Thursday, March 6, 2014

He Urned His Hall of Fame Spot

Paul Bearer
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

The latest announcement for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014 is the late, great Paul Bearer.  I don't think many people were surprised by this induction, as there was speculation last year that he'd go in, just weeks after his unexpected death.  Obviously, he is worthy of this honor, and I'm sad that he will not be there to accept this recognition.  

My first memories of Paul Bearer are actually of his alter ego, Percy Pringle III.  He was a flamboyant manager in World Class Championship Wrestling when I first saw him.  He had blond hair, wore horrible suits, and usually carried a cane.  More often than not, that cane would be used to run interference in a match and help his guy win.  (I know his history is deeper than WCCW, but this is when I first came to know of him.)

Rick Rude & Percy Pringle
Photo courtesy: WWE
Rick Rude was Percy's main man in World Class.  He managed the Ravishing One to the WCCW title.  I can still remember the anger I felt when he whacked Lance Von Erich with the cane and interfered when Kerry Von Erich was on the verge of winning the belt from Rude.  This was the perfect heel-manager combo going.  They were the duo I loved to hate.

Undertaker & Paul Bearer
Photo courtesy: WWE
Eventually Percy would trade those brightly colored suit coats and blond hair for jet black locks and a dark suit.  He carried an urn and talked with a quiver in his voice.  Percy was now Paul Bearer, manager of the Undertaker.  

These two worked together so well.  Bearer's mannerisms and emotions helped convince fans that he and the Undertaker were in fact very real and not some flash in the pan gimmick.  Even after he split from 'Taker in 1996, the Bearer character continued on.  Just like the Undertaker, Paul Bearer had to evolve as a character.  He lost the pale face and dyed black hair and seemed more natural.  He was borderline evil when he brought Kane into the WWE.  He also managed Mankind and Vader for a time.

Paul Bearer
Photo courtesy: WWE
I don't know for sure, but I think it's safe to say that Paul Bearer may have been the longest serving manager in the WWE.  His first stint in the company lasted more than 11 years before the was "killed off."  He returned a couple more times, before meeting his demise again and again.

I'm looking forward to learning more about William Moody, the man who played Paul Bearer.  I'll be at the Hall of Fame Ceremony in New Orleans.  May he rest in peace.

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