“This was 1984,” he told Slam Wrestling in 2014, “so I said 20 years ago four guys from Liverpool came across the shores to the United States and made a phenomenal impression on everybody. They called that Beatlemania. So I said: ‘There was Beatlemania. Why can’t there be WrestleMania?’ ”
After he stopped being a full-time announcer, he announced each year’s Hall of Fame inductees at WrestleMania until 2017.
“In what has already been a tough week for our @WWE family, today we lost our first ever employee and WWE Hall of Famer, @howardfinkel,” WWE’s Stephanie McMahon tweeted, alluding to WWE layoffs and WWE CEO Vince McMahon’s decision to shut down the XFL he founded. “Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans. He will be missed. #RIPHowardFinkel Thank you for everything.”
A Newark native, Finkel made his debut as a ring announcer for the World Wide Wrestling Federation, a previous WWE incarnation, in 1977 and became a full-time announcer in 1979. In the early 2000s, he moved into a part-time announcing position and worked behind the scenes for WWE. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
Finkel wrestled several times, beating manager Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match on “Raw” in 1995 and losing to announcer Tony Chimel in a Tuxedo Match on “SmackDown” in 1999 and losing to announcer Lilian Garcia in an Evening Gown vs. Tuxedo Match on “Raw” in 2002.
He also had a role on the WWE Network’s 2014 show, “Legends’ House,” along with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Mean” Gene Okerlund and Jimmy Hart.
“Howard Finkle [sic] was on Team Hogan through the good and bad times,” Hulk Hogan tweeted. “[E]ven 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 [McMahon] will work it out.’, my good friend RIP, I love you 4LifeHH”
Tommy Dreamer tweeted that he was “crushed” by Finkel’s death. “I lost my friend today I saw him once a month The Voice of Wrestling. I loved him so much.”
Triple H noted that “You weren’t someone until you heard Howard announce you. A championship win didn’t feel real until you heard him say ‘and the new!’ His voice, his personality, and his positivity will be sorely missed. Thank you for everything … especially your friendship.”
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