If Vince McMahon was the brains of the WWF boom in the 1980s, Howard Finkel was the voice. That voice was silenced today, as Finkel died at the age of 69.
The legendary ring announcer was the one wrestling fans heard at the start and end of matches, introducing the participants and then declaring the contest’s winner. His voice boomed when it came into contact with a microphone. And when a new champion was crowned at the end of a title match, the roar of the crowd was boosted by Finkel’s pronouncements.
“The winner of this contest… AND NEEEEW World Wrestling Federation champion…”
The phrase, coming from a balding, tuxedo-clad and mustachioed man at ringside, is burned into my brain as a 1980s wrestling fan. I’m sure it’s the same for many others who grew up watching the WWF. Other announcers, like BOBBY “THE BRAIN” HEENAN, Gorilla Monsoon, “MEAN” GENE OKERLUND and Jesse Ventura may have had their voices heard more often on television, but it was Finkel’s inimitable pronouncements at the end of the match that truly defined the start of a title reign.
Finkel was more than just a ring announcer for the WWF, though. As the first employee hired to the company when Vince McMahon took over for his father, Finkel had a major impact on the company over the years. As the legend goes, he’s even responsible for naming the company’s premiere event “WrestleMania” back in 1985.
Hearing that “The Fink,” as he affectionately came to be known, had died today makes me want to spend time on the WWE Network watching matches he was involved in. The wrestling world has lost a true legend today.