To add further sorrow to a difficult week in the WWE universe, we were today saddened by the death of Legendary Announcer Howard Finkel (The-Fink) aged 69.

WWE.com released the following statement as a tribute to the great man :

When considering the greatest ring announcers in the history of sports and sports-entertainment, you’d be hard-pressed to name one better than Howard Finkel. A native of Newark, NJ, “The Fink” — a label that had been attached affectionately to Howard over the years — made his ring announcing debut at Madison Square Garden in 1977 for WWE’s predecessor, WWWF.

By 1979, Finkel was the full-time ring announcer for WWWF, and when WWE was established in 1980, The Fink became the first — and eventually longest-serving — employee. Finkel’s distinctive voice was instantly recognizable, and for more than two decades Superstars such as The Ultimate Warrior, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and more would have a title victory marked by The Fink’s signature call, “and NNNEEEWWW World Champion!”

Despite being a ring announcer, Finkel didn’t shy away from in-ring competition in certain circumstances. In 1995, he battled his longtime rival Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match on Raw, and later helped X-Pac shave Jeff Jarrett’s head in a Hair vs. Hair Match at SummerSlam 1998.

In addition to his legendary tenure as a ring announcer, The Fink was an indispensable resource inside the WWE offices for his vast knowledge of sports-entertainment history. Well respected by current Superstars, WWE Legends and Hall of Famers, Finkel’s encyclopedic memory and kindness made him beloved among his colleagues. The Fink was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 4, 2009.

WWE extends its condolences to Finkel’s family, friends and fans.

“The Fink” debuted as a ring announcer for WWE (then known as WWWF) in 1977 and became a full-time announcer in 1979. He continued in that role into the 2000s before transitioning into a part-time announcing position and primarily working for WWE in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

Finkel was honored for his many contributions to the professional wrestling business in 2009 when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

When the WWWF became the WWF in 1980, Finkel was the company’s first employee.

There is no word on the Cause if Finkel’s passing. We would like to pass on our deepest condolences to Howard’s Friends and Family.