Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rant #920: All Hail Paul Bearer

William Moody died last week.

He was in his late 50s and had been in ill health for years.

To most of us, that name really doesn't mean much of anything, but to others, it means quite a bit.

William Moody was the character "Paul Bearer" in the WWE. He was the "manager" of the Undertaker, Kane and several other wrestlers, and his popularity, and the popularity of the wrestlers he managed, truly moved professional wrestling into the global phenomenon it is today.

Moody, who was, in fact, a funeral director in real life, became the manager of the Undertaker in the early 1990s, and the two men took their characters beyond even what the wildest imagination could have seen for them.

Dying his hair pitch black and wearing garish makeup, the roly poly Moody fit the Paul Bearer character perfectly, and the Undertaker's story--basically that he was a dead man walking, looking to remove any and all human vermin that stood in his way--was a perfect fit too, and lasts, to a certain degree, to this day.

Moody's prop was one of the great ones in all history. Chaplin had his cane, and Moody had his urn. He carried it around, held close to his chest, like a baby holds its bottle.

As long as Paul Bearer had that urn, his charges could not lose. Sure, the urn sometimes ended up in other hands, but Moody always got it back, and the "dead" always managed to triumph over evil.

Some two decades later, the Undertaker remains the star attraction of the WWE. Say what you want about professional wrestling, but it has its everlasting characters, and the Undertaker is certainly one of them.

Moody had been in ill health for years, and he simply could not keep up with his charges. They went their separate ways, but without Moody to build the foundation, they would have never been.

Fast forward to 2013. Wrestlemania, the WWE's biggest show, is about ready to happen in early April, and Moody passes away. Rather than just receive a fitting tribute from the WWE, his death actually gets worked into the storyline!

CM Punk will be facing the Undertaker during Wrestlemania. This is momentous, because the Undertaker has never lost a match at Wrestlemania. He is 20-0. He comes out about once a year now, a 50-something year old guy that dusts off the character for this one match each year.

CM Punk is now the major bad guy in the WWE, and for him to face the Undertaker during their biggest show really is big news, at least in this alternate universe that is the WWE.

And with Moody's death, if a passing ever came at the right time, this was it.

On Monday Night Raw, the Undertaker was saluting his fallen comrade in a fitting tribute that only the WWE can do, using video clips and featuring that famous urn.

All of a sudden, CM Punk comes on the scene, interrupting the proceedings, bringing the intensity of their future match to a fever pitch.

Summarizing the whole thing, by the end of the show, Kane also gets involved, and Punk steals the urn from the Undertaker and Kane, the symbol of their success.

This is a writer's dream--what will happen next in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania that will not only perk up the battle between Punk and the Undertaker but will keep Paul Bearer's name alive beyond death?

Some have criticized using someone's actual death as part of a storyline, but I say, BRAVO!

The WWE has never backed away from incorporating real-life situations into its storylines, and why should this one be any different?

It makes so much sense, with their biggest show coming up, to do so.

And when it serves as a juggernaut for the biggest match during Wrestlemania, featuring two of the WWE's biggest stars, well, why not do it?

I think William Moody, the everlasting Paul Bearer, would truly love this.

And next year, come Hall of Fame time, his posthumous induction should be a no-brainer.

R.I.P. Paul Bearer. You did right in "life" and your name lives on in eternity.

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