It has been announced that WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel has passed away at the age of 69. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans.
When considering the greatest ring announcers in the history of sports and sports-entertainment, you’d be hard-pressed to name one better than Howard Finkel. A native of Newark, NJ, “The Fink” — a label that had been attached affectionately to Howard over the years — made his ring announcing debut at Madison Square Garden in 1977 for WWE’s predecessor, WWWF.
By 1979, Finkel was the full-time ring announcer for WWWF, and when WWE was established in 1980, The Fink became the first — and eventually longest-serving — employee.
Finkel’s distinctive voice was instantly recognizable, and for more than two decades Superstars such as The Ultimate Warrior, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and more would have a title victory marked by The Fink’s signature call, “and NNNEEEWWW World Champion!”
Despite being a ring announcer, Finkel didn’t shy away from in-ring competition in certain circumstances. In 1995, he battled his longtime rival Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match on Raw, and later helped X-Pac shave Jeff Jarrett’s head in a Hair vs. Hair Match at SummerSlam 1998.
In addition to his legendary tenure as a ring announcer, The Fink was an indispensable resource inside the WWE offices for his vast knowledge of sports-entertainment history. Well respected by current Superstars, WWE Legends and Hall of Famers, Finkel’s encyclopedic memory and kindness made him beloved among his colleagues. The Fink was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009.
Several fans fear Howard Finkel may have died or succumbed to Coronavirus, COVID-19, but his cause of death is said to be complications from a stroke. Howard Finkel had been suffering from a very serious stroke for a year and was in bad health before his death.
Ringside reports that the star announcer was in poor health after suffering a stroke in early 2019.
Finkel, better known as ‘The Fink’, was regarded as one of the greatest ring announcers in WWE history. He made his debut at the company in 1977, before going on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Finkel even stepped in between the ropes for the occasional match, including facing rival Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match on ‘Raw’ in 1995. Three years later, he helped X-Pac shave Jeff Jarrett’s head after a Hair vs. Hair bout at ‘Summerslam’.
In their statement announcing his death, WWE added: ‘In addition to his legendary tenure as a ring announcer, The Fink was an indispensable resource inside the WWE offices for his vast knowledge of sports-entertainment history.
‘Well respected by current Superstars, WWE Legends and Hall of Famers, Finkel’s encyclopedic memory and kindness made him beloved among his colleagues.’
Many of his colleagues and fans have already paid tribute including WWE boss Stephanie McMahon, who praised his ‘iconic’ voice.
She tweeted: ‘In what has already been a tough week for our @WWE family, today we lost our 1st ever employee and WWE Hall of Famer, @howardfinkel.
‘Howard’s voice is iconic & recognised by generations of fans. He will be missed.
‘#RIPHowardFinkel Thank you for everything.’
Rival promotion IMPACT Wrestling also took to social media to remember one of the greats.
The company’s official Twitter account posted: ‘IMPACT Wrestling is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Howard Finkel. We send our condolences to his friends and family.’
Finkel is survived by his wife, Cathie, and his adult child. The New Jersey native was a resident of Stamford, Connecticut .
wrestling new splus extends its condolences to Finkel’s family, friends and fans.