Legendary ring announcer and WWE Hall of Famer Howard Finkel is no more
WWE has witnessed a tough week and has furloughed producers and on-screen talent
WWE Hall of Fame ring announcer Howard Finkel passed away at the age of 69. The cause of his death is yet to be revealed as per reports. Popularly known as "The Fink" he debuted as a ring announcer for WWE (then known as WWF) in 1977 and became a full-time announcer by 1979. His soothing and vibrant voice set the pacing of 1980s wrestling and 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.
Chief brand officer of WWE, Stephanie McMahon shared the news and tweeted, "In what has already been a tough week for our @WWE family, today we lost our 1st ever employee and WWE Hall of Famer, @howardfinkel. Howard’s voice is iconic & recognized by generations of fans. He will be missed. #RIPHowardFinkel Thank you for everything."
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the brand announced that it is furloughing a portion of its workforce and releasing on-screen talent. World champion Kurt Angle, former tag team champions Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, former cruiserweight champion Lio Rush, former 24/7 champion Drake Maverick, former Intercontinental champion Zack Ryder and former U.S. champion Rusev and Referee Mike Chioda, who was the longest-tenured referee in WWE history (for more than 20 years) were let go. The company made this announcement through a release on its official website.
The furloughs are part of a financial restructuring and WWE has also reduced salaries of executives and has paused the construction of a new headquarters as per reports, however, WWE clarified that it expects the furloughs to be temporary.
Those who were let go accepted WWE's decision and some of them acknowledged it through tweets on their official pages. Rush, who was the cruiserweight champion as recently as December, tweets, "To all of my fellow co workers, whatever happens today or the remainder of this week....just know, we're all going to be good."
Maverick, who won the 24/7 title five times and was one of the popular faces of the matches on television, said he will participate in WWE's cruiserweight tournament this month, but after that, his wrestling career is likely over. "It's affecting people's lives. It's affecting people's jobs. It's affecting the way people make a living," said Maverick, 37. "I'm very fortunate that WWE is still allowing me to compete in the NXT cruiserweight title tournament, but it's very likely that those will be the last matches that I ever have. There's a lot of people I'm not gonna get a chance to say goodbye to that I really love and I really care about. ... It's not about a title anymore. It's about my life. It's about the fate of my family, paying my bills."
Women superstars Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch expressed their sorrow over this decision by tweeting about it. Charlotte tweeted a throwback picture with Dave Finlay aka Fit Finlay, a third generation wrestler and WWE producer who was also furloughed. Dave was instrumental in the evolution of Women's matches in WWE.
Becky Lynch tweeted, "Today is a tough day for all of us in and who love this business. When this hardship is over, I hope we're all reunited working together to make some magic in front of the fans who make it all worthwhile."
Though WWE was deemed an essential service by the Florida government, this decision hasn't really safeguarded the positions of certain superstars and producers associated with the brand.