On this day in 1977, my good friend, Howard Finkel, debuted as a ring announcer in Madison Square Garden. Read his personal reflections here on WWE.com.
Over the years, Howard Finkel became the best ring announcer in wrestling history. His voice is the most impersonated by ring announcers coming up in the industry and it’s a testament to his powerful sound. Booming his signature call, “the winner of the match….. And NEWWWW…”.
We’ve all done it. Every wrestling fan has done a “Fink” impression, at least once. (Folks who don’t know much about wrestling think of Michael Buffer but wrestling fans think of the Fink.)
I had the pleasure of being in a select group. I was a member of “Team Fink”, a traveling companion of Howard’s, along with Michael Cole, while on the road for the WWE. Here’s how it worked for us. Howard booked the cheapest plane tickets, rental car and hotel rooms he could find. The Fink said many times, “I spend the company’s money like it’s my own.” Once, we flew a no-name carrier out of Kansas City and when the one plane fleet broke down, Cole and I were stuck, unable to get back for voiceovers. Gotta love the Fink!
While in the car, the Fink always drove and he could not be stumped in “Rock and Roll Trivia”. Jim Cornette could battle Howard to a flat-footed tie but otherwise, Fink had no equal. The Fink also shared some great stories from his days with the company, the first full-time employee of Titan Sports. With his gift of gab and photographic memory, he should have his own show on Sirius/XM on “Deep Tracks”, where he could tell stories and share his love of rock music.
As we all did in the WWE, Howard had multiple jobs. He helped arrange travel for the wrestlers on the road, in addition to ours. Long before the electronic versions today, paper tickets and booking sheets were carefully organized and handed out at TV’s. If changes in bookings were made, Howard had to scramble to keep everyone on the go and he always did it with a smile.
Howard also kept a smile on his face, while being jacked around from ring announcing. In what line of work does the most talented person in the profession’s history get removed from his job, while still being the best in the industry? Oh wait! Only in the WWE is where both the Fink and Jim Ross sit on the sidelines. Pure genius… I’ve talked with Howard about this but Fink never, ever speaks badly about the company. He’s thankful for what he accomplished and the Fink is always ready if the call to the bullpen ever comes up.
Fans of his probably know that he loves both the New York Mets and the New York Jets. Talk about pain! But the Fink goes from “beleaguered” to “believe” in the blink of an eye. Ever the optimist, the Fink always thinks that today will be the day.
I think that is what I learned the most from Howard Finkel. Be thankful for what you have and know that the sun always rises in the morning.
Today, we celebrate “the Greatest of All Time”… the 70th birthday of Muhammad Ali and the 35th anniversary of the MSG debut of Howard Finkel.
What’s your favorite Fink moment? Let me know on Twitter @RealKevinKelly