Legendary wrestling announcer and WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel has passed away. Longtime wrestling fans will certainly remember Finkel’s distinctive voice introducing all of wrestling’s greatest stars during the ’80s and ’90s, essentially serving as the official voice of WWE for many years. The news of his death comes straight from WWE’s official website, though a cause of death is not clear at this time. The sports entertainment icon was 69 years old.
Finkel was born on June 7, 1950 in Newark, New Jersey. He became the very first employee for WWE (then WWWF) when he was hired by Vince McMahon, Sr. in 1975 to become the ring announcer for the company. With an iconic voice and natural ability, Finkel quickly became one of the most familiar ring announcers in the wrestling business by the late ’70s. He’d remain with the company when Vince McMahon took over the business from his father, continuing to announce into the ’80s. Something about the way Finkel announced each victory made the fan reactions that much stronger, particularly when it came to announcing new title holders.
As the nature of pro wrestling became more outlandish heading into the late ’90s, Finkel had gotten physically involved in some WWE storylines. In 1995, he wrestled heel wrestling manager Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match on Monday Night Raw; Finkel won by stripping Wippleman of his tuxedo. Later, in 1998, wrestling villain Jeff Jarrett completely shaved Finkel’s head, causing Finkel to help X-Pac with shaving Jarrett’s head at that year’s SummerSlam pay-per-view event. By 2002, Finkel finally took on the role of the villain by challenging new announcer Lillian Garcia to an evening gown/tuxedo match, going on to lose the bout.
Behind the scenes, Finkel was an important part of the company as well. Some of his creative contributions include coining the name “WrestleMania” and giving legendary wrestler Ricky Steamboat his “Dragon” moniker. According to WWE, he was also an “indispensable resource” in the company’s offices based on his “vast knowledge of sports-entertainment history.” His work in the business was honored in 2009 when he was officially inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
In later years, Finkel continued to make sporadic appearances in WWE to announce special events. He would also regularly announce the Hall of Fame inductees at each year’s WrestleMania for many years, as hearing his voice at the event always added that extra layer of authenticity. In 2012, Finkel appeared on the WWE Network reality show Legends’ House with other famous names from WWE history, also serving as an off-screen announcer for The Edge and Christian Show. Most recently, Finkel announced The Undertaker for the 25th anniversary edition of Raw that aired in 2018, but a recording had to be used as Finkel was unable to attend the event.
Finkel was divorced and didn’t have any children. Our thoughts go out to those who knew Finkel best at this time as we offer our condolences. All across the world, there are countless wrestling fans already missing Finkel as well. With a voice like no other and as such an important part of wrestling history, one thing that’s for sure is that the legacy of Howard Finkel will live on forever and he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from the official WWE.com website.