A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
The coronavirus has helped me put things in perspective. Things I took for granted, like going out every Friday with my wife and heading to the movies whenever I wanted are part of the distant past. I miss all the little things that I never gave a second thought to just three months ago. I have also come to the realization they will never be the same again.
Recently, Howard Finkel passed away. Growing up, I never really saw The Fink as anything more than a ring announcer. During the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling heyday, there were plenty of things to talk with my friends about. Hulk Hogan was battling evil foreigners, Bobby Heenan was always up to some scheme, and there was always an awesome new theme song to try to learn the words to. A guy calling of names and weights just kind of got lost in the shuffle.
Looking back, I see what a big part Finkel played in my professional wrestling memories. Some of my earliest recollections of the WWF are All American Wrestling on the USA Network. I am not sure why I remember it so well; it was basically just clips of Superstars and Wrestling Challenge. Nothing ever happened. I guess it was because it was on Sundays, the most boring day of the week.
The show opened with Finkel’s call of Hogan winning the WWF title. It may not be as memorable as the the song for World Championship Wrestling (Saturdays at 6:05!) but it still sticks out. The opening theme was pretty awesome in its own right, but it was the Fink’s announcement that makes it stand out. The open would not have worked with anyone else’s voice.
Before titles would change hands on pretty much every show, every title switch was important and meant something. Finkel added to the gravity of these moments. His famous “AND NEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!” is one of the most memorable and recognizable calls in pro wrestling. The Fink was a master and knew how to maximize the drama of these moments.
Even though he became something of a comedy character later in his career, Finkel was never a part of any major angles. He seemed to be content to just be in the background. Chances are, he would have done fine if he was in one. In the Bizarro world McMemphis angle, he channeled Andy Kaufman and played a pretty funny heel. Clearly, Finkel was a man of many talents.
Howard Finkel was the best ring announcer of all time. His voice was perfect for professional wrestling. He also had impeccable timing that increased the drama of every match he announced. There will never be another one like the Fink.
Next Week: I guess there were worse ideas…
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