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    Friday, April 17, 2020

    Howard Finkel (1950-2020)

    In many ways, ring announcers make professional wrestling a spectacle. The fiction of the ring literally starts and ends with the ring announcer: the reading of rules, the introduction of the combatants, and declaring the winner at the end of the bout. And then there's the feeling of competition, reality, and excitement that comes with the announcer's voice reverberating through the arena.

    And nobody was as good at it as Howard Finkel.

    Howard Finkel holds the distinction of being WWE's first employee, and debuted - fittingly—as the first ring announcer for the company (as the World Wide Wrestling Federation) in Madison Square Garden on January 1977. It was Finkel who came up with some of the great things that we know about professional wrestling today: from the cadence and emphasis of "new" in announcing a new champion, right down to creating the word "WrestleMania." His years of experience in and out of the ring has helped him develop one of the most encyclopedic minds in the wrestling business, as a historian and storyteller of the WWE.

    His presence in the ring is unmistakable: stout, bald, clad in his signature black tuxedo. His booming voice echoed in the arena to announce victories and defeats night after night, and has become part of WWE history in some of the most memorable matches that define wrestling. Name an important match that has taken place in a WWE ring in the 1980s through the early 2000s, and chances are that the ring announcer was The Fink himself. Finkel was no stranger to in-ring action, either: whether it was a Tuxedo Match against Harvey Wippleman or a feud with Tony Chimel, Finkel was by no means a ring general, but proved to be a hearty entertainer as well.

    Toward the end of his long and illustrious career, Father Time caught up with The Fink: those rare occasions that we saw him grace the ring showed a weathered, aging look to the definitive ring announcer. By 2009, Howard Finkel was inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame, and sporadically returned to the ring for "Old School" segments (famously being CM Punk's personal ring announcer) and Legends House.

    In 2018, as if in a fitting way, he introduced The Undertaker through a recording, and the WWE Universe heard the voice of The Fink for the last time. And yesterday, Finkel died at the age of 69.

    Howard Finkel was more than just a ring announcer: he was an institution to professional wrestling in itself. Despite his stature, he was himself an imposing figure in the ring: a man who, in marking the beginning and the end of any wrestling match, gave it the credibility of sports and the visage of entertainment.
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    Item Reviewed: Howard Finkel (1950-2020) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Marck Rimorin
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