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Mean Gene Okerlund On Working With Kevin Hart, How Hart Would Fare As A Wrestler Or Manager, The Lack Of Managers In Today’s Wrestling

I recently had the opportunity to speak with WWE Hall Of Famer Mean Gene Okerlund about his role in the new Mtn Dew Kickstart commercial with Kevin Hart; you can read transcribed highlights below:

Mean Gene Okerlund on his involvement in the new Mtn Dew campaign: 

I had an opportunity to test drive Mountain Dew Kickstart—I’m a little bit older than some of the people in the wrestling business today—so Mountain Dew Kickstart has just enough caffeine to give me a boost to get through the day. I thought there was a perfect marriage for myself and the product, and of course an opportunity to work with somebody like Kevin Hart; what more can you ask for?

Who will this commercial appeal to?

I think it’s going to appeal to everybody. The Mountain Dew Kickstart commercial—you’ve got me from the ‘golden years’ in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Kevin Hart, who is very much an item in 2018—I think you’ve got it all right there.

What was it like working with Kevin on-camera? 

I’ve heard so much about Kevin Hart from my very dear, close, personal long-time friend Dwayne Johnson—The Rock—of course we know he made a big mark in professional wrestling. He’s made a big mark and a big name in the movie business. He and Kevin are very close, so I had kind of gotten all of the prelims on [Kevin] from The Rock, and just to get together and shoot the breeze, to be able to enjoy a Mountain Dew Kickstart together was very enjoyable for me.

This guy is a natural. Kevin Hart was able to channel his own feeling about what a wrestling interview should and might be. Him getting the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage— I worked with Randy Savage for many years — and after [Kevin] drinking a Mountain Dew Kickstart, it reminded me of some of the interviews I did back in the old days where I interviewed them right before they entered the ring.

Macho Man wore a few outfits that sort of screamed at you, and Kevin had a little bit of that on set. it drew the attention of cameramen, technicians, other people that happened to be in and around the shooting of the commercial.

Gene comments on the lack of managers in today’s wrestling:

You don’t see too many of them these days. I wish they would bring them back. They played a very key part; guys like Mr Fuji, who was a very good wrestler, and most of these guys were wrestlers at one time. These guys could add to the intrigue of a given match when their man was involved.

Mean Gene Okerlund Featured In New Mtn Dew Ad With Kevin Hart (Video)

How does he think Kevin would fare as a wrestler or as a manager?

He’s very athletic, number one, so despite his size, I still think he could be a force to be reckoned with inside the ring. His managerial skills, because of how glib he is, and what a quick-thinker he is on his feet, the fact that he has a comedic background, I think would make him one of the greatest managers of all time. There’s shades of Bobby Heenan, Slick or Freddie Blassie, Captain Lou Albano.

I definitely think Kevin could carry the ball as a manager. Based on all of his experiences, and based on the fact that he knows and recognizes good entertainment. He’s a great entertainer and a great comedian, and I think wrestling needs a little more of that tongue-in-cheek approach. I think Kevin could be the consummate manager in the landscape that we are living in today.

This is a new generation where a lot of the storylines are scripted, so having guys that can think on their feet, some of the promoters today would say ‘let them go! because it was spontaneous.

Okerlund praises Sami Zayn’s recent RAW promo: 

When I saw Sami Zayn in London, where RAW was on the air, he had about a 7-8 minute stand-up, expostulating on the virtues of himself and of course, his friends in WWE today. A lot of it was scripted, but he did a good job of making it natural and authentic and entertaining as I think anybody could.

Does he have any advice for today’s wrestling world? 

I think I have some advice for both the talent, and the “powers that be” in professional wrestling. I would say let the guys say it their own way and let them put their own matches together. We know somebody’s got to win, somebody’s got to lose, but aside from that, there’s a lot of latitude and spontaneity and free-wheeling that I think would make it a much better product. I’m not knocking the product on RAW or Smackdown or NXT; these guys are good, but they’re following a television format.

Transcription credit to Bill Pritchard for Wrestlezone.com