Pick My Brain Interview: Paul Bearer

Former Manager of The Undertaker

Ever since Paul Bearer (Percy Pringle) left WWE recently, he has remained quiet, opting to lurk online. I say the man can do anything he wants, because he has had one Hell of a tumultuous past couple of years.

Percy faced the battle of a lifetime when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hats off to Percy and his wife for slaying the horrible beast of cancer and getting on with their lives.

I want to thank Percy for an extremely honest interview. I didn’t know he and Undertaker had a falling out, and obviously that still hurts Percy. Let’s pick Percy Pringle’s brain, and when you’re done, be sure to check out his site, PercyPringle.com.

1. First things first. Tell us what’s happening with you and use this chance to plug your new website, products, or anything else you’d like…

Believe it or not, I have been really busy the last month. Getting the website together, and now that it’s up and running I didn’t realize how much work (and fun) it was going to be. The first three days received over 5000 hits, and that is with limited publicity. The mail has been overwhelming, and I am proud to say that I have answered each one personally. I just want to give a little back to the great fans that have given to me all these years. I thank all of you for your support.

2. Secondly, everyone knows what a difficult time you’ve had these past 2 years as your wife battled breast cancer. Please give us an update on her condition, and hopefully you two can put that terrible ordeal behind you.

My wife Dianna is doing very well, Praise The Lord! Her cancer is in complete remission, her hair is growing back, and she has regained her strength. Cancer is a horrible beast.

3. Lots of wrestling fans were shocked to hear Vince McMahon and the e WWE were extremely understanding with your family problems. Even though you were off camera and not reporting to work, they kept you on payroll and even offered you an extension. With such a generous situation, why did you decide not to take them up on their offer?

They were not as understanding as you might have been lead to believe. I only received two calls from anyone in the WWE management the entire time my wife was fighting cancer. Both calls were made by Stephanie McMahon. I only received a handful of calls from my so called “friends,” Undertaker may have called twice, and that was after I told the world he never called. It’s out of sight, out of mind in ‘rasslin.

As far as payroll is concerned, you must understand I was under a guaranteed money contract. They had to pay me, it certainly wasn’t a favor by no means. I didn’t have any insurance. Dianna’s treatments cost close to $100,000. That cleaned me out. Did anybody offer any assistance? Please…. All that glitters is not gold, friends.

4. Let’s talk about the winner of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s winner of the 2001 award, “Readers’ Least Personal Favorite Wrestler,” the Undertaker. I’ve criticized him heavily on the site, as have others, for continuously burying up and coming talent whom he feels, “Isn’t ready.” The most obvious example is Mike Awesome, who was headlining ECW PPVs and having **** matches with Masato Tanaka and even Spike Dudley. Why is Mark Calloway so insistent on no-selling and not putting anyone over, or do you disagree with the criticism of him?

This may surprise many people, but I would rather not talk about The Undertaker at this time. Did you see the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis movie last week? What truthfully happened between ‘Taker and myself is the nature of our industry, I am not surprised. I was used and tossed aside, I expected it.

5. As a legit former funeral director, were you less offended than others by the recent necrophilia angle? Or do you agree with everyone else that it was a huge mistake?

I was more offended than anybody could ever be. I am still a licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. I am very dedicated to that profession and the people that we serve. I was horrified at that angle. It was the worst thing I have ever seen in all my years in the business.

6. Jim Ross is constantly urging wrestlers to lose weight, and even folks like Mark Madden won’t be hired because they aren’t “camera friendly.” Was there ever any pressure on you to lose weight, and what did you do to successfully shed so many pounds in the past few years?

There was constant pressure and ridicule about my weight. Vince and his stooges took every opportunity to make my life a living hell as far as my weight was concerned. I starved myself to lose almost 100 pounds in 5 months, then was brought back for 3 months only to be put back on the shelf again. By the way, I have gained all the weight back and more.

7. Let’s go back 15 years or so. When you met each of the following wrestlers, what was your opinion as to how big they’d make it?

Lex Luger: A true narcissist (spl?)
Jim Hellwig aka Ultimate Warrior: different, but aren’t we all?
Steve Austin: A very talented athlete
Kamala: A class act, and a fine gentleman
Undertaker: Not the same man I began my WWF career with
Bruiser Brody: His own man

8. At a house show once at the Cow Palace in 1991, I saw you drop your urn, and it bounced up like 10 inches with ease. In reality, how heavily gimmicked was that urn?

It wasn’t gimmicked at all, it was empty and very light weight.

9. Did you ever see Undertaker hang out with his friend Mick Mars of Motley Crue? Sorry to throw in such a random question, but this interests a lot more of our readers than you’d think.

Yes, I saw the Crue on several occasions. Hell, I didn’t know too much about them, just their name. I’m a country fan.

10. There is lots of debate as to whether Undertaker belongs in the Observer Hall of Fame. Some say he was on top for 12 years, while others say that’s easy to do when you never let yourself sell for anyone. Do you believe Undertaker belongs in the Hall of Fame?

Sure he does, if that means anything. Halls of fame are bigger works than ‘rasslin itself. Come on… with a hall of fame plaque and a $1.25 you can buy a cup of coffee.

11. Please briefly tell us the 1st thing that comes to your head when you think about each of the following feuds:

Undertaker vs. Hulk Hogan: had to be
Undertaker vs. Ultimate Warrior: made good money in house shows
Undertaker vs. Kamala: also good house show business and good TV
Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales: horrible
Undertaker vs. Undertaker: almost as horrible
Undertaker vs. Kane: could have been much better
Undertaker vs. Mick Foley: great stuff especially boiler room brawl and hell in a cell

12. Aside from Bobby Eaton, who is the best wrestler to ever come out of your home state of Alabama?

Bobby Eaton…. Sorry there ain’t too many of us down here that made it.

13. After seeing the utter and complete failure of so many independent wrestling organizations, what is making you want to start your own?

Because I love the business. You don’t see my name on any marquee right now do you? I haven’t hit a start button yet. Timing is crucial. The business as a whole is in horrible shape right now.

14. The internet message boards were fun to read… about 5 years ago when doing so was a novelty. With the abundance of teenagers and marks that have since jumped on the bandwagon, why do you continue to post on message boards, such as those on WrestlingClassics.com?

It’s fun for me. I can keep my finger on the pulse of our business and see exactly what those kids are really thinking.

15. You’ve currently got a book project in the works.

a) Will you write it yourself, or hire a ghostwriter?

I will write it all by my lonesome.

b) Will you do the smart thing and self-publish and make all the profits, or will you go with a traditional publisher and make a paltry 50 cents per book sold (and that’s after paying back a measly $5,000 advance)?

Not sure about that part yet. Still being educated about my options.

16. How bad were Vince Russo’s scripts before Vince McMahon edited them?

I never had a problem with Vince Russo, like others did, obviously. I know he has made mistakes, but I have never been part of one.

17. From 1996 all the way through 1997, WCW was presenting a better product than the WWF was, and making a financial killing in the process. Did you ever consider leaving for greener pastures and jumping to Atlanta, or did you know deep down Eric Bischoff was so incompetent that it was only a matter of time before he eventually blew it and McMahon would be back on top again?

Nope, I was always loyal to Vince. I had been around long enough to know that WWF’s time would come again, and it did.

18. At that same Cow Palace house show, some fan behind me was really heckling you and calling you “Percy Pringle,” as if knowing your old ring name somehow made him smart. What was the worst catcall you ever had to endure from the audience?

Nothing every really bothered me, except for the fat jokes, I eventually made it a part of my interviews, calling myself “the fatman”.

19. As a longtime WWE employee, you must’ve been around the McMahon children a lot. One of those children, Stephanie, has been the target of a ton of criticism for her work both on camera and behind the scenes. Based on your personal experiences, how would you rate Stephanie McMahon’s knowledge of the wrestling industry?

Stephanie is a wonderful lady. She was only about 14 when I came to work for her Dad. She always treated me with respect and I gave it back. I was off the road a while when my wife was sick, that was when Steph “ascended the throne”. Now, has she changed? I don’t know, I hope not. Being born into our business, and into the family she was, she must have a very unique outlook on our industry.

20. In 5 words or less, what are your thoughts on these past/present WWE employees?

Shane McMahon: like father, like son
Undertaker: will do what he has to do to stay on top
Kane: class with a capital “C”
HHH: never did me wrong
Kevin Dunn: doesn’t care who he steps on
Pat Patterson: talented
Tony Garea: will pinch a penny until it screams
Bobby Heenan: another class act
Jim Cornette: my friend
Michael Hayes: my brother ’til the end
Vince Russo: loves the business, just tries too hard sometimes
Ed Ferrara: don’t really know him that well
Jim Ross: corporate

21. And ending this on a positive note, what words of encouragement and advice would you have for any couple that is battling, or will someday battle, cancer? Your story is inspiring and gives hope for us all!

The only way you can make it through something as horrible as cancer is with the help of The Good Lord, your family, and your true friends. If The lord brings you to it, he will bring you through it. I wish you all a very happy and blessed holiday season. Thanks Professor for the educated questions.

Now that’s how it’s done. Thanks a million to Percy, and again, be sure to visit PercyPringle.com and tell him what a cool sport he is.

[Editor’s note: As you all know, Paul Bearer unfortunately passed away after this interview took place.  His wife Dianna also passed away years later, as did his son Michael.  We send our deepest condolences to the Moody family.  This interview with Percy was the first big break for The Armpit, and has always been the most visited page on our website.  We will always be grateful to Percy for his help, and of course for all the wonderful memories and entertainment he gave us over the years.]