It was announced on RAW this past Monday night that the late Paul Bearer (William Moody) will be posthumously inducted into this year’s WWE Hall of Fame. A veteran of the wrestling industry, Moody began his wrestling career in 1979, having a brief stint on the independent circuit, the birth of Moody’s first child would lead to Moody bowing out of the wrestling business to earn his degree in mortuary science. Moody would also get his certification as an embalmer and a mortician before returning to wrestling in 1984 under the ring name, “Percy Pringle”, where he would serve as a manager for the likes of Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin, & Mark Calaway (the man who would become The Undertaker) in Florida Championship Wrestling, the United States Wrestling Association, and World Class Championship Wrestling.
At the recommendation of Rick Rude, Moody joined the WWF in 1990 and was christened with a new name and new gimmick as Paul Bearer, becoming the manager and on-air father of The Undertaker. Bearer would continue to manage The Undertaker until SummerSlam 1996, when Bearer betrayed Undertaker to side with Undertaker’s rival, Mankind, and would also enlist the help of Vader and The Executioner in his pursuit to destroy The Undertaker. In April 1997 at In Your House: Revenge of the ‘Taker, The Undertaker would unleash a fireball into the face of Paul Bearer. As a result, Bearer would appear with his head bandaged up and, once the bandages were removed, Bearer took on a more ‘natural’ look as his hair was no longer dyed black and he no longer had a ghastly appearance. Bearer would later threaten to reveal a terrible secret about The Undertaker if Undertaker did not agree to be managed by Bearer again. After becoming fed up with Bearer, Undertaker would drop Bearer as his manager again and Paul Bearer would reveal that The Undertaker killed his parents, but Undertaker’s half-brother, Kane, survived. This would lead to Kane’s WWF debut at In Your House: Badd Blood in October 1997, where Kane attacked Undertaker during a Hell in a Cell Match against Shawn Michaels, allowing Michaels to get the win. After jumping from managing Kane to managing The Undertaker and managing Undertaker throughout the Ministry of Darkness era of The Undertaker’s career. Both The Undertaker & Paul Bearer would disappear from television in September 1999 and, while Undertaker would return with his new “American Badass” gimmick in 2000, Bearer would have a brief return as Kane’s manager before being taken off of television again, becoming a road agent until he was released from his contract in 2002.
When The Undertaker returned with his “Deadman” gimmick at WrestleMania XX, Paul Bearer also returned as his manager. Bearer would stand by The Undertaker during Undertaker’s feud with The Dudley Boyz, who were under the rule of Paul Heyman at the time. Heyman would orchestrate Paul Bearer’s abduction and, in the first and only, 2-on-1 Handicap Concrete Crypt Match at The Great American Bash, where Undertaker would face both Dudley Boyz while Paul Bearer was locked in a glass “crypt” and, if Undertaker did not “do the right thing”, then Heyman would encase Bearer in concrete. Although Undertaker would win the match and keep Heyman from sealing Bearer in concrete, Undertaker would inexplicably do the deed himself, saying that he had “no other choice”. This would be Paul Bearer’s last on-screen appearance as Bearer worked as a booker until he was released again in 2005.
After a one-off house show appearance for WWE in 2007, Paul Bearer would return to the independent circuit before being brought back to the WWE in 2010 to be a part of a storyline between Kane and Edge. Edge would use Paul Bearer to play mind games with Kane in their feud, repeatedly abusing a dummy version of Paul Bearer. However, it would be Kane who would injure Bearer in the end as Kane would mistake the dummy Bearer for the real thing and would shove Bearer off of two ladders to the concrete floor. This would write Bearer out of the storylines. Bearer would make a brief return in 2012, again being used in a storyline involving Kane. This time, it was Randy Orton feuding with Kane and Orton would lock Bearer in a freezer. Kane would save Bearer from the freezer, but Kane would inexplicably put Bearer back in the freezer, saying that he was “saving” Bearer.
Paul Bearer passed away on March 5, 2013 and, with the blessing of the Moody family, WWE would use Bearer’s name and his signature urn in the feud between CM Punk and The Undertaker. The controversial angle would see Punk dumping the kayfabe ashes of Paul Bearer out. The Undertaker would take back the urn at WrestleMania, dedicating his victory over CM Punk to Paul Bearer.
Paul Bearer will join The Ultimate Warrior, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, & Lita as inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014. The entire Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air, live, on the WWE Network on April 5 from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA.
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