. Eventually it's going to be like an eight episode series because there's just so much good stuff. But some of the ones that I get the biggest kick out of there's one that's been floating around in social media where Gino Caroline's trying to interview mad dog Vashon who is building a coffin because he's in a casket match or something coming up. This is you know, in the Awa I was just a fan, then I didn't work there at the time, obviously. But I remember when I saw that it was just a Larry issues. And and if you go back, and you see that on social media just watched you know, jeeze reactions are priceless. One of the things. We've talked about on Tony Shabani's podcast is the famous promo where Rick player in his feud with you strip down to his boxers and through money and through his shoes and handcuffed himself to the rank and I'm not leaving. And as he's doing all of this. And Rick says he didn't tell Jean that he was going to do any of this. But he did say run past you, and you're only caveat was let's be careful. We'll how many close you take off. But but apparently he didn't tell Jean he was going to do this. And gene just off the Cup said there goes the laundry, which is pretty funny. What what are you remember about that particular promo with RIC flair just stripping down right in the middle of Nitra again. I same thing is true. You know, if you're gonna come up with a RIC flair highlight video you better have eight episodes to do it with. There's so many of them. But it's that chemistry. They brought out the best of each other in and Rick. Rick was always best what he was nuts. And that was like nutty RIC flair in his prime, in my opinion, that was pretty crazy shit. There's a lot of fun stuff. That's floated around that's like outtakes of gene where he was trying to crack the boys up because when they had the do pre tapes way back in the day in the eighties. When the doing localized promos where they had the do one after another for all these markets through will take hours upon hours to do. So mean, Jean did his best just to entertain himself on the other guys there, and as a result really funny stuff came out of his mouth wasn't really suitable for air any fun takes like that. You remember from WCW or maybe a good one liner that gene use that you still remember? No, he was just so many of them so many one liners, the not one of them stands out to be honest with you. I just couldn't pick one ECU running through some of the different times. When gene I came down. It was very helpful with production. What's wasn't really his job? It's just supposed to be on our talent. But he was trying to help brother out and say what about this? What about that? Is there any one particular moment are lesson or main gene pro tip that you can share with us that you were not so much I in in terms of a tip or negative knowledge. But again, you know, I think jeans exposure, you're not again, you just follow his career started on Awa which is really basic rudimentary television single camera studio shoe type stuff, and that's where Jean cut his teeth. And then he goes up to WWF, and they're very very. Fisticuffs even were then very sophisticated production company. And gene learned a lot. Gene was a sponge when he went to work. He not only became really good friends with with Kevin Kevin done. He studied the product. And by the time, he got the WCW. He like I said he probably knew more about production in the changes that we needed to make them probably anybody in WCW at that time. Yeah. I mean, that's not a surprise like Asif, you, you know, hung out as long as he did in the studio with the WWF, the you remember anything about gene, son, the played hockey because a lot of people have popped up this week with little details about his son playing in the United shell. Or even the fact that means gene had an album back in the day. I didn't know that Jane was a crooner before he passed away. Did he rap do rap song? Now, he may have for you. You may have made him do some sort of run. Do that. Well, but he did have like when he was a young man on them that he released, and you can actually listen to some of it on some different streaming services and even on YouTube, and I didn't even know that. But it's really weird because you, and I've made jokes about the fact are certain people in wrestling who've looked the same age forever. Like. For instance, JJ Dillon has looked forty for fifty years and aren't eaters and has looked forty since he was born well for whatever reason Jean Oakland has looked roughly the same age forever. So to see a young gene on the cover of an album, really blew me away. But those are two little nuggets that I didn't know before Jean passed away about his son in the NHL and then him as a a bit of a singer. Did you ever get to see or hear about the good old days either in hockey or singing, I did not? And I'm going to have to get a listen to that record. The the old clear ones the way gene would describe his drinks. And and Bruce would say it was a MARTINI with thirty. Olives. Think Corey graves Senate was vodka soda splash cranberry something like that. Do you remember an Oakland or what what meanings drink of choice was when you guys were hanging? I I would go at Corey when I do recall. Because soda splash cranberry. The good old days, man. Hey, I got one for ya, Gino who gave me gene, the nickname mean Jean. I believe it was Jesse Ventura. But I could be wrong. Don, I could stump. You want something? That's up with you. I think the story was they're doing a promo and. Jesse Ventura says he's been hanging out with Tom Brady and the Heartbreakers, and then he asked Jeanne Dina who Tom petty is and Jean being the community says, I think he's a famous race car driver referencing Richard petty. And he says boy that's mean, gene. And then Tada, he's main, gene? Well, I didn't hear that part of it. But that's cool. I know something more. What about main gene burger? Lots of people who want to know about the main burger your Iraq of burger, you know, I did I did about twenty years ago. I was up in northern Minnesota with my brother duck coming and my son, and we we're in this little town. I don't know. I can't remember the name of the town. It was couldn't have been more than four thousand people in this town in northern Minnesota. And right there on a street corner is a mean Jean burger. It's a hamburger joint, and this was after I left WCW. So of course, I had to go in and get a mean, Jean Burke who was great. Of course, you do. And if you're listening to this you probably had a good night's sleep. And that's all we want to tell you about our friends over at calming comfort blanket. I gotta tell you. This thing has taken over my house even cost a little bit of a rift because I like it. And so does she every night when I try to fall asleep? But they're days when the anxiety and stress keeps me up no matter what I do. No matter what I'll take it doesn't seem to get the job done. But this calming comfort blanket by sharper image is a luxurious way to blanket that helps me relax, and it'll help you relax. You can fall asleep. Stay asleep naturally. There's no need to suffer through another sleepless night. 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That promo code is eighty three weeks, and you can't put a price on a great night's sleep. So go online right now, calm and comfort blanket dot com. And then promo code is eighty three weeks to get that special discount. And I know I'm gonna sleep a little better tonight because I feel like we've paid tribute to one of the best that ever did it. Mangino overland? The best. There is the best auto that was Bret Hart's better not to take that one. He'll be whining about it. Now, I agree with you rush. Recipe's main gene, we're gonna miss you next week. We're back to our regular scheduled programing. But we wanted to make sure we pig. We paid tribute to somebody who was very important to all of our lives, and certainly in the world of professional wrestling, the one and only main gene, Oakland, we'll see next week right here on eighty three weeks with Eric Bischoff.