Longtime WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel has died at 69, the organization announced in a statement Thursday.
No cause of death was mentioned. Finkel had reportedly been dealing with health issues in recent years.
“WWE extends its condolences to Finkel’s family, friends and fans,” the organization said in its statement.
Finkel made his ring announcing debut in 1977 at Madison Square Garden for WWE’s predecessor, the WWWF. In 1980, he was the first hire for Titan Sports, which eventually became World Wrestling Entertainment. For more than two decades, “The Fink” was a mainstay in the ring, with his distinctive voice and signature phrase “and NNNEEEWWW world champion!”
Finkel also was an in-ring participant in the competition at times, including a Tuxedo Match against longtime rival Harvey Wippleman in 1995.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
His appearances became less frequent in recent years but Finkel remained “an indispensable resource” within the the organization, the WWE said in its statement.
“Well respected by current Superstars, WWE Legends and Hall of Famers, Finkel’s encyclopedic memory and kindness made him beloved among his colleagues,” the company stated.
The wrestling community reacted to the news Thursday on social media.
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
HE PUT ME OVER. HE MAKE ME LOOK LIKE THE LEGEND. HE MAKE ME SMILE. FOREVER I LOVE YOU HOWARD FINKEL pic.twitter.com/cY8tTHDqds— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) April 16, 2020
I’m gonna dearly miss my friend @howardfinkel. Passionate Mets & wrestling fan. An incredible soul. He’s the soundtrack to so many of our childhoods. Nobody has ever done it better. Rest In Peace Fink.— Brian Myers (@TheCurtHawkins) April 16, 2020
It's crushing to learn of the passing of #HowardFinkel - The voice of a generation of WWF fans and a genuinely nice man, sweet soul . . . My sincerest condolences to his family . . . #RIPFink pic.twitter.com/nkBWhh1N0h— Gary Cappetta (@GaryCappetta) April 16, 2020
Howard Finkel was a staple of my childhood. The voice we all grew up with. I first met Howard backstage at WrestleMania 33. I walked up and as I said "Hello, sir" and went to introduce myself, he burst out "HELLO, JOHNNY!" I couldn't believe he knew MY name! #RIPFink— Johnny Gargano (@JohnnyGargano) April 16, 2020
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
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