My Two Hundred Dinars: RIP Paul Bearer

Posted on March 13, 2013

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Rest in Peace.

I really miss the days of managers in pro wrestling. When I first started watching the sport, there was so many effective heel managers, each of which was great at making 5 year old me despise their guy. Whether it was Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan and his Heenan Family, ‘The Doctor of Style’ Slick, Harvey Whippleman, ‘Sensational’ Sherri, ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart, Mr Fuji, whoever, every other heel had a manager who would stand outside during their matches and generally be annoying pillocks. One manager stood out above all of these however, and that was pretty difficult considering the list above. This man was known as Paul Bearer. He managed a recently introduced phenom called The Undertaker, and no, I didn’t get the pun with the name until I was about 24. Paul Bearer was to replace Brother Love as The Undertaker’s side guy, and they would go on to be most likely the most iconic wrestler/manager duo in history.

Bearer was over the top, and completely terrifying at it. He was a large round guy, with ghost white face make up, overly blackened eyes, pursed lips and that iconic ‘oooooh yeeeeeessssss’ anti-catchphrase. He would walk around clutching at an urn, which seemingly provided The Undertaker with power, or lack thereof. Yeah, wrestling was pretty kooky in the early 90s, but as a kid this was simultaneously awesome and horrifying. I wanted to get extra strength from something my mate carried around, everyone did. He was everything to The Undertaker for a long time until, as is always the way in pro graps, he turned against his mentor and sided with his then arch-rival, Mankind (Mick Foley) in 1996. He would go on to manage various guys against his former client, including Vader, probably the best big man in the history of wrestling (sorry Bam Bam). 1997 saw the beginning of depth into The Undertaker, with Bearer claiming he harboured a damaging secret about the Dead Man, and he forced Taker to take him on again for fear of the secret being revealed. The histrionics were gone, and Bearer was now a loud mouthed obnoxious chump. Eventually the partnership couldn’t continue, and the secret was revealed. Paul Bearer had had an affair with Taker’s mum, and in the process fathered a boy, The Undertaker’s half brother, Kane. Taker denied it, and we all waited for Kane to turn up. Turn up he did, and  I remember watching this, and for want of a better word, I was fucking terrified. And I was 11.

It was October 1997, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels were having the first ever Hell in a Cell match, an absolute classic by all standards. The Undertaker was closing in on a win, until lo and behold, out came a terrifying man in red with a mask. This was his brother, presumed dead in a fire started by The Undertaker when young. This was Kane. He ripped the cage off the door and the rest was history. Bearer would go on to manage Kane for a while before, again in true pro graps style, betraying Kane in favour of The Undertaker. He would revert back to something approaching his original look as The Ministry of Darkness was formed, a stable I loved despite being full of absolute goons in hindsight. I mean, Mideon? Viscera? Gangrel? Come on, at least The Corporation had Ken Shamrock, he was really cool. Either way, Taker got injured and Bearer’s original and most important run in the (then) WWF came to an end.

He would return famously at Wrestlemania XX with The Undertaker, at the beginning of the Deadman 2.0 era, and who was the opponent? Kane, of course. Looking back, the match was garbage, but the match was completely secondary to the return of both Taker and Bearer. It was a real mark out moment, a real chills on arms point. This second run wouldn’t last long as he had agreed to undergo various surgeries in order to deal with his rapidly increasing weight, and he was written off TV in one of the dumbest storylines in history, a storyline so dumb I’m not even sure if I want to type it down on a website I put my name to. Well, here goes. He was buried alive in concrete by The Undertaker, in a feud with Paul Heyman and The Dudley Boys. Everyone deserved better. He would make many sporadic appearances on TV in the years following, not to any real purpose, but it was irrelevant. His legacy was assured.

William Moody, better known as Paul Bearer, died last tuesday at the age of 58, which strangely was the same as last weeks Two Hundred Dinars, Hugo Chavez. He died due to complications with his gallbladder. He had health problems throughout the last few years, but 58 is still a young age to pass away. Looking back, it is a testamant to the character and the performer that Paul Bearer is talked about with such reverance by almost everyone in the wrestling industry. When someone in that business dies there is always an outpouring of respect, but there are also always the odd dissenting voice hidden in the respect. With Paul Bearer, it seems that everyone was in great respect of the man, both professionally and personally. If he doesn’t end up the Hall of Fame, it is a shame and an insult, because there are arguably no more iconic or unique managers in the history of the business.

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