In what may well have been his last interview, Paul Bearer spoke with me about many pro wrestling topics and his life back in January.
We spoke with Paul as part of a CYInterview series where I looked back on some of my favorite people from the world of pro wrestling. Mr. Bearer was slated to receive the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cauliflower Alley Club this year. That award presentation, which we believe will still take place, all be it posthumously, is sure to be bitter sweet.
Mr Bearer – was a widower; his wife passed away four years ago. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his two sons and the rest of his family, friends and fans.
Below is a reprinted version of our CYInterview from January. You can listen to the full CYInterview and read the highlights below:
Listen to the entire Paul Bearer CYInterview:
Have trouble listening to the audio? Listen here
Talking about his involvement in professional wrestling today, Paul says this:
“People that don’t know, that don’t see me, I am still involved. I’m still under contract with WWE. I’m under a legends contract with WWE and I do things now and then with them like WrestleMania and go do signings, this, that and the other. Plus I work the independent organizations all around the country. I go out to L.A. once a month and do Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. We tape four weeks of TV once a month out there and some months I’m busy every weekend doing wrestling stuff. People think Paul Bearer who is fat, behind, rolled up into a ball and buried in concrete and they wondered what happened to him, but I’m telling you, I’m still busy. I stay as busy as I want. Fortunately, I turn down more invitations to do events than I do.”
As the manager to three of the biggest stars in pro wrestling history: The Undertaker, Mankind and Kane, Paul Bearer managed those characters with a dark side flair. Props he used, such as urns, caskets and other funeral related items during his pro wrestling career were nothing new to him. In his life away from wrestling, he is actually a licensed mortician:
“I signed my first contract with WWE on December 22, 1990 and here we are in 2013. … Back when I first started with The Undertaker, if I ever thought that you know the gimmick would last these just number of years, no way. He didn’t either and he don’t, you know he’ll tell you the same thing. We didn’t have a clue. It was just, I’ve been very, very blessed in professional wrestling because I’m just a Alabama kid, from the Alabama Gulf Coast that grew up watching local territory days wrestling. … It’s always been professional wrestling and the funeral business for me. I have a degree in mortuary science. I’m a licensed funeral director and embalmer, licensed in four states and right now I haven’t been doing anything with the funeral business. After my wife passed away, that’s when I kind of went back to wrestling full time.”
Today, there is a scarcity of pro wrestling managers on the scene. Guys like Classy Freddie Blasie, [see here for possibly his last interview] Captain Lou Albano, Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, Bobby Heenan and Paul Bearer are now a rarity. Percy says he gives advice to Ricardo Rodriguez of the WWE, one of the few male managers currently in pro wrestling:
“I think a hell of a lot of Ricardo Rodriguez who manages Alberto Del Rio. He has become a very good friend of mine and I give him tips all the time and not that he needs them. And when I see things that I like, I let him know that I liked it and he’s very respectful and very, knows the history of our business and he deserves to be where he’s at and other than Ricardo Rodriguez, there really isn’t any managers, you know WWE doesn’t have any managers. … Bobby Heenan and Lou Albano and I could just go on and on and on, you know all the old school managers, there are none.”
One of the four wrestlers Paul Bearer managed in the WWE is Mick Foley. Mr. Foley, who went on to become a New York Times bestselling author, is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Mr. Bearer shares some memories of working with Mick:
“I love him dearly. I had so much fun managing him when he was Mankind ‘cause we was going against The Undertaker. … We just had so much fun because he wore that mask, you know that covered half of his long hair and that mask and all that and we were just like kids out there all the time and I was the only one that could ever make The Undertaker laugh and he could be laughing and nobody ever knew it and the same with Mick Foley. We would be out there and we all got paid to do this. … I have been all around the world. I performed in all 50 states, 28 countries and I got a paycheck every week.”
Though many consider him to be one of the greatest managers in pro wrestling history and believe he should already be in the WWE Hall of Fame, Paul Bearer says his day will come. In the meantime, Paul/Percy is being honored for his work in pro wrestling at the upcoming Cauliflower Alley Club. He’s receiving the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award:
“I know that I will [be in the WWE Hall of Fame]. So that’s all I need to know. Whether it’s next year or whether it’s five years from now, I know the time’s coming. … This year I am receiving the Lou Thesz Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club. That’s their second highest award that they give out. To put in perspective, last year Ricky “The” Dragon Steamboat received it and this year Paul Bearer, Percy Pringle’s getting it.”
Those who know Paul Bearer know he’s a big Alabama Crimson Tide football fan. Reflecting on Alabama’s starting quarterback A. J. McCarron who’s led the Tide to back to back national titles, Paul offers that A.J. is a wrestling fan:
“I know A.J.. He’s a wrestling fan. I mean, he’s not never one of those who miss it type of wrestling fans, but he’s watched wrestling and his cousin went to school with my youngest son. … I am very, very proud of A.J. and we see him now and then and I’m just so proud of our football team and the job Nick Saban does for us.”
You can check out Paul Bearer/Percy Pringle’s official website at www.percypringle.com.
You can email Chris Yandek at ChrisYandek@CYInterview.com Chris is available for interviews to comment on anything featured on CYInterview.
You can follow Chris Yandek on Twitter here.