He entered the wrestling business in his teenage years as a ringside photographer. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving four years on duty; during this time, he often wrestled for Indian Coast independent promotions during off-duty hours. In 1979, he began managing as Percival "Percy" Pringle, III in southeastern independent promotions
In 1984, he resumed full-time involvement in the wrestling business, using his Pringle character in Florida Championship Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas, and the United States Wrestling Association (a successor to WCCW). During this time, he served as manager for numerous wrestlers; he notably managed Rick Rude, "Stunning" Steve Austin, and Mark Calaway in their early careers. As Percy Pringle, he was also associated with the careers of Lex Luger, Eric Embry, and The Ultimate Warrior.
He joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in December 1990, after being mentioned by Rick Rude to WWF owner Vince McMahon. McMahon used Moody's real-life involvement in the funeral industry to create the character of Paul Bearer, a very histrionic, ghostly manager, who was almost always seen bearing an urn (which led to several storylines involving wrestlers stealing his urn), and whose catch phrase was "Ohhh yyyes!" The name "Paul Bearer" is a play on the term pall-bearer.
Paul Bearer holding his urn in 1996. Moody made his first appearance in February 1991 when Brother Love, who originally managed The Undertaker, passed him on to be managed by Paul Bearer. Bearer took on a spookier, ghastlier character. Bearer also hosted the WWF talk show segment entitled The Funeral Parlor, which included memorable segments such as the Ultimate Warrior being locked inside a casket, among others.
Eventually Bearer turned heel again by betraying his long-time protege at SummerSlam 1996 to align himself with The Undertaker's arch-enemy, Mankind. During this time, Bearer also hired The Executioner and Vader to battle The Undertaker
The secret suggested that Bearer had a traumatic past with The Undertaker which long preceded Brother Love's joining the two in January 1991. The secret, which involved the Undertaker's family, was: The Undertaker's mother had an affair with Paul Bearer and as a result, gave birth to a younger half-brother of The Undertaker, named Kane. Throughout The Undertaker's childhood and teen years, he lived in a funeral home with his parents and half-brother. According to Paul Bearer, The Undertaker killed his parents and caused his half-brother's face to be bruised and scarred by setting the funeral home ablaze. At the time throughout mid to late 1997, The Undertaker denied all this, claiming it was his younger half-brother's fault. Bearer accused The Undertaker of being an arsonist "murderer" and "liar."
Because of the fire incident, The Undertaker thought his younger half-brother and Bearer's illegitimate son had been dead for years. But Bearer introduced Kane in October 1997 at In Your House Badd Blood, where Kane cost The Undertaker a Hell in a Cell match against Shawn Michaels. This led to a bitter rivalry between The Undertaker and Kane and Bearer. Kane was not revealed as Bearer's son until April 27, 1998, on Monday Night Raw, a day after the first Inferno Match, at Unforgiven, where Kane was set on fire. The Undertaker was shown to have also been unaware of this at that time, and helped to build the feud up further, as Undertaker initially refused to believe the story until an in-story DNA test proved it to be true. The feud last into summer of 1998, when Kane seemingly abandoned Bearer to side with The Undertaker, beginning a face turn.
Bearer and The Undertaker became a heel team again toward the end of 1998 when Bearer betrayed his own son, Kane, in favor of managing The Undertaker once again. Once becoming a heel with Bearer, The Undertaker shamelessly admitted to setting the funeral home ablaze for which he had initially claimed was an accident or blamed Kane. Shortly thereafter, Bearer and The Undertaker formed the Ministry of Darkness. Both he and The Undertaker departed from the WWF unceremoniously in September 1999 as a result of The Undertaker suffering an injury.
Moody married Dianna McDole in December 1978 and had two sons, Michael and Daniel. Daniel wrestles on the independent circuit as DJ Pringle. Dianna died due to complications resulting from breast cancer and chemotherapy on January 31, 2009.
On the March 3, 2014 episode of Raw it was announced that Paul Bearer would be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.