Lillian Garcia was nervous before taking over the job as ring announcer on Monday Night RAW for Howard Finkel.
Garcia was a ring announcer full time for WWE from 1999 to 2008 and from 2011 to 2016. Her first day on the job, she replaced Finkel who held the position for over 20 years up to that point.
Garcia spoke about the recently deceased WWE Hall Of Famer during an episode of her podcast Chasing Glory, the beginning of which includes a tribute to Finkel. Garcia said her first day on the job she was worried about taking over the ring announcer spot, but Finkel encouraged her and gave her the confidence to take on the role.
“My very first day on the job, August 23 of 1999, I was told to just show up,” Garcia said (h/t to Chris Siggia for the transcription). “It was in Iowa. I didn’t know yet what the job was going to be. In my audition I did backstage interviews. But it wasn’t until that day, Monday, that I was told at 3:30 that afternoon, that was I was taking over Howard Finkel’s job as the brand new ring announcer for Monday Night RAW. Talk about that moment being so heavy, so scary. I was emotional too because for replacing such a legend as Howard Finkel, I knew how much he loved that job.
“I looked at him, I’ll never forget, I looked at him. I’m like, ‘How in the world am I going to do this?’ He looked right at me and said, ‘Because you can and you will. I’ll be right there to help you.’ And that’s exactly what Howard did. So selfless. He could have been bitter about that because he had been the announcer there for 20 years. When you heard the voice of Monday Night RAW, you knew it was Howard Finkel. You heard those huge pay-per-views and WrestleManias. That was Howard Finkel, and here I come along with zero training and I’m supposed to step in those shoes?”
Finkel continued to help Garcia during her time in WWE. They were even involved in a short feud with each other in the summer of 2002 that culminated in an “evening gown versus tuxedo match,” which Garcia won.
Garcia remembers her time in WWE, and working with Finkle and fellow ring announcer Tony Chimel, fondly. Garcia said Finkel was an influential mentor for her, even if he didn’t realize it.
“It’s crazy because it feels like it was just yesterday,” she said. “But Howard and Tony Chimel, both, anytime I had a question, anytime I needed any kind of advice, because I was learning on the job, I could go right to Howard. I went to him and said, ‘I can’t do this alone. I really need your help. Please.’ He was right there, every single time, encouraging me, helping me. He mentored me without even knowing he was my mentor. Throughout the years, we created such a bond and a relationship from one ring announcer to another.
“I loved being a ring announcer. I respect the job of being a ring announcer so much, which is why I still do it to this day. When the PFL called me and asked me to be their ring announcer for MMA, I didn’t hesitate. I was like, ‘Absolutely.’ I have a man that taught me what being a ring announcer was and how to cherish that position.”
You can see the whole episode of Chasing Glory above.
Chris Siggia contributed to this article.