5 times WWE involved a dead wrestler in storylines
The professional wrestling business is tough, and it has seen more than its share of premature deaths related to an accumulation of injuries, substance abuse, and the hardships of life on the road. In turn, WWE has used the memories of deceased wrestlers on occasion for business purposes.
While some would argue that these practices exploit wrestlers’ memories, there’s another side to the story. Pro wrestlers, by and large, dedicate their lives to their craft and look for every opportunity to take part in crafting an important storyline.
So, while one might dismiss a posthumous mention as coming in poor taste, one could also view it as a distinct honour. To be a part of an important storyline after death is to live on in one’s chosen vocation and art form.
This article takes a look back at five different occasions when WWE honoured a late wrestler by invoking his or her name in modern-day storylines.
#5 Paul Bearer, 2013
Paul Bearer was one of WWE’s most iconic managers. After a lengthy career managing talents for smaller promotions like World Class Championship Wrestling as Percy Pringle, he moved on to WWE. In WWE, he was most memorably cast as The Undertaker’s manager, but he also appeared in the corner of other talents, including Kane, Mankind, and Vader.
Bearer’s passing in 2013 occurred as WWE was gearing up for a program between CM Punk and The Undertaker at WrestleMania. In the follow-up, Punk would show kayfabe disrespect for Bearer, first by interrupting the Dead Man’s tribute to him, and later by attacking The Phenom and pouring ashes—representative of Bearer’s—over The Undertaker’s fallen body.
While some fans were offended by Bearer so quickly becoming a device for a wrestling storyline, most people close to Bearer seemed to agree he would have gladly offered one more boost to an important angle, and particularly to help out his real-life friend The Undertaker. The booking added some extra heat to what turned out to be the best match of that year’s WrestleMania.