When asked if he thought Hogan was good or bad for WCW at the end of the company’s run, he said it was a good thing and without him, WCW would not have beaten WWF in the ratings. He was then asked if Hogan watched his back in WCW and Gene said no, adding that Hogan looked out for himself, but did say that when he asked Hulk to induct him into the Hall of Fame, he said yes. Gene puts over for re-inventing himself with his reality show.
They ask Gene about the nWo and he puts over how great it was that the fans were confused as whether or not Hall & Nash were in the WCW or the WWF.
Gene talks about how towards the end of WCW, they never knew what they were going to do until 10-20 minutes before they went to air. He then said that when Russo came in, he was not the solution but rather made the problem worse. He did say that the boys knew how to push him around.
He is asked about Pamela Paulshock and jokes that she was nice and well endowed but a huge airhead.
When asked if Eric Bischoff changed over time, Gene believes that Bischoff thought he was a genius due to the success and as a result, became very power hungry. He did say that he thought Bischoff did a great job as the RAW GM when he came to the WWE.
He talks about the creative control clauses in WCW and how guys like Goldberg, who had been in the business for just a few years, had that clause in his contract.
Rob brings up how Bobby Heenan brought up how Tony Schiavone was untrustworthy in his interview and asks Gene about his opinion of Tony. Gene says that Tony was the consumate politician and had a tendency to bury people along the way when he was protecting himself but did not have a lot of problems with him.
Gene said that Mike Tenay was knowledgeable but not a broadcaster. He said that his specialty was in Japanese and Mexican wrestling.
He is asked about Mark Madden and the match they had together. Gene said that was Russo’s fault as that would never draw and the only thing that would have happened was that they would embarrass themselves. Gene said it was garbage.
When asked if they were only worried about getting a big buyrate or winning a quarter hour, Gene said that was exactly what they did and mentions how there was no long-term planning in the company. He then mentions Russo’s shoot on Hogan at the Bash in the Beach and how it was all over after that.
Gene is asked about the sale of WCW. He said that the Time Warner and a lot of Turner’s guys did not want wrestling but that Ted Turner was the one who stood up for WCW. He found out that it was sold when he was sitting at home, after being asked to not come to TV, after signing a long-term deal that was well over one million dollars. When asked if he got paid the entire amount, Gene said that he did.
He said that a lot of guys in the locker room resented DDP, thinking that he only got pushed because he was a friend of Bischoff’s.
After WCW went out of business, Gene said he would call Kevin Dunn to see if he could do any special features for the WWE. Dunn said that he would work on it and six months later, Dunn called him up and pitched the idea for “Confidential.” He said that the show did not expose the business, because it was already exposed as much as any other business, and said that the pieces on Elizabeth’s death and on Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels were the best.
Gene said that Lex Luger felt bad after the Confidential piece and told Gene that he loved the girl but Gene said if he did love her, he would not have fed her booze and pills.
When Gene came back to the WWE, he said that Vince treated him wonderfully and that they talked about the future instead of the past. Gene said he is not big on nostalgia.
On the subject of Vince feeding lines to his announcers, Gene said that it is Vince’s show and if he wants things said a certain way. He talks about how they might have destroyed the spontaneous stuff, like with Joey Styles, but he will not criticize Vince for that.
He thought that Jim Ross was alright but could become very political. He then said how the office pushed all of the Oklahoma stuff with him and that it was not Ross’s idea.
Gene enjoyed calling the gimmick battle royal at WM 17 and jokes how you could have made a fortune as a Viagra salesman in that match. He said that they knew it would be fun and brought out a lot of old terms and descriptions of the wrestlers.
They ask Gene about how different the show production is today and Gene talks about how things today seemed forced but that it is working. He also talked about how they no longer do stand-up interviews and thinks that some of the unscripted stuff that makes it to air is the best part.
Now, Gene is asked about Stephanie and Shane McMahon. Gene said he is big on nepotism himself but also says that both have an understanding of the business. When asked about HHH, Gene said that he worked with him in WCW and said he was hard-working and a student of the game but was going nowhere in WCW. Gene said he was wasting away in the company.
Gene goes back to right before the first WrestleMania and said how Vince had him over his house in Greenwich, CT, along with Hogan, and they mapped out the shows that led to WrestleMania. Gene harped on the fact how modest the beginning of Vince’s run was compared to today.
When asked about the deaths in wrestling, Gene said they were all tragic. He talks about Eddie Guerrero’s death and how he knew him for a long time and was a nice man. Gene said that Curt Hennig’s death was senseless and bashes Roddy Piper for saying that you need pills to get by because that is what killed them.
He is not surprised that Hogan and Flair are still working and on top today. He said that they can outwork some of the other guys that are much younger.
Gene is asked about Bret Hart returning to the WWE. Gene said that he was aloof when he was at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Gene puts over Stu Hart and said that when his son was in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Stu let Gene and his wife stay with them.
On Pat Patterson being great at coming up with finishes, Gene said he was an entertainer and could give people what they want to make them pop and come up with something to make the fan buy a ticket to the next event or to buy into the next PPV.
When asked about Bruno Sammartino’s relationship with Vince McMahon, Gene said that Bruno blamed Vince for changing the business and making it all about physiques, which pressured wrestlers into taking steroids.
Gene said that it would be very tough for wrestling to go back to what it was in the past and adds that they should have smartened up the television industry instead of the fans.
They ask Gene if a television writer can make a good wrestling show. Gene said that agents that were former wrestlers should not be coming up with dialogue for the wrestlers but at the same time, the office should come up with dialogue after the office tells them about the direction of the product. Gene then talks about how he made a suggestion to Vince and Dunn about bringing up stand up interviews with the big stars.
He calls Gordon Solie the most talented announcer of all-time. He made the product credible and seem believable. Gene also puts over Vince for calling the action but says that Gorilla Monsoon was his personal favorite.
Gene is asked about the “Montreal Screwjob.” He said that Bret should have been professional in that situation but now it is water under the bridge. Gene said that Bret needed to have done business in that situation.
On asked who belongs in the Hall of Fame, he wants to see the Crusher and the Bruiser. Also, Flair, Rhodes, The Funk’s and Steamboat.
When asked who will be the next big thing in the business, Gene said there is someone now without a character or persona that is a great athlete and has the necessary charisma and they are out there somewhere. He goes back to Steve Austin and said that he made it huge because he became himself with the Stone Cold character. Gene said that Paul Orndorff told him that Austin was great and liked to hunt, fish, drink and have the occasional “goodie.” Gene thought that Batista was on the cusp but had a setback due to injury. He said that Kurt Angle is very talented and that John Cena has been pushed too hard and is causing a backlash but he will be around for a while as he is a hard worker and very talented too.
Gene is asked if he goes on the wrestling internet sites and he said that he did when he had the hotline in WCW, joking how that was the source of his material. He said he lived in a vacuum but did talk with Mark Madden and Alex Marvez.
They ask Gene if Vince is unaware of what else is going on in wrestling. Gene said that people have been saying that about him for the past 20 years but he is aware of what is going on outside of the WWE and surrounds himself with a strong inner circle that helps him now what is happening.
He does agree that the cookie-cutter looks that a lot of new wrestlers today does hurt wrestling as they need to have distinctive looks and personalities.
When asked if he wants to write a book, Gene said that he has a manuscript of 1,200 pages but is going to what until he is completely out of the business and can write the final chapter before he releases the book. Gene said that he will end up stepping on a lot of people’s toes when it is released.
Gene believes that if he was staring out in the business today, he would get hired by the WWE, even though the company wants the announcers to be less colorful.
On the subject of who he traveled with, Gene said that he mostly did it by himself but did travel a lot with Bobby Heenan. He tells a story that took place when they were in WCW. He said how Bobby loved to have a cocktail and he wanted to fly first class from Salt Lake City, UT to Oakland, CA. There has no first-class ticket that day so they had to fly to Salt Lake to Denver in order to catch a flight that had first class seats left for Oakland. Gene said that Heenan had all of the whiskey in the world and he was right there with him. On the second flight, Heenan struggled to get his luggage into the overhead and was drunk then one guy came up and asked him if he was alright and Heenan replied back “what the hell are you, a doctor?”
The interviews end with Gene saying that he has no regrets.
Final Thoughts: I thought this was a solid interview. Gene seems like a nice guy and his voice can draw you in, even if not everything he said was exciting. You could definitely tell that Gene was careful not to burn any bridges with the WWE though. He did have some funny stories and was not afraid to poke fun at himself, which is refreshing.
Personally, I think it is sad when you look at the announcers and interviewers today and how non-descriptive and bland they are. They do not have the distinctive voices the guys from the 80’s and 90’s had and to me, that hurts the product. You should want to have a voice associated with the show, someone who can get everything over.
Overall, this interview captured my attention but at the same time, there was no groundbreaking revelations when I finished. I recommend this if you are a fan of Okerlund and the 1980’s WWF.