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411’s The Mortician: The Story of Paul Bearer Report

November 8, 2020 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
The Mortician: The Story of Paul Bearer

-Undertaker month continues on The WWE Network with this special about the man most closely associated with The Undertaker, Paul Bearer. Let’s get to it!

-Air Date: 11.08.20
-Run Time: 55:54

-Bill Moody loved this business according to Bruce Pritchard and Mick Foley says he was perfect for The Undertaker because he was a real mortician. Kane credits him for making Kane, Kane and Taker, Taker. The is The Mortician: The Story of Paul Bearer!

-We start with news reel footage of John F Kennedy’s assassination. Well, that’s unique. Paul tells us that he was 7-8 years old and that tragedy had an impact on him. He remembers watching the funeral on TV and the same year his grandfather passed away. That was the first time he went inside a funeral home and saw a dead person. He decided he wanted to be a funeral director and would give pets, road kill, anything he found that died a funeral.

-He grew up in Mobile, AL and fell in love with wrestling. In his area he got Gulf Coast Wrestling. He got into the business with Michael Hayes who lived down the road in Florida. They would set up the ring and trained themselves in the backyard. They eventually learned how to do it right. They only knew of their local wrestling, but Paul would go to the stands to buy the newest magazines. He never saw footage from Chicago, The Garden, or LA, but he was able to see those places in the magazines.

-Moody served 4 years in the Air Force but also continued his training. He was able to get a wrestling license and started his career with names like Mr X, The Masking Bomber (photos are shown of those gimmicks). He would work Memphis for $10-15 and it was worth it because they were wrestlers. Hayes talks about The Great Mephisto, who was the booker of Mississippi Championship Wrestling, and they caught his eye. One night Mephisto asked Paul if he ever thought about being a manager so they changed his name to Percy Pringle. Hayes calls him the perfect, bad guy heel because of his weird face that could shift in various ways and make you want to hit him.

-Paul’s personal life took off as he married a woman named Diane and had his first son. Wrestling took a back seat as he needed money for his family so he became a funeral director. He had two dreams and achieved both of them.

-The spotlight of Wrestling was too great though and he came back in Florida. Oh man there is some great footage of a green Lex Luger as Paul was his manager in what was Luger’s first match. Rick Rude got Paul in 1985 and their chemistry was instant. This is all great! The Pringle/Rude connection went to Texas and took that place by storm.

-Foley first worked with Percy in late 1988 in Texas. He calls Paul one of the great mouth pieces of all time. He was able to get great heat as that was what he was supposed to do and he was very successful at it. Paul: “The Manager was there to talk about the guy he was with.” Some managers seemed to forget that!

-He was also the first manager of another green kid in Dallas known as Texas Red. Yes, that is The Undertaker in his first real match while under a mask with Percy Pringle managing him. His first match was with Bruiser Brody and as you would expect, Brody beat the piss out of him. Paul: “In that era you had to pay your dues.” Next Taker was The Punisher and then we jump ahead to the birth of The Undertaker in the WWF.

-Moody and his wife had a second child, another son. He felt it would be time to move back to Mobile and settle down. Rick Rude told him to wait and call Vince McMahon. So in December of 1990, he called Vince who greeted him with, “Where have you been all my life?” He had a meeting with Vince in Stamford and Vince saw a report that Percy was a funeral director. Vince was elated and gave Paul a contract with the WWF on the spot.

-Bruce Pritchard was managing The Undertaker as Brother Love, but also had the duties of working for the company. That meant he wasn’t at the live events so you only got half the package. The search was on for a new manager for The Undertaker. Vince told Paul that they were looking a manager for The Undertaker and since he was a funeral director it was perfect. The idea was to make him look like Gomez Adams. The biggest change was taking his hair from Bobby Heenan blonde to charcoal black. Here is some trivia as Road Warrior Hawk came up with the name Paul Bearer as a pun and Pritchard heard it and ran right to Vince with it. That is so simple and yet, genius!

-Brother Love passes the torch to Paul Bearer and much like The Undertaker he had the character down cold from day one. We get awesome Funeral Parlor highlights including Warrior getting locked in the casket, which is kind of creepy now, but was mind blowing stuff when I was a kid. Pritchard says Bill Moody was Paul Bearer and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the two.

-Taker and Paul were inseparable as Paul acted as his real life manger. They had a genuine friendship. Taker mentions they were the best of friends. Paul had the loud, creepy voice that did most of the talking while he had the deep voice that spoke very little.

-Paul says he felt naked without having something in his hands as even as Percy he carried a cane. So one day the idea of carrying an urn popped in his head. It was rather easy for him to get an urn as he called a friend who was also in the funeral business. Taker talks about the idea of the urn and he doesn’t think the character takes off at the speed it does without Paul Bearer.

-Survivor Series 1990: The Undertaker pins Hulk Hogan (editing here makes it seem clean as they don’t show the steel chair or Flair involvement) to become the WWF Champion. Paul mentions that beating Hogan didn’t happen much in those days.

-WrestleMania VII as we go back a few months. This was Paul’s first Mania and he mentions he was intimidated by the interview with Regis Philbin. Oh man, Regis and Alex Trebek were both on that show and we’ve lost both this year!

-Paul discusses getting to work at MSG and how great that was and then we move to Wembley at SummerSlam 1992. The walk down the aisle took his breath away as he could only think that he was a country boy and now he was working in front of this massive crowd in London. Taker puts over Paul as being the one to appreciate those things and smell the roses which he never did. It was thanks to Paul that he did take some time to realize all the cool things they had done.

-Paul puts Taker over for carrying the WWE of his back and he just road the coattails. Their 6 year run needed to end as some felt perhaps Paul was holding Taker back as far as evolving. The idea was they wanted to hear from Taker more and to do that they needed to move Paul to someone else. SummerSlam 1996 sees Paul turn on Taker and take on Mankind as his new client. This was heavy stuff at the time as you just never thought they would separate those two. Taker says they both felt it was too early, but it worked out for the best.

-Foley mentions Paul was his rock out there and made him more legitimate. Paul Bearer was the rocket that was strapped to him. Taker and Foley kill each other from arena to arena with Bearer being involved.

-We jump to Oct 1997 and Pritchard says they needed a monster for Taker. The idea was for just a one time character and it kind of ran a little longer than that. You think! The story goes that Taker burned the funeral home to the ground and killed his parents and apparently his brother. Paul though announces to the world that Kane is alive.

-Kane is here and talks about his first run as Isaac Yankem and then as The Fake Diesel. “I had a couple failed gimmicks before Kane.” No kidding! Kane says that he was told that some were worried he wouldn’t be able to pull off the character. I think he will be fine! Kane debuts at Bad Blood and costs Taker the first Hell in a Cell Match against Shawn. Just a great debut and kick start to one of the longest running rivalries in WWE history. Kane puts over Paul for being an integral part to the story. He calls the story the greatest ever told in WWE history and Paul was the story teller with him. I mean, I wouldn’t call it the greatest story, but everyone has their opinion.

-We get to see Paul playing ribs on people including a great one where he threatens to remove Austin’s pants as they are filming the sequence where Taker tries to embalm him. Fantastic! Another great out take where Kane is swinging a sledgehammer and breaking tombstones and the hammer breaks. “Oh shit the sledgehammer broke.” More fun as apparently Taker doesn’t like cucumbers so Paul would put cucumbers in the bottom of Taker’s drink and bury it under ice. Again, amazing!

-The business began to evolve and so to did The Undertaker as he kicked off his American Bad Ass persona which meant no more Paul Bearer. He still got to help out backstage and did work at The Gorilla Position. Taker knows Paul enjoyed the backstage stuff but his heart was being a performer. That was the WWE’s way of repaying his loyalty without needing him on camera.

-2001 sees Dianne get breast cancer and that was a massive blow to Paul as you would expect. He put wrestling on the shelf to be with his wife as any husband should want to do.

-WrestleMania XX: The idea was thrown around to bring back The Dead Man. Taker himself didn’t want to go back with the character and it took a lot of convincing. Once he agreed it was Taker’s idea to bring Paul Bearer back. They contacted him 6 months before the show and Paul wasn’t ready because he had ballooned to 525 lbs due to depression over his wife’s cancer. He was embarrassed by his weight and didn’t take any calls from WWE. They show an e-mail from Jim Ross to Paul to see what his interest in returning would be. Paul responded to Jim with a message that said he would love nothing more than to return, but fate has made his choice. There isn’t any way his health would allow him to return. Vince looked at it that if Paul was in that poor health the first thing they needed to do was save the man and worry about everything else later. They signed Paul to a new contract which included a signing bonus that paid for the gastric bypass surgery that he needed. Kudos to Vince and the WWE for helping the man. So the Dead Man returns at Mania XX and beats Kane. Pritchard tells us that the reason Paul didn’t get in the ring to celebrate was because he couldn’t walk up the stairs.

-They realized that Paul was in worse health than they thought. They loved Bill but it wasn’t working and he knew it so decided to head back home to be with his wife and work the funeral home. In 2009 his wife passed away from her battle with breast cancer. They were married 30 years and Paul says that the fact they were married 30 years while he was in the wrestling business says a lot. Man as a point! Paul took time off as he didn’t want to be around death every day.

-Sept 2010 on SmackDown Paul makes an appearance inside a casket that Kane opens to a big pop from the crowd. I sometimes forget that Paul is Kane’s father in storyline terms. He says the fans had no clue as they snuck him into the building. Taker says it was fun and Paul was happy to hear the fans still remembered him and he could perform in front of a new generation.

-Bruce says the story then became how many different ways can we “kill” Paul Bearer as it was basically a riff on Kenny from South Park. We get some more outtakes from some of the things they filmed. He had a lot of fun with that brief run.

-March 2, 2013: Moody attends the Gulf Coast Wrestling reunion and those there said he was having trouble breathing. Three days later Bill Moody passed away from a heart attack. Hayes says he and Vince were told by Carrano. He could only think of the Mississippi days when it was him, Paul, and Gordy and he has lost both of them. Hayes called Taker to let him know and Taker calls it a big loss as he was a huge part of his life both professionally and personally. Pritchard says it was just sadness, but also a little happiness as he knows he is with Dianna again. Kane sent a text to Foley who was in his car and all he could think to do was put Mobile, AL in his GPS and make the drive. He knew that he, Taker, and Kane had to be at the funeral.

-Kane was at the funeral and was blown away by the cards and flowers sent by fans. Kane says Paul saw the WWE and wrestling as a great, big family. He loved being around the boys but also the fans. We see the RAW tribute with Taker kneeling before the urn.

-Oh man, they are going to touch on the CM Punk feud. Taker says he was conflicted as he initially thought it was too disrespectful. He came to the conclusion that Paul would love this. They were talking about the character and not the man. Kane agrees that Paul would have wanted it as they built an entire WrestleMania angle around him. Pritchard puts his life on the angle and knows Bill would have loved it. Foley also agrees and felt it added to the match and secured Paul’s place in WWE history. That match was just fantastic and Punk went all in on being the biggest dick ever and in the end the bad guys gets his and the hero honors his fallen friend. I know reports were Paul’s kids were consulted so I don’t know what the right answer is, but those who knew him seem to think Paul would have been fine with it.

-The following year Moody gets inducted into the WWE Hallo of Fame by Kane with his two sons accepting. It marked the first time Taker was ever shown on camera at Hall of Fame. Taker says it was the best way to show respect to his friend and “be The Undertaker to his Paul Bearer, one last time.” Perfect!

-William achieved both of his dreams and built a Hall of Fame career. Paul tells us he had a blessed life and Kane says Paul loved the business more than anyone. “William Moody was an entertainer.”

-We get some more outtakes as everyone talks about Moody’s legacy. Foley says he showed if you put your heart and soul in a character you can achieve your dreams. Kane calls him one of the greatest characters in WWE history. Taker is thankful to know Bill the man and Paul the character. Moody gives us a final Paul Bearer “oh yes,” and that ends this fantastic documentary.

-This was great and a perfect tribute to the man. I am glad they focused a documentary on Paul as his contributions are sometimes forgotten because of how long it has been since he was on TV and his untimely passing. This hit everything you wanted and the length was perfect at just under an hour. Much credit to the man for having 2 dreams as a child and getting to achieve both of them while also being a great family man. His was a life cut short by most standards, but lived to the fullest. Please go out of your way to check this one out as the WWE documentary crew continues to do great work with these. Thanks for reading!

article topics :

Paul Bearer, Robert Leighty Jr.