When we take a look at the impact caused by Wrestling Managers over the years you make think up the likes of ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart, the crafty Mr Fuji or even the more recent Vicki Guerrero with her shrill voice and even the opinionated Zeb Coulter. But no matter what name you through at the category of Manager, none have never made quite the impact as Paul Bearer has on the industry of Professional Wrestling. Paired with some of the biggest names over the years; like Koko B.Ware, Mankind and Kane, it’s the ghostly painted face of Bearer that lays dormant in almost every fan’s brain as he walks the isle next to The Undertaker with an Urn clutched firmly in his hands.
To be inducted by: Kane (w/tribute from The Undertaker)
Paul Bearer (Or William A. Moody as he was known) was born on April 10, 1954 in Mobile, Alabama. After finishing high school, he joined the US Air Force. As a fan of Professional Wrestling, Moody would meet ‘Freebird’ Michel Hayes whilst attending an event for Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling, who would later (1985) offer Moody a position and advance his career. Breaking into the business whilst being enlisted, he wrestled for independent promotions located in the Indian Coast before starting his long running career as a Wrestling Manager. In 1979 (now performing under the name Percival “Percy” Pringle III), he’d manage Wrestlers for South Eastern independent promotions. This would lead into his first child’s birth, where Pringle would step away from the world of Wrestling to focus on his family life and obtain a degree in Mortuary Science and earn certification as an Embalmer and Mortician.
In 1984, Pringle would return to the industry. While moving around Florida Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas, and the United States Wrestling Association, Pringle would Manage huge names including; Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin (Stone Cold), and Mark Calaway (Undertaker). During this time, he’d also been linked to the likes of; Lex Luger and Dingo Warrior (The Ultimate Warrior).
Joining the WWF in 1990, Pringle would don another change in identity as he became Paul Bearer for the first time and take over Managing duties from Brother Love to a Legend in the making. No longer blonde or wearing fancy clothes he was known for as Percy Pringle III, he instead dressed in a black suit and dyed his hair black. In addition to his Managerial duties, Bearer would also step into a hosting role with his weekly television segment The Funeral Parlor. During this time, Bearer would often act as the voice of Taker and would start many of The Phenom’s feuds against the companies top stars of the time. Acting as Heels in the WWF, Paul Bearer would accompany Undertaker though this rivalries against Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. In 1992, the pair would become Faces after they prevented Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts from attacking Miss Elizabeth with a steel chair. The two would carry on with their pairing up until 1996, when Paul Bearer would shock fans buy betraying The Undertaker and side with the unstable Mankind. During this time, Bearer also managed Vader and Executioner. After they would all fail to destroy Undertaker, Paul tried out a new plan… Blackmail.
Contently threatening to reveal a dark and deadly secret about The Dead Man, Paul Bearer would kick off the biggest storyline in his career. In 1997 he revealed that Undertaker had accidentally set a fire that killed his parents, but the reveals didn’t stop there. Taker’s Brother who had supposedly died in that same fire had not only survived the inferno, but was left badly disfigured and he wanted revenge! It was then later revealed that Paul had an affair with Undertaker’s mother and that Kane was really Paul’s son.
In 1997, Kane made his début – with Paul following every step of the way. They quickly engaged Undertaker, with The Big Red Monster interfering in a Hell in a Cell match between Taker and Shawn Michaels. During a rematch a few short months later, Kane would lock his Brother in a Casket and set it on fire. That eventually led to a match between the two at WrestleMania 14 which was won by Undertaker. One year later, Paul would return to Undertaker’s side after he then betrayed his Son. This lasted until 1999 when Undertaker suffered an injury that would leave him sidelined and left Paul to (briefly) turn face and return to Managing Kane. Shortly after WrestleMania 2000, Bearer worked for the WWF in a behind-the-scenes position until leaving in 2002.
While away from television, Paul had become morbidly obese and at his most weighed 525 lbs. After approaching the WWE in 2003, they agreed to pay for surgery to fit him with a Gastric Band. Paul Bearer would return the following year, alongside a returning Undertaker for Wrestlemania XX Bearer would step into the Manager role for a rematch against Kane. Undertaker would keep Paul Bearer on as his Manager whilst engaging in a fresh feud with Paul Heyman, during which Paul E. had The Dudley Boyz kidnap Bearer. At Great American Bash 2004, The Dudley Boyz fought Undertaker in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match. To make the odds even worse for him, Paul Bearer was trapped in a crypt that would fill up with concrete whenever Undertaker did something good in the match. Undertaker eventually won that match but then decided to fill the crypt up with concrete himself because he was a liability.
In 2010, Paul Bearer returned to television as the manager of Undertaker who was feuding with Kane at the time. During a Hell in a Cell Match between the brothers, Paul turned on Undertaker to finally get his revenge for being buried in the concrete. At the time, Kane was the World Heavyweight Champion and his next challenger for the belt was Edge. Edge would kidnap Paul and then played tricks on Kane by making it appear that he injured him but in reality he was using dummies. Kane saw his father on top of two ladders, and thinking it was another dummy, he tipped them over causing his father to be injured. Two years later, Paul returned to manage Kane again and during a feud with Randy Orton he was kidnapped yet again. Randy locked him in a freezer. Kane saved him but then moments later decided to lock his dad back in the freezer. This would mark Paul’s last appearance on WWE broadcasting before his death just 3 years later.
When Paul Bearer passed in March last year, it had hit me hard. “Oh my Undertaker…”, the very mention of Bearer makes those words poorly impersonated by myself to friends as a child cycle around my mind. I’ve been watching this man scare me as a child and then entertain me as an adult, well into his later brief comebacks. Knowing I’ll never hear that high pitched voice as he makes a surprise appearance with the Undertaker or Kane saddens me, much like part of my childhood had died with him.
Thanks to his ability to entertain in the only way he could do, Paul will forever be held in the hearts of so many fans across the globe. That is why on April the 5th, Paul Bearer will take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.