RIP Paul Bearer - the WWE's greatest undersung superstar
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Ben Gibson pays tribute to one of WWE's most enigmatic and entertaining personalities...
For non-wrestling fans the outpouring of grief for Bill Moody (better known as WWE's Paul Bearer) must be a strange thing to behold. After all, here was a man who had never wrestled a match, never headlined Wrestlemania. But he was somebody who seemed to embody a flamboyantly over-the-top vision of wrestling many of us miss today.
He began his career as Percival "Percy" Pringle III, a manager in south-eastern independent promotions and owner of a truly brilliant name. But it wasn't until he entered the WWE as The Undertaker's pasty faced keeper and holder of “the power of the urn” that he captured fans hearts. An integral part of the deadman's utterly bonkers back story, he betrayed and reunited with the near seven foot legend more times than most fans care to count.
Most significantly he paved the way for Kane, Taker's long lost brother, to return and seek revenge at Bad Blood 1997 for burning down and nearly killing his younger sibling by setting fire to their funeral home. If you’re new to this and can't understand why that story rocks, you are a fun sponge and will not be invited round my flat for Royal Rumble night. Personally though it was his short lived relationship with Mankind that I feel was the late Moody's best work.
While The Undertaker seemed cool and detached, Mankind reacted to Bearer and the urn as though they were his lifeblood: rocking back and forth and begging “Uncle Paul” for help. Seemingly inspired by this performance, the Bearer character became even more animated. The sight of Bearer, screaming “the urn, the urn”, with mad shadowy eyes looking wildly for some spirit to come help his protégée is one of the lasting memories of my childhood. Today's WWE may have better athletes, but it does not have better characters.
Indeed, wrestling managers aren't commonplace nowadays. A manager as imaginative as the Paul Bearer character has no latter-day equal, if indeed it ever has. Bill Moody never got much credit as a performer, but surely a man capable of building up three of the biggest wrestling superstars, all without ever performing a single arm lock is someone who deserves our respect.
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