It was four days before Christmas, in Dallas, Texas. World Class Championship Wrestling had closed down a couple of years before, and The USWA was ready to move back to Tennessee to make room for the new Global Wrestling Federation at The Sportatorium.
I found myself without a job, and on the verge of bankruptcy. My car had been repossessed, and we didn’t have the money for a Christmas tree, much less presents to put under one. It became painfully hard to look into the eyes of my ten-year old and three-year old sons. I knew in my heart that my wrestling career was over, and it was time to make a drastic change.
I called my friend “Ravishing” Rick Rude, who was working for The WWF at the time. I told Rick exactly what was going on in my life, and that I planned on moving back home to Alabama and go back to work in the funeral industry. He was very sympathetic, and asked me not to make any quick decisions. In fact, Rick told me that he would call me back before the end of the day.
When we talked again a couple of hours later, he said “Vince wants you to call him at home.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Now, let me know what he has to say.” Rick concluded. I immediately fell back onto the sofa, dropping Vince McMahon’s telephone number to the floor. After about twenty minutes, I finally realized that it wasn’t a dream, and gathered the strength to dial Mr. McMahon’s private home number.
“Where have you been all these years?” I remember Vince asking me, and after some small talk he told me that he would certainly like to meet with me after the holidays. The conversation still didn’t solve my Christmas problems, but I did have a sleepless night thinking that I may finally make it to “The Fed”.
Early the next morning, my phone rang, and it was Mr. McMahon’s right hand man, Pat Patterson. Pat wanted to know if I could catch an early afternoon flight to New York, because Vince wanted to see me sooner than expected. Of course, my answer was positive, and he provided the flight information I needed. Things were happening so quickly, I could hardly digest them.
Darkness was falling over the New York skyline as my American Airlines jet made it’s way into John F. Kennedy Airport. As I walked down the jet way, I spotted a well-dressed gentleman holding a card with my name written across it. I identified myself; he took my bag and told me to follow him to my limousine. “Limousine! Hell, I don’t even own a car.” I thought to myself.
I actually felt like I was one of the Beverly Hillbillies as the limo driver took me through New York City and into Connecticut. Finally, we arrived at a majestic five-star hotel in Stamford, where I was whisked away to my penthouse suite. I wasn’t in the room five-minutes before my phone rang, and it was Pat Patterson. “Percy, Vince want to see you at 10 o’clock in the morning.” Pat told me, “I’ll pick you up at 9:45. In the meantime, you can eat, drink, and do anything you want to do. Just sign your name, it’s all courtesy of Titan Sports.”
To say that I was nervous is an understatement. I was scared to death, as I entered Vince McMahon’s office the next morning. Which, by the way, was my wedding anniversary, December 22, 1990.
We talked about everything under the sun. It didn’t take long for Vince to make me feel right at home. As he looked over my resume, he began to laugh. I didn’t have a clue what was going on. “You have a degree in Mortuary Science?” Mr. McMahon questioned me, “This is just too much.” Little did I know that they were looking for a manger for The Undertaker, and Vince wasn’t aware that I had a background in Funeral Service, as well as being a wrestling manager. It was a match made in heaven, and when I left Titan Towers, I had a WWF contract in hand.
We made it through the holidays; the WWF contract was a suitable anniversary gift for Dianna and myself. I went on the road in January 1991, as The WWF character known as Paul Bearer, managing The Undertaker.
Join me next time right here in STORY TIME, for the continuing saga of Percy Pringle III, also known as The WWF character Paul Bearer.