Last night, professional wrestling personality William Moody, who had entertained fans for years in wrestling as the spooky manager Paul Bearer, passed away at the age of 58.
It came as a shock to the world of professional wrestling, many of whom had grown up seeing Bearer on their television sets weekly for most of the 1990′s.
He joined the WWE (then WWF) in 1990 as a ghostly and creepy mortician/manager, who was almost always seen carrying an urn to the ring and whose catch phrase was “Ohhh yesssss!”. He managed superstars like Mankind (who affectionately referred to him as “Uncle Paul”), Rick Rude, Vader, and Kane, but most notably he was the manager of the Undertaker on-and-off for most of the Undertaker’s 20+ year career.
He had been a staple of wrestling’s “Attitude Era”, a time period in the late 90′s where professional wrestling was much more violent, risque, and controversial. The mouthpiece for one of the Undertaker’s most recognizable groups, the Ministry of Darkness, in 1999. The Ministry of Darkness was an extremely controversial group that focused on satanic rituals and even human sacrifice. Bearer was the mouthpiece within the group, doing a lot of the talking and negotiating. This of course is what he was best at. His eerie voice, his cartoonish mannerisms, and his overall… creepiness as a character were just some of the things that made him great. Here’s an excellent example of Paul doing what he did best.
WWE released a statement late last night regarding his death.
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.”
Paul Bearer (seen at the bottom) with some of the boys
Outside the ring, he was seen by most outside his profession as an extremely nice man and a consummate professional. He was known in the locker room as one of the boys, which is one of the highest compliments in the world of professional wrestling. It means in layman’s terms that a person is accepted in the locker room and is accepted by the population of fellow wrestlers and workers. This can make or break ones career, and Paul was definitely one of the boys.
On a personal note, I’ve been an avid fan of professional wrestling since the late 90′s myself. I can clearly remember one of my first wrestling memories being that I owned a “Best of WWF Raw is War” VHS tape. I was hooked by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer. Even though as a small kid the thought of a supernatural being and his undead spooky, funeral parlor owning manager terrified me, I was still hooked. I wanted to know what kinds of weird stuff they were going to do next. I wanted to hear Paul talk. I wanted to see him get what was coming to him eventually. He and the Undertaker were one of the biggest reasons that I’m such a big fan today. His ridiculous over-acting actually worked for him in a way that it works for few others.
In 1998, at the time of the tragic death of wrestler Owen Hart in a freak accident, Paul Bearer read a poem at his memorial show. It read as follows.
“He will not grow old, like we who are left grow old.
Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn…
After going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember him.
Goodbye, old buddy.”
Goodbye, Uncle Paul. Thanks for the memories. Rest in peace.