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This Day in Wrestling History (March 5)

21 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kevin Sullivan and The Tazmaniac defeated The Bruise Brothers (Ron & Don Harris) to win the vacated ECW Tag Team Championship.

14 years ago today on RAW is WAR from Washington, DC, ECW owner Paul Heyman made his WWF debut, commentating in place of Jerry Lawler, who left the company a week earlier along with his wife at the time Stacy "The Kat" Carter. Heyman's debut all but signaled the end of the original ECW, as they had not operated in about two months. ECW would file for bankruptcy and shut down for good just over a month later with $7.5 million in debt. Oh, and there was wrestling on this show. In one of the bouts, The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) to win the WWF Tag Team Championship. Oh, and this happened.

10 years ago today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Rottweilers (Homicide, Ricky Reyes, and Rocky Romero) defeated Generation Next (Austin Aries, Jack Evans, and Roderick Strong) to win the 2005 Trios Tournament.

7 years ago today, WWE announces via press release that John Legend, Snoop Dogg, and Raven-Symone will appear at Wrestlemania XXIV.

2 years ago today, William Alvin Moody, known as Percival Pringle III, but best known to wrestling fans as Paul Bearer, died of a heart attack due to a high heartrate in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He was 58. Born April 10, 1954, Moody got into the wrestling business as a ringside photographer. While enlisted in the Air Force, he wrestled for some independents on the Indian Coast during his off-duty time. He began managing in 1979 as Percival "Percy" Pringle III on the Southeastern independent circuit (there were two people prior that used the Percy Pringle name). His wrestling career was put on hold after his wife Dianna gave birth to his first son Michael (they would have a second son, Daniel; their older son Michael died in September 2014; Dianna died from complications of breast cancer surgery in January 2009). Michael's birth put William's wrestling career on hold some; he became involved in the mortuary business, obtaining certification as an embalmer and a mortician.

He would return to managing in 1984 as Percy Pringle III, managing for Championship Wrestling from Florida, World Class Championship Wrestling, and its successor the United States Wrestling Association. His most notable charges included Rick Rude, Stunning Steve Austin, Mark Calaway, Lex Luger, and The Ultimate Warrior.

Upon the recommendation of Rick Rude, Moody joined the WWF in December 1990 (in a bit of trivia, Konnan—THAT Konnan—signed with the WWF the same day). McMahon used his real-life involvement in the funeral business to create Paul Bearer (as in pallbearer), a ghostly mortician who often carried an urn (an object that would see more than a storyline or three) and shrilled "Ohhhhhhhh yesssssss!" during his promos. Two months later, he made his WWF debut to take over the managerial duties for The Undertaker (Brother Love was his original manager). Bearer also hosted a talking segment appropriately named "The Funeral Parlor". For over five years, his alignment was right in line with The Undertaker's...until Summerslam 1996, when Bearer turned on Undertaker and aligned with his rival at the time Mankind. Bearer also got Vader and The Executioner to battle with The Undertaker.

In April 1997 at In Your House: Revenge of the Taker, Undertaker would set Bearer's face on fire. Bearer's face would be bandaged for some time; once removed, he went to his natural brown hair and wore less makeup. He also became more of a loudmouthed, shrill manager. During the spring and summer, Bearer attempted to get Undertaker back under his camp, hanging a dark secret about him over his head. Undertaker would refuse, and Bearer revealed that Undertaker's mom and Paul birthed a half-brother, and Undertaker's parents and half-brother were killed in a funeral home fire. Undertaker denied such claims and put the blame on his half brother. Undertaker's half-brother Kane, under the charge of Bearer, was very much alive, introduced at Badd Blood in October 1997. In his first act, he cost Undertaker the Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels. The brothers would feud well into 1998; in April, Bearer and a DNA test revealed that Kane and The Undertaker were indeed brothers.

Bearer and Undertaker would reunite near the end of the year, when Paul betrayed Kane. It was then Undertaker revealed he was the man behind the fire that killed their parents. They would form The Ministry of Darkness, but the group disbanded in September 1999 when Undertaker was injured.

Bearer would return at the side of Kane in February 2000, but would retire from on-screen performing following Wrestlemania 2000. He would serve as a road agent, stage manager, and talent scout until his departure in 2002.

After a brief run in TNA where he once again worked as Percy Pringle III, Moody returned to WWE in October 2003. After initially refusing to return due to declining health and depression, Moody signed a new deal with the promise that WWE would pay for gastric bypass surgery. In the year before the surgery, he admitted to weighing 525 pounds; following the surgery, he dropped to under 300 pounds. He would make his television return at Wrestlemania XX, managing The Undertaker. Shortly thereafter, he would be kidnapped by The Dudley Boyz and Paul Heyman (in reality, he was written off TV to undergo gallbladder surgery). In one of the more infamous angles in WWE history, Bearer would be "killed off" via concrete crypt at The Great American Bash. The angle raised a lot of complaints due to the show's parting shot of Bearer being completely buried in cement. In reality, Moody wasn't there; a stunt double was in place, but a rehearsal of the stunt leaked and in many areas, that footage aired instead. Bearer would be used as a booker for the next few months before he was fired in April 2005.

Moody would rejoin the company under a legends deal in June 2005 and would work autograph sessions, the occasional TV or house show in the Mobile area, and make appearances for a few WWE video games (he also did voiceover work for Smackdown vs. RAW 2011). Moody also briefly ran his own wrestling promotion for about two years, but was shut down when his business partners decided to run the promotion without him.

Moody returned to television as Paul Bearer in September 2010 to aid The Undertaker in his feud with Kane, but would turn on him again at Hell in a Cell when he shined the light of the urn in the Undertaker's eyes as he was about to tombstone piledrive Kane. Bearer would aid Kane later in the month at Bragging Rights in the Buried Alive match, defeating Undertaker. Kane would enter a feud with Edge; this time, Edge would kidnap and torment Paul in an attempt to force Kane to a match. Kane would accept, but he continued to torment Paul and Kane. The storyline wrapped with Kane pushing Paul (thought to be a fake Paul) off two ladders onto the concrete floor. Other than a brief appearance in April 2012 where Bearer emerged from—then back into—a storage freezer, that was Bearer's last major appearance for the company.

On March 2, 2013, Moody complained of coughing and breathing problems while attending their annual Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion in Mobile, Alabama. Though he told friends he was going to seek treatment for respiratory problems, three days later, he would die of a heart attack. A 10-bell salute was given in his honor the Monday following his death on RAW. His death would be a driving point in the Undertaker-CM Punk storyline leading to Wrestlemania 29. Though many questioned the taste of using Bearer's death, William's oldest son Michael came out in support of it. Undertaker would defeat Punk and take back the memorial urn stolen from him at Wrestlemania. Almost a year after to the day of his death, Bearer was announced as a member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2014. He would be posthumously inducted by his two sons Michael and David and The Undertaker.

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