Howard Finkel (June 7, 1950) is a professional wrestling ring announcer, best known for his work with WWE. He began working for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1977, and is the company's longest serving employee.
A native of Newark, New Jersey, Finkel began announcing for wrestling shows at Madison Square Garden in 1977. By 1979, he had become the WWF's first employee, as lead ring announcer for the their biggest events. Throughout his career, Finkel's distinctive voice was sometimes used in the title sequence for the company's various television programs. Finkel's signature call was his announcement of a new champion following a title change, in which he would place extra emphasis on the word "new", in order to draw the greatest reaction from the crowd. Finkel came up with the event name "WrestleMania", as well as Ricky Steamboat's "Dragon" nickname.
On January 19, 1987, Howard Finkel was presented a plaque by Gene Okerlund, commemorating ten years of announcing at Madison Square Garden. In 1993, at the "Roman"-themed WrestleMania IX, Howard Finkel was introduced as Finkus Maximus. In a 2011 interview, Finkel said he had also played a part in the talent relations and creative departments during the early days of the WWF.
Finkel in storylines
As an announcer, Finkel was generally separate from the scripted angles, but occasionally became part of the company's storylines. In 1992, he was attacked by Kamala. At WrestleMania X, he pushed manager Harvey Wippleman to the ground, after Wippleman had verbally and physically harassed him. This led to Finkel's first match on January 9, 1995; on Monday Night Raw, he won a tuxedo match over Wippleman, by stripping him to his underwear.
Finkel became involved in a feud between X-Pac and Jeff Jarrett, when Jarrett shaved the already near-bald Finkel's head. This feud culminated in a Hair versus Hair Match at SummerSlam 1998, with Finkel in the corner of X-Pac. X-Pac won the match and Finkel assisted him in cutting Jarrett's hair.
In August 1999, Finkel became a lackey of the recently debuted Chris Jericho. On August 26, during the pilot episode of WWF SmackDown, Jericho enouraged Finkel to attack SmackDown announcer Tony Chimel and take back his place as lead announcer. Finkel ran down the aisle, shoving Chimel and ordering him to step aside. As Finkel started to announce, Chimel threw Finkel from the ring. While Jericho helped Finkel to the back, they crossed paths with Ken Shamrock, who jostled with Jericho. Jericho convinced Finkel to distract Shamrock during his match. After Finkel berated Shamrock, Shamrock began twisting Finkel's finger, permitting Jericho to hit Shamrock from behind with a steel chair. Several weeks later, Finkel adopted the role of El Dopo, a masked referee who unfairly officiated a Shamrock match, awarding the win to Curtis Hughes. On the October 14 episode of SmackDown!, Jericho defeated Hughes with help from Finkel, but gave Finkel to Curtis Hughes after the match. Four days later on Monday Night Raw, Curtis Hughes bet and lost Finkel in a game of poker, to The Acolytes.
On the August 22, 2002 episode of Raw, Finkel began a brief feud with Raw ring announcer Lilian Garcia over the lead spot, before both were attacked by 3-Minute Warning. The following week, Garcia defeated Finkel in an evening gown/tuxedo match with help from Trish Stratus and Stacy Keibler, who were ostensibly insulted by a "dumb blonde" remark made by Finkel.
By 2000, Howard Finkel had taken a lighter schedule with the additions of Lilian Garcia and Tony Chimel to Raw and SmackDown, respectively, but he still announced for some of the WWF/E's pay-per-view events.
By 2006, Finkel was rarely heard from even at pay-per-views. However, he regularly introduced the WWE Hall of Fame inductees at WrestleMania. Finkel himself was inducted on April 4, 2009 by "Mean" Gene Okerlund. Because Finkel was one of that year's inductees, SmackDown announcer Justin Roberts replaced him in introducing the group at WrestleMania XXV. Finkel's current television appearances are sporadic, at major pay-per-views and occasional episodes of Raw and SmackDown. Finkel is the only person to appear on-screen at every single WrestleMania event.
Finkel did the voiceover in the intro for the WWE.com video show, The Dirt Sheet, and also conducted interviews for various WWE.com programs. He is WWE's chief statistician. On September 7, 2009, he announced in special guest host Bob Barker's The Price is Right-inspired segments. He was in the background of the Decade of SmackDown celebrations on the October 2 episode.
Finkel returned to ring announcing (for one night only) on the November 15, 2010 "Old School" episode of Raw. He appeared on an episode of NXT, in an "Outthink The Fink" challenge. In a March 28, 2011 interview, Finkel stated his favourite (and career-defining) accomplishment was announcing at WrestleMania III, in front of over 93,000 fans.
On April 10, 2012, Finkel appeared on the "Blast from the Past" episode of SmackDown.
On July 23, 2012, Finkel was a special ring announcer on the 1,000th episode of Raw.
- WWF Superstars of Wrestling ring announcer
- Heat ring announcer
- Byte This host
- Raw ring announcer (January 1993 - 1997)
- SmackDown ring announcer
- House show ring announcer
- Madison Square Garden ring announcer
- WWE Hall of Fame announcer (WrestleMania 22 - XXIV, XXVI - XXVIII)
- Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) ring announcer
Awards and accomplishments
- Finkel is known for his precise knowledge of dates and records. Such odd trivia as this is usually referred to from people in the business as a "Finkel Fact". He currently serves as WWE's chief statistician.
- Finkel suggested the Pay-Per-View name "WrestleMania", and Vince McMahon immediately accepted the idea.
- Finkel has actually been trained as a wrestler despite only taking part in gimmick matches that do not involve much training.
- During WrestleMania IX held at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip near Las Vegas, Nevada, Finkel was introduced as "Finkus Maximus".