NEWARK, N.J. (CNN) — Howard Finkel, the legendary ring announcer and WWE Hall of Famer, has passed away, the company announced Thursday. He was 69.
Finkel, known as “The Fink,” made his debut at Madison Square Garden in 1977 when WWE was known as WWWF. He became a full-time announcer two years later, and when WWE was established in 1980, Finkel became the first employee, as noted by WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon in a tweet.READ MORE: Police: Man Seen On Video Stealing Wallets From Worshipers At Queens Mosques
“Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans. He will be missed,” McMahon tweeted.
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
Finkel would mark championship victories with his signature call, “and Nnneeeww world champion!” and he was recognized for his dedication to the wrestling industry when he was inducted into the WWE Ha’ll of Fame in 2009.
Finkel, a native of Newark, New Jersey, even got to get in the ring himself when he fought against manager Harvey Wippleman in 1995 and helped shave Jeff Jarrett’s head in a “Hair vs. Hair” match in 1998, according to WWE.
“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,” WWE said on its website. The company did not reveal the cause of his death.
Numerous wrestlers were posting condolences on Twitter.
“Howard (Finkel) was on Team Hogan through the good and bad times,” WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan tweeted. “Even when I was on the outs Howard would call on a consistent basis to tell me to always keep my head up.”READ MORE: COVID Impact: Jersey City Schools In-Person Learning Back On, But Some Parents Have Concerns About Phased-In Approach
Howard Finkle was on Team Hogan through the good and bad times,even when I was on the outs Howard would call on a consistent basis to tell me to always keep my head up,it was” never say never” and “you and Vince will work it out”,my good friend RIP,I love you 4LifeHH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 16, 2020
“I’ll never forget the last few times I saw him,” WWE superstar Kevin Owens tweeted. “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.”
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
News of Finkel’s death is another blow to what has been a rough week for WWE.
On Wednesday, the company released several of its Superstars in an effort to cut back on spending during the coronavirus pandemic. Among those let go were Drake Maverick, Curt Hawkins, Sarah Logan and Epico.MORE NEWS: MTA At Odds With NYPD Over Subway Crime Stats: 'We're Listening To Our Customers'
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