One of pro wrestling’s all time great managers Paul Bearer (real name William Moody) passed away on March 05, 2013, at the age of 58 years old. The official cause of death was a heart attack, brought on by supraventricular tachycardia or SVT, a dangerously high heart rate. Bearer had ongoing health problems over the years due to his weight and TMZ reported that he was being treated for a blot-clot and had issues breathing prior to his passing. Bearer also had gastric bypass surgery in November 2003 prior to appearing at Wrestlemania 20.
WWE made the following statement …
“WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of William Moody, aka Paul Bearer. Moody made his WWE debut in 1991 as the manager of The Undertaker and went on to become a memorable part of WWE over the course of the next 20 years. Our deepest condolences go out to Moody’s family, friends and fans.”
TNA where Moody briefly worked in 2002-2003 also made a public statement …
“TNA joins the entire wresting world in mourning the passing of Bill Moody – better known as Paul Bearer in WWE as the manager of The Undertaker, and Percy Pringle during his time with TNA. Throughout his career, Moody was one of the most respected veterans in professional wrestling. He will be missed by millions of fans around the world, as well as his friends that worked with him in both WWE and TNA.”
Bearer debuted in WWE in 1991 to replace Brother Love as the Undertaker’s manager. With his over the top make-up and hilarious expressions “ohhhh yeahhhhhhs” (“Pretty sure EVERYONE has tried imitating his voice”, writes Tyson Kidd on Twitter), he not only rode the wave of WWE’s early 90s cartoon period, hosting such cheesy segments as the “The Funeral Parlor”, but became one of the few characters to transition in to the Attitude Era where he introduced Undertaker’s brother Kane and later stood alongside the Ministry of Darkness.
Bearer has made sporadic appearances ever since to further the convoluted but entertaining Kane and Undertaker saga, and appeared in 2012 as part of Kane’s feud with Randy Orton. In recent years he expressed a desire for managers to return to wrestling and helped along some of the younger guys.
“Paul Bearer/William Moody, you taught me so much. It truly saddens me to hear about this! I Love You, and I thank you eternally! RIP,” writes Ricardo Rodriquez on Twitter.
Bearer will go down as one of the most loved and respected managers in WWE history.
His career did not start or end with WWE however. Moody got his first taste of the business in his teens as a ringside photographer. Then during his free time from the United States Air Force he would try his hand at wrestling. But his true passion came when he turned to managing in the late 70s. Known as Percival “Percy” Pringle III (a recycled gimmick) he would manage various wrestlers in the South-East, before infamously switching careers to become a funeral director to support his family.
Dutch Mantell who currently works as Zeb in WWE notes on Twitter how Pringle would return to wrestling in the 80s to have his first major run…
“RIP PAUL BEARER. KNEW HIM SINCE HE STARTED. BOOKED HIM IN HIS FIRST REAL WRESTLING JOB IN FLORIDA. THE BIZ LOST A GOOD ONE TODAY.”
It was during this pre-WWE stint in the territories that he would first manage Mark Calaway, the man who went on to be the Undertaker. During his time in the Von Erich’s World Class, he would also manage Rick Rude and a young “Stunning” Steve Austin.
Over the last few years the future Hall of Famer made several independent appearances as a manager.
Moody is survived by his two sons Michael and Daniel. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Wrestlers Remember Paul Bearer (William Moody):
Here are several Tweets and Blogs from wrestlers and personalities following the news of Bearer’s death…
Michael Hayes: “He was just a great guy and we need to cherish and celebrate his life, that’s what he would want. He wouldn’t want people mourning because he’d tell you there was nothing to mourn about. He loved his country music. He got to become friends with his favorite country artist George Jones. They kept in contact all the time. His life was blessed. It really was, and anybody who knew him, their life was touched, too.”
Jim Ross via JRSBARBQ.com:
I met Percy, as I called him for the duration of our relationship, while he worked in Dallas for WCCW and the Von Erich’s in the wrestling office in Dallas and while managing a variety of villain wrestlers. Our mutual friend Dennis Brent introduced us as Percy also did some work with Dennis to help make ends meet. This was in the early 80’s.
We hit it off immediately as we both had the love of the business in common and we both were in the business in a non wrestling role. Were we earning as much money as ‘the boys?’ Of course not but we were having fun because we were living out our boyhood dreams of being involved in the most unique of genres.
Percy was one of the funniest guys that I ever met in the wrestling biz. He could make anyone laugh and enjoyed doing so. He was also a natural ‘heel’ and had the psychology of being a villain manager down to a science. Calling Paul Bearer a student of the game would be an understatement.
…He always laughed about me calling him a “Rotund Demon” on a broadcast and often identified himself in that manner when we would speak on the phone. Percy dearly loved George Jones and occasionally when a new talent would come into the WWE some pranksters would put the newbie up to telling Percy that George Jones had just passed away. Wrestlers have strange senses of humor and Percy never thought that ‘rib’ was a funny one. He would commence to cutting a promo on the unsuspecting newcomer AND who ever put the kid up to the unappreciated shenanigans. Some of my fondest memories was Percy enjoying a taste of Jack Daniels and singing George Jones tunes especially ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’
Percy dearly loved George Jones but that love paled in comparison to his love for his late wife Diana who passed from breast cancer a few years ago. I’m not sure Percy ever recovered from that loss. One of Percy’s closest, long time friends text me last night that “Paul is happy now. He’s back with Diana.” Rest in Peace old friend until we meet again.
Brutus Beefcake: Paul Bearer has passed away may God rest his soul. He was a great man and will be missed. Sending prayers to his family.
Bushwhacker Luke Williams: Percy, you were one of the best in and out of the squared circle and a great loss to our industry. We all loved you mate. My prayers go out to you and your surrounding family. RIP Paul Bearer.
Triple H: Rest in peace, Paul Bearer. You will never be forgotten. There will never be another.
Hulk Hogan: Very sad about Paul Bearer,he was a great person and one of the original boys,he was what made wrestling great much love much respect HH
Bret Hart: Goodbye to a good friend, Paul Bearer. Say hi to Owen for me.
Michael Cole: So sad. We lost a great person and a wonderful man today. Rest in peace paul bearer. God bless his family and Godspeed.
Howard Finkel: Saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Bearer (William Moody). He was a unique, one of a kind individual both in and out of the ring. RIP
Superstar Billy Graham: Very sad to hear of the loss of my friend William Moody, better known to wrestling fans as Paul Bearer. He was one of the people who gave wrestling a higher level of dignity with his presence, sad loss, very nice man and will be missed.
Shawn Michaels: I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Paul Bearer. Our prayers go out to him and his family. God Bless!!
The Miz: Just found out Paul Bearer died tonight. He was always so nice when I talked to him. My thoughts n prayers are w/ his family #RIPPaulBearer
Justin Roberts: Very sad night. RIP Paul Bearer, a man I grew up watching on tv and was lucky enough to have later on, as a friend.
Edge: Very sad to hear about William Moody/Paul Bearer. Such a sweet man, and my friend. My condolences to his family. I’ll miss ya Uncle Paul.
William Regal: Very sorry to hear of the passing of Paul Bearer.My best wishes to his family.A lovely man and my friend.RIP.
Sean “Xpac” Waltman: I’m so at a loss right for words right now. I’ve known him since 1995 & I can’t get myself together enough to write anything at the moment.
DDP: Sad to hear of the passing of Bill Moody (Paul Bearer)… Not a nicer man in the biz. RIP bro
MVP: The scary man with the strange voice. Rest In Power Paul Bearer…
Michael McGillicutty: Sad to hear the loss of Paul Bearer. He was always very friendly to me and very passionate about this business. He will be missed.
Tensai: RIP Paul. A good man and an asset to this business and locker room. Always brought a smile to people’s faces. You’ll be missed.
Ezekiel Jackson: #RIPPaulBearer didn’t get to spend much time with him but the one day at lunch in Calgary will go in my book if I ever wrote one. #Godspeed
Ted DiBiase Jr: Losing one of our own @WWE feels like losing a family member. Thank you for the memories Paul! God Bless #RIPPaulBearer
Matt Hardy: It’s very sad to hear about the passing of a great & unique performer, Bill Moody-Paul Bearer. My thoughts & prayers go out to his family.
Michelle McCool: #RIPPaulBearer ….you always made me smile. Great entertainer, even better man! We love you & will forever miss you! God bless
April Hunter: When I decided 2 b a wrestler, I was told 2 also learn 2 manage & watch Sherry Martel & Paul Bearer since they were amazing.#RIPPaulBearer.
Summer Rae: What sad news, truly one of the greats! I can remember doing the “ooooohhhh yesss” voice competition with friends. #rippaulbearer
Rikishi: You will be missed by so & I will never forget when we bust a move together my brother #RIPPAULBEARER
Actor James VanDerBeek: Strange how a man I never knew, except by inviting him into my home via the TV, could impact me & so many with his passing.
Alex Riley: One of the most talented performers in history & a better man #RIPPaulBearer my thoughts and prayers are with his family
Tatanka: You will be greatly missed my friend. Glad we spent time together in Nov of 2012. A Legend & major part of our history!
Scorpio “Harold” Sky: Met him thru my TV when I was 9yrs old, now we work beside him every month. @XtianCole & I were excited to work against him. #RIPPaulBearer