Remembering Paul Bearer
In the world of professional wrestling, there is one role that, until recently, had become a vanishing art form, as many bookers (the folks who write the shows) had seemed to feel that they have not been needed. However recently these folks have been making a comeback in the business as more bookers see the advantage of having these folks back at their old roles.
I’m speaking of the managers of specific wrestlers, who have had a unique role in the business for as long as I can remember. They are not managers as one would think of the job. They do not manage their wrestler’s business affairs. Instead, they assist the wrestler in the crowd’s reaction to him or her. If their wrestler is a face or a “good guy,” the manager helps what they can without breaking the rules too badly, and encourages the crowd to cheer for his wrestler. If the wrestler is a heel or “bad guy,” the manager follows this timeless guideline: “Win if you can, lose if you must, but cheat at all costs!”
There have been many managers over the years who have left their mark on the business. However, there is one man who took the role of manager and raised the bar like never before. The gentleman’s name is William Moody, but he was better known by the two names of his wrestling alter-egos. In WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling) he was known as Percy Pringle III. Pringle was truly a colorful character. He wore extremely loud outfits, had a voice that grated nerves, had an ego as big of Texas, and a group of wrestlers to back him up.
However, it was in the WWE that Moody rose to the call of his profession and took on the persona that would rise to legendary heights. It was the role of a funeral director turned pro wrestling manager. That was not a problem for Moody, who in real life held a degree in mortuary science and was certified as a funeral director and embalmer. He appeared in a black suit, and hair. His complexion would be very pale and pasty, and his face was able to display every emotion in the spectrum, including a few that, to this day, I’ve not figured out. That new WWE manager’s name was Paul Bearer.
Paul Bearer first appeared a few months after the debut of his phenomenal wrestler, the Undertaker. He took over as Taker’s manager from his previous one who was called Brother Love, and as they say, the rest is history. Even when they were heels, Bearer and Taker rose to heights of popularity that rivaled the greatest teams in the business. Even though over the years, Bearer would manage Taker’s brother, Kane, against him, the team always seemed to be Bearer and Taker. You would mention them in one breath like one would J. J. Dillon and the Four Horsemen, and Paul Ellering and the Road Warriors. Even though they have gone their own ways, Bearer would return on special occasions to be at Undertaker’s side.
The most unique thing about Moody was that he had the ability to present himself so that it was easy to suspended logic and for a moment to actually believe that he was who he said he was and could do everything he said and more on top of that. He was an uncommon man in the world of pro wrestling that we will not see the likes of again for quite some time.
William “Paul Bearer” Moody passed from this world suddenly on Tuesday evening, March 5th, at the age of 58. Reaction to his passing was pronounced and came from not only the WWE but from all over the wrestling universe. Many of his friends took to Twitter to share tributes, including Ted Dibiase Sr., who wrote, “Thank you for the memories, Paul! God Bless.” Wrestler and Chief Operations Officer for the WWE, Triple H, wrote, “Rest in peace, Paul Bearer. You will never be forgotten. There will never be another.” On Facebook, Kenny “Starmaker” Bolin wrote, “One of my dearest friends and sweetest and kindest people I have even Know. ONE of the TRUE good people I knew in the wrestling business….or life in General.” The most touching remark came from Bret Hart who wrote simply, “Goodbye to a good friend, Paul Bearer. Say hi to Owen for me.” (Bret’s late brother who died in an accident in Kansas City in 1999).
Already, calls are starting all over the internet for Paul Bearer to be fast tracked and added to this year’s inductions into the WWE Hall of Fame. I, however, would urge a different plan. In an interview he did with “The Score” in 2011, Moody said that, “The biggest honor I could have is if I am inducted at the same time The Undertaker goes in. That would be the biggest honor for me.” I would urge the WWE to grant his request and whenever the almost certain induction of the Phenom occurs, to then allow Paul Bearer to join him in that induction class.
William Moody leaves family, friends and millions of fans who truly mourn the loss, way too soon, of this brilliant man. I join with so many others in sending my thoughts, prayers and condolences to his family at this sad time. And to William Moody, I can only say, to borrow Bob Hope’s famous line, “Thanks for the memories.”