Iconic WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel has died.
The news of his death was revealed on Thursday morning with the organization posting a tribute on its official website.
Howard Finkel dies at 69
While Finkel was with WWE for longer than any other employee — he was the first person hired by the company, according to Jim Ross in his latest book Under the Black Hat — the former announcer was only 69.
Many WWE fans grew up recognizing the voice of “The Fink” as he introduced the opponents in each match for decades.
Whether it was classic wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino and Hulk Hogan or Attitude Era stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Finkel was there to call their names and eventually announce them as the “New World Champion.”
Finkel introduced his first match at Madison Square Garden of all places, a huge beginning for a legendary career. At that time, WWE was known as WWWF and was owned by Vince McMahon Sr, the man who hired Finkel.
When WWF started in 1980, Finkel was not only its first hired employee under the new banner but also the longest-tenured of anyone when he finally left.
Many fans in the Attitude Era also got to see Finkel in the ring in other ways, such as when he fought a manager named Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match and then helped X-Pac shave the head of Jeff Jarrett at SummerSlam 98.
Howard Finkel entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2011, WWE brought back Finkel for a huge moment at Survivor Series.
One of my favourite Howard Finkel moments and one of the voices of my childhood. RIP Fink. pic.twitter.com/sKh3shaD7L
— Adam Pacitti (@adampacitti) April 16, 2020
As Booker T called him, Finkel was the “greatest announcer of all-time.”
There is currently no cause of death reported.
Howard Finkel tributes
Wrestlers from all over the world sent tributes in memory of Howard Finkel after his death.
Frankie Kazarian from AEW called him “all class” and said that his voice introduced kids to their heroes in WWE for the first time. He called him the “voice of a generation.”
Very sad to hear about the passing of Howard Finkel. Howard was all class in addition to being the voice that introduced myself and millions of other kids to our heroes for the first time. The voice of a generation. His importance cannot be understated. Rip. Godspeed sir. pic.twitter.com/TBCYZTo6mt
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) April 16, 2020
Stephanie McMahon, who grew up around Finkel as a child, also sent out a tribute.
She pointed out how WWE lost its first-ever employee in what was an already tough week for the company. “Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans,” she wrote. “He will be missed.”
In what has already been a tough week for our @WWE family, today we lost our 1st ever employee and WWE Hall of Famer, @howardfinkel. Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans. He will be missed. #RIPHowardFinkel Thank you for everything. ❤️?❤️
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) April 16, 2020
Brandi Rhodes, the wife of former WWE superstar Cody, also sent out a tribute, calling Finkel a “great friend and mentor.” Brandi worked as an announcer in WWE as well.
Howard Finkel was a great friend and mentor to me. I was so blessed to be able to look to him for guidance, honesty and the occasional bit of humor. He spoke with kindness, and always had a sparkle in his eye when speaking about our industry. Thank you for everything Howard. ?
— The Brandalorian (@TheBrandiRhodes) April 16, 2020
Also current stars poster tributes, including John Cena, Big E, and Kevin Owens.
Howard was the best. It’s that simple. I’ll never forget the last few times I saw him…the excitement he still had for the industry, the genuine concern he showed when asking about how my family was doing despite his own declining health…
I’m so grateful I got to know him. https://t.co/sALmt2Ihb6
— Kevin (@FightOwensFight) April 16, 2020
Loss of any kind is not easy. We feel some, if not all difficult emotions. Feel them, face them, don’t lock them up, but do so with a brave sense of accountability. All of us are tested now more than ever. Stay in touch and in tune with you, try to find lessons in any hardship.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) April 16, 2020
Fink was not only an indelible part of my childhood but he couldn’t have been sweeter to me any time I saw him backstage. I’m grateful to have known him.
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) April 16, 2020
Howard Finkel last appeared on WWE television in 2018 at the 25th anniversary of Monday Night Raw where he introduced The Undertaker. That final appearance was not live, but prerecorded. He also worked for WWE in a backstage role in his later years.