Percy Pringle broke into the mainstream professional wrestling business while working as a manager in the southeastern portion of the United States, but it was not until he linked up with the World Wrestling Federation and embraced the Paul Bearer character that he became a mainstay on national television and a figure known to even casual wrestling fans who occasionally tuned into television broadcasts. Bearer and the Undertaker would make what became one of the most famous pairings in the history of North American pro wrestling, and both played heel and babyface roles during their time spent in the WWF and in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Bearer was around for many of the more famous events in the history of the Undertaker character. The manager was front and center when the WWF introduced Kane to the world. Bearer was one of the big players in the creation of the “Ministry of Darkness” angle. When the Undertaker resumed his original character at WrestleMania XX for a match versus Kane, it was Bearer who brought the “Deadman” out from behind the curtain. The two went hand-in-hand for several years, and they were even on the opposite sides of several feuds that would eventually end with them reuniting.
Bearer, real name William Alvin Moody, sadly passed away in the spring of 2013, and the WWE paid tribute to the all-time great manager during an edition of television program Raw. The company also wrote Bearer’s passing into a storyline involving Undertaker and CM Punk. Bearer likely would not have had it any other way. He was a lifer in the wrestling business, and thus the WWE involving him in one final feud was only fitting. There has never been a character in the business quite like Bearer, who truly was the perfect man to play the famous role.
10. Bearer was once just a fan
Back in the days when there were territories spread out in towns all over the country, fans and wrestlers would get to know each other as weekly events. Bearer’s parents took him to events when he was a child, and it was during those young years when he first fell in love with pro wrestling. He would eventually strike relationships with several individuals who worked in the business, most notably Michael Hayes of the Freebirds and Robert Gibson of all-time great tag-team The Rock and Roll Express. Bearer knew what he wanted to do for a living at an early age, and he ultimately achieved that dream.
9. Bearer started as a photographer
Bearer described during interviews and in articles that he had two loves during his younger years: Pro wrestling and photography. He first broke into the wrestling industry as a photographer, snapping pictures at ringside during weekly shows. His work was picked up by wrestling magazines and also by the local press. It was because of what he probably thought at the time to be nothing more than a hobby that Bearer would pick up some wrestling lessons from those in Gulf Coast Wrestling. Those unpaid tutorials would help create who eventually became a Hall-of-Fame performer who has been honored by multiple organizations.
8. Bearer worked for WWF/WWE behind the scenes
As has been the case with many managers and wrestlers who end their active in-ring careers, Bearer served the WWF as a worker behind the scenes when he was not playing his famous character during television broadcasts. In 2000, Bearer worked backstage as a talent scout, a road agent and a stage manager. Bearer also did voice-over work for WWE video games. Total Nonstop Action Wrestling had Bearer’s services in 2002 and 2003, but that company mostly wasted the brilliant wrestling mind. That is just one of many, many mistakes that company has made since it first opened its doors.
7. Bearer was honored by multiple organizations
Bearer is widely recognized as one of the greatest managers in the history of North American pro wrestling, and he was honored for his contributions to the industry on multiple occasions. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him the Manager of the Year for 1998. He was named a lifetime member of the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2003. Bearer was a posthumous inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014, and he was inducted by his sons. It is too bad that special WWE moment did not occur while he was alive, as he certainly deserved to be there in-person to accept that honor.
6. Bearer managed many famous wrestlers
Wrestling fans who followed the WWF in the 1990s likely remember that Bearer spent time as a manager for Undertaker, Kane and Mankind. Bearer was linked with dozens of performers during his legendary managing career, and some of those wrestlers would go on to become world famous. That list includes the likes of “Ravishing” Rick Rude, The Dingo Warrior (Ultimate Warrior), Lex Luger, Koko B. Ware, Matt Borne (Doink the Clown) and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. That is quite the Hall-of-Fame resume for anybody in the business.
5. Bearer had his own “Hall of Fame”
Bearer was a fan of more than just pro wrestling during his time, and that is reflected in his personal “Hall of Fame” that he had placed on his personal website. Included in that list are all-time wrestling greats such as Mark Calaway (Undertaker) and Glen Jacobs (Kane). Bearer also placed musician George Jones, a close friend of Bearer’s, and his wife and granddaughter among others in his Hall. Each of the individuals who are showcased on that page of Bearer’s website were special to him for one reason or another, and the page now makes for a special tribute from somebody who has passed away.
4. WWE paid for Bearer’s gastric bypass surgery
Bearer was always a heavier man during his time in the WWF and, by his own admissions, for much of his adult life, including in the months leading up to WrestleMania XX. It was then, according to Bearer, when the WWE paid for him to have what he called life-changing surgery. Bearer said the following when speaking on Sirius radio in 2010: “I’ve always been heavy, in fact I was morbidly obese (before WrestleMania 20) And Vince McMahon picked up the $35,000 tab for the gastric bypass surgery. There’s no doubt in my mind, if I didn’t have that surgery, I wouldn’t be here today, I would have died long before my wife did.”
3. Bearer was an author
Bearer never got himself on the list of the New York Times bestsellers as did other people in the wrestling world, but he did help produce one title. Inside Secrets on How to Enter the Exciting World of Pro Wrestling! was a book that Bearer co-authored along with Dennis Brent, who, like Bearer, worked for multiple promotions over the years. While that title is no longer produced by publishers, collectors and wrestling fans will sometimes post editions of it on websites such as eBay. Bearer also wrote and produced programs for organizations such as WCCW and the USWA.
2. Bearer wrestled for a few years
It may be hard to imagine for those of us who grew up watching Bearer play the role of manager for the Undertaker, but the truth of the matter is that Moody began his career in the wrestling business as an active in-ring performer. His gimmicks as a wrestler were nothing to remember, as he followed up a role as “Mr. X” with characters such as “The Mortician” and “The Embalmer.” After several years of trying to make it as a wrestler, Bearer eventually realized that his calling in the business was as a manager. That is when he received his first big break, and it is how he would become a famous performer.
1. He was a real-life funeral director
Moody had the perfect background to play the role of a manager for a wrestler named “Undertaker.” Bearer explained on his personal website that he made frequent visits to funeral homes during his time in the Air Force, and those journeys led him to become interested in the mortuary business. He began work as a funeral director almost immediately after he left the Air Force in the 1970s, nearly 15 years before Vince McMahon gave him a call regarding the Bearer character. People can find fate from time to time, but sometimes fate finds them as was the case for Bearer and his careers in and outside of the wrestling world.
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