Ringside Remembrances: Paul Bearer/Percy Pringle III
Jay Shannon draws upon five decades as a devout wrestling fan to look at the past, present and future of professional wrestling.
“Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die” – Amelia Burr
It’s 9 PM on Tuesday night and I just got through posting the Recap of Undertaker’s return on Raw. I went to check my e-mails and there was a note from one of my best friends, Joe. He asks if I heard that Paul Bearer had died. I hadn’t. I quickly hit the WWE.com web page and a few of my other regular resource sites to confirm the heart-breaking news that one of my favorite managers was gone. It is with the heaviest of hearts that I talk about one of my favorite people in wrestling.
As many of you know, I grew up in the Dallas area. I was a regular at The Dallas Sportatorium. It was shortly after Percy first arrived in Dallas that I got to meet him. Mind you, there were tons of people there and he would have never remembered a star-struck young kid barely out of his teens. I remember asking him about his wild jackets. “Where in the world do you find something that wild (and cool)?”, I asked the manager. “Kid, I have them made. You can’t just find something like this on the rack.”, he said with a smile and slight laugh in his voice. I got to see him so many times. He seemed to always smile at me when he saw me. That meant a lot to me…still does.
Undertaker, Paul and Donna
Back in 1991 and 1992, I dated (and almost married) a blind woman named Donna. Donna often spent weekends at my place and would sit in my den and teach me to play Braille card games, including the Braille version of Uno. I introduced her to pro wrestling. Odd but she actually loved hearing the action and my excitement about the sport. The only thing that really creeped her out was Paul Bearer. She loved Undertaker and his “deep, sexy voice” (her words). She would just cringe when the falsetto echoing voice of Paul would bounce off the walls of my converted garage apartment/den. She would get up and go visit with my grandmother until the segment was over.
Pro Wrestling Destination and Halloween
When PWD decided to do a Halloween show at the Neil Road Rec Center, Dustin Ardine put out the word that he wanted to do a costume contest. I came to the show dressed as Paul Bearer. (See photo below). Dustin came running across the parking lot to yell “Hell, Yes, that is what I was hoping for!” Several fans actually thought I was Paul, because I could do the voice…though it does hurt to do it. Smile. I came in 2nd that night, behind some little kid dressed like an Avatar character. It was ok, because I really felt like I had won…plus I scored a basketball hoop in the drawing (I wasn’t working for them, then, so I was eligible). I still have the hoop and the photos of me as Paul.
Fast forward to a year later and PWD had it’s own television show. When it came time for the Halloween show, Dustin asked me to host…as “Uncle Paul”. I spray-dyed my hair back to Goth Black #3 (unofficial name for the color). I then found my very own urn (which I can see right behind my monitor) and went to the Training Center and Video Production Facility to film my piece. I even slipped a few potato chips inside the urn for a joke about what does Uncle Paul eat while watching wrestling…Pringles! I still have that episode saved on my DVR, plus have at least 3 copies dubbed. I actually let Mr. Moody know about the imitation and got back a very sweet e-mail saying he was so flattered to know someone liked him enough to play him. That memory just brought a new tear to my eye.
Jimmy Hart thinks I look like Paul
Late last year, I went to New Jersey to do a press conference for a show we were planning to do in Poland. The morning of the press conference, I came down to the lobby of the hotel that we were all staying in. Bill Apter, Jimmy Hart, Kevin Sullivan and Andy Anderson were already in the lobby, waiting for our ride. Jimmy quipped “Look, it’s Paul Bearer”. I broke out my laptop and said “Funny you should say that.” He initially thought I was upset at the comparison. I wasn’t. I fired up my laptop and showed him that photo that I’ve posted above. That gave everyone a good laugh as they realized that it was, to me, very much of a compliment.
I just loaded my Undertaker DVD into my Blu Ray player. I am going to spend a few minutes watching one of the greatest managers of the modern era. I agree with my good friend, “Tough” Tony Moretti. Paul/Percy was the kind of guy that any aspiring manager in wrestling should study. Had knew how to do wrestling right.
May your rest be a most peaceful one. You will be missed…but never forgotten. Rest in Peace and God Bless.