As mentioned on the site, the late great manager William “Paul Bearer” Moody, possibly better known as “Percy” or “Percy Pringle” to those close to him and one of the best manager of all time, passed away aged 58 yesterday evening, with no details released as of writing, while WWE released a statement reading, “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.”
For those unfamiliar with Percy’s career, he was a lifelong wrestling fan (growing up as friends with Michael “P.S.” Hayes) before he broke into the business in the Gulf Coast region as a photographer and after serving in the military, returned to professional wrestling for Championship Wrestling from Florida under the name Percy Pringle III, at the time not realizing that he was actually the third person to use that name. Percy then moved on to WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling), however it is Percy’s WWE run as Paul Bearer that he will be forever remembered for.
Percy signed with the company in December 1990 under the recommendation of Rick Rude and was immediately paired with The Undertaker and given the name of Paul Bearer, a play on Percy’s real-life involvement in the funeral industry, however with his jet black hair and ghostly complexion to match, he became a perfect fit for The Undertaker’s character, however it wasn’t until February of 1991 that the company got to see Bearer, as Brother Love passed on managing The Undertaker any further and Percy took the reigns, referring to The Undertaker as if he was his own with the words “My Undertaker”. The two immediately became inseperable, so much so that it wasn’t until 1996 that Percy began to align himself with Mankind, the arch-enemy of The Undertaker, however it wasn’t until October of 1997 that Percy, now appearing much different than his early days, revealed The Undertaker’s secret in his younger half-brother Kane (who it was revealed that The Undertaker set on fire in a funeral home) that things really kicked off for all characters, leading to a fierce rivalry between both brothers, which as we know by now has been on and off over the years and Percy’s character of Paul Bearer being revealed as Kane’s biological father.
Percy reunited with The Undertaker towards the end of 1998 and formed The Ministry of Darkness (later becoming the Corporate Ministry) with Percy reverting back to his old look of jet black hair and ghostly complexion, however the run only lasted under a year as both himself and The Undertaker were taken off TV in September 1999 due to an injury suffered by The Undertaker. He returned in 2000 as the manager of Kane, but retired from performing on-screen after the WrestleMania 2000 pay-per-view and served as a WWF road agent, talent scout and stage manager. His contract expired with the WWE in October 2002 and he spent the next year working with NWA: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (which at the time was a brand new company) under his original name of Percy Pringle III. In October of 2003, Percy signed a new 3-year deal with the WWE, which he initially refused, telling Jim Ross over the phone that he was suffering from health issues and depression related to his obesity (Percy weighed over 500lbs) at the time. Percy underwent gastric bypass surgery in November 2003, paid for by the company and signed his deal, which saw him re-appearing at the WrestleMania 20 pay-per-view alongside The Undertaker in his return match against Kane, however Percy had to depart WWE programming in Spring of 2004 as he required emergency gallbladder surgery after suddenly developing gallstones, which can be a common side effect of a gastric bypass surgery. Percy was almost effectively done with the WWE by this point and had let officials know, which prompted the company to effectively write him off television, including him being buried in cement at the 2004 Great American Bash pay-per-view, but “surviving” with injuries for the storyline purpose, as well as to avoid any further complaints that the company had received about the ending to the event. Percy was used as booker for the company during the rest of his contract which expired on April 11th, 2005. Percy signed a new WWE deal on June 10th, 2005, however this one allowed him to make independent appearances, appear at autograph sessions and make promotional appearances, including appearances for the NWA, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Millenium Wrestling Federation, Pro Wrestling Syndicate and other events throughout that time including sporadic appearances on WWE television. His last appearance on WWE television came in early 2012 in a backstage segment during Kane’s feud with Randy Orton.
Throughout all his years in professional wrestling, I have never heard a bad comment about Percy, which is very rare and says a lot about how well loved he was. Percy, Paul or William, whatever people knew him as, certainly left a unique mark on the professional wrestling business, something that won’t be matched. Thank you for the memories, may you rest in peace.
On behalf of us all here on Wrestling-News.Net, we would once again like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and the fans of William “Paul Bearer” Moody.