The Stomping Ground: Remembering Paul Bearer

The wrestling world lost one of its greatest assets on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, when William Moody AKA Percy Pringle AKA Paul Bearer died of an alleged blood clot (as of this writing, it hasn’t been 100% confirmed) due to past issues with his gallbladder. I was going to spend this week talking about the newly-emerging Wrestlemania XXIX undercard, but this somber occasion is going to have to take precedence, as Paul Bearer was a huge part of my formative years as a wrestling fan.

Way back yonder, when I was but a wee fan of professional wrestling and didn’t really know as much about the business as I do now, my favorite wrestler was The Undertaker. Like many teenagers, I was enthralled by the mystique and presence of the character Mark Calaway has portrayed for the past twenty years. Keep in mind this was during a period before kayfabe was all but deceased and the insider secrets were known by only a modest few. The character of The Undertaker was a hulking, nearly silent figure whose actions spoke louder than words; it was obvious that he needed someone to talk for him since his promo skills were not fully developed at the time.

Enter Paul Bearer, a rotund and grotesque figure whose eerie appearance was a perfect match for the macabre mannerisms of The Undertaker:

Bearer was a compelling figure for much of The Undertaker’s career, accompanying him everywhere from January 1991 until his betrayal of the Deadman at the 1996 SummerSlam PPV in the infamous Boiler Room Brawl match against Mankind. I vividly remember cursing at the television screen as Bearer clocked Taker over the head with the urn, after months of Mankind besting Undertaker at every available opportunity:

Ironically, when The Undertaker finally won the WWE Championship from Sycho Sid at Wrestlemania XIII, Paul Bearer would return to his former protege and blackmail him into accepting Bearer as his manager again, threatening to reveal a dark secret from The Undertaker’s past. That dark secret was Kane:

Bearer would continue in his role as a mentor for his son Kane until the emergence of the Ministry of Darkness, at which time he returned to The Undertaker’s side. When Taker suffered an injury, both he and Bearer disappeared from TV. When the Deadman returned, it was as a biker and Bearer had left the company. He would return, however, at Wrestlemania XX when The Undertaker returned as the “undead cowboy”:

Bearer remained at The Undertaker’s side until Paul Heyman and the Dudley Boyz tried to force the Deadman to lay down for them by threatening to bury Bearer in cement. Undertaker refused and defeated the Dudleys, but shockingly buried Bearer anyway to remove any further perceived weakness:

In 2010, the “deceased” Paul Bearer returned at The Undertaker’s side, but in reality was using him and rejoined with Kane, the current World Heavyweight Champion. Bearer would eventually become a pawn in a series of mind games played by number one contender Edge and ended his latest run in a rather ignominious fashion:

Bearer’s last appearance for the WWE saw him as a pawn (yet again) of Randy Orton, as he was tossed into a meat locker and was never seen again:

I will always remember Paul Bearer as one of the greatest managers in WWE history. William Moody, you will be missed.

So long, and thanks for all the (dead) fish.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,