Sunday, October 16, 2011

Boo: Urning His Way

Paul Bearer (courtesy: WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Paul Bearer is one of those characters in wrestling you just have to associate with Halloween.  I mean, heck his name is synonymous with death.  He's an interesting character and he just won't go away.  Well, maybe he's gone for good now, but I have a feeling we'll see him again.

Before he was Paul Bearer, I remember William Moody's other alter ego, Perry Pringle, very well.  He was the bleach blond, flamboyant manager of "Ravishing" Rick Rude in World Class Championship Wrestling.  I know Percy had been around before that, but it was in WCCW that I really remember him.  And I despised him.  I despised Rude too.  Back then, I was all faces all the time, and of course Texas wrestling was known for the Von Erichs, whom I marked out for.

Undertaker & Paul Bearer (from WWE)
Eventually though, Percy would leave Texas and by this point, the USWA and head north to the WWF.  It was early 1991, a few months after the Undertaker had made his debut at the Survivor Series the previous November.  At that point, he was managed by Brother Love, which really didn't seem like a logical fit.  Low and behold, Taker's new manager would be introduced.  A rotund figure, with jet black hair and moustache.  His face was pale, and he had dark circles under his eyes. He spoke like a ghoul and wore a dark black suit.  He was Paul Bearer.  And the gimmick was close to his heart, because in real life Moody has a degree in mortuary science.

Warrior & Bearer (WWE)
Obviously the name worked perfectly with the Undertaker.   Paul Bearer carried a big golden urn, which seemed to hold all the Undertaker's supernatural powers.  The two worked so well together.  Paul would help 'Taker after a win and stuff an unconscious opponent into a body bag.  Paul even had his own talk show, "The Funeral Parlor."   It was the scene of the infamous Ultimate Warrior coffin attack.  Taker put the Warrior in a casket during the show, which lead to their feud during the summer of '91.

Eventually Bearer and Undertaker would turn face and feud with the likes of Jake "the Snake" Roberts, Giant Gonzalez, and the Underfaker with Ted DiBiase.  Remember that one?  Ted DiBiase claimed to have the Undertaker in his Million Dollar Corporation, but it turned out to be an impostor (Brian Lee).

Paul Bearer & Mankind (WWE)
In 1996, Bearer turned on Taker and whacked him with his own urn and helped Mankind win the Boiler Room Brawl at Summer Slam.  This started a new era for Bearer as he tried to destroy his former charge.  Mankind, the Executioner, and eventually Vader and Kane all tried.  And they all failed.  Paul's appearance changed in this time period too.  His jet black hair became a more natural color, and he shave the moustache.  With the Kane angle, we learned that he was the brother of the Undertaker and Paul Bearer was the Big Red Machine's father.

Death becomes him...
I don't recall the exact circumstances,  but eventually Paul Bearer and the Undertaker would reunite.  But in 2004, Bearer would suffer the first of a couple of on screen deaths.  The Dudley Boys put him in a cement crypt at the Great American Bash.  But in WWE, anything can happen, and low and behold, Paul Bearer returned to the ring.  This time in 2010 to reunite once again with the Undertaker.  But it was all a swerve and Bearer turned on 'Taker again, helping Kane win their match at Hell in a Cell.

On Edge (WWE)
Kane and Bearer worked together for a couple of months before his character was killed off again.  This time at the hands of Edge.  His character may no longer be on camera with the WWE, but Paul is still a part of the company.  He has a legends agreement with them, so I think it's just a matter of time before we see him again.  Maybe if and when the Undertaker hangs it up for good, we'll see some sort of return.  At the very least, I see Paul Bearer returning for an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame at some point.  It's an honor I feel he deserves. His success as a manager includes leading Taker to the WWF world title.  He also took Kane to the world title, even though it was just a one day reign. Bearer managed Kane and Mankind as tag team champions.  And I guess technically he managed Kane during his second world title reign, even though he didn't take him to the title.  Not a bad list of accomplishments for this macabre character.

Update: William Moody, the man behind the character of Paul Bearer, died on March 5, 2013.  He will be missed.

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