Howard Finkel, the memorable WWE ring announcer known as “The Fink,” has died. WWE confirmed his passing in a statement on Thursday, though no cause of death was given. He was 69.
“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,” says WWE in its statement. “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!’”
Finkel was born in Newark, NJ in 1950, and made his ring announcing debut at Madison Square Garden in 1976 with WWE’s predecessor, WWWF. He went on to become WWE’s first employee following its inception in 1980, and is credited both with coining the Wrestlemania event name and the nickname of iconic grappler Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Finkel graduated to lead ring announcer in 1984, and would remain an onscreen presence for the brand throughout the 2000s, sometimes in feuds of his own. As both a face and a heel, Finkel worked storylines with wrestlers like Chris Jericho, X-Pac, Trish Stratus, and The Bushwhackers.
Finkel made sporadic appearances throughout the ‘10s, the most moving of which found him serving as a guest announcer for CM Punk at the 2011 Survivor Series. You can see the tears in his eyes as a stadium’s worth of fans chanted his name in appreciation.
Though he suffered a serious stroke in 2018, he was still seen backstage at WWE events as recently as last year.
Below, see his 1976 WWWF ring announcing debut, as well as memorials from the likes of Kurt Angle, The Iron Sheik, and Jim Ross, who says nobody “was more loyal or loved pro wrestling more than The Fink.”