The funeral for legendary AWA promoter and former AWA World Heaveyweight Champion Verne Gagne took place on Tuesday 5/5 in Eden Prairie, MN. Gene Okerlund and Greg Gagne delivered the eulogies and Okerlund finished his speech by doing a classic interview introduction that ended with “the heavyweight champion of the world, Verne Gagne.” Everyone gave that a standing ovation. The one negative thing was Bob Backlund yelling during Greg Gagne’s eulogy. It was described as Backlund doing a heel promo but it came off as ridiculously out of place. I heard that he did it after the eulogy but regardless it came off very awkward.
Others from the wrestling business that attended the visitation and/or the funeral were Larry Hennig, Wayne Bloom, Brad Rheigans, Mick Karch, Derrick Dukes, Fankie DeFalco, Jake Milliman, Jim Brunzell, John Nord, Kenny Jay, Dan Jesser, Doug Fisher, Paul Ellering, Steve Olsonoski, BVaron Von Raschke, and Eddie Sharkey. There were people from the media there. Also, former Vikings coach Bud Grant and Tony Nagurski were there. Nagurski is the son of fomer NFL player-turned-wrestler Bronko Nagurski.
Gagne was mentioned on ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” last week after the news of his death got out. Reporters Michael Wilbon and Bob Ryan talked about how Gagne was the ultimate good guy when they were watching AWA wrestling. Gagne was described by Ryan as the best wrestler and a true professional.
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