Howard Finkel, WWE Hall of Fame Ring Announcer, Dead at 69

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Howard Finkel at WWE screening in 2014
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for WWE

Known affectionately as "The Fink," legendary WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel has died at age 69. Finkel, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009, announced some of the most memorable moments in the history of professional wrestling.

WWE shared Finkel's passing on Thursday, though a cause of death was not revealed. Finkel, the first and longest-serving employee in WWE history after the company was officially established in 1980, had seen his health decline rapidly in recent years and was confined to a wheelchair in 2019 after suffering a stroke. 

Finkel made his ring announcing debut for WWE's predecessor, the WWWF, in 1977 inside New York's Madison Square Garden. He was originally hired by WWWF owner Vince McMahon Sr. in 1975, and his career with the companies as announcer, historian and backstage employee spanned nearly a half decade.

Finkel's signature call of "AND NEWWWWW" before announcing a championship had switched hands to the crowd in attendance at an event went on to be adopted into the combat sports lexicon. Credited for coming up with the name "WrestleMania" for the WWE's annual super show that began in 1985, Finkel served as announcer for nearly each one until he adopted a lighter schedule in the early 2000s. He attended every WrestleMania from 1985-2016.

Along with introducing the Hall of Fame inductees each year at WrestleMania, Finkel continued to lend his voice to many shows on the WWE Network, along with occasional guest appearances on Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view events. He also became an on-screen character for the company at various points throughout his tenure, though never an extended period of time.

 

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I will miss this man. Howard Finkel was the voice @christian4peeps and I emulated when we performed our own ring introductions for our living room or side yard(depending on the weather) wrestling “shows”. I know there’s an entire generation of kids, now grizzled adults who did the same thing. He was “our voice”. When I debuted in the WWE and I heard Howard’s voice introduce Edge, I welled up. THAT’S when it became real that I’d made it. I will never forget the goosebumps I had the night on a house show at The Skydome when he said “and NEEEEEEWWWW Intercontinental Champion”. Our first tag title win at WrestleMania of all places. The voice? Howard. More importantly than all of that, he was my friend. He was a genuine, warm and compassionate man who absolutely LOVED his job. I remember standing with him nightly behind the curtain with a bunch of the boys firing him up as Welcome to the Jungle played for his ring intro music. This hurts. The Fink. The best. Ever.

A post shared by Adam “Edge” Copeland (@edgeratedr) on

Finkel took part in a pair of memorable in-ring storylines, which included a tuxedo match against manager Harvey Wippleman on Raw in 1995 and an evening gown/tuxedo match against then-ring announcer Lillian Garcia in 2009. Finkel memorably helped X-Pac shave Jeff Jarrett's head following their 1998 hair vs. hair match at SummerSlam, and he served as a special guest ring announcer for CM Punk in 2011 ahead of a WWE championship match against Alberto del Rio.

This story was originally published by CBS Sports on April 16, 2020.

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