The WWE announced Thursday that legendary ring announcer Howard Finkel died at the age of 69. The cause of death was not disclosed.
“The Fink,” a Newark native whose career began with the company (then, the WWWF) in 1975, became its longest-tenured employee, serving as the full-time ring announcer for more than two decades, before being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
Finkel debuted as a ring announcer in 1977 at Madison Square Garden and was the voice of countless major moments in wrestling history during the 1980s/’90s wrestling boom, sparked by “Hulkamania.” Finkel’s signature call — “and NNNEEEWWW world champion” — marked the transition of several monumental moments in the company’s history, as he stood beside legends such as “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock and many more.
“Howard Finkle [sic] was on Team Hogan through the good and bad times, even when I was on the outs Howard would call on a consistent basis to tell me to always keep my head up,” Hulk Hogan tweeted. “It was ‘never say never’ and ‘you and Vince will work it out.’ My good friend RIP, I love you 4LifeHH.”
On occasion, Finkel even got involved in the action. In addition to being featured in several storylines over the years, Finkel fought manager Harvey Wippleman in a match in 1995.
In a 2014 interview with Slam! Wrestling, Finkel said he came up with the name “WrestleMania” for the company’s massive 1985 show, which would soon become WWE’s version of the Super Bowl.
“This was 1984, so I said 20 years ago four guys from Liverpool came across the shores to the United States and made a phenomenal impression on everybody. They called that Beatlemania,” Finkel said, referring to The Beatles. “So I said, ‘There was Beatlemania. Why can’t there be WrestleMania?’ The rest is history.”
Finkel’s passing marks another blow in a brutal week for the WWE, which fired wrestlers and furloughed several employees Wednesday, citing financial issues caused by COVID-19.
“In what has already been a tough week for our WWE family, (Thursday) we lost our 1st ever employee and WWE Hall of Famer, @howardfinkel,” Stephanie McMahon tweeted. “Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans. He will be missed. #RIPHowardFinkel Thank you for everything.”
Earlier in the week, WWE CEO Vince McMahon shut down his second incarnation of the XFL, declaring bankruptcy.
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