March 8, 2013

Jamie Jones: A ‘Paul’ cast over the wrestling world

Percy Pringle! Percy Pringle! Percy Pringle! The name was flying out of my mouth at a rapid rate — and an extremely high decibel level — aimed squarely at manager Paul Bearer (who was previously known as Percy Pringle), who was a mere 10 feet away watching his protégé, The Undertaker, wrestle a match. It was the late 1990s at a WWF house show in Greenville, S.C.

My friend (actually his dad) scored ringside seats to the event. The cozy seating was a heckler’s dream for us wrestling-crazed college students. Safely behind a four-foot tall steel barricade, we took verbal shots at the bad guys. And the good guys. And anyone else our voices would reach.

Few reacted to our jabs.

Paul Bearer did.

After five minutes of screaming “Percy Pringle!” at Bearer, he turned to me, broke character and asked with an exasperated expression, “What?”

I couldn’t muster a word.

Bearer, still clutching his signature urn that mysteriously controlled The Undertaker, turned his attention back to the match.

William Alvin “Bill” Moody, best know as his ring names Paul Bearer and Percival “Percy” Pringle III during almost 40 years in professional wrestling, passed away Tuesday. He was 58.

Most wrestling fans met Moody as the creepy, pale-faced manager with jet black hair named Paul Bearer (a terrific pun on the funeral term pallbearer). I was introduced to him via ESPN broadcasts of World Class Championship Wrestling as Percival Pringle III, a blonde-haired, flamboyant manager who wore colorful suit jackets.

Moody managed a who’s who list of wrestlers, from Blackjack Mulligan to Lex Luger to Rick Rude. But Moody, a real-life mortician, became a household name when he began managing The Undertaker in 1991.

While The Undertaker left Moody behind to become one of wrestling’s biggest stars, Moody continued in the business by making appearances with TNA, WWE and independent shows. He was also still under contract with WWE at the time of his death.

Rest in peace, William Moody.

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