Class of 2014
Hall of Fame Rating
6 out of 10
Each year during the Hall of Fame announcements, fans wait with bated breath to see which of their heroes; superstars from the past will have their moment to be celebrated. It’s always exciting to see the returns of the past stars and hear them accept their place in history. Unfortunately, that will not be the case with William Moody aka Paul Bearer.
The posthumous induction can be great if it’s a star has been deceased for many years like Gorgeous George or Gordon Solie. In those cases, it is a testament to their legacy. With Paul Bearer, it’s the opposite. Its tragic. Bearer died just one year ago. He, like Macho Man, died during the time period that the Hall of Fame was active. They could have given speeches if WWE had inducted them earlier, instead of Koko B Ware or Bullet Bob Armstrong.
Moody is rumored to have wanted to go in with the Undertaker, which is all well and good, except for the fact that he didn’t make it to see the induction. There might have been dozens of spots where Paul Bearer could have fit in before; a moot point now. If he had lived, a concurrent induction with Undertaker would have made sense. They were completely inter twinned.
Paul Bearer and the Undertaker are the best manager and client duo. One made sense due to the other and vice versa. Without Paul Bearer, it is questionable whether The Undertaker could have maintained through his first through years from villain to anti-hero. Imagine if he had stayed with Brother Love? Brother Love and the Undertaker?! Might as well have a giant chicken with an African Tribesman stereotype.
Paul Bearer was the Undertaker’s manager. He was not his own being. Bobby the Brain Heenan, added great heat to all of his charges, but isn’t thought of as solely the manager of Andre the Giant or Haku.
Paul was brought it to be the mouthpiece, yes, but in a kayfabe character driven way. Paul Bearer was the Undertaker’s manager, named after another “aspect” of the gimmick. An undertaker and a pall bearer are both mortician terms.(Something the real William Moody actually has a licence in, which has got to be the most ridiculous coincidence in wrestling history).
Bearer was not the first manager specially tooled for a wrestler’s gimmick, but he definitely was the best. Another well know is example is Kamala’s “manager”, Kim Chee:
The WWF Kim Chee was about as ridiculous as soup managing Kamala. Kim Chee was a white man in a mask from Africa who found Kamala and brought him back yet didn’t talk and looked like this.
And that is why managers were never really made around characters. It generally was too much of a stretch. Who goes with Jake the Snake? A snake charmer? Who goes with King Kong Bundy? A really small lady? Package deals didn’t work and WWF knew it.
And the reason that this one worked? William Moody. Moody can easily be considered to be one of the top three managers of 1990s WWF. He knew the art of managing and had a plentiful background managing in the territory system, specifically WCCW as Percy Pringle III (a Bobby Heenan/JJ Dillon type)
Bearer’s function in the early days of the Undertaker was dualistic. He was the mouth piece, but not because Taker couldn’t talk. He spoke so Taker didn’t have to. He created the mystique of the Undertaker. He was the fancy packaging which make the Undertaker desirable.
It is obvious that the Undertaker’s success as a supernatural character for 24 years is a exception to the rule. None of Vince’s ridiculous creations of the early 1990s lasted more than a year or two. Taker was different, because he modified and changed.
This led to a breakup between Bearer and Taker. The Undertaker started to reach an apex in 1996. He fought a monster, conquered them, and moved on. How many Kamalas or King Kong Bundys could Undertaker fight before no one cared. Enter Mankind. Mick Foley, whom we all know is an amazing talent, was booked not only as Taker’s greatest advisory, but he was given a great gift-Paul Bearer.
Paul Bearer turning against the Undertaker was brilliant in story. It helped bolster Mankind’s credibility and kept the Undertaker going with his feud with Bearer (through Vader, Mankind and Terry Gordy’s Executioner) It showed another side to Paul Bearer which should have let him become more Percy Pringle style manager for years to come.
Yet that didn’t happen. Bearer without the Undertaker managing Vader felt forced. Moody, for all his talent, struggled to get Bearer over a legitimate advisory to anyone but The Undertaker. IT was believable that Bearer would turn, just not that Vader would want anything to do with him. It was strange and didn’t work.
Without the Undertaker, Bearer seemed flat. His legacy was in jeopardy. Cue the introduction of the second longest running character in the history of WWE, Kane. And the best part is, Kane doesn’t work without Paul Bearer. His story of being Paul Bearer’s son and BOOM- Immediate legitimization. It builds on the mystique. With the addition of Undertaker’s brother, Paul Bearer never branched out again, he never left the “supernatural” section on the WWF stage. Paul Bearer needed the Undertaker even if Taker didn’t need Bearer.
After the year 2000, Moody took time off to deal with his blooming health issues (and weight) At his highest weight, he weighed as much a Rikishi, but without the muscle.
And this is where the tragedy starts to take hold. Even with WWF/WWE moving away from managers, Paul Bearer was a beloved character. He was brought back periodically as needed throughout the 2000s, but he would have been around more if Moody was healthy. His time with the E was cut short, yet he still remains within the top 10 managers in WWE history.
It is also likely that his constant problems with weight had a factor in his early death of 58. Rest in Peace, Mr. Moody.
He died last year. Similar to Eddie Guerrero, this is a tribute induction to someone the organization did not expect to die. His induction was being held until Undertaker’s retirement. Its only a shame we don’t get to hear him say “OHHHH YES!”
Opens Door For?
90s managers. Almost all managers get in the Hall of Fame, due to their continued and important presence on the screen. We had the last of the major 80s managers with the inclusion of JJ Dillon. Expect Jim Cornette and Paul Heyman eventually.
Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.
Irony. The dead man inducts a dead man who played a pall bearer but really was a mortician.