WWE.com released a statement online Tuesday evening announcing the death of William Moody, the man known as Paul Bearer. Paul spent nearly 40 years in the business and he is a talent that will be missed by fans all over the world.
Long before he carried the urn for Undertaker in WWE, he was Percival Pringle III, a manager in World Class Championship Wrestling. It was there that I first saw him as a kid and I remember just hating the guy, mostly because of his arrogance and his attitude.
Of course, he was a heel and I was just reacting accordingly, but there was also something about him that just made me smile. He was so entertaining, so over the top that I just found him fascinating.
He quickly became a must-watch character for me and even though I did not necessarily like him because of the fact he was a heel, I did appreciate what he was doing. The guy was just doing everything he could to not only get over but get the stars over that he managed.
He was doing his job and he was very good at it.
His facial expressions were so animated, his personality so spastic that he almost came off like a cartoon character during those early days. But that was nothing compared to what he was to eventually become.
As with many other stars in the territories, Pringle went to work for Vince McMahon. However, unlike quite a few of those stars who WWE repackaged to the point that they were nearly unrecognizable, this was not the case for Pringle.
If you knew Percy Pringle, then you knew Paul Bearer. There was just no hiding that face.
But Percy’s charisma, and his theatrical appeal was absolutely perfect for the character of Paul Bearer. Though it was odd to see a seven-foot undead monster being led to the ring by a bizarre little man with a wild-eyed, ghost-white face and pitch-black hair, the combo just seemed to work together.
It was a brilliant pairing for WWE and in an age when many pro wrestling managers wore three-piece suits and ran stables of full of talent, Paul Bearer needed only his black funeral attire. He also only needed one wrestler to solidify his spot as one of WWE’s all-time best managers.
Undertaker was great at allowing Paul to lead the way. Though Taker at any time could have pushed Paul back a little to put himself out even more, I for one never got the impression that was happening. When Paul spoke, he mostly spoke for Taker and it really did feel as though he were in total control of the situation.
He was truly running the gimmick, instead of the gimmick running him.
It is a testament to Paul’s ability to get over and get the wrestlers over that he managed, before and after he arrived in WWE. He was so good at what he did that you only noticed him when you had to and you only really saw him when he wanted you to.
Just getting out of the way as a manager is an art unto itself, and in that regard, Paul was truly one of the best. Simply put, he got it. He understood what his job was and he knew what he brought to the table.
He was so good at living the Paul Bearer gimmick that fans truly could not see the man under all that makeup.
And, that man leaves behind good friends and close family who love and will miss him very much. He also leaves behind the fans who are undoubtedly mourning his loss today along with the rest of the wrestling world.
He made us laugh. He made us boo and he made us cheer. William Moody gave everything he had to the business of professional wrestling and because of that, he left an indelible mark that can never be erased. He will never be forgotten. He will be truly missed.
May he rest in peace. God bless, Paul Bearer. Thank you for the memories.