William Moody (wrestler)

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William Moody as the famous WWE character and wrestling manager Paul Bearer

William Alvin Moody (born April 10, 1954 in Mobile, Alabama) is a professional wrestling manager, best known for playing the character of Paul Bearer in World Wrestling Entertainment.

He entered the professional wrestling business in his teenage years as a ringside photographer. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving four years on active duty; during this time, he occasionally wrestled for Gulf Coast independent promotions during off-duty hours. In 1978, he began managing as Percival Pringle III, or Percy Pringle, in southeastern independent promotions. He married his wife Dianna the same year, and the couple had two sons, Michael and Daniel, born in 1979 and 1987. Immediately after his oldest son's birth, he cut back his involvement in the wrestling business in order to obtain a degree in mortuary science and earn certification as a funeral director and embalmer. Moody has maintained his licenses ever since.

In 1984, he resumed full-time involvement in the wrestling business, using the Pringle character in Florida Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas, and the United States Wrestling Association (a successor to WCCW). During this time, he served as manager for numerous wrestlers, and notably was manager for Lex Luger, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker in their first professional matches in their early careers. As Percy Pringle, Moody was also associated with the careers of the likes of "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Eric Embry and The Ultimate Warrior.

He joined WWE, then the World Wrestling Federation, in December 1990. WWF chairman and owner Vince McMahon used Moody's real-life involvement in the funeral industry to create the character of Paul Bearer, the manager of The Undertaker. Paul Bearer made his first appearance in January 1991, and Moody played the character for nearly 10 years. As The Undertaker's manager for over 5 years, he was a mentor, friend and keeper of The Urn from which The Undertaker drew strength, but betrayed his long-time friend at SummerSlam 1996 to align himself with Undertaker's enemy Mankind. The Paul Bearer character also went on to bring The Undertaker's brother Kane to the WWE which led to a bitter rivalry. Paul and The Undertaker became a team once again towards the end of 1998 until The Undertaker's departure from the WWE in September 1999 for injury time-out. In 2000, Bill Moody went backstage to serve as a WWE road agent, stage manager and talent scout. His contract with WWE ended in October 2002; he spent the next year working with NWA:TNA. In October 2003, he signed a new 3-year contract with WWE. At that time, Moody was suffering from health problems and depression related to his morbid obesity and underwent gastric bypass surgery in November 2003. As a signing bonus, WWE agreed to help pay for the surgery. After recovering, he reappeared as Paul Bearer in March 2004 at WrestleMania XX, alongside The Undertaker once again.

In a Spring 2004 storyline, Bearer was kidnapped by The Dudley Boyz, under the direction of Paul Heyman. This was set up in order to temporarily write Bearer out of WWE storylines because Moody had to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery after suddenly developing gallstones (a frequent side effect of gastric bypass surgery).

For the June 27, 2004 pay-per-view The Great American Bash, a match pitting Undertaker against both of The Dudley Boyz was booked. Paul Bearer would be encased in a glass crypt backstage, covered up to his chest in cement. In the storyline, Heyman demanded that Undertaker throw the match, or else see Bearer suffocated in cement. By the time of the PPV, Moody had recovered from his latest operation, and would appear on-screen.

Undertaker won the match, but proceeded afterwards to pull the lever that sent cement into the crypt, completely burying Paul Bearer and, in kayfabe terms, suffocating him (Moody was in the crypt throughout the event, but was replaced with a stunt double for the burial). This shot ended the PPV. This caused numerus complaints toward WWE as in practice they actually shown a murder storyline, however, the live audience saw an extended ending in which Bearer surfaced for air and was carried from the arena in a stretcher. On the following week's Smackdown!, Bearer was acknowledged to be alive, although gravely injured, for kayfabe purposes. The Paul Bearer character is not expected to reappear. However, having two years remaining on his contract, William Moody's WWE career wasn't over; he was used as a booker for the company up until the WWE decided to terminate his contract, giving him 90 days notice on April 11, 2005. On June 10, Moddy announced that he had signed a new deal with the WWE which would allow the WWE to market his persona, and which would involve Moody attending autograph sessions and making promotional appearances.

Moody's health has greatly improved in recent years; as of August 2004 (35 weeks after gastric bypass surgery), he had lost 200 pounds.

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