Wrestling Legend Paul Bearer Dead at 58
I don’t watch a ton of wrestling now, but the sport as it existed in the 80’s and 90’s is burned into every fiber of my being. And that means that, like many who grew up watching in that era of full-on kayfabe and the all-important manager/wrestler dynamic, I am a gigantic fan of Bill Moody, better known to wrestling fans everywhere as Paul Bearer. And tonight, as I neared the mid-point of my customary late-night movie, I got a text from fellow ANO writer Aaron that hit me like a rare few celebrity deaths ever do: “RIP Paul Bearer”.
Making his debut in the then-WWF in 1991 as the manager of The Undertaker, Paul Bearer stood alongside such greats as Jimmy Hart and Mister Fuji as someone who might not have seen a lot of action in the ring, but nevertheless helped to shape the sport of professional wrestling through sheer force of personality. For years he was rarely seen without the trademark urn credited as the source of The Undertaker’s otherworldly powers, and in a way I guess one could say that the urn was an analogue for Paul Bearer himself. He was the voice and the presence that helped propel and shape the careers and characters of many of wrestling’s greats, shifting his focus from The Undertaker to Kane as well as Mick Foley’s early WWF run as Mankind.
Moody’s career in professional wrestling began in 1979, long before his stint with WWE, and it carried on beyond his official retirement as well. He continued to put in substantial time on the indie circuit, notably managing his close friend and fellow WWF retiree Kamala (check out the excellent indie wrestling documentary Card Subject to Change), in addition to occasional guest appearances in recent WWE storylines. Paul Bearer was a man who loved his career and loved his fans, as anyone who followed his frequent Twitter activity can attest to. Despite his health issues, time dedicated to his family, and rigorous travel schedule, any respectful fans with questions to ask could expect real and personal answers. Wrestling is a sport known to be unkind to those who have passed through its wringer, but Paul Bearer endured.
And now, at the age of 58 and after dedicating over three decades to the sport of professional wrestling both in and out of the spotlight, Paul Bearer is gone. I honestly don’t know if he’d appreciate this more with or without the requisite Undertaker impression, but either way…rest in peace. You will be missed.