It's never easy reflecting back on the life of a great friend and someone so universally well liked. My friend Bill Moody aka Paul Bearer aka Percival Pringle 3 passed away Tuesday at the age of 58. Here are some personal thoughts....
I met Percy, as I called him for the duration of our relationship, while he worked in Dallas for WCCW and the Von Erich's in the wrestling office in Dallas and while managing a variety of villain wrestlers. Our mutual friend Dennis Brent introduced us as Percy also did some work with Dennis to help make ends meet. This was in the early 80's.
We hit it off immediately as we both had the love of the business in common and we both were in the business in a non wrestling role. Were we earning as much money as 'the boys?' Of course not but we were having fun because we were living out our boyhood dreams of being involved in the most unique of genres.
Percy was one of the funniest guys that I ever met in the wrestling biz. He could make anyone laugh and enjoyed doing so. He was also a natural 'heel' and had the psychology of being a villain manager down to a science. Calling Paul Bearer a student of the game would be an understatement.
Growing up in the Pensacola, Florida area with Michael Hayes and others who also made their way into the business Percy always dreamed of being in the biz but knew that athletically speaking that he would have to take a different route than most to make it to the big time. He took that challenging road and navigated it successfully scratching out a living but loving every minute of the journey.
In 1990, PP3's big break came when Vince McMahon brought him to WWE and paired the licensed mortician to be the Undertaker's manager.
As great as Taker's run has been in WWE, arguably the most marvelous, long term run in WWE history, it would have not been the same without Paul Bearer being added to the presentation in the Phenom's formative years.
They went together like BBQ sauce on a great rack of ribs and created a presentation that including the perfect music, with perfect lighting and special effects to go along with the amazing package of the Dead Man and his scary, unmistakable figure of a manager.
When I got to WWE in 1993 I was so happy to reunite with Percy and so proud that he had made it to the top of the mountain in the biggest promotion in the world. That's a long way from P'Cola and working multiple jobs for the fading WCCW territory while taking on a second job to pay the bills.
Percy was so proud of his sons and loved his family deeply. His southern roots ran deep as he never moved, for long any way, from Alabama. During the football season we would exchange messages or talk about his Crimson Tide and my Sooners hoping that they would meet for the national title in our life time. If I got a 'Roll Tide' message on my phone or on Twitter I did not have to think twice about who sent it.
He always laughed about me calling him a "Rotund Demon" on a broadcast and often identified himself in that manner when we would speak on the phone.
Percy dearly loved George Jones and occasionally when a new talent would come into the WWE some pranksters would put the newbie up to telling Percy that George Jones had just passed away. Wrestlers have strange senses of humor and Percy never thought that 'rib' was a funny one. He would commence to cutting a promo on the unsuspecting newcomer AND who ever put the kid up to the unappreciated shenanigans.
Some of my fondest memories was Percy enjoying a taste of Jack Daniels and singing George Jones tunes especially 'He Stopped Loving Her Today.'
Percy dearly loved George Jones but that love paled in comparison to his love for his late wife Diana who passed from breast cancer a few years ago. I'm not sure Percy ever recovered from that loss.
One of Percy's closest, long time friends text me last night that "Paul is happy now. He's back with Diana."
Rest in Peace old friend until we meet again.