It takes a pretty special individual to make the wrestling word stop in its tracks, especially during Wrestlemania season, but that is exactly what took place last night and this morning as word came out William Moody, aka Paul Bearer, had passed away. This hits me pretty hard considering Paul was one of my favorite characters the WWE created over my time as a wrestling fan. His involvement with icons like the Undertaker, Kane and Mankind makes this an especially devastating blow especially given the time of year. I would expect nothing less than a huge tribute this Monday night, as this passing transcends any storyline or angle that maybe going on.
I still recall the first time I set my human eyes on the character known as Paul Bearer. Brother Love, at that time managing the Undertaker, gave the reigns of his demonic character to Paul and the WWE universe never looked back. During a time period when almost every WWE figure was an over-the-top representation, Paul Bearer was one of the best. While his character was a natural heel, his fortune was so squarely tied to that of the Undertaker; it was a given that he would turn face with the deadman and people just accepted it. As the years went on and the Undertaker’s character evolved, Paul’s role would become less necessary but to his credit, Paul reinvented himself managing figures like Mankind and Kane perfectly. He would end his active managing career right where it started, next to the Undertaker a few years ago.
This passing makes matches and storyline irrelevant in the bigger picture but reality is what it is and this does have a clear effect on Wrestlemania. The Undertaker was favored to keep his 20-0 streak going over CM Punk but there were scenarios where you could see CM Punk being pushed sky high as a mega-heel and getting the win. Those scenarios are out the window, I see no way the Undertaker loses now and I can see Paul Bearer’s name being heavily involved in the current storyline throughout the buildup. I remember when Eddie Guerrero passed and Rey Mysterio was being pushed for a title win at that year’s Mania, Eddie’s passing was being used heavily by Rey within his build up. I see the same happening here and the match being dedicated to Paul by his long time friend. While, normally, I would be very much opposed to another Punk loss, especially at this type of event, this not only should happen but needs to happen. What better place or time to pay tribute to the legend that Paul Bearer was than at Wrestlemania during an Undertaker match?
Today, as we look at old YouTube clips and images from the older days of the WWE, remember Paul Bearer played a huge role in the development of how wrestling is run today. He will be a figure that most of us that grew up during his era, will never forget. Whether it was seeing him bait the Ultimate Warrior on an episode of WWE Superstars or years later turn heel and joining Mankind in his war against the Undertaker, something is missing now. Amazing, we hadn’t seen the man for years so why does it feel like the WWE died a bit last night?