As the WWE’s master of the pipe bomb CM Punk placed himself at the top of the entryway on Raw and paid mock respect to the Paul Bearer by kneeling with the late manager’s urn in hand, the two men that stood in the ring were likely the ones feeling intense levels of emotion.
Though they have no real relation to him, both the Undertaker and Kane must have been somewhat outraged towards Punk as he mocked their mentor. Decades of spending time with someone makes them just as good as family in many cases.
Yes, Punk is known for ruffling feathers. And no, he likely meant no real disrespect to a fallen man that by all accounts was one of the real good guys to ever be a part of the wrestling business.
It actually seemed as if the normally unflappable Undertaker was visibly upset during his touching tribute to Bearer, as he knelt down one last time in a sign of reverence aimed not only at the urn, but Bearer himself.
And that is to be expected. For much of his legendary career, Bearer was right by the Undertaker’s side, guiding him to multiple championships and countless accolades. The same statement also goes for Kane. And for anyone that has ever experienced loss, their touching tributes to their fallen comrade will surely ring true.
It is times like these that we need to remember that no matter the storyline, all of these performers are human beings at heart.
So often we like to think of professional wrestlers as larger than life figures, with little to no connection to the real world. But certain events like this tribute, the in-ring mishap that led to Darren Drozdov being paralyzed or even Jerry Lawler’s heart attack back in September remind us all that even these seemingly indestructible warriors are still vulnerable to life’s obstacles, some of which being sickness, injury or death.
Bearer, real name William Moody, had struggled with multiple health issues in years past before finally succumbing last week at the age of 58. He joins his wife Dianna, who predeceased him in January of 2009. He also leaves behind two sons.
But most importantly, he leaves behind a legacy that would be very hard for any other person to surpass.
Generally I leave ‘I’s” and “me’s” out of my articles here on Bleacher Report. In this instance however, I need to relate my actual feelings on this matter.
It was around my eighth birthday that my parents surprised me with tickets to a WWE house show. This was a monstrous occasion for me, as it marked the first time I had ever seen a live wrestling event.
Two things stick out for me from that Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
First, Hulk Hogan was embroiled in a bitter feud with Earthquake at the time. I remember relentlessly cheering for him as he hit the big legdrop to retain his coveted title.
Second, several weeks before the event, Brother Love had transferred his guidance of the Undertaker to a new manager, the aptly named Paul Bearer.
I remember grasping for my father as the Undertaker and Bearer made their way to the ring, where the Deadman made short work of Jimmy Snuka.
And although I was a little boy at the time, I always had the feeling that the partnership between the two would lead to great things. Some people have that long lasting impression on others.
Their shear presence was enough to make my skin crawl. And sitting here in the present day, I can still watch clips of the early WWE career of Bearer and vividly remember how I felt at that exact moment.
In later years, I actually met Paul Bearer very briefly at an independent show, and like so many people before me, I can only relate that he was warm and kind and frankly had a pretty firm handshake.
And of course, there have been countless managers that took the company by storm before him. And there have been some since. And there will likely be more in the future.
But the one thing that can be guaranteed is that there will never be another person in the business that is exactly like Paul Bearer was.
The industry has lost a great presence, a great character and most importantly, a great man.