On WrestleMania weekend, we remember William Moody. Better known as Paul Bearer, the late professional wrestling manager’s birthday was yesterday. He would have been 66.
Mr. Moody died in 2013. Gone too soon at the age of 58, he is arguably one of the most famous managers in sports entertainment history. With a managing resume in the WWE including Undertaker, Mankind, Kane and Vader among many others, he was arguably the last of his kind, when it comes to managers. Going down in pro wrestling history, with the likes of fellow past CYInterview guests Bobby “The Brain” Heenan [see here] and Classy Freddie Blassie [see here], his mortician-urn-carrying character lives on. Interestingly, in real life he was actually a funeral director.
If he were alive today, Mr. Moody would be watching WrestleMania, if he was not working the event in some capacity. He was a huge professional wrestling fan. Pro wrestling was his life. If you had the honor to get to know William, you would have found that he was one of the friendliest individuals you would ever come across. Throughout my more than 10 years of knowing William, he would always show interest in what I was up to, as well as staying in touch with me. He loved the Internet and was always just one instant message away.
A few months before his passing in 2013, we had Mr. Moody on CYInterview, to catch up on his life. He told us, at the time, that he knew he would get into the WWE Hall of Fame one day. In 2014, he was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in a ceremony including both Kane and The Undertaker.
The photograph above is of William Moody as Paul Bearer, pictured left, and with another legendary wrestling manager, “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, pictured to his right.
Below is a reprint of our 2013 article. You can read the highlights and listen to that 2013 CYInterview below:
CYInterview from January of 2013:
As mentioned previously, we are taking the opportunity to revisit some of my favorite people from the world of professional wrestling. You have already heard from former WCW Superstar The Stro [see here]. Now, we hear from one of the greatest managers in pro wrestling history, Paul Bearer. He has been part of professional wrestling since the 1970s and is best known for managing WWE Superstars The Undertaker, Kane, Mick Foley and Vader.
Today, many fans refer to him by one of his other wrestling names. That would be Percy Pringle. This year, he is receiving the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Cauliflower Alley Club in Las Vegas. It is one of the biggest pro wrestling events of the year, with many of the legends and stars of the sport coming together. Beyond his talent, Percy is one of the great historians and fans of pro wrestling. Currently signed to a WWE Legends contract, he still does various things for World Wrestling Entertainment.
By reading the highlights or listening to the entire CYInterview below, you will hear what one of the greatest pro wrestling managers and personalities is up to:
Listen to the entire Paul Bearer CYInterview:
(Backup Player: Including IE)
Talking about his involvement in professional wrestling today, Paul says this:
“People that don’t know, that don’t see me, I am still involved. I’m still under contract with WWE. I’m under a legends contract with WWE and I do things now and then with them like WrestleMania and go do signings, this, that and the other. Plus I work the independent organizations all around the country. I go out to L.A. once a month and do Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. We tape four weeks of TV once a month out there and some months I’m busy every weekend doing wrestling stuff. People think Paul Bearer who is fat, behind, rolled up into a ball and buried in concrete and they wondered what happened to him, but I’m telling you, I’m still busy. I stay as busy as I want. Fortunately, I turn down more invitations to do events than I do.”
As the manager to three of the biggest stars in pro wrestling history: The Undertaker, Mankind and Kane, Paul Bearer managed those characters with a dark side flair. Props he used, such as urns, caskets and other funeral related items during his pro wrestling career were nothing new to him. In his life away from wrestling, he is actually a licensed mortician:
“I signed my first contract with WWE on December 22, 1990 and here we are in 2013. … Back when I first started with The Undertaker, if I ever thought that you know the gimmick would last these just number of years, no way. He didn’t either and he don’t, you know he’ll tell you the same thing. We didn’t have a clue. It was just, I’ve been very, very blessed in professional wrestling because I’m just a Alabama kid, from the Alabama Gulf Coast that grew up watching local territory days wrestling. … It’s always been professional wrestling and the funeral business for me. I have a degree in mortuary science. I’m a licensed funeral director and embalmer, licensed in four states and right now I haven’t been doing anything with the funeral business. After my wife passed away, that’s when I kind of went back to wrestling full time.”
Today, there is a scarcity of pro wrestling managers on the scene. Guys like Classy Freddie Blasie, [see here for possibly his last interview] Captain Lou Albano, Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, Bobby Heenan and Paul Bearer are now a rarity. Percy says he gives advice to Ricardo Rodriguez of the WWE, one of the few male managers currently in pro wrestling:
“I think a hell of a lot of Ricardo Rodriguez who manages Alberto Del Rio. He has become a very good friend of mine and I give him tips all the time and not that he needs them. And when I see things that I like, I let him know that I liked it and he’s very respectful and very, knows the history of our business and he deserves to be where he’s at and other than Ricardo Rodriguez, there really isn’t any managers, you know WWE doesn’t have any managers. … Bobby Heenan and Lou Albano and I could just go on and on and on, you know all the old school managers, there are none.”
One of the four wrestlers Paul Bearer managed in the WWE is Mick Foley. Mr. Foley, who went on to become a New York Times bestselling author, is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Mr. Bearer shares some memories of working with Mick:
“I love him dearly. I had so much fun managing him when he was Mankind ‘cause we was going against The Undertaker. … We just had so much fun because he wore that mask, you know that covered half of his long hair and that mask and all that and we were just like kids out there all the time and I was the only one that could ever make The Undertaker laugh and he could be laughing and nobody ever knew it and the same with Mick Foley. We would be out there and we all got paid to do this. … I have been all around the world. I performed in all 50 states, 28 countries and I got a paycheck every week.”
Though many consider him to be one of the greatest managers in pro wrestling history and believe he should already be in the WWE Hall of Fame, Paul Bearer says his day will come. In the meantime, Paul/Percy is being honored for his work in pro wrestling at the upcoming Cauliflower Alley Club. He’s receiving the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award:
“I know that I will [be in the WWE Hall of Fame]. So that’s all I need to know. Whether it’s next year or whether it’s five years from now, I know the time’s coming. … This year I am receiving the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club. That’s their second highest award that they give out. To put in perspective, last year Ricky “The” Dragon Steamboat received it and this year Paul Bearer, Percy Pringle’s getting it.”
Those who know Paul Bearer know he’s a big Alabama Crimson Tide football fan. Reflecting on Alabama’s starting quarterback A. J. McCarron who’s led the Tide to back to back national titles, Paul offers that A.J. is a wrestling fan:
“I know A.J.. He’s a wrestling fan. I mean, he’s not never one of those who miss it type of wrestling fans, but he’s watched wrestling and his cousin went to school with my youngest son. … I am very, very proud of A.J. and we see him now and then and I’m just so proud of our football team and the job Nick Saban does for us.”
You can check out Paul Bearer/Percy Pringle’s official website at www.percypringle.com.