THE LOSER OF THE FALL AND NEWWWW DDP HIT…
Wrestling ring announcer Howard Finkel has died aged 69. Finkel was the first ever employee signed to his father’s company by Vince McMahon, and he went onto work for the WWF/E for over 40 years. It was he who came up with the name WrestleMania when suits looked for a snappy title for the extravaganza, equating wrestling with the Beatles. Finkel appeared as a ring announcer at every WrestleMania from 1 in 1985 to 32 in 2016. His encyclopedic knowledge of wrestling history became invaluable to McMahon as he grew his industry in the 80s, and he would frequently supply any stats needed for the commentary team at a moments notice off the top of his head.
His way of announcing a title change, by going “your winner” and adding a 3 second pause for that to soak in before continuing with “and new (whatever) champion” became as much a part of the show as the wrestlers themselves. You stretch the NEWW out and then don’t hear the rest over the crowd pop. He could also explain the rules to overly complicated matches without deviation, hesitation or repetition. Storyline writers would frequently try and get The Fink involved in storylines as few in the company held such permanent audience sympathy. And such was his talent and charisma, he could still hold that audience sympathy, even when wrestling in a tuxedo match with Harvey Wippleman. In the 21st Century, he was slowly eased out of being the lead ring announcer for the company, but kept returning to RAW and regular Pay Per Views as his absence proved how easy he made a surprisingly difficult job look. Fans at ringside would also often note that he always kept suspension of disbelief at ringside for any kids who could see him: even if he knew the match going on was booked to go thirty, he acted as though he was ready to signal the bell for a decision three minutes in if need be.
Even in retirement, he still got the loudest cheer of night in November 2011 when called upon to be a special guest ring announcer for the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio. Wrestlers used to lobby to get a post retirement Finkel in as a special attraction for their matches so they could claim he announced them. The official WWE website used to run a Beat the Fink pub quiz, in which he had a near 100% record on all questions stretching 100 years of history. Vince McMahon used to pretend Finkel was going in the Hall of Fame each year as a prank, but Fink’s no brainer induction did occur, in 2009. However in recent years, he began to suffer from a rare brain disease which mimicked strokes and faded that great memory considerably. Well that’s the sign of a fair world, one of the kindest and sharpest brains in the business dulls to nothing, while we still get to listen to every brain wave that Superstar Billy Graham or Marty Jannetty achieve.
Pro-wrestling is very much a world of sharks, so you can count on one hand the people who you never hear a bad word said about in 40 years. Not even in a drunken shoot interview by a garbage wrestler. Howard Finkel was that rarity, beloved by fans and wrestlers alike. In his final hospital stay, it was said that The Fink’s medical notes read “turn the TV on at 8pm on a Monday for the wrestling”, and even then, that would cheer him up immensely. The man loved pro-wrestling as much as pro-wrestling clearly loved him. There are very few people who lived and were able to say unquestionably that they were the best in the world at what they did. Howard Finkel was one of those few.
He was a unique pick in the DDP this year for fellow Cmme member Grim, who is currently on the mend from some grim ailment. Sharonavirus? I’ll get the knack of these things eventually. We all wish him well, no more than the poor chap whose seen what the computing programming bit of this game entails each December!
Howard “The Fink” Finkel
7 June 1950 – 16 April 2020