October 23, 2010
Paul Bearer glad to be back
By TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
When Bill Moody was offered the opportunity to return to WWE as Paul Bearer, his initial reaction was "no."
He was hurting. His precious wife Dianna had died early in 2009 and he wasn't sure he really wanted to get back into the business where he had gained so much notoriety as a manager and accomplice to The Undertaker and Kane.
After agreeing to return four months ago, Paul Bearer appeared on Smackdown! last month, and was soon involved in a storyline swerve where he betrayed The Undertaker and sided with Kane -- the two of them will face each other in a Buried Alive match at Sunday's Bragging Rights pay-per-view.
"I had to keep the return secret. That night, when the casket opened up and my big butt popped out, even a lot of the wrestlers were surprised.
"I'd been away for six years, the main reason being my wife got breast cancer. She was a survivor in 2001 and she survived it again in 2006. But it came back and ravaged her and she died. I had to stay home and take care of my wife. She took care of me for 30 years.
"When they asked me, I immediately said no. I didn't feel like I could do it after losing my wife. But then I thought about it and it came down to what my wife would want me to do. I've found that this has been good therapy to me. My parents don't live too far away and I've got two sons, both married with a daughter. So I've got family. But I'm at home alone. Just me and three dachshunds. Losing my wife really took the wind out of my sails. I'm so glad to be back."
There's been a groundswell of support from wrestling fans.
"When I made the turn on The Undertaker, I expected the worst," he said. "I was expecting to have 10,000 e-mails saying: 'I hate you. I'm going to burn your house down.' But 9-out-of-10 were positive. They were glad to see me back.
"We really caught the fans totally off-guard, to turn on The Undertaker as quickly as I did. It was a tough decision whether to wait a month, two months or until Wrestlemania. I'm old school. I like to be surprised at a movie's ending."
In this case, it isn't same old, same old, the 56-year-old Moody has made some adjustments to his character.
"It's a different Paul Bearer. A new Paul Bearer," he said. "I don't paint my face as white as I used to and my voice is not quite as high pitched."
A life-long wrestling fan, he really, really is a funeral director and embalmer and mortician.
"I always wanted to be in the wrestling business and the funeral business. But I never expected it would happen at the same time," he said.
He became a wrestler, with his first match in 1974.
"I'd put a mask on and call myself whatever they needed that night," he said.
The Great Mephisto (Frankie Cain) asked him if he had ever tried managing, then put him with the Mongolians. Mephisto also gave him the name Percy Pringle. When World Class Wrestling disbanded in 1980, he was ready to pack it in.
"I was going to get out of wrestling. I was talking to my dear friend 'Ravishing' Rick Rude and I told him I was going to quit. He said, 'No, don't do that.' He made a call, then told me, 'Here's Vince McMahon's number, give him a call.' So I did and I met with Vince. I'll never forget he was looking at my resume and he saw that I had a degree in mortuary sciences. He laughed that deep laugh and I was wondering what he was laughing about. Turns out they were looking for a manager for The Undertaker. They put two and two together and that is how I became Paul Bearer."
It was pure magic. Then and now.
Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.