(WTAJ) — Iconic ring announcer and former WWE employee, Howard Finkel has passed away, WWE.com reports. He was 69 years old.
When it comes to ring announcers across the world, few can be classified as a legend the way Howard Finkel could be over the years.
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 with the WWWF.
By 1979, Finkel was the full-time ring announcer for WWWF, and when ‘WWF’ 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 Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, “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.
Well respected by current Superstars, WWE Legends and Hall of Famers, Finkel’s encyclopedic memory and kindness made him beloved among his colleagues.
Howard Finkel was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009.