WKPWP - Interview Friday: "Mean" Gene Okerlund's understudy and replacement in the AWA and WWF, Ken Resnick, gives insights on Gene (1-4-19)
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The term promo was an interview they were interviewed by this gentleman mean Jean Oakland who conveyed an every man quality to himself with that proper intimidation and respect and at times come rotary with these professional wrestlers, these tough athletes that he was interviewing about their next big fight and his name was gene Oakland, Jesse Ventura dubbed him mean Jean Oakland hokey. Ghan made that Monica even more famous and gene was the face and the voice of my early years watching professional wrestling, gene, Oakland had his best years. I would argue he was most well suited in a best fit in his role in the Awa where he spent the seventies and early eighties. The longest stretch of his career. The most the largest body of work is by far what he did in Awa more than what he would later do for the WWF and WCW, but he is an icon. His death has received mainstream coverage that seems to be on the level of what say dusty Rhodes received which I thought was on the higher end of expectations for dusty. And also for me, gene. And and I'm saddened by his death. He's seventy six years old had a kidney replacement, and and health issues where people who are around him recently, kind of new things things had turned into a struggle for him. But boy did he live a a a life of of big big travels in into progressing industry hitting all three of the big major brands. The Awa was part of the big three. It was the largest geographical territory from the sixties through the eighties, and then jump to the WWF when Vince McMahon paid paid a lot of people who work for the Awa to come work for him at a time when he looked at that vast territory of Awa as a key to his success with national expansion Jesse Ventura hulk HOGAN, Dr David Schultz, Bobby Heenan on and on. I mean, it was the the wrestlers that he plucked from Awa was a major major factor in his early success. And then he would go on to be part of w w nitro years giving WCW some of that that look and feel familiarity to fans who had otherwise primarily watched the WWF perceive that as a major league, so Gino. Lynn dead this week at age seventy six and on today's Wade Keller. Pro wrestling podcast interview. Friday for January fourth two thousand eighteen I am very pleased to be joined by someone who I think can speak better about Gino Oakland than just about anybody. When it comes to what he was like behind the scenes, and that is his under study and replacement in the Awa killer, Ken Resnick is also be dubbed Ken Resnick worked under me, gene, Oakland and Awa and then when she left he replaced him and became the person who literally did what Jean Oakland had done prior. Can would eventually also go to the WWF where Gino Lind was although not for long, gene was cutting back schedule at the time that Resnick arrived, and so his career path paralleled me jeans, and he learned from him. So I'm looking forward. To sharing with you all of cans, personal firsthand insights as someone who did the job, Gino Kalin, did and got to know him on a professional and personal level. So after this break, we'll come back in talk with Ken about, gene. I want to remind you that the Thursday flagship edition of the way Keller person podcast dropped yesterday. Thursday, January third and progressing towards columnist. Greg parks was my guest and for about an hour and a half. We talked about the top ten stories of twenty eighteen Greg on Twitter said this was one of his favorite podcast he had ever done. And we've done a lot together. And he's done a lot a lot a lot hundreds and hundreds of podcast without me. I'm proud of it too. I think you'll really enjoyed Greg. And I each came up with our own top ten list, and we had some similarities at the top, and then some differences as we got deeper into the top ten list. Also, we did another forty minutes if I remember right discussing our stories beyond the top ten so, you know, we didn't rank them necessarily eleven through twenty. But what deserved honorable men? And why why did some of these stories make the top ten list, but what was their impact? Anyway, that was a VP exclusive after show that was part of the Wade Keller hotline for VIP members yesterday, also so if you aren't VIP and you want to go VIP the place to find out more about VIP membership is p w torch VIP, info dot com. PW torch, VIP info dot com. Decades of archives. 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Check it out PW podcasts dot com are so right after this Ken Resnick joins me. I'm excited about this really looking forward to you getting. To hear these stories that can shares about me, gene, Oakland. Hi outline help. My family's New Year's resolution is to be more active, but we could use some new styles for motivation run into old navy navy. Yup. Right now, all navy active styles for the family are up to fifty percent off kick it into gear with leggings, mesh, teas and more. Fifty percent off who I'm feeling motivated already. Top started to seven bucks for adults. Six bucks for kids with compression leggings active pants from fifteen dollars for adults twelve dollars for kids, kids gentleman. Von we're going old navy. Hurry in for up to fifty percent of old navy active right now, it will be an old navy dot com. Vowed one through one thousand excludes in store clearance. You just bought a house bad news is you're one step closer to becoming your parents. You ask if anybody noticed you mowed, the lawn till people to stay off the lawn compare it to your neighbor's lawn and complain about having to mow the lawn again, good news is it's easy to bundle home and auto through progressive and save on your car insurance. Which of course, we'll go right into the lawn. Progressive casualty insurance company affiliates and other insurers discount not available in all states. Situations. 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. He was a salesman at the old WTC N channel eleven studios. And you know, we had a great, you know personality, and he was emergency fill in. And I mean was was a natural right? From the start. When when you when gene was giving you tips and you're working with him. What are some of the specific things that that you remember him helping you with in terms of the pacing the timing not stealing the scene. But also looking like, you're listening, which is such an art. Well, a line of it was more. Remember when your when when the talent is talking don't forget that you need to look at the camera. And even he had said when guys are really good talkers, let them talk. When guys aren't so good. You're going to need to to help them. And it he it it really wasn't so much trying to shape me. But he would say, you know, what on an interview remember when this happened? Now, you kind of did this and think about how better it might have been if you had done that. So it it it wasn't from a critical standpoint. And then really the the I mean, I I knew it myself, and as you said Jean was larger than life and really. The interviews when gene was doing it became both about the wrestlers. He was interviewing and himself. And when he suddenly left the best advice, I got came from blackjack Lanza and Jackson. Look, you you're following, gene. But don't be try and be, gene. You've gotta be yourself. And do it the way you would do it. And I had a chance and talked at length with gene with blackjack with Bobby with Nick. And I knew that I didn't have the. It wasn't my personality to over involve myself the way gene, did and kinda really took the interview process to to a whole new level. And I kind of made up my mind that especially with great talkers like Nick, and Bobby and the crusher that once they got going. Unless they needed me to interject. I I was going to just let them go that I always kind of had the philosophy when I took over that I needed to make it all about the talent. And my I guess way of trying to differentiate myself a little bit from gene was to be totally serious focused. And again, this was during the the K fehb era to make it as legitimate and serious as I could. And in fact, you know, eventually, I kinda got away from it. But I use the philosophy weighed that when especially the big name talent would kind of get on a roll. Unless they would say something really over the top one way or another. I purposely tried to to not react because I knew and rightfully so when I would watch interviews with, gene. I'm sure you did. And the fans did you would watch gene as much as you did the wrestlers. So I tried to purposely not react as much to make sure the viewer kept their focus on the wrestler. Remember if you want an anti experience where the show just starts and flows without interruption. You can become a VIP member. Tons of perks come with VIP membership with over thirty years of archives of over fifteen hundred back issues of the person torch weekly newsletter or podcast archives. Dating back to late two thousand four when we started doing wrestling podcasting hundreds of retro radio shows from the nineteen ninety s including my KFI AM show with over one hundred episodes. Of live calls. Journalists. Roundtables interviews, breaking news and more. 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I'm Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans, America's premier home purchase lender. We've created a new way. Protect you from unpredictable interest rates are exclusive rate shield approval. I we lack your interest rate for up to ninety days. Then if rates go up your rate stays locked. But if rates go down your rate drops either way you win. Call us today at eight hundred quicken or go to rocketmortgage dot com, racial approval. Only valid on certain thirty year fixed rate loans. Call for cost information and conditions. Equal housing lender. License and all fifty states MLS number thirty thirty additional conditions are exclusions apply. What you're saying in? And it doesn't come across this way. But it couldn't a different context come across his criticism of gene for not at all. And I don't want anybody to think that it was just I realized that I could never be, gene. And would could never be as good as gene in in in his you know, reactions and and the way he could, you know, pop in an instant, and I didn't want to I guess for for lack of anything come across as kind of a poor man's, gene. So. It. It's Inouye a criticism. I if anything it would be almost self directed. I just knew I could not be or I don't know that anybody ever could be as good as Jean was in the way, gene to the interviews to create kind of create a little bit of my own persona. I just needed a differ different overall philosophy as to how I was going to do it. But it it's in no way. I I mean Jean. Yeah. I had to borrow the phrase we used to use with Bret Hart. You know, gene, the best. There was in the best there ever will be. Yes in and that's the recognition that you had as chiens personality, and charisma and timing was in a category unto itself and the rules. You described for yourself are I think the? The default. Rules should be the default rules for any interviewer and we've seen interviewers overreact two moments. You know, you know, Sean Mooney did a lot of interviews with WB off with a lot of over the top characters. And you know, it's like you have to be the straight, man. And let them be you you being the straight man allows them to stand out more. And regardless of you know, you said the cafe Barra I think it is. I didn't think wrestling one hundred percent real watching you. So I think it's overblown people who are younger than us thinking everybody who watched in the mid eighties or early eighties or whatever thought wrestling was real we didn't. But when we watch wrestling, they made us believe it was real. And I think that rule should apply today despite the accessibility of information. I agree with you completely and one sometimes people will stop me or I'll get into a conversation. I tried. I I mean, you didn't talk about it. But most people were like, you even back in the K fehb era that this isn't real. But even you didn't know how much was real and how much wasn't real. And I tried to approach it. It's like if you go to a movie, and certainly the legions of fans to the Star Wars franchise when they walk in and sit down in the theater, they know it's not real. But for the two or two and a half hours. They wanna be so immersed in it that they believe for that timeframe, it's real or I guess more. So. Don't think about the fact that it's not real. And that's how I kinda like and my job is during the time. You're watching my portion whether it's was play by play or interviews. I wanted the viewer not to think about the fact that might not be real. Exactly. And gene and his approach which was different. Also didn't do anything to make it not seem real. But he had that he was in that that that special place that no other interviewer that I can think of occupied which was being able to be a personality, and and knowing it and not holding back on it. But also knowing where that line was I would say he was more artful and his peak years just like Bobby Heenan were in the Awa, and I actually thought in the WF in this is this is a Vince McMahon tone of the era. Not mean, gene, you know, deciding or losing his his sweet spot that he found in the Awa. But I think that that genes peak worked where he found that sweet spot to be a personality without taking away from the the wrestler's was rare territory that fewer interviewers have had. And it was in the Awa that he occupied it. I would agree on both counts. And part of it being behind the scenes, I think was a product of Verne ganja knowing how good gene was and pretty much left him alone to to do it as only he could. And I think as what you are alluding to Wade may have happened. Once he went to the WWF back, at least in those days Vincent was involved in every aspect, and and part of what you are talking about may have occurred because Vince still wanted it done a certain way. And it like in in any aspect of any job. If you would normally do all your way and suddenly your boss says, well, yeah, that's fine. But I also want you to do it this way, you kind of, you know, lose some of your focus in that you have to be focused on not only your way. But how someone else wants it to be? Well, I wanna go back today to be and then move forward to WBF afterwards with or explore that in a little more detail on when when you were observing gene we saw what was honor. What was offer a paint a picture for for me in the listeners of did? Gene, just sorta shut down and and sit on a chair and wait for the next. You know, when they take a break, for instance, or in between interviews, if you're waiting for a wrestler or was he gregarious and engaging or was he looking at notes or asking a lot of questions like paint, a picture of what that kind of a promo day or interview day was like, oh, June was more towards the gregarious interacting, you know, with all the wrestlers telling stories and laughing, but at the same time understand there wasn't a lot of that downtime because you know, market specific there were a lot of. Interviews that that had to get done. You know, nowadays, the they don't really do the stand-up interviews anymore. But even the ones they do our national where. Far more. So in fact, I think my record in WWF was one day at the mental and we did a hundred and eleven interviews. But with the Awa, you know, you still had to separate interviews for the the twin cities for lacrosse for Claire for Winnipeg for Chicago for Milwaukee for Denver for Salt Lake. So there was a lot of interviews. So it wasn't like you do an interview. And then have ten minutes to kind of be s with everybody. You know, you do an interview. And it was kinda like what's next, you know? Okay. Well, you know, what's the date? What's the card, and you wanna get right to the next interview? So there wasn't a whole lot of downtime. We generally would start at like nine in the morning when I came on board. We were doing them out at deal channel nine campus piece studios would doesn't exist anymore. And then we'd go about Levin, forty five or noon, and then everybody would kinda go there several ways for lunch, and then we'd come back at one thirty. And and started doing him again. And on Jill they got done. So there it was he was gregarious interacted with everyone, but everyone was pretty much focused on the on the next interview because the bottom line for the production people for studio time for the talent, everyone, the sooner we got done, the sooner everybody, get go home. So there wasn't a it was more focused than downtime. Helps he has. So come and talk about the dynamic with, gene. And the wrestlers he worked with a lot of people like think people aren't about David Letterman a Paul for like never talked off air their interaction was key red lights on cameras rolling. They seem like best friends, but keep it fresh. They didn't talk different circumstance in wrestling interviews, obviously like Louis, but how many one hundred and eighty degrees. Yes, we'll talk about gene in the wrestlers at work. And when they would clock out like what how how much was gene one of the boys. So to speak. Every bit of you know, he'd been there was accepted, and you know, down the road. So was I, but it it it just takes a while. I guess to to pay your dues, you know, earn your bones and because Jean had been there for quite a while on established himself. I mean, he was very much one of the boys. There was no, you know, K fading. You know, anything like that there? There was some of that when I first started but gradually after you know, gene left. I think all the guys knew I was there to make them look as good as could be, you know, there were time sometimes when at least with maybe lesser talent, gene. Gene, not purpose fully, but just gene being gene would almost overshadow. Arrest around interview. And that was never my way. So, you know, after a while I was accepted as one of the boys as well. Did did wrestlers seek trying to think how to how to phrase because I haven't idea in my head like seek jeans endorsement or approval on or off air in any way. Like where I mean it again, I'll use use a data talk show reference. Johnny Carson calling a comedian over to the desk. After the stand up was like this big endorsement was there anything with gene just did what I'm trying to get as good wrestler seat compliments from him on their interviews, or did it sort of stopped short of that gene had his role. They was good at it. But there was still a hierarchy in that day, which is not your Justin announcer, but you're an announcer, and you do your job we do ours. And I'm not really looking for quote your approval. There wasn't a hierarchy in involving, gene. And I don't think the wrestlers would seek his approval because unlike, you know, your reference to the tonight show with Johnny Carson, gene. Or I didn't lay out the interviews or decide who's going to be interviewed that was pretty much done in the Awa by you know, Verne and Greg. So there was no real avenue whether for someone to try and ingratiate themselves to gene thinking, you know, I'll get more interviews this way. So the there there wasn't the opportunity for gene too. Because you know, he Jeff. Genuinely likes someone or at a great relationship away to create like more interview time because when when we would get there, the interviews were always laid out. Was there anybody that you remember gene, not having chemistry with either surprisingly only on air or even maybe tension off area? Like, okay, you know, gene's gonna hold back a little bit or or, you know, he's just going to play, you know, play it more straight. Let them say their thing and move on. Because obviously, gene had chemistry with hulk HOGAN and enjoy playing off of I think Jesse Ventura and only. It was Jesse that internet or you came up with the name mean, gene. Yes. A lot of people thought it was hulk. Yep. But it was Jesse that had named him mean Jean and then hall picked up the mantra. And I've all was. Yeah. Just in the back of my mind taking pride in, you know, moving forward, you know, I was the only one that really hope gave a name to that. I mean, people still fans still refer to me as as killer can when you poke just came up with on his own one day. And I think it was. That, you know, gene. Behold. I got along great with hawk and it was hawks way of kind of. I think putting me over. But almost the exact opposite of what you were trying to with wrestlers trying to gain approval from gene, it was almost by doing that hawk was giving me his stamp of approval. I think you know, the Awa in that era has a reputation for just being a great promo era. Great interview era, they weren't even promo wasn't aware that really was utilized back, then I don't think right. No, no, just a interview. Yeah. Exactly. And I liked that it is. It's describing what it not arrested with a microphone doing a model, which is kind of a promo. It's an interview, and there's someone holding a microphone and ask them questions and leading things in a certain direction and reacting and how much I mean, I it pre degrade promos predated, gene, being the main guy holding the microphone in asking the questions, but part of that era being so good. And I I would put it above any other any of your territory, and I know RIC flair and Jim porn et and a number of others in that dusty Rhodes in that era hat were just fantastic youth Roddy piper early Roddy piper in in Georgia. But I just think that Awa is unmatched. I think it's number one. And I do think gene was absolutely a part of that Indiana. Cardio. Neil loyalists will push back a little bit. But I think jeans chemistry and playing off the rest of it's like you did and being being meek or makes it there. He's actually wasn't make. But he knew physically he wasn't supposed to act like he he wanted to act like he was intimidated by the wrestlers, but he also held his ground in new when to push back because he no he knew the promoters had us back in restaurants. Did anything physically to him that there'd be held pay any? He again, it was another line that he walked wrestler. Intimidating, but he didn't just cower in the presence of the heels when they bullied him picked on him or maybe even slightly implied physical intimidation off. I think you're Ryan again hood what I talked about. He and then something you you can't really teach someone I mean, just gene just had that natural instinct about how to react to and and play on. Off, you know, Marty O'Neill for the most part was even before. I mean, I was aware of him and watched him, but. He was like the the ultimate straight, man. All Marty O'Neill to the wrestlers was like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson once in a while and would kind of through what he said or his reactions almost be able to steal a scene or a bit from Johnny. But I don't think Mario Neil ever. Did that he was the absolute ultimate straight man to the wrestlers. And even though gene was smaller than most of the wrestlers mighty O'Neill was even much smaller yet. So I don't think there was ever that kind of. Intimidation threat, and I'm not saying that in with any bodily higher, but within the body of the interview because mighty O'Neill was just even smaller than gene. And I it's such a sweet spot to hit again that that I credit gene with which which is not acting like you're not intimidated. But and not being a, but also not losing your dignity and your respect and he found that spot. I mean, the road warriors pushed the limits in that regard. I mean, they were so physically intimidating, and when I think of you conducting interviews I mean, the road words, come to mind, first and foremost, how did what Jean taught you in observing gene help you with some of your some of the bigger names that you interview during your time in the Awa and the roadways on that list. And who else is? I'll be honest. I had been there a very short time and the road warriors. I don't know if they were in Japan. But when I first started they weren't around. So the the first interview I did with the road warriors. I was intimidated as hell I'm sorry. They were scary got and and more. So because I didn't know them. And you know, as as we got to know each other, and develop, you know, great friendships with, you know, Mike, and Joe and Paul it was different. But that's for the there was no tip that I interview if I looked intimidated and a little scared. It was because I was Yeah. I mean, that's that's the honest truth and later on. I mean, we we had some some great interviews together. But. The that's the only. Wrestlers or talent that I can point to where I was at the very beginning interviewing them intimidated because of their size and characters and the only other one that that comes to mind was I been in towards the end I loved interviewing the road warrior, the only person I hated to have to interview with STAN Hansen and not because of anything else. But when he would tore around that cowbell, I can't tell you how many times I caught it in the shins. Yeah. So the and I mean, not because he was trying to do it purposely. But that was every time it was like, oh, yeah. I'd say gotta wrestle interview standing. Oh, no. And he's got to the point. I was thinking I should really pick up some just cheap hockey shin guards. Put them on. And of course, it's excuse which he would make with a wry smile was while I I'm terribly nearsighted. I can't see we're not doing. So it's now now with your fault because I can't see and I love stand up hung out with them extents on watering. Watering forever. But everyone said I mean, he was the the the nicest. Yes guy, but boy that cowbell was. It was like oh God. That's dan. Yes. Yes. All right. So the news breaks within the Awa that genus, given his notice you mentioned that earlier, but. I mean, I know you talked about your feelings on that. What's the what's the mood and the company among the restaurants? Like, I I know a lot was going on at that at that time. And I I don't have memories of my head what where gene fell and the order of people Vince picked off, but it had it had to be a morale blow and in a kind of shake things up a little bit. Even though you have been easing into that role. It it was it was pretty sudden. And I think. People with in the Awa it was almost a foreshadowing it was. It's it's served notice in no uncertain terms that Vince was coming right for Verne. I in in terms of I think some of the talent secretly were happy because I think they thought you know, they could follow him too, much greener pastures. But I I think that was really, and again, I I can't tell you, you know, the order, but obviously, you know, after gene, Paul, Nick. I mean it. You could tell he was coming. And and it was going to be a to put it in. I guess business Hermes it was a hostile takeover. Yes. So it talk about the the tie between gene leaving. And then you going to the WWF and the circumstances of that. And I I to ask you to tell the mustache shaving story again. Well. Mine was a little different in that. Vince didn't hire me away. It was the final show. I did for the Awa was wrestle rock. And I just decided I was done, you know, for a a number of reasons. So I told Mike shields who was in, you know, the the producer that I was done. And that was it when I left the Metrodome that night. I I don't think I ever even went back to the office, and I had talked to someone it had been in the back of my mind before I got into television. I had been a district sales manager for Chrysler Corporation that dealer. Ships, but for the corporation, and I had made inroads about going back to work for Chrysler and Jack Lanza had already left. Jack was working with Vanson was an agent, and I think involved in a lot of other things and Jack, and I Jack also worked in the office in the Awa so Jack, and I had become very very close. And it was the Monday night after wrestle rock. Jack was on the road. But call me at home just to find out. You know, what happened what the finishes were? You know, how everything went, and we talked to not gonna tell them, you know, what had happened and he should want anything else. I said, well, I quit. And he started laughing in didn't believe me. And I said, no, I'm not. And he was like, you're kidding. I said, no. And he knew a lot of the back story. And he said, well, what are you going to do? And I said, well, I've already talked to him. You know, I think next week I'm gonna get together. And I think there's a good chance I'm gonna go back to work for Chrysler. And I said, well, what are you gonna talk to him next week? And he said, well, look hold. Let's talk when I get back to town. I'm coming in. I'll be back home tomorrow night, either Tuesday night or Wednesday night. I don't know if there was a day between and he called me. Night later late any goes, what are you doing for breakfast tomorrow? And I said nothing he said great. You know, you said we'll have breakfast. I'll I'll pick you up. And I I I can meet, you know, no, no, I'll pick you up. You said I'll pick you up six fifteen and we're a coat and tie. And I was like what are you not sixty? I'm not getting up ever anybody at six o'clock in the morning. And he said I'll be I'm picking up at six fifteen were a coat and tie because we're going to see Vince. And I started laughing. I said, Jack, I've seen you pull rib. You don't really think? I'm this dumb to any goes hang up you call north west airlines, ask them if there's not an already prepaid tickets for you on the seven twenty AM flight to the Guardia. And which I did there was a call Jack back, and he said, I told Vince you're available that you would quit and he wants to see you. So we did we flew out to LaGuardia. So a lot of people think that Vince that I was another one that Vince came in and just hired away it, and that's not the case, and we got out to York, and they had a limo for us to take us up to Stanford really got to the office. I kinda went through a bit of an interview process. I think if you will again, not knowing the order, but I met with like, Pat Patterson and Terry Garvin, George Scott, Ernie sculling after each one, they take me back out to the lobby then go in and see the next one was however the order it was like, I think everyone gave. Blessing and then went to the next higher up. And I think the last one I talked to who was Arne sculling they took me back out. And then a while I got called into Vinci's office met, Vince. And within the first, you know, two three minutes of of meeting him. You gotta said tell me about your mustache. And I was kinda like, you know, I well, it's bought my lip centered. I I don't know why you wanna know, you wanna know when I grew it and everything, and he came out and said, just so, you know, and I even think he said, despite gene, I hate facial hair. And and then he just stopped and looked at me. And I said, we'll I assume you're asking if everything else worked out if I would shave my moustache, and he said would you and I said, yeah, I would and that was it never said a word, and we talked for probably another hour. He just stopped looked at me for maybe thirty seconds openness top drawer, pulled out a razor and a can of shaving cream and said bathrooms right through that door. And I went in and shave my mustache and came back into his office. And he just looked at me. He said, you showed me something that's important. You showed me a backup? What you say? You'll start Saturday and shave your right off you should've seen his secretary. When I came out. Hour later, and suddenly, you know, the mustache I had gone. Oh, that's a Larry's. So so you get there and genius there. Talk about how gene seem the same or different. And how it was different with your dynamic at this point. And how often you guys cross pass? He he was from finding welcoming to me because it was understood. And I I think I'm gene had some things he needed to deal with where he was going to start taking time off, you know, and and just kinda do more some of the paper views and in the bigger shows. So the there was. I I'm certain that. I had was hired and would not have been hired gene hadn't been aware and was fine with it. So. Early on. I wouldn't I saw Jean it was always warm welcoming. But because they were so big and remember in those days, we often ran two and sometimes three Townsend night. So I would be working all the time. But in many instances, I might not even run into gene for like two weeks when when you did bump into, gene. I is it is it okay to say like white gene was cutting back with it was it was did he have other businesses going on? I was personal was burnt out. I think it was personal. And you know, might have been a little burn out. And that's just just speculation on my part because I know like I said one day, we did a hundred eleven interviews. That's chris. And I was doing those where Jeanne was also doing inter had cut back, but was still doing a number of interviews. And so I can only imagine what it was like that year and a half on his own. And you know with all the towns, you know, when we did interviews. It was always a different city. It was in in advance of a house show. So basically you were on a plane going somewhere every day. So, you know, I I it's it's I I think it was more either, you know, personal and or burnouts 'cause I mean that's forget anything else just flying in and you know, hotel airport airplane hotel arena hotel airpl- day after day. I mean that just wears on you on its own. And you know, again, I I knew my workload is when I got there and gene was still doing a fair amount. So I can only imagine what it must've been like a in the year and a half. He he and he was the only guy. Yeah. Oh, man. So how much interaction if any did you have with Jean going forward in the WWF given your time there, and then his his part time gate how much did you cross paths with him? Like, I said. Not that much who oftentimes it would just be. But yeah, it could sometimes be two or three weeks, and when we were in the same building or for a same show. There wasn't a lot of downtime or you could just kind of sit down, and and and Bs because when we would get to the arena, I would have this long list of things that that I had to get done and taped it as would he you know, in a different area with and there were separate production crews. So you know, I might be doing four or five six hours in one area, and he might be doing four or five in another area. So we will see each other. You know, greet each other talk for a little bit. Sometimes talk about what was going on in the Awa. But there wasn't a the there wasn't a lot of time for. Four or there wasn't a lot of interaction. But it wasn't any sort of, you know, personally, just you know. Okay. Hey, I we're gonna roll tame five minutes. Let's go. So we we could be under the same rough. But just working in in different areas of the building. And then it was like in anything else at the end of the night. Everybody wanted to either get somewhere and have a drink or get back to their room and get some sleep. When you look at work in W A W off television at that time. What was different about it for people who only saw him in the WWF and having, you know, didn't watch him in real time they'd up or on YouTube or WWE network. What what was remarkably if anything what was notably different about gene in the WWF that you picked up on because it was your vocation. Also. I think. The there was. Sometimes a little more. Over reaction to things, and I know it's a word used in. I'm trying to think of a different word, but. You know, I I just can't come up with it. But there was also a little bit more of a comedic tone to to some of the things it it's not the word. I I would like to use way. But I just can't come up with any anything that was analogous that. There would be times where you would see an interview, and you would kind of laugh, and I mean, not, you know, laugh with not app make that clear, but in the Awa that didn't occur with was sell tickets get the wrestler over and if it happened to be entertaining. Which of course, it always was and I would argue more. So that was a side effect of doing things the right way. And I think in. This applies just WWF in general and Vince McMahon's approach to to the pro wrestling product that a lot of people crave alternatives to which is Vince thinks the entertainment isn't the selling of fights and getting wrestlers over in sports like athlete. I wanna win a fight way. It's let's amplify the quirky aspects of their personality and have the interviewer Hamid up more. I think the best way, and I agree. The best way to praise it in the Awa. It was all about the house show. And the hour of all star. Wrestling was viewed its only purpose was to sell tickets for the house show. I mean back when gene was air. When I was there. You know, there wasn't the secondary merchandising either. It was strictly solely about selling tickets. And when I got to the WWF when gene ahead of me, even then Vince it was about not only selling tickets, but it was also about producing an entertaining television show. That was never I don't think. Process in the Awa. But in the WWF, it was about selling tickets building up the characters that getting to the point where even if you weren't a wrestling fan. You wanted to come see some of these larger than life personalities in in person. But it was also about creating an entertaining hour of television. Not unlike a sitcom or a drama, and I think that's where a lot of the overreaction, and and you know, comedic turn came into place because not only did Vince want the wrestling and the characters and everything else he was also focused on producing entertaining television. How about you to actually have you gene in subsequent years? Did you ever have lunch with him again or bump into him at a at a hall of fame or a ceremony or India show? Anything about town. I I would bump into him. You know, someone he was back in Minnesota sometime. And it was you know, it was always very, warm and great. I mean, I like Jean. I mean, it's I put on Facebook. I I was just so sad to learn. But I was aware he was battling health issues. I mean, he had had three kidney transplants, and I had heard at some appearance where he had been in a wheelchair. So I knew he was battling health issues. But. I never ever had any sort of interaction with Jeanne be, you know, Awa WWF post WWF. This was not, you know, warm and sincere. Gene was a great guy. Whether it was that, you know, some charity thing or event or just happenstance. You know, you'd always greet me. We talk you know, how you doing? What are you up to? So I you know, I didn't see him all that much. I didn't you know, hang out with him. It we never like said. Hey, let's go have lunch. But it was always great when we had a chance to whether it was some event that brought us together or just you know, happen stance. You know being in town. So I'll close with this. Is there a story about gene, probably from the Awa days that my questioning? Thing didn't bring out of you. That didn't get brought up that helps paint a picture of who he was for people who who wanna know more about them or just want to have a funny story to tell others. Nothing comes to mind, but. Gene was. In real life. Gene was probably closer to the gene people saw on TV. Then most people would have thought if that makes sense. Absolutely. Yeah. And the the the the one thing his passing brought to mind. In fact, I I found out I got a text from from someone I think, you know, ad Hellier, you know, from steel domain wrestling, you know, here here in the twin cities he had sent me a tax, and he said, you know, anything about gene Oakland passing away. And you know, I hadn't been on social media. But my phone went off with a tax. Then it was like, you know, I just sent them back. No, I I haven't heard anything as you know, for real. And then I went on social media and saw that the people posting it that it was true. And then I add night texted, you know, a couple of times, and, you know, I know Ed interactive with, gene. I mean, it, you know, I mean what an amazing job. Ed does. I mean, steel domain as an independent here in the twin cities now in its twentieth year. But the one thing, you know, when we were texting back, and I kind of realized that looking at a lot of the pictures that people have sent me over the years. And through social media that the majority of the wrestling pictures, I have in a lot of them. I'm the only one still alive. Wow. Yeah. I mean, if you think, you know, with gene and Kurt Roddy piper. The macho man Nick bond clinical Bobby Heenan crusher mad dog. I mean, literally, you know, Andrei, I look at the pictures bruiser Brody. I look at a lot of Jerry Blackwell a lot of the pictures. I have the, you know, buddy Roberts Terry Gordy hawk. It was like I need only one still left alive in these as I texted at L. Your was like, you know, maybe I'd better stop buying green bananas main and a lot of it. You know, just the the wear and tear the business took, but it was. I mean, it was. Gene was just still like hall back in the the glory days. I guess you can call it of where it was still, you know, wrestle more wrestling than than sports entertainment was. Was just. One of the the huge bigger than life characters. And you know, I I'm thinking back really from that time hawk is really the only larger than life one still with us. Well on that Wade, we're we're getting old. But on that somber note, Ken. I I saw Eddie Sharkey edit Hellier actually at the x t show a few weekends back. And and he was like, yeah. Yeah. Wait, I'm I'm going to go back in the locker room. But everybody, I know is dead. And I'll probably be next. It was good seeing you. Great, eddie. Thanks. But you know, what? I mean. You know, when you when you reminisce, and again, you know, from from Eddie's career when you reminisce about your time, you know, in the business in the heyday. A lot of your friends are just are no longer here. And you know, you and and the problem is everybody gets scattered. So you just don't get a chance to to see them that often. Yeah. So it's it's it's a yeah. I guess thinking back, and maybe they get a little more uplifting. Jeez. The one thing where I think about, gene. And in his time in my time. Everything we did we we didn't hers anything, it would be like, you know. I, you know, you got anything you wanna do know off. All you you. Just winged it and when you watch. So much a certainly, you know, WWF WWE now it it's so precise. Yeah. And scripted. That. Some of the the well, they don't really do interviews per se anymore. But even you know, what they do in the ring, you can tell it it. It's so scripted that a lot of the passion is out of it. Where talent is is trying so hard to remember what they're supposed to say. When they're supposed to say at how they're supposed to say it, and I think that's one of the reasons that you don't see the real wire jer than life characters are merging anymore. WWE? Certainly has you know, they're great stars. But do any of them really reach the the the status of a whole Cogan or a Roddy Roddy piper or macho man, Randy savage or George. The animal or even in a different way. But the the status of a of a Bobby Heenan or crusher or the Nick back winkle because they were allowed to create an embrace their and develop their own characters. And now, you know, I think it's more talent writers that are telling people this is I we wanna done I think pro wrestling at its best and worst is when it's more improv than scripted and WWE and Vincent man, specifically have chosen to not risk the bad. Even if it's a small slice of compared to two promising at it's best to have more control environment, and you know, the live TV aspect of it and worrying about sponsors network executives and all that they've made that calculated decision, but that lack of authenticity. Is a loss for a wrestling fan. And I think fans crave a sense that the rest, which are watching our. Yes, an amplified slice of who they really are. But nevertheless, part of who they really are. And and that that is what the the nineteen eighty s interview era was. Dates to. But gene, especially when I did interviews and when Jean did interviews back them away. The only thing we had. Prior to the taping. The interview we knew the date the town, and what the match was, you know, were I would open it up, you know, in in hit those things, and then we just wind it. I mean there, you know, there would always be an agent and sometimes it didn't go as well. And we might redo it. But it was never rehearsed. Yeah, it was always just off the top. Sometimes, you know. I would also do you have anything special? They might say, you know, what asked me about this or you know, on a hit this or that. But we just waiting it. Just how did you redo it very seldom like on? Fifty or one out of ten. For I would say, maybe overall. Maybe one out of you know, fifteen to two twenty and a lotta times. Gene or myself would make the call in. We would get on the interview. And I would think you know, we can do better or you know, I do a better job of bringing out the the intensity or it wasn't like the the agent. They're saying you gotta redo that a lot of times we would do one. And I would look at the talent. If I didn't feel I if I didn't think we sold a lot of tickets in that interview or or develop whatever we were trying to I would look at the talent say, you know, what you wanna do that one again. And then, you know, usually, they would say, yeah, you know, so as, you know, somewhere between one out of fifteen or twenty I mean, it was redoing an interview was far more the exception rather than the rule. Well, Kenya followed the script that I gave you for this podcast. Very well, it was only. It is only our third take the first two hours. I wasn't happy with. But I really appreciate you sticking with me here on the third hour and following the script nicely. I think it made for a better podcast. You are so bad. A great catching up with you. Thank you so much. I just thoroughly enjoyed this. And I'm sure the listeners will to getting a better idea of who was and in such what I wanted to emphasize into because there's just such as I said at the top so many people remember him from a time when I don't think he was at his peak. He was people have an affection for him in fond memories. And all that. But he was so it's like Bobby Heenan in data. But he was so good in the Awa and you as a person who had to step into his shoes where we're great at conveying. What may gene unique in the position that he was in? I like I say in terms of talent, you know, behind the mic. I don't think whatever direction wrestling and ends up going to me in terms of people. I worked with more as an announcer type not talking about wrestlers. I don't think there will ever be another gorilla monsoon, Bobby Heenan or gene, Oakland. I just don't think there ever will be. Yeah. Yeah. Well, put can I thank you so much. I expect we will talk again, and hopefully it's under positive circumstance. Heck this was positive. Remember, somebody who lived at well into his seventies and lived a rich life and did something he loved this positive thing to to give time and attention to that go away with my pleasure. My friend anytime. Thanks cats. Hey, if you'd like to hear this show without ads and plugs, interrupting there's one thing you can do right now to make that happen. And that is become a POW torch VIP member, you got about a dozen other podcast throughout the week that I host that our VIP exclusive, and you get the way Keller potions and podcasts during the week with the ads and plugs. Removed all on a separate feed exclusively for VIP members. Plus tons of other podcasts that are VIP exclusive access to our full archives of podcast dating back to two thousand four which includes post pay per view roundtables dating back to two thousand four also access to our full archives. 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