Howard Finkel, legendary ring announcer who is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, has died, WWE announced on Thursday. He was 69 years old. Nicknamed "The Fink," Finkel is considered one of the best ring announcers in WWE history. He made his ring announcing debut at Madison Square Garden in 1977 when WWE was known as WWWF.
Finkel became a full-time ring announcer for WWE in 1979, and when the company changed over in 1980, Finkel became the company's first and longest-serving employee. His voice stood out when announcing WWE Superstars, and his signature call was "and NNNEEEWWW World Champion!" Finkel did not shy away from in-rig action as he battled Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match in 1995, and he helped X-Pac shaved Jeff Jarrett's head in a Hair vs. Hair Match at SummerSlam in 1998.
"In what has already been a tough week for our [WWE] family, today we lost our 1st ever employee and WWE Hall of Famer, [Howard Finkel]," WWE's Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon wrote on Twitter. Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans. He will be missed. #RIPHowardFinkel Thank you for everything.
One of Finkel's most notable events was being the ring announcer for WrestleMania III, which featured the historic match of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, and it was a front of 93,000 fans. Back in 2009, Finkel said (per Wrestling Inc): "They can never take it away from me. It's something that I cherish and I've always enjoyed, that WrestleMania in 1985, moving even into the one in 1987 in Pontiac, Michigan. How do you think it felt to announce in front of 93,000 people? It's not easy."
Finkel was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 by the late "Mean" Gene Okerlund. When he learned the news of his induction, Finkel was very appreciative, but he also knew he earned the honor. He said at the time: "I would've loved to have had the opportunity when I wasn't a Hall of Famer. And then when I got the word that it was going to be happening, I really kept it suppressed because I didn't want it to overtake me and my emotions. I wanted to keep it in check. True story—when I got to Houston the afternoon of [WrestleMania 25], and I got into the dressing room and I had to change into my tuxedo, which is what I've done for years, then it started hitting me."
"They can't take it away from me. I've earned it," he continued. "That was my WrestleMania, my personal WrestleMania. It's just a great honor to be involved in such a prestigious group as the Hall of Fame classes of years past, and of course this year. To be a part of WWE for nearly 30 years, it's the greatest ride I've ever been on, and it's far from over."